three part series explores activities in which a learner can engage
while waiting for feedback or approvals at various stages of his or her
PhD program. Part 1 will cover items associated with the comprehensive
exam. Part 2 deals with downtime during the SMR/Proposal/IRB milestones.
Part 3 explores actions that learners can take in-between the final
chapters of the dissertation. Understanding that the dissertation
process differs among universities, learners should find these
suggestions useful for any program.
have completed your coursework and now you are about to embark on the
next phase of your dissertation journey. After you submit your responses
for the Comprehensive Exam, make productive use of your time as opposed
to sitting and wondering when you will hear back about your
performance. Instead of obsessing over potential rewrites, try
completing a few of the steps below to keep the process moving along.
Regardless of whether you pass, fail, or have to do rewrites, you will
feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that you have made progress
toward your goal of preparing for the dissertation.
a Mentor: Start thinking about the type of person that you would like
to serve as your dissertation mentor. A good place to start is with
professors that you have had throughout your program particularly ones
from your research courses who are well versed in the type of research
that you plan to conduct (qualitative or quantitative). If your school
participates in residencies or colloquiums this is a goldmine for
networking with potential mentors. You may meet other candidates who may
recommend faculty or provide advice about the mentor selection process.
You may not realize but Proquest database is another great place to
look. You can search for recent dissertations for your school that have a
similar topic and/or research method to find out who mentored the
on Track: Create a timeline and a to-do-list to lay out the
dissertation process. The timeline should include important
milestone/due dates for the various phases of the program. Use whatever
you are comfortable with, however a few useful tools include creating
Excel spreadsheets, starting a Google calendar, placing reminders in
your cell phone, or using software apps with calendars or listing
features. A great web based tool isTodoist, which allows you to create detailed lists and provides reminders via email.
Familiar With the Guidelines: Download and familiarize yourself with
the appropriate manuals, guides, and templates provided by your school
related to the dissertation process (Hint: if your school does not
provide a dissertation template for formatting, use a recently published
dissertation from your school as a guideline).
a Support Group: Once you pass comprehensive exams, search for a
support group to participate in as you complete your dissertation. If
you are a women-seeking support during your journey, join thePhD Sisters Group
on Facebook. Within this group, you will find amazing women who are at
various stages of the dissertation process as well as women who have
completed their program and are now doctors. These women engage in
constructive (positive) discussions about the Ph.D. process, strategies
for completing the program, and balancing life in terms of home, work,
family, and school.