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April 18, 2007

The Emergence of My Pragmatic Self

So, I've been knitting and knitting and knitting, and then, oh yeah. There's that thing called a disseration. Truth be told, there are several reasons why I haven't quite made the progress I'd like to have made by now:

1. Concerns about J, documented over time on this blog, have been a major distractor. And they should be! Who can do a good job dissertating when you're worried about your kid?!

2. We've had some interesting rental challenges since we've been in MN. I'd rather not say more, but let's just say that this has been QUITE a distractor. We're set to move--yet another thing to keep me from the dissertation--and after we're moved, I think things will finally settle down.

3. A problematic research question. Note that this one ACTUALLY relates to the dissertation itself. It really has been a hurdle, this problematic research question and subsequent complex reaction to my soon-to-be previous research topic.

So, challenges one and two are resolving themselves. We've figured out a schooling option for J. We're almost ready to move, and we should be settled for a little while anyway after that. But, problem three--the disseration question--doesn't get resolved quite so easily.

Yes, I've come to realize that the dissertation really is not the time to do something too innovative. Maybe it can be innovative. Sometimes. But, if innovation is the timely application of new knowledge in context, then timing is everything. Sometimes the timing might not be right. I've also come to realize that, to some degree, innovation is best when it's situated in context, and in order to be an innovator, one must be in that context. Doctoral students are still being initiated into the field--they may have innovative ideas, but the timing might not be right.

On the other hand, timing is everything. What if you just finished a project for your work that felt like a dissertation? What if said work project had another component that needed to be examined? What if it were meaningful? Had policy implications in a real-world context? Had data that you did not have to actually collect?
Would you change your dissertation topic?

Well, I am changing already did. And, even though my new topic has virtually nothing to do with the old topic, I'm feeling really good about it. I'm going to have to have a new prospectus meeting. I have to do a new lit review. But, I'm excited about it, and I've even already started!

So, stay tuned. In between knitting projects, I'll post a little more about my new topic and my progress toward that thing called a dissertation.

Posted by chri1010 at April 18, 2007 10:40 PM | That Thing Called a Dissertation


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