Jeff Goldblum and Dissertations

October 22nd is my lit’lest girl’s birthday, but she doesn’t really know anything about dissertations…yet. It’s Jeff Goldblum’s birthday, too, so here are some words of wisdom from him for dissertation students everywhere…

I’m getting tired of everything I write being read in the can.
— Micheal Gold, The Big Chill 

Don’t worry, no one’s gonna read your dissertation on the toilet.

Actually, no one’s gonna read your dissertation at all.

Sorry, not sorry. The truth hurts. Knowledge is power. A bird in the hand… Back it up. Strike that last one.

What I’m trying to say is your dissertation is just a school project.

It’s the biggest, hairiest, scariest school project ever, but, still…just a school project. The outside world will show no interest in it whatsoever.

When Your Name is Dr. Your Name, that they pay attention to. So, purpose to get there as soon as possible!

No, I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.
— Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Maybe so, but your dissertation sure won’t. Evolution takes a long time. Trust me, you don’t want to wait that long.

Instead, when your thinking of your dissertation, consider this:

It’s like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike.
— David Levinson, Independence Day

Don’t wait for your dissertation to find a way. Plan out your project. Begin with the end in mind. Think about how you will collect and analyze your data. What steps will you take? What permission will you need? Make sure that you plan out all of the details to the point that there are no “gotchas.”

When you know what you’re doing to that level of detail, it becomes so much easier to write your proposal.

Few dissertation chairs and no schools of which I’m aware will tell you this. In fact, they preach the complete opposite: Find a topic you’re passionate about. Then, follow your nose and see where it goes. They don’t say it that way, but that’s exactly their students do.

If you were planning a road trip would you simply point your car down the road and see where you end up? Of course, not. So, why would do that exact same thing with your dissertation? You wouldn’t, not if you knew any better. And, now, you do!

Yeah, but they’re not working on something that’ll change the world as we know it.
— Seth Brundle, The Fly

And, you’re not either. The only part of the world your dissertation should change is your own little corner…by getting you graduated and changing your first name to doctor.

Don’t romanticize your dissertation, putting it up on a pedestal and making it into something too big to ever possibly finish.

Find a topic that you can complete quickly and efficiently.

Get in, get out, and graduate!

I’ll leave you with the best description of the dissertation process ever from one of the world’s most noted chaoticians…

Oh yeah, oohing and ahhing, that’s how it always starts, but later there’s the running and screaming.
— Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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