How to handle dissertation feedback with grace

How to handle dissertation feedback with grace

  • Posted by Jessica

The number of revisions that committee and board members can demand never ceases to amaze me.  You’d think that by now, I’d come to fully expect the completely unnecessary, incoherent requests for changes (like being told to change something, then told to reverse the changes, and then being asked why you changed them back).  And I know it makes my clients crazy.

So let’s just get one thing out there: you’re not crazy, and most likely, a significant amount of the revisions you’re required to do are unnecessary.  Finishing the dissertation really has little to do with the quality or merit of your research, and everything to do with your fortitude.  How bad do you want to finish? How much crap will you put up with to get there?

Is it right? NO. Actually, it’s really uncool, but it happens. And here’s the reality: your committee holds most of the cards.  They’re your ticket out of dissertation hell.  And most of them are fully aware of this.  Often, by the time a doctoral candidate gets to the dissertation process, he or she has accumulated more student loan debt than they ever anticipated taking on.  Once you get to the dissertation phase, you’re past the point of no return.  Giving up over a paper is sort of like planning to run for thirty minutes, and then quitting when you got to 29 minutes and 48 seconds.  According to the PhD Completion Project, the rates of completion for candidates across disciplines is roughly 50%, at the ten-year mark.  That’s right. A decade after starting, only about half of doctoral candidates have completed their dissertations and graduated. It’s safe to say that a significant number of people who start doctoral programs never finish them, and often, it’s because the dissertation burns them out.

What’s the best thing you can do when dissertation insanity is upon you (besides hiring a dissertation angel?)?  Just go with it. Play nice, Smile. Do your best to maintain a friendly and professional relationship with your committee members (in person at least — nobody has to know about the punching bag in your living room with a tattered photo of your chair duct taped to it).  Play the game and get out. Don’t take the revision requests or harsh criticism to heart. It’s not personal. It’s them, not you 😀

Make the revisions or give me a call.

Wine helps too. Or vodka. Lots of vodka.

 
Dissertation Angels