Dissertation progress

After a year of officially being a Ph.D. candidate, I finally feel like I’m making some damn progress on my dissertation.

It would, however, be an understatement to say that I have encountered some setbacks on my dissertation timeline.

The first was that I just plain didn’t spend the time that I should have working on it while Sal was out of town on tour. Too much going on with my job, and I didn’t make it the priority that I should have. Then, once he was back, I didn’t want to pull away from finally having time together, so there were some days that I could’ve worked on my dissertation but didn’t.

I missed my December target for finishing my first draft of the proposal. I’m now hoping to finish that by the end of January, which is a week away. I think that’s realistic; I’m about 90% done with chapter 1 (introduction), and 50% with chapter 2 (literature review), and about 80% with chapter 3 (research methods). I should be done with 1 and 3 this weekend, and will have the next week to wrap up the literature review. Then my first draft of the proposal will be ready for feedback from my committee, and hopefully I will be able to successfully defend it pretty quickly thereafter.

A piece of the timeline that I’d forgotten: after I defend my proposal to my committee, I still have to get Institutional Reviw Board (IRB) approval before I can interview people in order to collect data. ¬†That will probably have me on hold for a couple of weeks, unfortunately, while I wait for the bureaucratic process to move forward.

Then, time to collect data… Unfortunately, I’ve hit a snag. I had approached one company about me gathering surveys from its employees, and that company declined. Not a complete derailer, but it does mean that I need to cast a bit of a wider net than I was hoping for. Fortunately, I know lots of people in Employee Network or Employee Resource Group leadership roles, so I can recover from this.

I’ve also confirmed that I probably don’t need 30 research participants after all; I just have to continue interviewing until I reach saturation, meaning I stop getting anything new out of the participants and they’re repeating the same basic points as their predecessors in the study. Given what I’ve experienced talking to my peers in the diversity space over the years, I suspect I’ll find that I stop getting big differences in feedback by around 15 or 20 interviews, if that. Still, I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to wrap up the interviews in less than a month, at best.

If we assume that it takes about the month of February to get my proposal edited and defended, and my IRB application written and approved, then that means the month of March will be interviews… Leaving me the month of April to finish my data analysis and write up my final two chapters for the dissertation: results, and implications.

Doing all of that and then successfully defending my final dissertation by mid-May is an ambitious timeline. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but I will say that I’m concerned. I still want to pursue this, but I do have a Plan B.

Bellevue University only does the big commencement ceremony in January and in June, but it confers degrees effective the last day of each month. That means that I can still officially “graduate” over the summer, even if I miss my big ceremony. (Which I probably won’t attend anyway, but that’s a different story.)


Honestly, I look silly in any kind of hat anyway.

Worst case scenario, I save one credit hour of my eighteen total dissertation hours for the Summer term, and I officially become Dr. GatorUptown in June or July. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly an acceptable backup plan.

More on that as things progress in the next month or so. Also, other big somewhat-related new in the works… Stay tuned.

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