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Archive for the ‘Dissertation’ Category

5 years, 7 months, 13 days

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

That’s how long it took from enrollment to dissertation defense. A lot of things both personally and professionally happened over those 2053 days. You’ve read a bit about my life here in this blog. I am still pinching myself and here it is five months after my defense.

Today, I am thinking about Northcentral’s Commencement which will take place June 9 (next weekend). Everytime I watch the video from last year’s ceremony, I tear up.

Here it is – I recommend watching this video if you are struggling on your journey and need a bit of encouragement to stay the course. Make sure you have tissues handy:

Quick advice about picking a dissertation topic

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

You should approach each course with the end in mind – in other words, as you do research for your coursework assignments, carefully review the “implications for research” sections at the ends of journal articles. This will plant seeds in your mind about potential topics for your future dissertation.

In about my third core class, I started a Word doc in which I simply copy/pasted some of the statements I found. I also added some that I found in texts and developed on my own. Then, when it came time to pick a topic, I had hundreds of potentials. I deleted those that did not interest me, and found a “golden thread” among the others. My dissertation topic ended up being something that interested me, but also something that had not been done before.

PhD for a week, learner for a lifetime

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Well, it has been a week since I defended, and it still seems unreal. I figured out how many years I was in school:

Kindergarten: 2 years
Grades 1-12: 12 years
Troy University, BS degree: 2 years, 7 months
Troy University, MBA: 2 years, 3 months
Northcentral University, PhD: 5 years, 7 months


Gosh that is a lifetime! I think I qualify for “lifetime learner”!

At work, they are calling me “Doctor” and my boss recognized me at a staff meeting. My work friends have been so very nice and supportive. It still feels odd not to be working on my dissertation when I come home from work. I read it through again last night and was very tempted to do some more editing.

I have a friend who defended this week, and some more friends who will be defending soon. In my PhD journey, I have met some really fantastic people, with whom I have a lot in common. We are all learners for a lifetime. What about you?

The dissertation topic “hole in the ground”

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

A dissertation topic is like a hole in the ground.

A poor dissertation topic hole is easily dug – it is wide and shallow, and never goes past the top soil. Just any ol’ shovel will do, and most anybody can dig this one if he has enough time. This dissertation hole is a hundred miles wide, and it doesn’t tell us much about what’s under the surface.

In contrast, a good dissertation topic is like using a borer to drive a hole in the ground – deep, deep, and deeper. It is difficult to drill and goes through layer and layer and layer, down through the bedrock. It will take longer to drill this hole. Sometimes the drill point struggles and groans and shakes. The hole on the surface is deceiving because it looks small, but this dissertation hole is a hundred miles deep, and it gives us lots of information about what is truly under the surface.

Now consider your dissertation topic: is it wide and shallow, or narrow and deep?

If you are having difficulty with your topic, perhaps you are not digging the right kind of hole?


Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Yep – PHinisheD! I defended my research today and am happy to say that I survived and live to tell the story!

Thanks to everyone who listened in, sent notes of encouragement, or called to wish me well. A special thanks goes to my proctor GB, who also happens to be my boss. This journey has been long and hard, and it is good to know that the light at the end of the tunnel really does exist.

You know, it is ironic that I started on this journey on my birthday in 2006, and I PHinishedD on my husband’s birthday (today) in 2012!

Quite a coincidence, don’t you think?

Oral Defense scheduled

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Wednesday, January 4 is “OD-day” (Oral Defense Day)!! I am all set – my presentation had been sent to the research professor who will moderate the call, my chair Dr. M., and my two committee members, Dr. W and Dr. B.

The OD is handled via conference call, and a proctor must be present to verify that I am who I say I am. After the OD is opened by the moderator, I will provide a 30 minute presentation (PowerPoint slides) outlining my research and the results. Then, the floor will open for questions from the committee and professors in attendance. According to the Dissertation Handbook, I must “speak clearly and knowledgeably about their [my] research, justify their [my] work, and be able to articulate the significance of their [my] work for the field of specialization.” I hope I can do that!!!

Following this grilling session, I will sign off the call while the professors deliberate. Then, I call back and they will tell me their opinions. Thumbs up or thumbs down on the “PhD” thing!

After this, I will fill out the Graduation Request Form and send a clean copy of my Dissertation to the Registrar. Later, I will get my diploma in the mail! Yahoo! I plan to attend graduation in June and be hooded. Husband and I will probably visit the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam at the same time.

I have given many presentations in my career, so I am not nervous about the presenting, but I am a little nervous about what kinds of questions the professors may ask me after the presentation. Wish me luck!

Advice to those in RSH and DIS classes

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I am often asked about “how fast” one can go through the RSH and DIS classes or if they can be doubled-up. These courses cannot be doubled-up…you must pass through each one in succession. You can take more than one course while working in your core classes, but you cannot do that with these.

Each of the four RSH classes builds one on the other with the finished CP resulting in RSH-9104. After comps, you begin the DIS classes. Each of these moves you along the dissertation process. NCU requires three DIS classes, worth three credits, and cost at full price. Then, you work through DIS 4, DIS 5, DIS 6, etc., until you finish. These courses are one credit hour each and are billed at the one credit hour price. I ended up taking five DIS courses.

I found that the major issue in the RSH and DIS classes were the waits between reviews/returning assignments by the mentors and chair, the dissertation committee, the OAR, and the IRB. Also, I had to extend data collection because of poor response. My advice to those entering RSH and DIS courses is to always be one step ahead; always be ready with the next assignment if possible. Of course, if you do not received approved documents from the OAR those will need to pass back through your chair and committee for review.

Keep in mind, it is very common for the CP, DP, and DM to be rejected on the first submittal. I was told that only 10% of all DMs are accepted the first time through with no changes required.

For example, if your DP is a resubmit, and the OAR kept it for 14 days (instead of the 7 in the document turnaround guidelines), it may take you several days (let’s say 3 days) to fix the problems, then your chair and committee reviews it for 8 days (7 days in the guideline). Now you are ready to resubmit to the OAR, and they keep it 12 days. You now have approval, but all this cost you 37 days. So you can see how quicky a resubmit DP can drag out to 30+ days! You are now over 5 weeks “behind” in your timeline which has eaten up a third of a DIS course.

You must remember that most of your professors are multi-employed and by nature, very busy people. Personally, I would rather have an in-depth critique of my work rather than a quick run-through.

Be patient. Be courteous. Remember – delays outside your control will happen. Be complete when addressing issues and making recommended changes with your work.

In all, my advice is to focus on moving forward on the journey.

Don’t worry about the TIME it takes to reach a PhD.

Just reach it.

Just thinkPhD.