Theater and Dissertations

March 27th is World Theater Day. Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage.” But, he also called life “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” So where does your dissertation fit into this grand play?…

Thinking about the theater got me thinking about how plays are structured. There’s a standard structure called—quite descriptively—the “three-act structure.” You’re probably familiar with it if you’ve ever been to a play or read one in school.

If your life was a play, when would your dissertation be? Some folks would say “Act One! I’m just getting started! I need to get this thing done so I can get to Act Three!” Some would say “Act Two! I’m between things right now!” Others would say, “Act Three! I’m done!”

Before we decide, let’s look at the fancy names for each act:

Act One: the Protasis, or exposition

Act Two: the Epitasis, or complication

Act Three: the Catastrophe, or resolution

If you say that your dissertation is Act One, then what about everything in your life leading up to your dissertation? That doesn’t seem quite right.

Maybe it is Act Two, because this dissertation stuff sure is complicated! There’s a problem with that though. Act Two is the longest act! It’s also the act where most of the action happens. Sound like what your dissertation should be? No way!

Is it Act Three? Does your life end when you finish this dissertation? I sure hope not!

Which should it be? Act One, Act Two, or Act Three?

I’d argue that your dissertation is more like an intermission. You need it, because you need to step away a bit to work on it, but it isn’t even part of the main show. This dissertation is not your life. It’s just a bridge between your life without a doctorate and your life with a doctorate! So, grab a drink, take a quick trip to the bathroom. Do whatever you’ve got to do so that you can settle in for the next act as soon as possible.

On you stuck in the intermission? Are you anxious for the play to resume? Then, 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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