Dissertation On The Downward Spiral

Don’t prolong graduate school by falling prey to the delusions surrounding the “best dissertation”. Don’t be naïve in assuming that the academic labor system will reward you financially or professionally for a beautiful dissertation.

It is great to be proud of your work and to create something that is a valuable contribution to your field.

That is one of the greatest parts of a graduate education.

Dissertations don’t count if they are not done and your committee wants you to finish on time much, much more than they want a “perfect” document.

Don’t get lost in the labor- and time-intensive process of preparing this “perfect dissertation” at the expense of getting on with your future career.

They will however, read your publications, have seen your talks at conferences, and review grants that you apply for; all of which are all items that end up on your CV.

Do good work on your dissertation, but remember that in completing your dissertation you should be consistently publishing, presenting, and applying for funding for your work.Get past the idea of a perfect dissertation because it will never exist.It is a reviewer’s job to find fault, and there will always be something that someone, somewhere, somehow disagrees with no matter how much effort you put into writing.While this may rankle some graduate students, I think this is some of the best advice that an ABD can take to heart.Yes, it may be a tired cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason!While I cannot speak for the humanities, in STEM fields only your published papers get read.The dissertation is simply a formal mark showing that you can do research and contribute to the field.It’s really easy to get lost in the details and to focus on all the minutiae of your project.After a couple of years in grad school this is how your brain works.If you really want to revolutionize your field, you need to be working in it, not just completing a dissertation on the subject. Do they want a perfect document, or do they want a student that finishes in a timely manner and goes on to a productive career (whatever that means for you)?Which looks better from the university’s perspective? Yes, your committee should be pushing you to do good work (it’s why you have one after all), but once you’ve met your graduation requirements it’s time to dive in and finish your dissertation.


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