Dissertating

In the next three years, I will spend considerable time dissertating. Making my first real contribution to the academic world. For the last month or so, I have worked on formulating a research question, and it is tricky.

To brainstorm, I have read a lot. Visited (and revisited) books. Turned the pages of other’s dissertations (for one, I got through the first ten pages of an adviser’s book where he said it was an improvement on the dissertation, prompting me to read what he first wrote: his dissertation)). So in coming up with my own dissertation topic, I have sought inspiration a range of topics. From Presidential strategies to Legislative Professionalism; from Ballots to Minority Party Rights; from Voter Turnout to Ideal Points.

So what advice did I get from my advisers last week? Read more.

At first, I did not know how to absorb this. It was not the only advice given, and they seemed relatively pleased with where I was at this stage. It however was a little difficult to think I primarily needed to continue what I was doing, but in a conversation today with one of them where I apologized for presenting a scattered idea, an adviser replied: “Well it should be scattered, we are telling you to wander.”

Wandering is very different for me. I like to ponder problems over time, but generally the ultimate goal is known and solving the problem is a small step to get there. I agree with their advice, but it is difficult to stick in this stage where I am not tangibly producing something. I am not checking generals readings off a list, getting a data set in order, or producing another draft. I sit at my desk with a book and scribble down research thoughts in my notebook. Somewhat stupidly however I want to have something to report. Just very different to say: still figuring it out.

Again, I agree with the advice given, and I fear I am sticking to much to a particular doable idea and just molding it a bit. Not necessarily allowing myself to fully explore others. My topic will dictate years of work. I however am impatient and want to get started.

There ya go for a rambly Steve post. Let’s see what I think of it in three years from now.

9 Responses to “Dissertating”

  1. You're definitely not alone on having these sorts of feelings. Eventually, everything will come together.

  2. I'm not sure I have Alex's faith, at least for myself. It's hard not to spend all my time revising old papers in hopes of publishing them. Also, it's hard not to spend all my time on facebook procrastinating​.

  3. Faith is blind, Michael. 🙂

  4. You're definitely not alone on having these sorts of feelings. Eventually, everything will come together.

  5. Erin Glunt says:

    Everyone told me the hardest part is coming up with the idea. I hope that is true…

  6. I'm not sure I have Alex's faith, at least for myself. It's hard not to spend all my time revising old papers in hopes of publishing them. Also, it's hard not to spend all my time on facebook procrastinating.

  7. Faith is blind, Michael. 🙂

  8. […] Tuesday, I had a bit of a dissertation rant to my friend Deborah.  As mentioned before, my advisers have pushed me to wander more.  On Wednesday, I went into one of their offices.  I […]

Leave a Reply