rivka: (phrenological head)
I never got around to presenting my dissertation data at the primary conference in my field - mostly because by the time I finished the damn thing, the research I was doing was completely separate from my dissertation topic. I always had HIV stuff to present at the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Besides, it's not a conference that tends to bring in many people with either child/developmental interests, or disability interests, so my dissertation topic was off the beaten track for the meeting.

But this year I thought, what the hell. I submitted an abstract based on my dissertation research, and it was accepted for presentation as a poster. (I knew I wasn't going to be offered an oral presentation, given the off-the-beaten-trackness.) Now I'm putting the poster together, which means, among other things, that I pulled out the photos of misbehaving children which I used for our analog measure of abuse potential.

There's a lot more information about the analog task at that link, but essentially, we showed parents slides of various child behaviors and asked them how they would respond. Some of the photos are normal kid stuff, and some of them are really not. There's a mix of normal behaviors, rule violations, destructive behaviors, and dangerous behaviors.

[photos removed]

I thought people might be interested in seeing the photos, so I uploaded about a dozen of them to my Flickr account. You can see the whole set here. (Photos have been taken down.)

Because they're research items, I'm only going to leave them up for a few days - so look now, if you're curious.


Sep. 3rd, 2003 02:46 pm
rivka: (smite)
[livejournal.com profile] rivka:
> > Did you intend to insult me with the "Piled Higher
> > and Deeper" part, or did you not realize that it
> > refers to *shit* being piled higher and deeper?

Someone else, not the original poster:
> Of course; it's a geometric progression (or worse):
> BSc -- Bullshit certificate
> MSc -- More shit certificate
> PhD -- Piled higher and deeper.
> Felicitations and salutations -- nobody will ever know
> what agonies you went through for that worthless piece
> of paper but you. Treasure those happy memories for they
> will sustain you in the trials to come.
> I'm not good at this sort of thing, as you may have surmised.

[livejournal.com profile] rivka:
If you were aiming at taking me down a peg, undercutting
my pleasant sense of accomplishment, or devaluing eight
years' worth of hard work, you're on the right track. If
that's not what you meant to be doing, well, maybe next
time you should stick to "felicitations" and leave it at

I know I'm supposed to take this as all in good fun, but
I've spent eight years of my life working very hard,
earning very little, forgoing many pleasures, and postponing
other significant life goals. I don't know what prompts you
to tell me that my degree is worthless and my work is a
shitpile, but forgive me if I don't really have a sense
of humor about it.

Okay, I feel as though I've completely lost my shit here - or at least, my sense of perspective. But these comments just feel hostile to me. I'm sure he thinks he's just teasing and I know I'm supposed to be a good sport about it. And maybe if I weren't still so tired from the whole ordeal I would be a good sport about it. Or if it was someone I knew so well that their supportiveness could be taken for granted, and we had a pre-existing teasing relationship. In the absence of those factors, I feel as though I'm being told not to get above myself.
rivka: (her majesty)
I came into work this morning to find a "Congratulations, Doctor!" sign on my door and a "Ph.D." appended to the nameplate beside the door. Also, the "while you were gone" note from our research assistant managed to work in the phrase "Dr. Wald" three different times. Yay, Lydia and Javi.

Now for the peeves:

(1) You should not ask someone with a new Ph.D. whether they're going to do a postdoc or take a "real job." As people working 60+ hours per week at their postdocs can surely attest, a postdoc is a "real job" in every sense of the word.

(2) It is unlikely that someone who has just spent eight years of her life earning a Ph.D. will be amused by the idea that Ph.D. stands for "[shit] Piled Higher & Deeper." Which part did you mean, the congratulations or the insult?

Okay, maybe I'm oversensitive, but sheesh.
rivka: (her majesty)
Sometime on the morning of my dissertation defense I had a startling realization: nervous and excited have the same physiological component. If you feel jumpy and wired and your muscles are tense and your heart is pounding, you get to decide whether to label that "excited" or "nervous." I firmly told myself I was excited, and it almost completely worked.
the war story continues at length... )


Aug. 27th, 2003 03:28 pm
rivka: (her majesty)
I did it! I defended my dissertation, and I passed, and it was fun! Yaaaaaay!

(I'll say more about it later - I just thought you all might want to know that much.)


Aug. 25th, 2003 11:10 pm
rivka: (her majesty)
I have my suit. I wear it seldom enough that I always marvel at how professional it makes me look. It's so deep a navy blue as to be almost black. It has quasi-military styling: it buttons up above my breasts with big silver-and-navy buttons and has a belt across the back with two more buttons on it. No one else could wear my suit - it's tailored to fit my short right arm. It fits me perfectly. I couldn't fail to be brilliant in that suit.

I have a cream-colored silk blouse and low black heels and fine sheer stockings with no runs in them, to wear with my suit.

I have my laptop computer and its power cord, which means that I have all of my dissertation data in Excel and SPSS files and output files for all of my data analyses. I have my dissertation and its figures and the external abstract on a CD. I have a hard copy of my dissertation. I have overheads for my defense. I have notes of my advisor's advice about my defense. I have the reference for an article he recommended on problems with the dichotomization of continuous variables, which wasn't in the University of Maryland library but is probably in the University of Iowa library, given that he read it. I have the Graduate College Thesis Manual. I have the Graduate College's critique of all the ways in which my first deposit deviated from the Thesis Manual. I have a half-page cheat sheet about logistic regression.

I have all of my University of Iowa keys to return.

I have two buttons, neither of which I will wear on the outside of my clothes: "Trust me, I'm almost a doctor," and "we have charts & graphs to back us up so fuck off."

I have all of the ordinary things you take on a week-long trip: seven T-shirts and two sundresses and three pairs of shorts and my sandals and underwear and a long T-shirt to sleep in at David and Leslie's house and my summerweight bathrobe and my bathing suit and jeans and a long-sleeved shirt in case it really does get cool in Minneapolis over the weekend, and four books (The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope, which is what I'm reading right now, and Murder Must Advertise and Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers, and a single-volume set of Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford), and my cell phone charger, and all of my bathroom things and my medications.

Surely that means that everything will go just fine.


Aug. 21st, 2003 12:11 am
rivka: (Default)
I had no idea they publicized it.

I made overheads today for my defense. I had been planning to use Powerpoint, but John told me that (a) my presentation can only be fifteen minutes long at a maximum, and (b) he does not approve of students trying to be "flashy" with AV materials at their dissertation defenses. So I have a nice series of eight transparencies, very much all about substance over style.

I'm starting to get nervous.

I was thinking today... for years, my dissertation was my private bete noire, my solitary battle. I was ashamed of my lack of progress, so I resisted talking about it to anyone. It was very lonely. But in the last six weeks or so, as I've been pushing towards the finish line, more and more I've started to think of my dissertation as a rite of passage. I'm very conscious of my friends who have gone before me. When people say, "oh yeah, I felt like that too, just before the end," it's come to mean more to me than just sympathy - it reminds me that I'm traveling a path that generations of academics in all fields have traveled. There's something encouraging about it. I guess it's... context, for how hard all of this has been. I don't know. I've started and then deleted a bunch of attempts at explaining it here.

It's just... thanks, guys.
rivka: (her majesty)
rivka: (her majesty)
I just got e-mail from John. He finished reading the second draft of my Discussion, and he only suggested three or four minor wording changes. He loved the new intro.

I've re-read the first three sections myself, and I only have minor wording and punctuation changes to make. I still need to read the Discussion, but if John likes it at this point, I'm not likely to make any major changes.

I need to go through the electronic copy and make the changes I recorded on the paper copy. Then I need to write a 350-word Abstract for Dissertation Abstracts International. That's it. I'll be done with my dissertation by dinner time.

Strangely, I feel sick. My head is swimming and my stomach is tense and nervous.

I'm going to be done with my dissertation by dinner time.

Done. With my dissertation.

Wow, this is weird.
rivka: (Default)
"The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released a statement urging greater national attention to the maltreatment of children with disabilities (APA, 2003). The APA's call for further research, clinical care, and public policy directed at maltreated disabled children signals that despite thirty years of evidence linking maltreatment and disabilities, key research questions have not been answered and many of the needs of this vulnerable population have not been met."

-- New opening sentences of [livejournal.com profile] rivka's dissertation, replacing both the original dull and uninspired first sentence and the perhaps a trifle too inspired "Don't call me Ishmael."
rivka: (her majesty)
Now, that's what I call a productive day.

Update: John says the first three sections are good to go. He's going to look at the Discussion tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning.

If he gets to it tomorrow, I should be ready to print and copy on Monday. Holy cow.
rivka: (Default)
Does one thank one's advisor in the Acknowledgements?

The Grad College manual says "acknowledgements are limited to thanks for or recognition of special assistance;" I'm thanking my funding sources, my undergraduate RA, the people in the Pediatrics department who gave me access to my subjects, and my advisor's secretary, who helped me with a lot of admin stuff that isn't in her job description. Helping me is in my advisor's job description, but should I thank him anyway? I'm not sure what's generally done.
rivka: (her majesty)
My two morning research participants didn't show up today. I spent the time plowing through the last twelve pages of editing my Discussion section. My afternoon subject obligingly showed up early, which meant that I could leave work early, so I came home and typed up the changes I'd made in the morning and shipped the Discussion off to John. That's a complete second draft done. Then I collapsed on the bed with [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and took a two-hour nap. Mmmmm. I've now forced myself to wake up so that I won't throw my sleep schedule off completely, but I'm still feeling remarkably sleep-focused.

That's a complete second draft done.

Things left to do:
- Put the sections together and fix all the formatting - line spacing, page numbering, etc.
- Proofread tables and clean up table formatting.
- Clean up figure (graph) formatting.
- Come up with a better first sentence than "Don't call me Ishmael."
- Interleave figures and tables into the Results section, because John doesn't want them in appendices.
- Dig up the last few references I need.
- Make sure that all the references cited in the text appear in the reference list, and all the references on the reference list are cited in the text.
- Add a couple of lines each to the Introduction (citing more evidence for the effectiveness of analog research) and the Results (reporting the correlation between social isolation and family stress).
- Write up the acknowledgements, dedication, table of contents, and abstract.
- Read the whole thing straight through and see if any other changes need to be made. The Discussion in particular may need more tweaking.
- Incorporate any last-minute edits of John's after he gets the second draft back to me.

- Print dissertation, make copies, put them in a FedEx box, and send it to John.

Um. I think that's it.

I can do that.
rivka: (Default)
Another five pages edited. It's not a great rate of progress, but I'm not exactly in a position to complain about any forward movement whatsoever. I should have time to work on it tomorrow while I'm waiting for research participants. I think it will help to work earlier in the day, before I'm exhausted.

We booked our travel arrangements for my defense today. We're staying at the same hotel which housed our wedding guests and the Weddingcon '99 consuite. It's a more-comfortable-than-average hotel with a pool and hot tubs and a truly goofy medieval theme, and at $65 it's only costing us about $25 a night more than a Motel 6. Worth it for the comfort, of course, but the true value of this place will be in the happy memories. The bathed-in-love feeling comes back just thinking about the last time I was there. I think I'm going to need that, come the 26th and 27th of August.
rivka: (her majesty)
Task: Edit hard copy of Results section, making changes in ink.
Inducement to work on it: City Cafe for a change of scene, several cups of Earl Grey, and freedom from the distractions of net access and other things to read.
Reward for finishing: Odwalla blackberry fruit shake to take home.
Next up: Work changes into electronic version, deciding which of John's wording changes to keep in the process.
Reward for finishing whole section: Baseball game with [livejournal.com profile] lilairen tonight.

Update: Finished the section and mailed it to John, a whole hour before I need to leave for the ball game. Go, me!
rivka: (her majesty)
(1) Called the Graduate College to make sure that I understand all the rules for First Deposit of my dissertation, and also to be sure that someone will be around during the break between the summer session and the fall semester to receive my First Deposit. All is well.

(2) Edited the Method section, incorporating all of John's suggestions as well as the additional changes I wanted to make myself. The Method is the shortest section, so in that sense, finishing it isn't that big a deal - but on the other hand, it's finished, and it's not as though I've had so much forward progress these days that I ought to be downplaying any of it.

I'm going to try to get in at least another hour this evening. Using a classical CD to set a work period seems to be working well, and the current English Country Dance CD in the drive is an hour and six minutes long. I can do that. But first, dinner and The Amazing Race.


Jul. 31st, 2003 12:58 am
rivka: (ice cream)
After my last post, I spent many, many more hours futzing around not getting work done and being pissed at myself as a result. Finally, I put on a 40-minute CD (English Country Dance music, which I find helps me be calm and orderly) and told myself that I had to work on my dissertation until the CD was finished.

I started with the easiest task I could think of, incorporating new citations into the References section. Then I started putting John's edit of the Introduction together with the edit I did before he got back to me. At some point I noticed that the CD had ended and started it again from the beginning. I took a break to have dinner and watch a Buffy episode with [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel, and then I came back and finished editing the Introduction section. It still needs a snappy first sentence other than "Don't call me Ishmael," but other than that it's probably Good Enough.

Thanks to everyone who's been supportive. What's helped the most is having people with Ph.D.s tell me that this is a normal stage of the process, and not something specifically broken about me - but all of the encouragement and sympathy has helped. Thanks.
rivka: (her majesty)
I suppose that it's normal to be falling to pieces at this stage of the process, but it's damned annoying.
whining follows )

At last!

Jul. 27th, 2003 03:14 pm
rivka: (her majesty)
I came upstairs a few minutes ago intending to check my e-mail quickly and lie down for a nap. When I saw a string of e-mails from my delinquent dissertation advisor, however, all thoughts of sleep instantly fled from my mind.

He redeems himself (at least partially) for the delay by giving me a very thorough edit. My favorite comment so far, which makes me wonder if he's been studying snarky editing with Jae's betas: "Although we shouldn't aspire to being Melville, I think you need a better first sentence that captures the broader implications of the work. I must admit that I haven't crafted a very good one, however." Heh. I'm tempted to send back a second draft that leads off, "Don't call me Ishmael."

He's most critical about the Discussion section, which is only reasonable given that the Discussion actually does suck the most. He thinks it's too defensive and self-critical and doesn't focus enough on the strengths of my study, which is a whole lot better than having him think the opposite. There are only a mercifully few places in which he says something like "I think you need to rework this whole section."

I've known all along that if I can get John's approval of my dissertation, I can successfully defend it before my committee. He's smart and unsparing and he knows my subject better than anyone else, so he'll anticipate most of the valid criticisms. And I know him well enough to be confident that he'll take my side at my defense - strenuously, if need be. Once he's signed off on my work, he's not going to want to be second-guessed by anyone else.

Looking at his comments right now, I feel pretty confident that I can edit this document into a form he'll approve. It's going to take some work, but it's not going to take an insane or unreasonable amount of work. And he doesn't have any criticisms I feel I'm at a loss to address. I feel as though I'm in a pretty good space going into the last two and a half weeks before it's due.
rivka: (smite)
Tuesday evening, the day I finished my dissertation first draft, I sent the last section to my advisor with a slightly panicked note reminding him that he hasn't gotten any of my sections back with comments, and that the clock is ticking down. At the time I wrote the e-mail, there were a scant five weeks until my defense - which meant three weeks until I have to have my final draft.

No response Wednesday.

No response Thursday.

No response Friday morning.

I've really been freaking out. I mean, yes, I can make changes on my own. I'm a good writer and a good editor of my own writing. But I need to hear from him that I'm on the right track overall - that I've done all the analyses I need to do, that my discussion is adequate in scope, that I'm not missing anything important. I can wait for his stylistic comments, but I desperately need a big-picture evaluation from him, and I haven't been getting it.

Today I called him at his vacation cottage in Wisconsin. I was pretty worked up by the time I called - all this silence from him! - and there he was, sounding all relaxed and amiable. Happy to hear from me. Nothing in his voice sounded like he thought there was any kind of issue between us.

Yes, he got my e-mail. Yes, he knows he needs to send me something. He's going to try to get me the whole thing tomorrow or Sunday. Can he send me sections? No, because he's working back and forth through the whole document and thinking about how the sections relate to each other. Can he tell me anything? Well, the reason he hasn't been rushing to get it back to me is that it's pretty good. He's got some suggestions - I need to dig up references for some of the things I say in the introduction, for example - but he thinks it's in good shape. Has he read the whole thing? Oh yeah, of course. And he thinks my graphs are great - very persuasive. A word of advice - installing a glass block wall is a lot trickier than it appears. Any dissertation advice? Not at present, but he knows he's been derelict. He'll get it to me soon. Great talking to me.

Jesus Christ. Okay, I feel much much better knowing that I'm on the right track. If his only example of things that need fixing is some unreferenced assertions, then I'm fine. I'm not going to find out a week before it's due that I have to rewrite the entire back half. But for God's sake, why couldn't he drop me a single lousy e-mail to tell me so? He was so... so blithe, through the whole phone call. So cheery. As if it never occurred to him that not hearing from him might be causing me problems.

I feel like tearing my hair out at the roots - but only because I can't get to his.


rivka: (Default)

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