Dissertation Time

Tomorrow I have a meeting with my dissertation chair.  I am supposed to come to the meeting prepared with a timeline for completing my dissertation prospectus.  The timeline is meant to help me manage my time as well as provide a means for my professor to hold me accountable for the work that I should be doing.  I figure that I might as well make the timeline public.  Regular readers, feel free to help hold me accountable!

First, I know that my graduation goal is April 2010 and that I need to have my data collected during the Fall 2009 semester in order to meet this deadline.  Ideally, I should complete my prospectus this summer.  However, professors like to take vacations during the summer, which means that I will not be able to gather my committee in one place until the Fall.  As a result, I need to plan on defending my prospectus at the very beginning of the Fall 2009 semester.  The first day of Fall classes is August 31st.  I need to schedule my defense no later than September 4, 2009.

My committee will need time to read and review my prospectus prior to my defense.  Really, 2 weeks is plenty of time for them to review one prospectus.  However, they will be very busy at the beginning of the semester, so I plan to give them 4 weeks.  My prospectus must be completed by August 7, 2009.

I have approximately 12 weeks to complete my prospectus.  

I could say that I will work on the introduction for 4 weeks, then the literature review for 4 weeks, and then finish with the methodology for final 4 weeks.  This approach seems artificial to me.  I think a better, more organic approach would be to allow the prospectus to emerge from my reading.  I think I should start by intensely focusing on the literature.  I also need to follow up on the contacts that I made at the SITE conference.  To be realistic, I need to take into account that I will be on vacation with my husband for at least two weeks this summer.  As a result, I am proposing the following time line:


  • May 21 – Prepare reading list from references of articles already read, and the recommendations of those in the field.  Begin reading the articles/books and take notes on each reading.  Also, begin a concept map connecting the themes from all of the readings.  The purpose of my reading between today and June 4 will be to better understand the terminology.
  • June 4 – Prepare an outline based on my synthesis of my readings to date.  Frame broad research questions.  Edit (most likely augment) the original reading list.  The purpose of my reading between June 5 and June 11 will be to identify the types of research studies that have been conducted previously.
  • June 11 – Revise the outline to include specific research questions.  Identify the types of study most appropriate for the research questions.  The purpose of my reading between June 11 and June 18 will be to identify specific research methodologies that are appropriate for my study.
  • June 18 – Revise the outline to include a description of my proposed research methodology.  Contact any available committee members for feedback at this point.  The purpose of my reading between June 18 and June 24 will be to search for possible inspiration from tangential areas of research.
  • June 24 – Revise outline to reflect any feedback received from the committee and any inspiration from reading.   Honestly, I’ll be attending a family reunion in late June/early July, so I’m not likely to do much academic reading during the weeks that immediately follow June 24.  Still, I will take my articles with me for the plane rides.  My purpose for reading between June 24 and July 9 is to re-read the literature with fresh eyes, looking for insights I may have missed previously.
  • July 9 – Prepare my first prose draft of the literature review of my prospectus.   Provide copies of the draft to peers and members of my committee for feedback.
  • July 16 – Prepare my first prose draft of the methodology section of my prospectus.  Provide copies of the draft to peers and members of my committee for feedback.
  • July 23 – Prepare my first prose draft of the introduction section of my prospectus.  Provide copies of the draft to peers and members of my committee for feedback.  Between July 24 and August 6th, my purpose for reading will be to discover solutions to issues raised during the feedback process.
  • July 30 – Prepare a list of constructive criticisms offered by peers and committee members.  
  • August 6 -Revise all sections of my draft, incorporating feedback from my peers and committee members.
  • August 7 – Provide all committee members with a copy of the prospectus in preparation for the defense on September 4.
  • September 4 (or before) – Defend the prospectus.  I welcome feedback.

Am I being realistic?  Any suggestions?



About Kimberly McCollum

I'm a former middle and high school science teacher and current stay at home mom.
This entry was posted in about me, Dissertation, Graduate Work. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dissertation Time

  1. sarajoypond says:

    I think you’re being more than realistic. In fact, I think I may try to stick to this timeline for my prospectus-writing summer too 🙂 Good luck! Keep in touch…

  2. @SaraJoy – Thanks for the luck. I should point out that I’ve already fallen behind, but I think I may catch up in the next two weeks.

  3. Andrea says:


    I’m just now starting my dissertation too. I’m having a hard time deciding on a topic. I think it will be easier to do the dissertation then it will to come up with a topic. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time coming up with a topic. I have been doing lots of reading though. I want to make sure to do something that is intriguing to me. I applaud your timeline. I just hope I can be as diligent as you in completing my dissertation. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s