Herding Cats and Dissertations

December 15th is Cat Herding Day. Ever feel like working with you dissertation committee is like herding cats? Here’s 4 tips to help you round them up…

  1.  Learn your program’s protocols. Most universities have very detailed  procedures for submitting your work to your committee, including timetables for its evaluation and return. Learn these rules so that you know how to submit your work according to established procedures, but also so that you understand your committee members’ responsibilities.
  2. Manage expectations. When you submit a draft to your committee, follow up using another channel (e.g. e-mail or text messaging) to confirm that the committee member has received your work. Also, include a brief note that you are anxiously awaiting any insights they might have for improving your paper and that, while you realize that they have until ___ to return your work,  you would be appreciative if they were able to provide their reactions any sooner. (Of course, you will fill in the blank with the proper date that you learned in Tip #1.)
  3. Revise quickly. When you receive feedback from your committee, It’s important that you return your document as quickly as possible. There are two reasons you should act quickly. First, every day that you’re holding your draft is one more day to graduation. Second, the faster you return your drafts for review, the more gentle pressure you exert on you committee to keep up the pace. It doesn’t always work. In fact, sometimes it feels like you’re playing a one-sided game of hot potato!
  4. Give them what they want. The best way through the dissertation process is to accept your committee’s feedback at face value. Don’t argue your perspective. Think of your dissertation as your committee’s dissertation. When they’re happy with it, you graduate!

You may feel that working with your committee is like herding cats. Or, you feel like a cat yourself, continually pouncing on glints of light only to have them disappear beneath your feet.

If you’re feeling stuck, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

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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