- Submit some manuscripts to scholarly journals. A colleague and I had been planning to submit our co-written paper to a journal for a few months, and this hiatus provided the best opportunity to finally submit it.
- Begin another research project. I played around with this idea, coming up with different research questions involving the same population under investigation in my dissertation. I limited myself to brainstorming research questions and doing some preliminary literature searching.
- Submit proposals to conferences. In my case, the deadlines for proposals for many upcoming conferences had already passed. I spent a little time brainstorming ideas for proposals for conferences during the 2013/14 academic year.
- Work more on the pilot study. I already had two opportunities to work on my pilot study since August, and I didn't want to adjust or add anything more being so close to the research proposal meeting.
I also spent the last month brushing up on my Spanish skills using Duolingo, a free online language learning software program. I did this for a number of reasons both personal and professional, and I found it more enjoyable than I expected.
One of the more useful ways of spending my hiatus time was working on my professional blog. I took the opportunity to explore my ideas about incorporating multiliteracies into second language education, a second research interest of mine. I wanted to practice my skills of curriculum development with this new idea as well as learn more about the development of education technology and its effects on learning and pedagogy. This exercise actually prepared me for the job I just accepted.
Research Proposal Meeting
On my birthday, February 14, my co-chairs gave me the green light to schedule my research proposal meeting with my dissertation committee: 3 faculty from my department, 1 from another department within the College of Education, and 1 from my cognate area of Sociocultural Anthropology. I used Doodle to schedule it, and found that March 7 was the best earliest time for everyone.
By request, I sent 4 committee members a digital copy of my proposal (the first 3 chapters of my dissertation) and 1 member a hard copy in a 3-ring binder. They all received their copies within a week of February 14.
A series of winter storms swept passed Iowa, about one a week, leading up to my proposal meeting. One of these storms prevented one of my co-chairs from attending the meeting, but the meeting proceeded well without her.
I spent the first 10 minutes presenting a synopsis of my research proposal, ending it with some of my concerns. And over the next 80 minutes, I discovered that my concerns overlapped quite well with my committees. Nobody's questions or concerns took me by surprise, and I was very happy to receive such constructive feedback. I'm not sure how typical this is for PhD candidates as I haven't met many who like to share details about their meeting.
By the end of the meeting, I had a good idea of how to make changes to my first 3 chapters before collecting the data. At that time, it seemed like these changes would take a few months and I could start collecting data by mid to late summer 2013. I was surprised after reconnecting with my co-chairs that I did not have to make as many drastic changes as I was ready to make. The best outcome for me is that it seems that I do not need to go through IRB again.
Today, I just submitted my action plan to my co-chairs. And if all goes well, I should be able to start collecting data as soon as late spring/early summer 2013. In the meantime, I will be starting my new job, which will most likely slow things down. I don't mind as much now that my family and I are more financially secure.