Yesterday, my first deposit of my dissertation to the Graduate College was accepted. They require that I make 13 minor edits before I make my final deposit. However, I may have more to edit and revise. Within the next few days, I should receive feedback from my proofreader for grammar, spelling, and mechanics edits and my co-chair for minor content revisions. Once I hear from them, it should take me a week or two to make all the necessary revisions and edits. And then I can make my final deposit. And then I will be done with the dissertation process.
I am fortunate to have a friend who worked as an editor for a few newspapers volunteer to proofread my paper for grammar, spelling, and mechanic errors that I have continued to miss over the many times I have looked over my dissertation. He has already looked through half of the dissertation, and I have corrected the errors he pointed out for the first few pages. It's alarming to find so many minor issues that I and my committee have overlooked. Luckily for me, most of these errors did not interfere with understanding the main points.
My friend volunteered at the right time. I just posted my progress on Facebook and that I was about to hunt for a good proofreader when he volunteered. I didn't even think of asking friends to proofread my dissertation because that seemed like an incredible burden to put on a friend. Admittedly, he had some interest as he is part of the target population of my research interest, a sojourning English language teacher. However, having an interest in the content may be distracting when proofreading.
Reflecting on the Revision Process
Now that I am about a month removed from the revision process, I would say that revising Chapter 1 was the most difficult as it frames the whole study. Revising Chapter 1 probably took twice as long as any chapter. Revising Chapter 4 also took a long time, but it was mostly an organizational change. I had to make sure that all the rearranged sections had new or improved transitions that improved the chapter's coherence and cohesion.
I expected Chapter 5 to take a long time but I found that process the most enjoyable so the time flew by. Chapter 5 is like the playground of ideas compared to the massive apartment building of ideas of Chapters 1-4. I'm using this metaphor because it seems like Chapter 1 provided the foundation for the rest of the dissertation to stand. The ideas in Chapters 2-4 had to be in the right place and in the right order for the readers to walk there way around from chapter to chapter and from section to section. Previously, some chapters were more like mazes. Once the reader finishes Chapter 4, the can go outside and enjoy the playground of ideas in Chapter 5 which I believe has a better view of the apartment building of Chapters 1-4. After reading a few dissertations and many research articles, I have found that it's the discussion and conclusion at the end that I really look forward to reading. The ideas I find there help me form ideas for continuing an investigation, which is like playing.
The first couple of weeks in June, I used my APA Publication Manual on my iPad as a reference while I went through all of the citations and references in the dissertation. I am glad to report that the majority of these things were done correctly. However my biggest issues were with amperisands and writing et al. correctly without italics.
What surprised me most was the room for flexibility the APA Manual gave me for formatting my tables and figures. I expected excruciatingly constrictive guidelines, but those seemed to exist mainly for quantitative studies with lots of statistics to report. It seems that quantitative researchers have to grapple more with that issue than qualitative researchers who usually have to write more.
I'm not done yet, but I feel like all the major obstacles of getting done are gone. My co-chair and proofreader are letting me enjoy the waiting time, which I am using to contemplate life after the dissertation. That reminds me, I need to plan the graduation party.