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November 25, 2005

(Re)Discovering my voice

It's been a crazy couple of weeks in the mad rush to write my prospectus--my first three chapters of my dissertation--so that my committee can give me the go-ahead to do my research. I've spent the last two weeks having meetings with my individual committee members, a time-consuming task that has been remarkably productive.

In one of the early meetings with Minor Area Committee Member (MACM), I decided to change my data collection procedures somewhat. MACM really helped me see that my method wasn't entirely lined up to answer my research question, and while the method itself wasn't problematic, some things about how I wanted to approach my study were questionable. So, I immediately recognized that MACM was right, and we set about to a more qualitative approach.

This led me to an interesting phone call with Retired Big Name Professor (RBNP), who invented a certain research method. Now, I have met RBNP before, and I first emailed, then called on the suggestion of RBNP. This conversation did not go as I expected. In fact, after the first few minutes of the call, I had a strong sense that I was not communicating clearly what I intend with my study, and RBNP had no real idea of what I really plan to do. Thus, RBNP's suggestions were mostly not that helpful. At the risk of offending RBNP again, I won't devulge the details, but I think that during the conversation we both felt quite offended, and I was surprised the conversation was able to continue amicably to the end, whereupon RBNP explained once again the purpose of the method we were discussing, and I simply said I needed to think about how, and if, this method was really what I was looking for. RBNP told me I could call again anytime, which was much to my relief because even though I probably won't, I still know we moved past the earler moment in which I was reminded that RBNP had advised many dissertations during an illustrious career at Prestigious Private University, and as a result, knew a thing or two about what was expected of a doctoral student such as myself. Well. THAT didn't go as planned!

Even though I didn't get a method out of the conversation, I nonetheless learned a lot about myself. I discovered that I am perfectly capable of extracting myself politely from a delicate conversation. This, no doubt, will come in handy for future job interviews, among other things.

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