Sunday, October 12, 2008

Confessions of a second year doctoral student

I am now into the second year of my PhD program and attended a wonderful seminar last weekend about how to be a successful doctoral student and I thought I'd share my notes from that seminar -- the indoctrination process:

Roles and Tasks of Doctoral Students
  • Don't begin to write until you understand conversations going on in the field.
  • Develop own sense of authority and raise questions if things don't make sense.
  • Don't justify things on the basis of authority.
  • Justify things on the basis of the quality of question or evidence.
  • We need to follow our intellectual path and challenge ourselves and assumptions.
  • We need to make an enormous amount of effort to do high quality scholarly work.
  • Be open to reading materials from other fields -- its from other fields that new insights come.
  • Be open to see connections.
Academic Writing
  • Take and use feedback.
  • Get beyond our own ego.
  • Speak to various faculty members to hear their different perspectives.
  • Good writing includes these four principles. PACT
    1. Point First--see what you are accomplishing.
    2. Active Voice--put subject first in writing.
    3. Concise--use less words.
    4. Topic Sentences--tell a story.
  • Keep reading notes in a word document that includes summary, quotes, and page #'s in a word file. Also, keep and excel file tracking works cited by the author.
  • Reading notes will help you not to read something more than once.
  • Literature review is the hardest writing for students.
  • Start by conceptualizing three main topics.
  • When you can't find literature on something acknowledge that in the literature review.
  • Trying to fill the gap with current research -- don't be discouraged when you find a gap.
  • Stick to the APA manual.
Committee Selection
  • Select people who have knowledge of your field and can direct you to key sources of literature.
  • Show your committee chair you know how to get into the literature.
  • Inform your committee about your progress and the path you are taking.
  • If you choose a committee member from outside the university be clear with them about their role and your expectations.
That's it for now...on the road to becoming a scholar.

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