Thursday, November 13, 2008


If my writing is a bit disjointed (or as F1-1 would say, discombobulated), it's because I worked through the night, and turned in the dissertation at 6:30 am this morning. Yesterday a student colleague, our labmanager and I worked all day on trying to get a statistic calculated and tested that my adviser wanted me to add. I must have killed two trees in the process. All the intermediate steps needed t be analyzed carefully for model fitting, numbers to be used in subsequent steps, and such. I had only done this exercise in a class more than 3 years ago. And the others I worked with were a bit rusty themselves, but eventually we managed to figure it out for one of my experiments. I ran out of time to finish up the second, but now that I know how it's done, it ought to go quicker. It was too late to put it in the dissertation at this time. I'll add it in before final submission.

Now I've done 2 of the 3 submissions. I have to defend it in 2 weeks, if I pass, I'll have to incorporate comments from my committee members, before final submission.

No break for me though. I have to print the dissertation up for at least one of my committee members, take care of my plants in the greenhouse, start up fungal cultures for inoculation next week, finish up model fitting and statistics, incorporate last-minute comments from my adviser. Ideally I would also start working on my exit seminar, but that seems overly ambitious at this point.

I ought to feel elated. I always thought that if my adviser said my dissertation was good enough to be sent to the rest of the committee that it was just a formality from there on end, and pretty much a done deal. But now I feel numb, edgy, and unable to estimate whether it will be good enough. There are some pretty major gaps in my work that I am very painfully aware of. I simply ran out of time. If I would start on this project now, I would do a kick-ass job in a fraction of the time that I did a shitty job on this degree. It feels so inadequate. And deep down, I'm convinced that my committee members will see through the whole farce and realize that I'm just not up to the task.

I know it sounds pessimistic, and I probably shouldn't be writing this on virtually no sleep and lots of coffee, but there you go. That's how it feels. Not good at all. Just another hurdle in a string of them.

I'll be starting up a separate counter for all the steps that need to be done from now on.


Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Congratulations!! Don't worry, submitting is anticlimactic for everyone - it's just so hard to feel anything after such a prolonged period of stress. And remember, there's no need for a dissertation to be awesome; it just needs to be DONE.

Tara Luana said...

ditto to dr. brazen hussy's comments...this is really just the first step for the rest of your career, and even if you don't feel like this whole experience was your best work (and really, what graduate student does, really we are all just learning, right?), you have the rest of you life to do really great work, whatever it may be.

Hang in there, you're almost done!

Joyce said...

Congratulations Makita!! The fact that you have gotten this far shows that you are indeed up to the task. You have inspired me to pull an all nighter so I can get my stuff done too. You are going to make it!!!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Congratulations! Every PhD thesis has gaps in it; as long as you know what they are, have good explanations for them, and can describe how you would fill them in given more time, you will do fine.

I've heard sooooo many people say that, if they were starting from scratch, they could get their PhD work done in less than a year. But learning how to get to that stage is kinda the point of doing a PhD in the fisrt place!

EcoGeoFemme said...

Congratulations for submitting your diss! That is a huge achievement, even if there is still a lot to do.

I agree with everyone else. My take on the quality of the dissertation is that it just has to be good enough for the individuals on the committe to approve it. No one else will probably read it as it is -- they'll read the version of it that you publish as individual research papers. So there will be an opportunity to fill in the gaps before people really read it..

makita said...

Thanks you everyone for your kind comments. After a real night of sleep last night, I do feel better now. Still overwhelmed. But better. I guess I really have to start looking for a job. I may even pull this off.