Friday, September 01, 2006

Emotional crescendo and diminuendo

(Scientific vocabulary increasingly eludes me or fails to capture what I mean, so I am turning to other fields for help. The final paragraphs of my diss will be titled "denouement.")

Yesterday my advisor called S in the morning to check in (he's on family vacation until the diss is due). I told her to tell him to call me because we needed to talk.

3 pm - when he promised to call
3:40 - when I called him
4:00 when he called me back
5:00 - when we got off the phone. I have 3 pages notes from the conversation. He wants major changes to Chapter 4 and hasn't read the intro and conclusions sections with any detail (although he promised to and send me edits, when he got a chance)
6:30 - when I finished my emotional breakdown with my mom. Of course the work stress angst turned into life stress, and my mom couldn't resist comparing businessman to my father, but overall mom gets a positive rating for helping me calm down and see things in perspective
7:00 - finished trip to grocery store where I bought microwave comfort food and Ben and Jerry's because our kitchen is to gross to cook
7:30 - finished my palaak paneer and walked the dog, talked to my best friend and managed to actually ask her how things were going for her and not to have another panic attack
8:30 - businessman came home and we talked for two hours. I did not cry. I was all cried out.

So basically yesterday afternoon completely smashed any notion that I was going to float through this whole process serene and unperturbed.

Today, I have spent my time working on the intro and conclusions (with no edits from advisor yet) and ignoring Chapter 4. My friend, raftgirl, has offered to proofread one of my chapters and here's an excerpt from an email I just sent her.
"Glad you enjoyed [the danish feminist poster].

I basically told [my advsior] that I would do what I could but given that the thesis is due in 4 days, he couldn't expect me to completely reframe the paper before it went to the committee. However, it sure sounds like he wants it pretty well reframed and really ready for journal submittal before the final version of my diss. goes to the library. Kind of annoying that he would wait to the literal last minute to give me advice like this - he's had one version or another of my paper for a month and I've been working on this project since my first year.
... At this point I am realizing that no one is going to look over large sections of my dissertation before my committee sees it. I guess it kind of makes sense, in that it is solely a product of my work that I should have the full responsibiltiy for it, but I just don't trust my eyes and brain to catch everything. Running spell check/grammar check is helping - it's embarrasing some of the things it has caught - and we all know how bad word spell check is at actually producing an error free document.
Have a great weekend. And someday soon, I'll have to get you to tell me about your PhD plans. (It is a lot of work, but totally doable)."
So there's two different first person perspectives on how I am doing. Interesting in light of the discussion someone (you?) pointed to over at wolfangel's on how we portray ourselves on our blogs. And I guess I am just sharing to let all the other grad students out there that no one, no matter how fastidious a planner, is going to float through the last few weeks emotionally unscathed.

P.S. All offers to proofread will be taken seriously. I will send you a document. But I need it back by Sunday afternoon.

8 comments:

Writer Chica said...

I didn't get a paper to edit this weekend, so send me some stuff to proof. I'll get it back to you by 2 pm your time on Sunday.

talk to you again soon.

Propter Doc said...

This is the worse bit of the whole process. Supervisors and advisors go mad at this point and forget to be helpful. My supervisor read less than 50 % of my thesis. Just remember, the end is in sight, you can do it and you can send me some proof reading if you need another pair of eyes!
Good Luck!

Dr. Mon said...

Man--I keep waiting for someone to get through the process without some last minute craziness. I'm so sorry the serene ship has sailed, but feel good that you still have the green light to go forward. Keep breathin and you'll be fine!

psychgrad said...

I have quite the opposite issue...My advisor edits my manuscripts so many times that I don't know if I'll ever be able to write anything on my own. Most papers of mine (and my labmates) go through about 6-7 readings/edits from my advisor.

There must be some sort of happy middle. I wouldn't like the idea of large sections of my diss not being read by an advisor before handing it in.

bsci said...

Bad news (part of your current stress)
Almost no one, including your advisor and committee members will every read your dissertation in detail.

Good news
Almost no one, including your advisor and committee members will every read your dissertation in detail.

The end result is that they care about the quality of your research and how well you understand it and can orally explain it to others. The true standard for the text is that you have pride in it. As for text, publications are what they care about. While your advisor wants major revisions, would she not sign if you don't make them for the dissertation or does she really just care about the future publication?

B said...

Hang in there! Do what you can about the edits for the diss and then let it go! It will be approved and you can always go back and pull from it to get ready for publication. don't let your advisor push you under now, you are doing great!

trillwing said...

Keep your chin up! Soon it will all be finished. I'm sure you've heard these two old saws:

A good dissertation is a done dissertation.

Q: What do they call the author of the worst dissertation ever accepted in your department? A: Doctor.

In my final days, these have been my mantra. Get it done. Yes, people can get their hands on your dissertation if they really want to, but many more will read the journal articles and/or books that come out of it, and you can revise those at your (relative) leisure.

You're almost there. I'm cheering for you!

elwoodcity said...

For my boss, it's a question of what has HIS name on it as an author, and what goes outside of the department. He wants to read prelim papers, and research proposals for advancement, but he only gives them cursory edits. Now a grant application he had me do (I got the grant, not him) that had his name on it, and went outside for funding, he bled on.

congratulations for getting it in, regardless.