Dissertation emancipation


When the Graduate Student Handbook says PhD candidates will be submitting a book-length manuscript, they’re not kidding. Thursday I turned over my draft dissertation – 185 pages of deep thoughts about octocorals in the Gulf of Mexico. Within 5 minutes of discussion about the weight of the paper (~ 3 lbs. ) and the cost of the ink ( ~$150), we’d rearranged the chapters and decided “nobody cites Sanders (1968) anymore.”  Oh well, back to the drawing board. LOL. Not like I have anything better to do. “It’s on the shelves for eternity,” so I might as well mess with it some more. The defense is in 2 weeks. Any sage advice would be appreciated.

6 Replies to “Dissertation emancipation”

  1. Yeah, the discussion centered around whether it was necessary and important to cite the classics. This is what I had understood from reviewers. My advisor was not of the same opinion, preferring citations of more contemporary work (on mid-slope peaks in diversity, in particular).

  2. Based on my experience (mileage may vary), once you’ve completed the “book,” and you are standing in front of the crowd for your defense, everything difficult about getting a PhD is done.

    You’re now the expert.

    I have heard only one or maybe two exceptions to this, but after the defense talk, the committee defense is a breeze. Sure they might ask some tough questions, but it is no exam – mostly just the committee getting your deeper thoughts and opinions. They wouldn’t have let you defend if they didn’t think you were ready, right?

    My advice: just try to have fun (or alternatively – pretend that it is fun).

    Also, you may experience a strange anti-climactic feeling for weeks or months afterward. I did anyway (as did some others I know). On the other hand, other friends felt the exact opposite…

    Good luck and congratulations! For all intents and purposes, your work is done.

  3. Weight has much to do with authority. After all, you can’t develop the necessary gravitas to to be a PhD without killing a sufficient weight of trees. But congrats, you did it, and kick some serious sea slug butt on your defense. (If you don’t get the sea slug ref, here’s the citation:
    “There are animals like a sea slug who wen they’re young they have a brain to look around and find a house. When they find a house they settle down and they eat their brain. And basically by then they’ve got tenure.”

Comments are closed.