Sunday, May 25, 2014

Post-Defense Revisions, part 2

Several weeks have passed since my defense.  The drained and somber emotions of the defense have passed, replaced with a determination to make all the revisions based on recommendations and suggestions from the committee.  A lot of bullet biting has helped me sweep through revising the first four chapters.  It's Memorial Day weekend, and I only have one chapter left to revise.  I'm taking the day off to enjoy the thought of laying down the last piece of this five-year long puzzle next weekend.  It's been quite a reflective time.

Biting the Bullet
Over the last year, I have been tied to the thought that I was using grounded theory for my dissertation.  Although I have been using some of the techniques used in grounded theory for my data analysis, I had always had a theoretical framework in the back of my mind.  My issue was that this theoretical framework is based on a model designed for teachers.  The model was created by a well-published researcher in my field, but the model itself was not grounded in research.  Instead it was based on his personal experiences and observations as an English language teacher and as an educator of English language teachers.  My committee helped give me the courage to credit this model as my theoretical framework as my research helps ground the model. 

I was also tied to involving a popular theory used in culture shock studies, but my committee helped me finally come to the conclusion to drop it from the dissertation.  Although I have evidence to support this theory, it distracts from the bigger theoretical framework mentioned in the previous paragraph.

My problem was that I wanted to show how my research supported many theories and models used in second language education, intercultural communication, and acculturation psychology.  What I learned from the defense is that I should show how my research supports just one of the theories or models as it makes for a tighter argument.  This was a blessing in disguise because I can publish other articles showing how my dissertation research supports the others.  I really don't feel qualified to publish much in acculturation psychology, but I feel that my experiences, training, and research in intercultural communication qualify me to publish in that field.  I will sound find out as I will be presenting my findings at a conference on intercultural communication.  Fortunately for me, many of the organizers have backgrounds in second language education.

After my defense, I reopened my Facebook account and I have been keeping my friends and family informed of my post-defense revision process.  I closed my Facebook after my I completed collecting data.  That social network was an easy temptation to distract me from data analysis and writing Chapters 4 and 5.  With the defense behind me, I feel like I can handle the distraction again.  (I also discovered that I like Facebook even less now, and I'm looking to close the account again soon.)  Below are my reports that I posted on Facebook.

Friday, May 9, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #1: I just gutted 10 pages from Chapter 1, thus providing me a sense of both pain and relief at the same time. This is how my weekend begins!
  • Post-defense revision, step #2: I just spent an hour combing through and correcting grammar inconsistencies in Chapter 3. My work for Friday is complete. How's your weekend so far?
Saturday, May 10, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #3: I have re-framed and strengthened my arguments in Chapter 1 ahead of schedule. I can now take it easy until I receive more feedback from my committee co-chair.
 Sunday, May 11, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #4: Chapter 1 completed! Proofreader needed when all chapters are revised. Goals for the weekend are accomplished.
Friday, May 16, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #5: Removed 6 pages from Chapter 2 that will never return in another form. May remove up to 10 more tomorrow. This is how my weekend begins.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #6: Reorganized half of Chapter 2 and wrote a much stronger introduction. Added 4 pages and removed none. That was my Saturday morning. How was yours?
  • Post-defense revision, step #7: Streamlined the middle third of Chapter 2 this afternoon. I removed more pages than I expected, so I'm back to 10 fewer pages than the draft used in the defense. I will finish chapter 2's revisions tomorrow. Picnic time is coming!
Sunday, May 18, 2014
  • Post-defense, revision, step #8: Chapter 2 revisions have been completed with even more pages removed. The incision was easier than I imagined. And it's only 8:15 in the morning!
Monday, May 19, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #9: I spent my morning revising Chapter 3, which needed the least revisions of the 5 chapters. This is how I spend my vacation day!      
 Saturday, May 24, 2014
  • Post-defense revision, step #10: Reorganized two-thirds of Chapter 4 this morning. I didn't realize that I neglected to report an important finding that added as many pages as I removed in the past 2 days. This process took twice as long as I expected. Ugh!
  • Post-defense revision, step #11: I have completed my Chapter 4 revisions! One chapter to go, but first I must enjoy the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend,   

Looking back at my Facebook status updates, I seem to be very conscious of the page count.  I don't really care what the final page count is, but I like to see how my revisions affect the page count.  When I first submitted my first draft of all the chapters, it was over 300 pages long.  When it was delivered to the committee, I cut about 30 pages from it based on my co-chairs' suggestions.  Now it's 20 pages shorter with most of those pages cut from Chapters 1 and 2.  Chapter 4 was the most interesting to view as I removed nearly as many pages as I added.  I think I ended up with one page fewer than when I began Chapter 4 revisions.

In revision step #10, I noted that I neglected to report an important finding.  I was surprised because the finding was clearly in my brain and in my introductory presentation at the defense, but it was missing in Chapter 4.  This error alone shows why it's important to go over your dissertation several times.  A third-party proofreader would most likely not catch that as he or she is not familiar with your content.

I am still considering a third-party proofreader mainly to catch APA-style problems.  I have a friend that may be able to be this proofreader who may do it for free in exchange for me proofreading one of his articles.  I think this is more than fair, with me on the more beneficial side.

Next Steps
By next Sunday, June 1st, I should have Chapter 5's revisions completed.  So on Monday, June 2nd, I will submit my revised dissertation to my co-chairs to show that I have considered their suggestions.  During the week of June 1st, I will see how easy or difficult it is to edit my dissertation to APA guidelines.  If it is difficult, then I will contact my friend to proofread it.  If it is easy, I will give myself a week or two to do it myself.  By the end of June, I should have heard from my co-chairs, the APA editing should be complete, and I can make my first deposit to the Graduate College.  Then it's in their hands for about a month.  They are the final gatekeepers of the PhD degree.

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