Nearly two years ago, I embarked on a third graduate program. Recently, I defended my dissertation proposal. This is a big time milestone! If you’re not familiar with the process of a doctoral program, the dissertation proposal is a draft of the first three chapters reviewed by the committee in which they give a doctoral student the “green light” to continue. Chapter one is an overview of the study. Chapter two is a literature review covering related studies and describing how the dissertation fills a “gap” in the literature. Chapter three is the methodology or to rephrase it, who, what, when and why the researcher plans to collect and analyze data in order to answer each carefully crafted research question.
What is next?
- Upon receiving approval from the university’s institutional research board (think: government-required committee ensuring research on human subjects is completed with the appropriate precautions and participant consent) within the next month, I will begin collecting data this summer.
- Write chapter 4 (results)! This will involve a lot of tables with very little original thinking.
- Write chapter 5 (discussion and recommendations)! My committee chair suggested this could be the hardest chapter to write outside of the literature review, because it involves making a lot of connections between the results and previous studies.
- Defend the dissertation. This a final time for the committee to ask questions following significant review of all five chapters.
- Complete a few more classes (noted below) and walk across the stage in Spring 2017 to be hooded!
All of this aligns with the ambitious timeline I described in the 18 months update.
Help from a few friends
None of this could be possible without the support of two critical friends in the program, Bipul and Steve, who have provided feedback encouragement along the way. I also owe a big thank you to Mrs. T. for allowing me to spend 3-4 hours per week holed up in the local library at night working on dissertation drafts. Completing a doctoral program while working full-time has proven to be a much more challenging task than the first two graduate programs, but with help from a few friends, it has been doable.
Look for another update in a semester or two!