Wrapping it up… one more hoop to go

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
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It’s official: I am now ABD. My oral exams went swimmingly, and I can now be considered a colleague by those with PhDs. All I have left to do is finish off my prospectus and write a dissertation.

Of course, saying that “all I have left” is my dissertation is much like saying that after Normandy, all the allies had left was to defeat Germany. Saying “just” a dissertation is tantamount to “just” an arctic expedition, or “just” a trip to the moon.

Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad. But it isn’t something I should go into lightly. That, I think, is fair.

My prospectus is almost finished. Which is good, because I promised it to my adviser by April 29. Thankfully, I just have to fill out what I intend to do in each chapter (I’m expecting 7 of them), and I’ve already made it through the first four, so I have just the three left to do. Maybe I’ll finish today, maybe tomorrow. Either way, it’s currently 47 pages, and I’m expecting to hit about 48-50.

It’s strange to look at that. When I was in college, which seems like forever ago, I wrote a senior thesis. I was very proud of myself that I managed to get it up to 42 pages (the nerd in me was ecstatic). I did this by writing three chapters. For my first Master’s Thesis, I revised those three chapters and added a fourth, bringing me up to 76. My second Master’s Thesis was quite a bit shorter, in the 30 or so page range. The idea that I’m writing a 50 page prospectus is just crazy to me.

After all, a prospectus is a paper writing what I INTEND to write in a dissertation. That is, it’s a proposal. It’s “This is what I want to write about.” This proposal is already almost the longest academic work I’ve ever created. Certainly, it’s the longest one I started from scratch. And yet, this is just the outline of what I intend to do for the big bad Dissertation.

I have no idea how long dissertations are supposed to be. To be fair, I have no idea how long a prospectus is supposed to be. Someone asked me recently, and the best answer I had was “between 25 and 50 pages or so.” Which really isn’t an answer. I might as well just have said “long.” And a dissertation? How much longer will that be? It’ll be long.

If you really want to do some math (and I usually do), I’m expecting each chapter to be about 30 pages, on average. With 7 chapters, that means 210 pages. Somehow, that seems short. Which in and of itself is ridiculous.

Anyway, that’s where I am now. Soon I’ll start posting more actual research, as I get back to it. For now, though, I need to stop procrastinating and finish the damned prospectus.

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