What kind of help should I expect from my dissertation chair?
July 2, 2013 1:40 PM Subscribe
My social sciences dissertation proposal defense went pretty badly, and it makes me think that I need more help than my dissertation chair will provide. Are my expectations for feedback reasonable, or not?
So, my dissertation proposal defense went extremely badly. I will have to completely re-write the proposal and defend again in September-October. If you had asked me a week ago, I would have said that I was confident that I had a good proposal and would be successful at this defense, since my dissertation chair seemed very pleased with the direction that I was going and had given me very positive feedback on the proposal that I sent out to the rest of the committee members.
The rest of the committee did not share his enthusiasm, and one of them asked me if I was sure that my adviser had even read parts of the proposal at all. This is not an exaggeration.
It was clear, in the couple of days that preceded the defense, that things were going to go badly (which happened). My dissertation was supposed to have two parts, question a and question b. Most of my chair's feedback so far has been related to question b, and I thought this was because the question a parts of my discussion were okay. During the proposal it was also clear that my chair thought that I was asking question b only and had no idea that I was thinking about question a at all. Which is really weird because I had an entire chapter of the dissertation dedicated to question a and all of my conversations with him included question a.
It's clear that there is a fundamental failure of communication happening here. I want to ask one of the other committee members to be a co-chair so that I get more useful feedback in a more timely manner. This is complicated because my current chair is a big name in my field and I don't know how that suggestion is going to go down. This entire situation has made me wonder how much feedback I should really expect from my dissertation chair at all. So my question is, how much feedback should I really expect from the dissertation chair on my proposal, and how much feedback can I get from the committee in the time leading up to the defense? How did you navigate your dealings with your dissertation chair and committee?