Monday, June 2, 2008


For everyone who has asked, yes, I've been thinking about dissertation topics. I have come up with several ideas, some of which are even viable, doable, and credible. None of them I am passionate about. I've been trying to decide whether that was because they really didn't excite me and spending a year (or more) on them would make me miserable, or whether it was because, as Great White teaches us, we are once bitten, twice shy.

Then this morning I read an article about cubicles. It made me think, this is the kind of thing I want to write. Not that wish to write about the rise of cubicles in the corporate world, precisely. At the end of the article, I laughed to see that it was in fact based on a sociology student's dissertation. Well, there you go; it can be done.

Part of the problem is that I feel as if I had been preparing to write the discarded dissertation for well over a year. I was well marinated in the topics it would examine. When it came time to come up with a new topic, I decided to throw away part of that preparation and looked for a dissertation that maybe used the other part, but that more importantly met a set of criteria such as a) can be done in a certain time frame b) is not about x or y or z c) will position me on the market in a certain way. That's no way to find something you're passionate about.

It's time for a new approach. I'm going back to the topic I was ready to abandon. And I'm looking at it, and the things around me, and not thinking instrumentally. We'll see what turns up.


Rebecca said...

I think you doing the right thing. A few months ago I almost dropped out because I realized that I was working toward writing a dissertation that I really didn't care about. Now I'm taking a bit longer and doing one I love.

One piece I realized is that the dissertation you write sets the tone and direction of your work pretty much through tenure. I realized that while I could have forced myself through the dissertation, I certainly didn't want to spend another 6 years doing that same type of work.

Regardless, I think you are doing the right thing.

turducken said...

Thanks. I'm glad your new topic is working so much better for you.

I never considered topics that would terribly mislead search committees; I don't want to do student affairs, so out went anything related to the college student experience or outcomes. Everything under consideration was ostensibly within the areas I study. But "org theory of higher ed" covers a lot of area.