Day 64: Asking the Right Research Question

Last week I discussed how a train is the perfect metaphor for organizing research projects - and ultimately, what led me to complete my dissertation proposal. This week, I discuss the engine or the research question. My husband explained it best: In the train metaphor, the first car is the engine which represents the research …

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Day 63: The Train: A framework to organize research

Somehow, I managed to achieve one of my biggest goals of this year in June: I defended my dissertation proposal. I spent almost three years working towards this point. I thought I would never reach this milestone. I had nightmares about being kicked out because I was taking too long. I thought that living in …

Day 62: This is not a Drill

My dissertation committee chair has finally - FINALLY - approved my draft. That means that I will be defending my dissertation proposal on June 15. I started the 100 day challenge rather naively. I thought that if I just worked hard enough - pushed hard enough - I would be able to make things happen. …

Day 61: Reflections on Academic Lives

Last year, the authors of this book reached out and asked me to write a "what I wish I knew before starting grad school" reflection. I was asked because they were trying to include many different view points and experiences. I was thrilled: I was looking forward to sharing my experiences as a dyslexic graduate …

Day 60: Fall Quarter

The Fall Quarter is over, winter is almost here. And I totally neglected my blog and my 100 Day Challenge. Fail. All in all, it was a successful ten weeks academically: I met with dissertation committee members four times. My theoretical arguments are ALMOST there (according to my chair). I got permission to start preliminary …

Day 58: Academic Entrepreneur-ing

I am the daughter of entrepreneurs and small business owners. That is not what I wanted to do with my life, and after much searching I decided to pursue an academic career. Four years into my training (yep - still a PhD student), I realized that I am becoming an entrepreneur anyway. LOL. Academic Entrepreneurship When …

Day 57: Making the Dissertation Mine

A few weeks ago, in the process of writing my dissertation proposal, I felt that my progress was out of my control. And that my dissertation was not mine, but that of my advisors. I was wrong. This dissertation is MINE. And remembering that has helped me keep pushing. Why did I change my dissertation strategy? …

Day 56: Measuring Progress

Getting to write this post took longer than expected. I kept trying to wait to post about advances towards my dissertation proposal. Unfortunately, I thought that I had nothing to report. However, I have recently realized that I have been measuring (and thinking about) my progress all wrong. Measuring Brute Force Efforts When I began the 100 Day …

Day 55: 100 Day Challenge Redefined

This is the Year to Conquer. And as such, I have been PUSHING to finish my proposal during the first quarter of the year. Spoiler Alert: It did not happen. But all is not lost! Well, not anymore. Back in January, my chair said my proposal (and what I had been working on for 8 …

Day 54: Pivot

It has been over two weeks since my last progress post. I was SO enthusiastic about my progress and the direction of my dissertation. I was ENERGIZED! I had plans! But then I talked to my dissertation chair who read over my ideas and concluded that my dissertation was "not viable." The horror. One of my goals …

Day 53: Not with a whimper, but a bang

Today was the first workday of 2016, The Year to Conquer! And it started with a BANG. I am re-working the way I think about setting goals for my dissertation proposal progress. Why change how I set goals? My previous goals (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) all have a few things …

Day 52: Music

http://www.morecambehigh.com/LIVE/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/music.jpg I absolutely LOVE working on the data analysis portion of my dissertation! But it can get repetitive. I keep my attitude fresh by listening to fun music. I have several different playlists for the kinds of work I do: For my Dance Breaks, I have upbeat music. For my writing, I use Spotify's focus …

Day 51: A Roadmap

Now that I have met with my mentors, it is time to update my dissertation roadmap and get it approved by my dissertation chair. My dissertation roadmap is a 10-15 page document that has the general outline of my three papers in order to make sure that the course of study is cohesive. As it …

Day 50: Halfway There!

Today is Day 50 0f my 100 Day Challenge! And I am doing MUCH better than I thought I would. On Day 21, I talked about how I had little clue about what my dissertation would look like. My plan looked like this: Institutional Logics Literature Review Diffusion Paper Some idea? Now and thanks to …

Day 49: Force of Nature

Today, I had an in-person meeting with my mentors. They are a force of nature. And I was nervous. I have known my two mentors for almost 10 years (yikes!). I learned very early on that when they work together, they are a force to be reckoned with. They are a formidable team. They know …

Day 48: Forecast

Yesterday, I spent the day getting estimates. Today, I conquered the forecasts! They are still subject to review by my faculty mentors. But they look pretty good to me! Now all the work I did on the theory side for this analysis is paying off. I will soon have one complete draft for one paper. …

Day 47: Data

Today I spent my day with my data. It was lovely. This is definitely my favorite part of grad school!! I am working on Bass Diffusion Models. There are three steps in order to use these models: Estimate the parameters. Get standard errors and t-values on those parameters. Do forecasts. Today I focus on Step …

Day 46: Mentorship

I have been struggling since #AcWriMo ended. I got sick and I let my momentum slip. Also, I got feedback on my preliminary theoretical ideas, and I lost my direction: I was going around in circles. I have been making little progress, and I keep wondering if I have the stamina to even finish this challenge. After all, …

Day 45: Milestone 9

http://careergirlnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Mentorship_Support.jpg On Day 40 I set myself some SMART goals. I did terrible! I continued to languish in the theory world for Paper 2. I do not have boxes and arrows model. I did not have any updates to send to mentors. But something else happened today. I had a meeting with my mentor who called me out …

Day 44: Collaborations

Monday is SWAG day. SWAG stands for Scientific Writing Accountability Group, and I co-founded it with two very smart ladies. We are emerging scholars in the field of health care management, and we are trying to get our research careers started. Why is this important? In a world where you either publish or perish, getting …

Day 43: Circles

No progress. I feel like I am going around in circles. I have been looking over the feedback my faculty chair sent me for Paper 2 (of 3) of my dissertation. And I decided to go back to the drawing board - again. This might be the fourth time I go back to the beginning. …

Day 42: Finding a Research Question

A few days ago, I talked about how to find a topic to study management. But the question that I should have been answering is: how do you find a research question? Coming up with questions is easy. Coming up with a GOOD research question - well, that is HARD. A good research question: Is falsifiable. Addresses …

Day 41: Perseverance

The road to a PhD is long. Not because it takes forever (which it feels like it does). But because research is unpredictable. We are all familiar with the scientific process: Each step leads to the next. Each steps helps you gain enough knowledge to move forward. But that is not how it really works. You …

Day 40: Milestone 8

On Day 35 I set myself some SMART goals. This is how I did: I made some revisions to the lit review. I have been making changes to Paper 3 logic. I did NOT begin theory for Paper 3. I worked on understandings the models. I wrote over 2,000 words! Days are going fast - I need to keep making progress. …

Day 39: The Return of The Countdown

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/hf_pq5EDh7w/maxresdefault.jpg To anyone paying attention, it would be easy to notice that on November 30, my 100 day challenge countdown stopped. It was the end of #AcWriMo and I was completely exhausted. I needed a day or two to rest. And I slipped. Two days turned into three. Then four turned into a week. Part of me …

Day 38: Celebration!

Today I am celebrating for two reasons: It is the last day of #AcWriMo. My husband completed the first draft of his dissertation. My husband, Matt, and I met in our PhD Program. He is one year ahead of me in this process and is one of the most diligent and hardworking individuals I have ever …

Day 37: 5 Minute Dance Break

http://www.bradfordesprit.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/DANCE.jpg One of the tools that keep me productive is the Pomodoro Technique. What keeps me energized are my 5 minute dance breaks! Academic work is tedious. You read a paper over and over. You look at your data over and over. You write, and edit, and rewrite, and edit again. You look at your …

Day 36: Dyslexic Moment

I posted this picture to Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScienceClau/status/670318154447458304 I did not notice until now: I misspelled the word advice. Sigh... I am going to go ahead and call this another dyslexic moment. Yes, I can write. Yes, I can pay attention to detail. And yes, I will slip up and will probably not notice. The thing …

Day 35: Milestone 7

On Day 30-ish I set myself some SMART goals. This is how I did: I did make the spreadsheet work - with 8 generations! I completed the theory logic for paper 2. I send my idea for feedback to my advisor. I wrote 2,239 words! Days are going fast - I need to keep making progress. …

Day 34: Small Victories

Every day since my 100 Day Challenge started, I have been tracking how many words I write, how much I read, and the progress I make. Today I accomplished a major win: I sent Paper 1 (literature review) to my advisor! I completed the final draft weeks ago, but it has taken me this long to edit and …

Day 33: Quora and Dyslexia

I had been a long-time lurker in Quora. I had an account, and I usually spent time reading answers to questions that were interesting. I always thought it was fascinating that people would give their time to writing answers for strangers. And then I saw a question that I obviously could not resist: Can a person …

Day 32: Milestone 6ish

So, I took a day off on my official milestone evaluation day.  Yikes! So, for the record, this is how I did: On Day 25, I set myself some SMART goals: I did finish the code. This time, my mentors contacted me. I did work on the theory for Paper 2 I only wrote 2,116 …

Day 31: Restart

Yesterday I took a much needed day off. Today, it was back to the routine. Except that waking up at 5 am after sleeping in the day before was painful. After only one day, it was back to square one. The very first day I started the 5 am routine I was invigorated by how much progress …

Day 30: Academic Guilt

http://shebudgets.toobnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2012/07/Guilt.jpg I took a day off. Yes, I am working on #AcWriMo and my personal 100 day challenge. But I needed to rest. I've mentioned it before, but I am completing my degree far away from my home institution because of some health issues. Being close to my family and friends has given me the strength …

Day 29: How I use Dictation

http://www.augsburg.edu/class/wp-content/uploads/sites/78/2014/05/AT-Mind-Map-for-Website.jpg Today, I was very close to not writing at all. It would have been my first day in #AcWriMo without any writing. The nice graph I have been keeping would have had an empty space. The horror! I wanted to write. I really did. But writing (as in typing) is an activity that uses …

Day 28: Coding and Dyslexia

Today  I spent all day finishing that code that has been the only incomplete milestones. I will debug and test it tonight and tomorrow morning. I love coding. As a dyslexic, I thought that having all these random words would be hard to cope with. Surprisingly, it is not. Coding is not about words at all. …

Day 27: The Right Work Environment

Finding the right environment to work and learn is very important for anyone. Just as it is important, it is challenging. Which is why there are countless articles written about how to create a workspace that allows you to focus (see almost any article at Lifehacker, for example). I have found that I work best in three …

Day 26: Learning with Dyslexia

Earlier today, I answered a question on Quora about how to memorize text with Dyslexia. People without Dyslexia take reading for granted. But when reading is not how you can learn, what do you do? You Listen. When I was very young (3rd grade or so) I began to make recordings of myself talking in order to …

Day 25: Milestone 5

It is goal evaluation time - again! EVALUATE - EVALUATE! (If you have ever watched Doctor Who, this should be hilarious! If you have never watched Doctor Who, I strongly recommend you stop everything you are doing and fix this major problem in your life. OK - So, how did I do? On Day 20, I …

Day 24: How #AcWriMo is helping my fear of Writing.

The chart above shows how many words I have written each of the last 15 days. My goal was 500 words per day. It was a stretch goal. I would have been happy with 300 words. What is most amazing here is what you don't see: any empty days. Before #AcWriMo, my average day consisted of …

Day 23: Weekend Balance

Life is about balance. Yes - I am working a lot and very hard on my dissertation proposal. At the same time I am taking care of my health (the reason I am in DC and not at my University). But it is important to take time to live - beyond work and health. Today, …

Day 22: Shitty First Draft

November has been an uncharacteristically productive month. This is thanks to #AcWriMo and my own 100 Day Challenge. The interesting part about that realization is that I have always had it in me to be this productive - so why wasn't I? PERFECTIONISM A long time ago, my husband told me about the idea of …

Day 21: Dissertation Update

My dissertation consists of three papers. When I began this challenge, my plan looked like this: A literature review of something? Some idea? Some other idea? If you are concerned about my future as a PhD at this point, you are in good company. My goal is to have the front-end (or theoretical arguments) drafted completely …

Day 20: Milestone 4

Why are these milestones every five days? Goal setting theory essentially suggests that people perform to meet their goals. The goals that we have as future scholars are measured in years. So it is really easy to get lost. After making no discernible progress in a year, I started the 100 Day challenge as means to keep …

Day 19: This Literature Review Needs to End

I have been making steady, but slow, progress on my literature review. And I am officially over it. I still find the research interesting, and the process is enlightening. I know more than I could ever have imagined knowing about a single topic. But I just need it to end. Yesterday, preferably. I am close. …

Day 18: A New Normal?

Yesterday, I relaxed in the afternoon. And I may have stayed up way too late. I was supposed to sleep in - just a little bit. But now, it seems that my early morning habit has taken effect. I woke up at 4:55 am - before my alarm! While I am thrilled that after only …

Day 17: Like A Boss

Today was a good day. All the reading I have been doing trying to recreate my spreadsheet paid off (today, at least). Revisiting the literature in that much detail, years after I originally read it, has given me a new perspective. I think I finally have worked out how I am going to organize my …

Day 16: The Horror

I have been hard at work finishing my literature review. I originally thought it would take me three weeks to complete. It has been three weeks. I am not even half-way done. What happened? Missing files. This is one of the worst nightmares of graduate students and researchers everywhere. Actually, this is a nightmare for …

Day 15: Milestone 3

These milestones come too fast! I am always surprised! On Day 10, I set myself some SMART goals, This is how I did: Here are the goals for the next five days: I sent an update to my advisor. I sent update to Mentor 1 and 2 at the same time. I became familiar with Norton …

Day 14: Morning Writing Sprint1

  Every morning, I wake up in time to get to my local Starbucks when they open at 5:30 am. Then I challenge myself to read and write for one whole Pomodoro cycle (which takes about 2 hours). I usually write for about 1 hour and read for one hour. I get 500+ words written …