Friday, July 15, 2011

How is that Dissertation Going???

 Lately, it seems there are 3 questions people like to ask me (1) When are you going to be done with your dissertation?  (2) How is recovery from your injury going? and (3) Are you going to the London 2012 Olympic Games?

They are usually asked in that ordered and fired off rapidly.  So, I’ve decided to take today and next week to answer each of these questions, beginning with the dissertation question.

For anyone who’s been following me on twitter (www.twitter.com/nicoleforrester) they have become familiar with my regular tweets of a hot date - usually involving coffee, the library/coffee shop and Mr. Dissertation.  Mr. Dissertation is how I refer to my dissertation, the last hurrah in my PhD studies.

I LOVE my dissertation… Much like I love the high jump.  But, I am also a perfectionist.  I like to think of myself as an adaptive styled perfectionist, meaning I use this characteristic in a positive facilitating manner.  I am also researching a topic area which has not been done before, making my dissertation an ``exploration study.`` 

My perfectionist characteristic will find me spending hours cross checking references, conducting literature searches for studies I have possibly overlooked and re-editing my completed Chapters with an eagle eye.  I literally will read, and re-read a section I`ve written more times than I can count to ensure what I have before me is of erudite quality.
My data collection is much the same. 

Perhaps, it’s the feeling that what I am researching may be impactful OR it is the feeling of taking true pride in my work OR just the realization that the more I learn the more I realize how much more there is it learn… whatever it is, I am committed to taking no short cuts with my dissertation.

I will happily spend 8 hours in the same seat at a coffee shop, devouring a record number of coffee drinks as I pound away on my laptop or handwrite in my notebook, feeling my hand cramping.  It is a process; one, which is really shaping me as a woman and as a researcher.  Again, I cannot say enough about how fortunate I am to be at the school I am at and have the support I have had while I dually pursue athletics as a professional athlete.

So, to answer the million dollar question, when am I planning to finish.  The answer is this fall 2011.  Pending my committee`s approval, I will officially have graduated with my PhD.


You know, I still remember my letter of interest I wrote when I applied to Michigan State University, and it pleases me to see that my dissertation (exploring how athletes go from good to great) will fulfill my letter of interest.  However, I believe I naively thought I would become an expert in high performance upon my completion of a PhD.  The funny thing is now in the epilogue of my studies I realize just how MUCH MORE there is to learn.  The term expert, as it applies to anything, I view with caution.  My commitment to education has humbled me, to realize there are A LOT that we do not know, and it is perhaps ignorant to assume you know everything.  For if you knew all that there is to know, how can you make room to learn more?

Beginning to see the light at the end of this PhD tunnel,
Nicole