POTUS 3 and Dissertations

April 13th marks the birthday of the 3rd President of the United States. Here’re some words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson that you can apply to your dissertation…

Thomas Jefferson arranged the Louisiana Purchase, which nearly doubled the size of the nation’s territories. He was the primary author of our Declaration of Independence. So, he knew a thing or two about writing…

He who knows best knows how little he knows.
—Thomas Jefferson

Despite what you may sometimes think, you’re probably not the smartest person you’ve ever met. And, even if you are, you’ll still come across people who are more informed than you on a given topic.

What’s that? You are the expert on your dissertation topic? Good for you! You should be. However, unless you are a serial doctoral student, you probably haven’t already written a dissertation and shepherded it through committee.

Plenty of other people have completed their dissertations. You probably have a lot to learn from them. Start with your advisor and your committee members. They know how to get your dissertation through the committee, since they are the committee.

Struggling with them? How are you going to get them to share their knowledge with you and even help you along?

Remember, even when you clearly know more than your a little committee, they’re still the ones who decide when you graduate.

I recall one of my students who conducted a simple ANOVA to analyze his data.

His chair asked why he needed all of these “fancy” statistics. Just tell me if the averages are different. We could not impress upon him that, of course the averages are different; they’re real numbers. The “fancy” statistics show us whether we should care that the averages are different.

Long story short. The student reported that the averages were different.

He graduated.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
—Thomas Jefferson

I can almost hear it now: “But it’s the principle of it!”

Many students don’t want to make the revisions requested by their committee.

Would you rather be a principled doctoral student or a doctor?

Keep in mind that your committee is quite unlikely to ask you to commit an ethical violation to satisfy their revision requests.

So, it’s not really a matter of principle. Is it? Isn’t it really just you wanting to do it your way instead of theirs?

Just make these changes and move on with your life (with your doctorate in hand). Your committee is not asking you to kill someone. They are not asking you to send your innocent best friend to prison. Refusing those requests would be a matter of principle. Consider this a matter of style.

When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.
—Thomas Jefferson

Good advice when interacting with anyone…especially your dissertation committee. You might want to think twice about sending that angry email, too!

Still struggling to swim with the current? 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...

Let's Talk About Your Dissertation
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.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply: