Sunday, 1 January 2006

Dissertation Committee and Proposal Advice

Here's some quick advice for those finalizing their committees and completing their dissertation proposals.

A. Committee Selection

1) Supervisor:

Your supervisor should clearly be someone who can be a mentor and also an expert in your area of research. Your choice of supervisor requires you to be confident this person will champion you for years to come, as he or she will be writing letters of reference for you among other very important duties. Questions you might want to ask from the start:

1. Does your work offer a substantial contribution to, or overlap with, the supervisor's areas of interest?
2. Will this person write good letters of reference for you over the coming years?
3. Is this person a Full Professor or do they have a high standing in your academic community?

2) Other good advice that I received from peers includes making sure that your committee includes people that fill these roles:

1. Editor: The best editor of your work that you have ever had in any of your courses (e.g. grammar and style issues).
2. Cheerleader: Someone who will be a cheerleader of your work throughout the process.
3. Critic: Someone who will be a harsh critic (and generally you do not want this person as your supervisor; the 3rd reader is usually a good place to situate this person).

B. Dissertation Proposals

1) Make sure your committee is clear and in agreement on the length of your proposal. For example, there were two sets of documents in my doctoral programme that use to offer conflicting advice – one said the proposal had to be 10 pages and the other said 20 pages; however, here’s the current standards:

Okay that's all I got for now, but I hope that helps! It definitely helped me at the time...