Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Things I want to know

(I've written 909 words in my conclusion chapter so far today, so I deserve a good long blog session).
  • If my diss. is in my manuscript format and coauthors are acknowledged at the front of each chapter, do I have to change "we" to "I?" What about the in press paper? Then it won't be the same as the published version?
  • Would any man consider it a pleasant break from diss. writing to hang laundry on the line?
  • On a related note, how does one end up with half a clothespin?
  • How long is a conclusions chapter supposed to be if there are conclusions at the end of each chapter? Are my 910 words 25%, 50%, 75%, or 90% of a suitable length?
  • What's supposed to go in my intro chapter anyways? I know it is supposed to tie the papers together thematically, but besides a paragraph or two doing that, what else should I write about? And how long does it have to be?
  • Will the Loacker (hippie Nutella) that got too cold in my fridge ever be easily spreadable again?
  • Does Loacker on whole wheat crackers count as a healthy snack?
  • Does anyone know of any pregnant post-doc bloggers? Links encouraged.
  • Would it be bad luck to dedicate my thesis to my unborn child? Would that somehow jinx the pregnancy or turn the kid off to science and school forever? Or will it be something they think is pretty cool when they grow up? Opinions seriously wanted here.
  • If I am going to make minestrone-like soup and plan to include fresh spinach, do I need to cook the spinach first (how?) or can I just throw it in raw and boil it with the rest of the veggies? Soup making starts in 1.5 hours.
  • What's wrong with my RSS feed? I subscribe to my own feed in bloglines just to make sure its working and none of my recent posts have appeared. I have a red exclamation mark next to my feed (as does Dr. Shellie by the way).
(Drat, that took far too little time. I suppose I'll have to go back to the diss now. Maybe I'll work on the acknowledgements and contributions of authors sections.)


turtlebella said...

On the first question, I'd like to back up a bit: I know your diss. is in manuscript format and I agree that's a good way to do it. But why are your co-authors acknowledged?? I don't think you need to do this in your dissertation. Yes, of course, on your manuscripts. But your dissertation is yours. So I'd avoid saying "we" anywhere in it. My chapters have acknowledgement where I thank the people who are my co-authors and detail what they did.

Your RSS feed worked for me on bloglines just now but a couple of other blogs had the red exclamation mark by them today. who knows...

ScienceWoman said...

tutlebella - we have an official "contribution of authors" page in the pre-text section of our dissertations. Basically it's a page that details what the other authors of the manuscripts did to contibute to the research. It looks like there's just one page at the beginning that covers all three manuscripts. My gut feeling is that I should replace "we" with "I" in my diss, but it feels wrong to have a page that says that one chapter is in press and then present something (even very slightly) different in the diss. I think I'll be asking my advisor on this one.

Anonymous said...

Just chuck the spinach in the soup. It cooks pretty fast. In fact, I'd chuck it in near the end to stop it becoming so overcooked it disintegrates into the rest of the liquid.

Writer Chica said...

*can't help with the diss. format. good to ask your advisor
*depends on if the man enjoys being outside instead of inside writing.
*when I was younger and we hung clothes outside, I always was ending up with half clothespins. I would squeeze them just a little off center and the spring would fling the pin apart, often flying into my face. I had fun squeezing them back together.
*Not sure on the length of the conclusions chapter, but if you read it and it sounds complete, it probably is.
*for the questions about intro and conclusion chapters, what about checking out other dissertations written under your advisor or department?
*Does Loacker need to be easily spreadable if you eat it with a spoon? (Yum)
*Sounds like a healthy snack to me. protein and grains
*nope, don't know any
*Not bad luck at all. It won't jinx your pregnancy or turn your child off of science. If I were your kid, I would think it was pretty cool. That is very sweet and loving to dedicate your thesis to your little one. Since you are working so hard on it while you are pregnant, maybe Baby will sense a special connection to your thesis when Baby grows up.
*I know nothing about cooked spinach. I only eat it fresh.
*Yeah, your feed is funny on mine too.

Time to go edit. Thanks for the diversion.

Rose Connors said...

1. no problem with your feed on my bloglines.

2. agree with above about spinach, it only needs a few minutes

3. why not dedicate the thesis to the offspring? I think at worst, she'll just think it's sort of cooky and cute.

4. Loacker and whole wheat crackers sounds like a great snack.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

I've had trouble with a lot of feeds lately. Most sites have multiple feeds, and I've found that if I switch to the "atom" feed or whatever the hell it is, it's fine. Your feed is working fine in my bloglines.

And I don't know what conclusion chapters are "supposed" to be like, but mine was just under twice that many words.

I think it would be cool to dedicate the dissertation to your kid.

I don't think I can answer any of the other questions, though.

bsci said...

I think I switched "we" to "I" in my dissertation, but most of the actual work was done by me with the coauthors advising. I'd change anything that you personally did to "I" and keep "we" for communal parts. i.e. if you did your all of own field work, there's no reason to say "we collected samples"

My conclusion chapter was 7 double-spaced pages (not many words). My advisor wanted something longer, but he was glad to sign anyway.

I had three intro chapters. The first (14 double-spaced pages) was heavily based off of a grant application that was my proposed postdoctoral research (i.e. tie everything together and explain the rationale for the entire project. The second chapter (embarassingly long) presented an extended overview of the background literature. This was minimally necessary and I probably spent too much time writing this, but I used this as an excuse to read some papers and improved my personal knowledge. I might also get a review paper out of it at some point. The third chapter (7 double-spaced pages) went into a bit more detail of my general research design and methods in a way that didn't fit in the methods section of my article-based chapters.

I had the same consideration with my child due to be born barely a month after filing my dissertation. I decided against it. I'd say it's less for "luck" and more because bad things happen and I'd rather not link my dissertation to any unthinkable scenarios. You'll have many future ways and times to celebrate and acknowledge your child.

Throw the fresh spinach right in to the soup immediately before you eat.

twf said...

The intro should have motivation for the overall research plan, as well as a summary of your thesis. (In chapter 1, I give some necessary background for understanding the blueness of the sky. In chapter 2, I show that the sky is blue. Chapters 3 and 4 show the effects of sky blueness on plants and animals, respectively, etc.)

My advisor is big on making the contributions very clear. I will probably have a list of specific research contributions to my field in the intro.

Also, most of my literature review is ending up in the intro chapter.

Let me know if you need a proofreader! I probably don't understand your field, but I can fix sentence structure nevertheless.

Saoirse said...

I think dedicating your thesis to your child is a great idea. I think they'll think it's cool when they grow up, whether they are an academic/scientist or not. Either way, it's a pretty amazing thing to have someone dedicate something that's the result of such hard work.

Oh, and the Loacker on a cracker is definitely a healthy snack. ;)

SM said...

Please don't dedicate your thesis to your unborn child. It sounds so strange. And you will have to spend the rest of your life wondering if it was a good idea or not, and if you hadn't, would they still not have chosen to go into a scientific field, or vice versa. And most of all, I don't think they would be considered cool if they told their friends when they grow up- it may result of a friendless school life.

Maybe you can dedicate it yo your dog who has been with you since the beginning? Just a thought.

psychgrad said...

I think your disseration should not say "we". At least that's what my advisor said to my labmate who is writing her dissertation.

I'm pretty superstitious - so, no, I wouldn't dedicate my disseration to an unborn child. But I also come from the belief that you shouldn't have a baby shower before the baby is born. I believe in the whole "don't count your chickens before they're hatched" mentality.

Anonymous said...

My introduction and conclusions were both about 7 pages double-spaced and I think each has one figure. It was in the intro that I acknowledged the papers that were in press and the co-authors. I also had to get permission from the journals to publish the articles in my dissertation (took a couple of weeks).

The conclusions were really "Conclusions and Future Directions" and my advisor said to include something to answer the question: if time/money weren't a problem, where would you take this research?

The intro and conclusions were also the only chapters that included all "I" not "we". For the research chapters which were intended to be published as separate articles, I stuck with "we" and noone objected. But, I think that might vary by institution.

I'm glad to hear that other people still hang clothes on the line - my old neighbors thought my husband and I were crazy! (and yes, he actually liked hanging out the clothes too).

Good Luck!

PhD Mom said...

1. For best flavor, spinach should be blanched in boiling water for about 3 minutes (just until the bright green color appears) before placing it in the soup. This will eliminate the bitter flavor.

2. Intro should be like a literature review article that puts your work in context of others.

3. I dedicated my thesis to my unborn child. (He was born day after defense).

psychgrad said...

OMG phd mom - you gave birth the day after the defense? That's amazing timing!

Holly said...

I echo the thoughts of those who commented against dedicating your diss to your unborn child.

I like the idea of dedicating it to someone, even a dog, who has seen you through the whole arduous process.

Let me know if you ever find any blogs from new academics who are pregnant. Today at lunch I had a nice conversation about the ethics of having an infant present during an interview. I think it's a good litmus test for how accepting and accommodating your employer will be.

And finally, about the length of any writing sample - it's always easier to write longer. It takes a special skill to write short. If you've made your point in 900 words, leave it that length.

twf, you are so generous to offer proofreading!!

sciencewoman, take twf up on that!