Saturday, November 26, 2005

State of the Dissertation

Some people use their blogs to keep track of losing weight or quitting smoking. Perhaps if I use it to keep track of my Dissertation, that will keep me on my toes and force me to add a little bit to it every day so I can report my progress here. So, here is the current state:

Front page - Unless I decide to change the title for the millionth time, this is in its final version.

Abstract - It is longer than I wanted but not too long to be acceptable. I think it is pretty good, but I am sure that my advisor will have suggestions for editing and making it better.

Biography - As far as I am concerned, this is in its final form.

Acknowledgments - Once everything is done, I will look at it again and see if it needs a little polishing.

Table of Contents - I understand that recent versions of MSWord can do it automatically. Even if I decide I had to do it manually, this is something to be left for the very last day.

List of tables - once the rest is finished, this should not be hard to make.

List of figures - same as above.

List of abbreviations - This is a breeze. I'll get to it later, perhaps one day when I am bored with doing other stuff.

Introduction - Considering I started with more than 60 pages of text, wittling it down to about 35 is a major success. It is, for all purposes, in its final form. There are a couple of places where I still need to insert references. There are also a couple of places where I will have to look at the most recent literature and perhaps make a slight edit in light of recent research.

Materials and Methods - It is done. All figures, photos and references are in. At the very end of the process I will have to make sure that everything matches between Materials & Methods and Results, e.g., that Experiment 4a in Section 5 is the same experiment in both parts of the thesis, that experiments are presented in the same order in both parts, etc.

Results - This part has five long sections:

Section I - The longest and most involved part. All the text is written, but not in its final form. Almost all of the statistics have been done. I have almost all figures done, but discovered that most of them I have to re-do from scratch due to formatting problems - very frustrating. This is the part I am working on right now.

Section II - I have about half of the figures ready. No statistics yet, but that is not going to be very much or hard to do. No text yet, but that will also be pretty straightforward.

Section III - I have a couple of figures ready. I need to make more figures, do all the stats, and write all the text. This is the shortest section of the Results and nothing revolutionary, so this should not be too difficult.

Section IV - This is already in its final form. It will get one more reading at the very end, just to make sure everything is OK.

Section V - This is pretty much in its final form. I'll have to go over it one more time, perhaps change a word or two here and there.

Discussion - About a third of it is written. I have most of it in my head (and most of it will turn into my talk, too). It's almost like blogging. Once I get there, I'll write it in no time. Some back-and-forth with my advisor over a week or two should turn this into a nice final form, too.

Conclusion - This is a new requirement. Just a paragraph in the end. I think I'll just put this heading on top of the last paragraph of the Discussion and get it over with.

References - I have many references already in the text. I have many references already in the list. One of the last things to do will be to go through the whole thesis and check that each reference in the text is also on the list, and that each item on the list also appears somewhere in the text. Boring, but should not take too much time (a little Ctrl-F will do the trick). Too late in the process to switch to EndNote at this point.

I'll keep you updated on a regular basis, e.g., every time I make a major accomplishment, like finish a section.

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 11:22 PM | permalink | (7 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink