Help me make academic writing not so damn hard.
October 28, 2018 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I've been trying to finish a dissertation (proposal...haven't even done the actual research yet) for WAY too long. My advisor says I need to have at least 60 pages written by end of December (ish) for the proposal to be viable. I think 60 pages is doing nothing but forcing me to read irrelevant articles and i repeating things that are obvious (that may very well be because I'm not finding anything interesting anymore). This has become a writers block for me. Help me rethink this so I can move forward!

Note: Talking to my advisor is just making me go more in circles, so that's not helpful.

I'm going to get right to the problem: I tend to learn about things and then drop them and move on. Gallup StrengthsQuest calls me a "Learner" (I love to learn for the sake of learning and that's it); Barbara Sher calls me a "scanner" (loves to learn something about everything for no good reason). It's all true...I'm an overthinker who LOVES looking something up on Google, reading about it, then filing it away in my brain to possibly never be used again.

For the dissertation I have to basically read a bunch of studies and somehow regurgitate a point or two from them...for 60-100 pages. My problem is that I don't see the need in quoting something just for the sake of quoting it (which is what this feels like). I want to do the research and then see what happens (which is the learner part of me). One example is that in my writing I said "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" and my adviser said I needed to find research articles where that was established so I could cite them. HUH? To me, that is an obvious statement that doesn't need proving. To her, I have to figure out who figured that out and wrote about it so I can cite them because I have to back up every sentence I write. That frustrates me to no end. I'm stuck, I'm emotional, I'm anxious, and I'm angry about it at this point.

So...smart people of Metafilter...get me out of this overthinking I'm doing!
1. How do I "dumb this down" and somehow convince myself that I'm writing a 100 page document that someone with very little educational experience is going to read so I have to explain every little nuance to them even though I know damn good and well that will never be the case?
2. What Jedi mind tricks can I use on myself to sit down and force myself to read articles that really have nothing to do with my topic idea and find some sort of tidbit of information I can use in my writing? I'm avoiding the work because it frustrates me, then I get anxious and overwhelmed and decide I'm not good enough for this.
3. Why is my brain making this so hard?

(For reference, PhD in Leadership. Topic is Self Leadership in College Students, which apparently has rarely been studied because the majority of the articles I find is about measuring self leadership in different work environments, not college).
posted by MultiFaceted to Education (27 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Any work you do is not meaningful unless put in context. So, how are you going to know whether what you're doing is 1) interesting, 2) original, and 3) well-justified if you don't do the background research first? You think you have some idea of the questions you'd like to ask and you want to "do the research and then see what happens." This is a really bad way to do research because you have no conceptual map in which to base your research results. Moreover, collecting a bunch of data and seeing what it shows you leads to things like p-hacking.

Original work needs context. You don't yet know what your research will show, so you don't yet know which context is relevant. However, if you are well-schooled in the area in which you are researching, this contextualization will come. The fact that there's not a lot of work in the area you want to work in means that this research is even more important; if you're going to be bridging the gap, you better know your stuff cold. The only way to do this is to read the original research and explain it in your own words.

On the specific example you gave -- "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" -- I agree with your advisor that you need some evidence of that. I can think of lots of examples where leadership skills are not desired -- lots of people want good workers who can follow instructions. Do you disagree with me? Prove me wrong.
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:49 PM on October 28, 2018 [28 favorites]


Advisor of many PhDs here. I suggest that you reframe this task to yourself, because by approaching it as something dumb and tedious and box-checking to do — and thinking that all of the real work is in the research — you’re condemning yourself to having it be, well, dumb and tedious and box-checking. But writing, properly construed, is none of these things and in fact in some sense requires harder and more important intellectual work than the rest of it.

Most importantly, your dissertation proposal is not a Book Report Of All The Literature I Read. You say you’re a learner? Most people who do PhDs are. Your job in the dissertation proposal is to convince people that the thing you want to learn about is worth learning. It is an intellectual exploration. It is a STORY. It is where you say “there’s this big intellectual question. Here’s why it’s exciting! Here’s what we know about it! Here’s what we don’t know! And here is why my awesome research will tell us.” If you look at each step as leading the reader through this, building up the tension (“is it possibility X? You’d think so, but so and so did an experiment on that and found Y - but maybe possibility Z would explain both? Etc”) then you will hopefully perceive how there is an arc, there’s reasoning and logic, and there is FUN. Think of the reader as “you” of a few years ago, before you knew what you know now, but would have WANTED to know in the order that learning it would have made the most sense.

Constructing that story and logic is harder than just plopping down two sentences about each bit of literature one at a time, but it is FAR more rewarding and far more fun. And it is also the primary intellectual skill you are developing in writing the proposal. It’s not a ridiculous bureaucratic requirement, it is a time to practice an essential skill — persuading other people why your topic is interesting and important and motivating the research you plan to do with it. Many people who complete PhDs go on to teach, to mentor, to earn grants, to write papers about all of their research: ALL of these require as a fundamental skill the ability to motivate the work and explain what it is interesting. That’s the skill you’re developing.

I recognise that you’re frustrated, but your AskMe is written as if you are better than all the idiots who are making you write this proposal and that tells me you are missing the point entirely. Focus on how you can tell the story of an intellectual journey into your topic. That’s hard, but once you have that — once you have your plot and story arc and chain of logic — then the rest will come.
posted by forza at 2:50 PM on October 28, 2018 [69 favorites]


Before I got to your specific questions, I got hung up on this:

"Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" and my adviser said I needed to find research articles where that was established so I could cite them. HUH? To me, that is an obvious statement that doesn't need proving.

I do not think this is an obvious statement at all. E.g., I imagine that there are plenty of employers who prefer workers totally lacking in this skill, i.e., workers who do nothing BUT follow specific orders. Workers with leadership skills tend to rock the boat.

Is this example typical of what you're dealing with?
posted by she's not there at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


To clarify: does your adviser want 60 pages of dissertation, or 60 pages of dissertation proposal? Are you being asked to hand in a proposal as a separate document? The specifics of the process do vary by program and by discipline, but 60-100pp is rather short for a full dissertation and awfully long for a dissertation proposal.

For the dissertation I have to basically read a bunch of studies and somehow regurgitate a point or two from them...for 60-100 pages

Typical dissertations are a little more demanding than this. In some disciplines, what you're describing there is just part of the dissertation, often called a "literature review." Its purpose is to establish that you have a good grasp of your field and that you're conversant and up-to-date on the work being done by others in that field. Think of it less as "regurgitating" and more as establishing the framework you need for your own contributions to the field -- you're drawing on the work of others, standing on their shoulders, making use of their discoveries so you can put forth your own.

Generally, one has a research question or dissertation topic that's a little more narrowly defined than "self leadership in college students" -- you may find that getting more specific in your topic will help you get started, because that topic is huge and complicated. Perhaps you could consider narrowing it down to a specific demographic subset of college students, and/or choosing a specific sub-skill that supports "self-leadership". Also make sure you have a very clear definition of "self-leadership," particularly if it is a term of art in your discipline.

One example is that in my writing I said "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" and my adviser said I needed to find research articles where that was established so I could cite them. HUH? To me, that is an obvious statement that doesn't need proving.

Dissertations are all about analysing the research in your field (reading a variety of recent writings from respected sources)and using that research to support your own claims/conclusions. For a huge and dense claim like "leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce," you want to clarify, at the very least, the following:
- what do I mean by "leadership skills," specifically?
- "highly desired" by whom? Co-workers? Managers? Customers? CEOs/owners of companies?
- what is "the workforce"? Do I need to break down "the workforce" into specific fields or types of employment?

So you want to find people who have done research (studies, analysis, etc) on this specific set of things, briefly summarise those findings, and then explain how those findings help support the claim you're making -- perhaps something like "A survey conducted by XYZ shows that hiring committees rate management candidates with strong peer communication skills as highly desirable assets for their organisations (XYZ Associates, Journal of Work vol. 26, 2016). A study conducted by ABC et al found that college students who took part in extracurricular activities had stronger communications skills than those who did not (ABC et al, Journal of Scholastic Development, October 2017). College students who take advantage of school-provided opportunities to further their communications skills via extracurricular activities are therefore likely to be strong candidates when applying for management positions."
posted by halation at 3:02 PM on October 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


It might help to think of yourself as documenting an intellectual geneaology (eg, here are all the thinkers I've read whose works have been influential and thus worth quoting a bit) and then turning this into a conversation to which you are adding your viewpoint: "We know that X, Y, and Z have all said that leadship skills are highly desired, but *I* find this framing overly simplistic because of [new take on the matter, etc]"
posted by TwoStride at 3:03 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


When I started to write my dissertation prospectus, my goal was about 30 pages. That seemed like a reasonable length. But the more I worked on it, the longer it got - there were just a lot of ideas to unpack, a lot of different threads of conversation to follow, and so on. It turned out being about 60 pages.

If 60 pages seems like too much to contemplate, maybe you can shoot for 30 pages and then expand as needed?

My problem is that I don't see the need in quoting something just for the sake of quoting it (which is what this feels like).

The dissertation is a special type of document. It presents your original research, but it also demonstrates that you're familiar enough with the research in the field that you can now be called an expert on it. This is one reason why the literature review is so much longer than it would be in a journal article.

It's easier to write the literature review if you don't try to frame it as "I'm writing something new for you to read" and instead "I'm writing up my understanding of the research on this topic so you can see I know it well."
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:15 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Step 1. What question do you want to ask with your research?

Your research question as stated in your post seems hopelessly vague to me, but I do physics and engineering so most social sciences topics sound vague to me. But, one way to narrow your research focus is to go to...

Step 2. What research has already been done in and around this research topic?

This is the literature review part. I also find reading a lot of papers about the same subject to be tedious, but this is part of the process. You say in your post
What Jedi mind tricks can I use on myself to sit down and force myself to read articles that really have nothing to do with my topic idea
If you're reading article that having nothing to do with your research proposal then you are definitely doing it wrong. You should be looking for related work. You can usually do a search and then look at the abstract to give you a good idea of whether you should read the whole paper. You mention that most studies of this topic focus on workplaces. This is a good thing for you. You can confidently state in your proposal that self-leadership in academic environments hasn't received much attention when you go on to...

Step 3. Tell the story of how your research proposal fits within the framework of previous research.

Anyone who reads your proposal is going to want to see that you understand the context around your research. For instance, while your colleagues in your discipline may know exactly what you mean by "self-leadership", I have no idea. Providing context by noting what other researchers said about this topic gives me a greater understanding and makes me trust what you're saying more. This is also the part where you cite research that supports any factual observation that you make. "Common knowledge" doesn't have to be cited, but an opinion stated as a fact like "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" should have some research to back it up. While it may seem like common sense, common sense is not the same thing as common knowledge. And, as others have already pointed out, it's easy to come up with a counter-factual case on the fly.
---
As for tricking your brain into sitting down, reading, writing, and citing, it all depends on your own work and study style. You seem to know quite a bit about how you learn, so hopefully you know what works best for you. If you want an example, for any long piece of writing, I like to work from the outside in by outlining. Breaking things down into larger and then smaller sub-sections, not only helps me organize my thoughts but also gives me a roadmap for what kind of reading I need to do.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:18 PM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Topic is Self Leadership in College Students, which apparently has rarely been studied because the majority of the articles I find is about measuring self leadership in different work environments, not college).

See, that sounds like material for an outstanding topic-- if discussions from adjacent fields can be applied to yours and yield new insights, it's really useful. You don't want to be claiming you are breaking completely new ground, because halfway through the writing you will come across an article that's much closer to your research than you expected. Part of your mission is to convince your readers that you are not naive about any of this and that you will be able to adjust your argument for new material you come across. You need to make a decent sales pitch. Look at it that way for a bit and see if it helps.
posted by BibiRose at 3:20 PM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


You don’t just need to cite people so your readers will know who already said stuff about the importance of leadership skills in the workforce and what they said. You also need to cite it appropriately so that they know YOU read the existing stuff that is important on the topic and understood it well enough to situate your own work in that context. If you haven’t read the 40 other papers (or whatever) on this topic, why should I spend my time reading your ideas, which may well be jawing at an already well-chewed piece of intellectual gum?

The only people who will ever read your dissertation are (1) your committee* (2) future researchers who are deep enough in the weeds on your topic that they are digging through ProQuest looking for every morsel of new information they can find. Those expert readers will be eager, but they will be a tougher crowd than most.

*And possibly not them.
posted by eirias at 3:21 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I struggle with getting academic work done, in a very similar way. It is a form of self sabotage. The best advice I got from a college professor when I was dragging my feet on finishing my final project, was that she just wanted me to turn in my shittiest work. She said, sit down and write out the worst possible paper you can come up with. She and I both know that I would never turn in something shitty, but by starting with that, I was able to do the work I needed to do. So, I recommend you do research, and cite the sources, but do it in the shittiest way possible. Taking that first step, will hopefully get you to the place you need to be to finish your work and graduate. No one will care in the end about your dissertation, but many people will care that you don't have the degree.
posted by momochan at 3:25 PM on October 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


If you aren’t finding relevant papers, you may need to expand your definitions. For example in medical education, what you are describing as self-leadership would be researched under the “professionalism” banner. Or possibly mentorship/role modelling, depending on the framework used, there’s a lot of crossover.

So there may be lots of relevant papers out there, but you won’t find them if you aren’t using the right search terms.
posted by tinkletown at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


One example is that in my writing I said "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" and my adviser said I needed to find research articles where that was established so I could cite them. HUH? To me, that is an obvious statement that doesn't need proving. To her, I have to figure out who figured that out and wrote about it so I can cite them because I have to back up every sentence I write.

As a reader, I actually do want you to cite and support everything you state as fact. If you don't, I think you're lazy and not applying critical thinking. You probably don't want me to think that.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:47 PM on October 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


Think about both your project and the scholarship you are reading using John Swales' CARS model. What gap might you answer in your dissertation? What gaps are being identified in the literature you are reviewing?

Pay close attention to the introductions of the research you are reading to get a sense of the conversation in the field: where is the disagreement? What sides are there in the conversation? Even if self leadership in the specific population/context of college students has been little studied, what questions in the general self leadership literature might apply to that context?
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:08 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't have experience with the beast that is a dissertation, but I have written many original research articles and review papers and a couple of book chapters in my field. The role of the literature review is to establish current knowledge so that you can show how your research question addresses a knowledge gap.

My process is as follows:
-make an outline before I start, with approximately # of paragraphs/pages for each section
-search academic library* for topics mentioned in my outline, pulling relevant-sounding work into Zotero [or your reference manager of choice]
-read said work, make notes in my Outline.docx document
-copy the notes into a new Chapter1.docx document and expand the bullet-style notes into full text
-print, revise with a pencil, make corrections, send to senior author

* If you're having trouble finding relevant articles, go see an academic librarian! Helping researchers find sources is why they exist!
posted by basalganglia at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Maybe you should take a more utilitarian view of what a dissertation is, and see it as a technical document required for a degree, instead of looking at it as a form of self-expression, or an opportunity for exploring your preferences or learning style. If you could detach somewhat and look at it as a problem to be solved, within particular rules, perhaps you could become engaged with it in that way.
posted by thelonius at 5:05 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


To be honest, as someone that advises PhD students, your question pained me a lot. Why haven't you yet learned how to write a literature review? Why didn't your qualifying exams help you build up your expertise on a topic?

I'd be shocked if someone hasn't encouraged you to read They Say, I Say - it is sort of the bible in helping early graduate students understand how to summarize previous studies. And YES, you do need to cite people for basic statements, even if you think that it is obvious.

Basically, your project needs to add to the literature (They Say, I Say has a ton of examples of different ways that this manifests) and the format requires you to review what has previously been said and why your addition matters.
posted by k8t at 5:48 PM on October 28, 2018 [29 favorites]


One example is that in my writing I said "Leadership skills are highly desired in the workforce" and my adviser said I needed to find research articles where that was established so I could cite them.

This is a more interesting task than you’re framing it as. In a vague sense, you’re right that it’s obvious, but how does it work in practice? What do employers actually think of as “leadership skills?” Are these really leadership skills? Does that vary by industry or experience level? Is this historically true? Are such skills genuinely desired, or is it a platitude? How do employers measure such skills? How do researchers measure skill desirability?

In an academic research setting, these details really matter, and the closer you look the more you may find that “obvious” statements contain aspects that are not only not obvious, but potentially completely wrong. Understanding what parts people have looked at and why their studies took the form they did will help you hone both the foundation for your work and the open or previously misunderstood problems you are solving.
posted by Schismatic at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


What argument are you trying to make with your dissertation? Self Leadership in College Students is a very broad topic. Perversely, the clearer and more specific you can make your research question, the easier it will be to write and to write a lot, because you'll have a really specific line of research to follow. For example, maybe you are arguing that "Self leadership training should be part of general education requirements for students studying business, particularly for students who are underrepresented in business fields." Then you have some really specific things you can research. What is self-leadership training? Who is it advocated for currently? In what contexts has it been shown to be helpful? What are the changes it can make? What are education standards for business schools? What sorts of leadership training is available to them and how have those interventions been shown to impact their education? What are some common problems underrepresented business students face? How are they impacted by a lack of networking opportunities? How might these deficiencies be addressed by self leadership training? What methods will you use to study these questions? What do you anticipate your outputs will be? Will you recommend interventions? Who will be the target audience for your work?
posted by ChuraChura at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


One strategy to add - for any of these "obvious" statements, make sure you check to see whether anyone has ever published any research showing a conflicting finding. Confirming your thought/belief is only part of the issue - you want to know all the arguments so you can comment on how robust they are. When and how are they true, and are there boundary conditions to when they're true? (These might help identify the "gaps" that everyone is rightly mentioning.

Also... we don't know what kind of dissertation this is, but please talk to more people in your department about this struggle you're having. I'm with k8t, the framing of this is worrisome to me as someone who has mentored many students. At best you clearly feel this assignment is a waste of your time and beneath you, at worst, you feel the same way about your advisor. This is not helpful to your studies, nor is it a good basis on which to build a mentoring relationship.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 5:57 PM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Take all the very good and relevant advice offered above and JUST START! For me at least, just getting started is the hardest part.
posted by Che boludo! at 6:39 PM on October 28, 2018


I'm avoiding the work because it frustrates me, then I get anxious and overwhelmed and decide I'm not good enough for this.
Is it possible that this is more about the anxiety being triggered by being asked to do something that uses unfamiliar skills? I know many students who get great grades in high school but have trouble shifting to the more abstract, higher-level reasoning expected in college essays. I'm wondering if, as a natural "scanner", you are being asked to think about what you read in a way that is unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable and anxiety provoking?
If it seem like that might fit, you might want to ask a different question focused on how to address that piece.
posted by metahawk at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Great advice upthread about the lit review as genre... As for the sentence you think is so obvious that you don't need to cite sources... this made me think of something I am always telling my students: If you are writing a sentence that is so axiomatic that you think it's so obvious you don't need to give an example-- that is your number one red flag that you've just written a bullshit filler sentence.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:04 PM on October 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


Oh man, you are SO LUCKY. I loved writing literature reviews when I was doing my PhD. For me, a literature review is about mapping a territory and seeing where my work fit, carving out the contours of my contribution to a particular problem, and gaining the kind of deep literacy that is essential to make research happen.

One of the fantastic things about doing detailed academic work is that you get to upset and analyse seemingly obvious statements of fact. Like the sentence you included as an example. Who says that? Why do they say that? What's their evidence? Who disagrees with them? Do YOU disagree with them?

This phase of your work almost isn't about you - it's both about gaining deep literacy of the field surrounding your problem, and frankly learning to credential yourself. You need to KNOW your field before you can meaningfully contribute to it. Edited to add: you also seem to have deep contempt for this kind of academic work. That's why it's hard. Let that contempt go - and try to understand why this kind of work is useful and necessary - and I think you'll have a much easier time.

What is your process for doing a lit review? Are you using any citation management systems? Where do you keep your notes? I used to use Evernote pretty extensively, but it's a kludgy bit of software and there are better options now. But my process looked like this: find a tranche of articles and chapters about the Thing I needed to research that week. Import them into Evernote so I had the citation details somewhere. Read each one, writing my notes on paper then transcribing those notes into Evernote. At the end of the week, lazily freewrite in my notebook about the connections that came to me while I was reading, and write up a list of the next tranche of books and articles I wanted to read. Having a process, and just working through the process, really helped. My reading notes were honestly the first draft of the first couple of chapters of my PhD.
posted by nerdfish at 11:33 PM on October 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


My partner is also a Scanner and struggles in much the same way. He also has ADHD—is that you, too?
Some ideas that might help:
-the pomodoro method
-coworking with a friend or colleague (you do NOT need to be doing the same kind of work). Chat for fifteen minutes, work for an hour in silence, repeat.
-pretend you ARE writing for someone who doesn’t know bupkis about the subject
-switch sources OFTEN. work on one book for 30-60 minutes, then switch to a totally different source for 30-60 minutes (Keep your notes organized!).
-if you can make your computer speak text aloud, congratulations, you now have an “audiobook.” You can now listen to sources while doing laundry, on the bus, etc.
It might seem like a lot, but if you write 2 pages a day, you’ll finish in just a month.
posted by shalom at 1:03 AM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yet another experienced PhD adviser here, and I have literally never heard of a dissertation proposal being anything near 60 pages long.

I would start by writing a 10-12 page proposal, in the form of a standard (NSF-style) grant proposal. Then expand the literature review. As anyone who has ever reviewed PhD grant applications can tell you, there is no dissertation worth writing that can’t be well described in 10-12 pages.
posted by spitbull at 5:33 AM on October 29, 2018


How do I "dumb this down" and somehow convince myself that I'm writing a 100 page document that someone with very little educational experience is going to read so I have to explain every little nuance to them even though I know damn good and well that will never be the case?

Framing it this way is making the process much harder for yourself than it needs to be. No part of a dissertation should ever be about “dumbing it down”, and I’m concerned that you think “backing up your assertions” is equivalent to dumbing it down. It isn’t.

We all use evidence and justifications in normal life. If someone asked you why you love your favorite movie, you probably wouldn’t say “answering that question is dumbing it down”. You would tell them about all your favorite parts, and maybe about good points you’d read in reviews of the movie, and maybe how the movie made you feel, and maybe about conversations you’ve had about the movie with other people, and you’d bring up reasons other people hate the movie and explain why those people are wrong, and you’d talk about the DVD extras that give you extra insight into the making of the movie and the creative process behind the movie and how the actors got into character and how certain scenes were brought to life, and maybe about a podcast you listened to where one of the actors talked about what they learned on set, and maybe you’d talk about other movies from the last fifty years that are alluded to via homage in this movie, and etc etc etc.

Presenting research is the same way. It isn’t rote regurgitation for idiots, it is a conversation where you provide context and backstory for why your take on the subject is the best and right and most groundbreaking take. You point out all the people who agree with you, and you explain why all the people who disagree with you are wrong, and you talk about why it all matters. You don’t assume your audience are idiots, you assume they are informed and interested but waiting to be convinced.

Also, a big part of writing a dissertation is citing sources that you already know your committee has definitely read (and probably understands better than you). Your job isn’t to teach them something they don’t know, but to prove that you understand those sources well enough to engage with them in a meaningful way. In my defense, I cited a book by one of my committee members— I wasn’t teaching her anything new about her book! But I was weaving her work into a narrative context where it interacted with my own work, and I did so to prove I had grasped her point while making my own.

Plus, what if the director of your favorite movie was asking why their movie was your favorite? Your answer wouldn’t be “you should already know.” You’d want to give them your take on what makes it so special. That’s similar to the work you should be doing in your research, even when working with very well-known research by other people.

Good luck! It is so much more fun when research is part of an organic narrative whole rather than a pastiche of factoids, I promise.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:56 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


The diss proposal has a two jobs: convince your committee that your research topic is worth investigating AND that you have a deeply nuanced understanding of the topic’s context. Think of it as a way to market your skills and your topic. (And don’t worry—this is not wasted writing. Most of your intro and lit review will be based off of the proposal.)
posted by Kalatraz at 1:35 PM on October 29, 2018


« Older Where to quickly learn hopes/setbacks of people in...   |   Ridiculous Introductions. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments