by Constance Davis | October 9, 2012
One’s first quarter in dissertation is the quarter in which one does tend to be most frustrated by the process – because it is not yet clear exactly what that process looks like. We know the specific steps you must follow and give those to you, but those will be implemented and incorporated differently by each new dissertator because each new dissertator works differently.
One’s first quarter is also the quarter in which one begins the transition from being in a courseroom with the instructor giving you weekly assignments to becoming an independent researcher who is learning to set one’s own structure and who is doing a little dance in establishing a good working relationship with a mentor. This is the quarter in which one begins to learn what the dissertation process looks like and one learns how to begin to give self assignments each week. This is also the quarter in which one learns to never sit and wait for feedback. The first quarter is also the time one begins to realize that this is not a linear process.
What is also frustrating to many who are beginning dissertation is that it might be a process where one takes two steps forward and three steps back for a quarter or two or more before finally getting to the point where they are finally taking three steps forward and only two steps back.
These are frustrations and sentiments felt by those beginning the dissertation process at every doctoral-granting institution across the country. At Capella we have a milestone process to provide you with a logical way to move forward. (You can survey dissertations from any large institution and you will see a variety of approaches to the dissertation. You might be surprised at dissertations from some from large research institutions that look pretty helter-skelter.)
The dissertation is a process. Part of that process is the research in the literature that supports one’s research questions, methodology, theoretical foundation, the gap in the literature and many other pieces that might not go into the dissertation but that help to provide a broader conceptual base for a dissertator. It is quite possible that one might not get any or much of the SMR completed in the first quarter because there is so much to learn before actually starting to answer those questions. The time you spend on an SMR in coursework might pale in comparison to the work you need to put in just to get topic approval.