February 10, 2014
What follows is some very timely wisdom from my most esteemed supervisor, Dr. Siemens, following yet another bout of dissertation ideas I sent off to him. “A dissertation is not ‘how to bake’ it is more like ‘how to use mandarin oranges in making small cupcakes for July 4th celebrations”. Best phrase ever…right up there with the idea of chipping away ice chunks to cool your drink not demolishing an entire cube. Now comes heeding this advice when all I really want to do is make an animated piece of typography out of it…or maybe eat a small cupcake. Focus Lisa. Focus.
Hi Lisa –
the biggest challenge you’ll face with your dissertation is scope. What you list in your four points is the equivalent of several dissertations :). My advice, and one that you will hear again and again, is to focus, focus, focus (oh, and focus). What ONE main idea is provocative and important enough for you to spend the next several years exploring? Once you have that clear, you can build sub questions around it. But it really does need to be precise. A dissertation is not “how to bake” it is more like “how to use mandarin oranges in making small cupcakes for July 4th celebrations”. precise. focused. You are not surveying a field – you are going deeply in an area where no one has gone before. When you are done, you will be the *world expert* in that one area.