The PhD Chronicles: Where Am I Now?

Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

Since it's been a few months from my last The Updates (sorry about that--what started as something simple got more complex--such is life) and has been...years since I wrote a post regarding The PhD Chronicles, I have been making progress on my dissertation and figured know some folks are interested in hearing the update about where this stands.  
A typewriter with a piece of white paper spooled into it.  The paper includes one word, "Update".
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

So let's recap:  2022 was a hell of a year of progress in my dissertation.  We know that I've been stumbling along (at this point, for years!) and 2021, I seemed to be getting my act together. I got chapter 2 done in a way that I thought represented the work that I am doing and to a point where I felt confident in my understanding of the fields and problem I am exploring.  I also assembled my committee, composed of 4 people.  My chair, a second from UMB (as required), a specialist in the area(s) I'm studying and a specialist in the methodology.  Getting to that point felt like finally seeing civilization on the horizon after wandering in the woods for way too long.  

But in 2022--I was really proud of the progress.  Firstly, I defended my dissertation proposal in February 2022.  As a reward, I bought a treadmill (the Lance of 2010 and prior would not have seen that as a "reward"). I had a lot of angst about getting to that point and feeling like I knew what I was talking about.  But my chair has been phenomenal and a great cheerleader--very lucky for his support.  But I defended, got feedback, and revised.  Once I made those adjustments, I then applied for IRB approval, and that went reasonably quickly in large part because my committee helped me prepare for it.  My study solicited some interesting questions that I had to figure out for their protection (basically navigating how to reasonably protect folks who may be involved in illegal activities).  

I got approval for the study and then worked with my methodology specialist to do some pilots to get my mind around the interview process.  Once she gave me the thumbs up, I launched into finding participants.  I'll have an entire post on how I launched that because I think others could really find it useful and borrow or build upon what I did.  I managed to do some serious reach out and get 25 participants to interview in 49 days.  That was amazing for me to move that fast but I was clearly excited, motivated, and felt like I had to build on the momentum that I have been building throughout the year.  I finished that in October and used November and December to clean up the transcripts.  

But then January 2023 hit and things slowed down significantly.  First, over a few weeks, my partner's grandmother passed away and I was involved with support around that (while also trying to work and start up the semester).   Just as that was finishing, I also got grand jury duty for 6 weeks.  Dissertating didn't really happen and staying afloat with work and the emerging generative AI discussion in higher education seemed the only things I was able to do.  

In March, I crawled ever-so-slowly back into the work, trying to get back into the mindset of late 2022 when I did all that work and had my mind swirling around all these interviews and thoughts.  By mid-June, I had done my initial pass at the data, doing some basic coding around my research questions and preparing to do deeper work around exploring it through the phenomographic lens.  I also started to meet regularly with the phenomenographer on my committee as her insight has been quite helpful in work through the process.  Also during June and July, I took a week off each month in order to do deep dives into my work and really to move this forward.  

Right now, I'm deep in creating categories of description within the data--trying to figure out what are the distinct categories of experience by the participants, what are the dimensions of those categories, and developing an inclusive hierarchy that shows how the different ways of experience academic piracy by scholars are interconnected.  If none of that makes sense--no worries, it will when I'm done and do some breaking down of the work.  

I really want to finish this by the end of 2023. That may still be a tall order but I feel like I need it to be done.  And also, I feel like I have a strong focus on it now--always keeping NVIVO (the software I used to hold the data) and the notes document always open as I work through it.  I also would really love to have this years-long series (The PhD Chronicles) finally put to rest on my blog.   Obviously, that's not the best reason but it is part of the larger closure on this.  

So here's to the next few months of working hard to wrap this all up.  

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. I am so impressed and proud of you!! Great Work! Looking Forward to saying HI Dr Lance Eaton


Post a Comment