Thanks! I did not keep the old copy I saw a long time ago, but every now and then there is something interesting like this that comes out.
A few general observations of my own:
1. It is great if a doctoral student can develop his dissertation proposal as he completes each course, with material from each course contributing to it. Unfortunately, it rarely happens. In fact, it generally hampers creativity anyway. Too much is learned in coursework to limit the scope of one's ideas to what one thinks before ever starting most of it. While it might seem more efficient to do it this way, therefore, highly creative people should still just go ahead and wait until they are close to their field exams.
2. Don't get married while working on your doctorate. I wonder why this was missing from the article. Hmm. Well anyway, if you ever feel tempted to get married, insist that you must first complete your doctorate. There is simply no other way to think about it. Remember: Your doctorate is sacred. It will never interrupt your football game to tell you, "We have to talk."
3. Don't get a full-time job while working on your doctorate. That's funny. This is not mentioned either. Usually this becomes a necessity if you break rule #2 above. Getting a full-time job generally means that you will consume the absolute maximum of allowable time to complete your dissertation, and you will undermine your actual job prospects upon graduation.
4. Next, even though the faculty seemed exorbitantly enthusiastic about recruiting you, they may very well seem completely indifferent about your completing your program. This is almost a Catch-22. If the faculty actively assist you in your success, it can hamper your creativity and undermine your growth. If they do not help, then it can leave you frustrated and angry at how you have been let down. Instead, plan on being completely let loose once you pass your field exams. Don't expect anyone to care what you do next. Then go for it. Explore however you must in order to arrive at that big idea. Writing papers during your doctoral program, whether they are conference papers or something stronger, will generate a lot of potential ideas from which to choose later.
5. Last but not least, and probably most important, the best doctorate is the completed one. Propose to do something extremely simple. Don't worry; your committee will add a lot of extraneous material to it. During your proposal or during prior face-to-face discussions, negotiate with your committee on the basis of your knowledge. If someone asks, for example, why you did not include such and such, it may throw you off guard for a moment, until you realize that you had already considered it somewhere in the depths of your early thinking. Remember, once you have developed your proposal, you are the expert. Trust your judgment. Argue back with your committee like the academic you are. They usually respect it. Don't just buy whatever they give you and then go off exasperated that you have so much more work to do before you can start sending out your surveys. Resist as much as you can, make compromises, and just treat the entire negotiation process like real business negotiation. In the end, your committee wants your product to add value, and it will do so if it honors their opinions.
Richard S. Voss, Ph.D.
Chair, Graduate Business Programs
Troy University, Southeast Region
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