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Author Topic: should I ask this of my dissertation committee?  (Read 56714 times)
wet_blanket
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« Reply #45 on: April 27, 2012, 1:43:50 PM »

Professor Important needs to do next Thursday what he was planning on doing this Tuesday.

Oh, of course. That's such an obvious solution and I can't believe no one on the thread before now thought of it.


It is probably a crass money-making scheme on the uni's part to make the students pay a whole semester's worth of full tuition in cases like this.

On this I agree. My previous school pro-rated tuition on a per month basis.  The line at the printing place on the 30th or 31st of the month was always veeeeeeery long.
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Let us let wet_blanket have the last word.
glowdart
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« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2012, 7:22:27 PM »

I am not clueless, dear ladies, just much less than impressed with self-centered faculty who would rather let a grad student pay an extra semester's worth of tuition than alter (perhaps) one day of plans three months from now, to prevent his having to do so.  But then again my opinion probably doesn't matter much, since I am a loser.

Yes, well, in some fields they are doing their research in the field in the summer. And, for many, they are not paid to be on campus in the summer, so, yes, getting them all together in the summer can be hard, but should be potentially doable if the OP asks very nicely far in advance. Having OP pay another semester of tuition seems really rude.

Late April is quite likely not far enough in advance to get people to reschedule field research trips or flights. 

I have no trouble imagining a scenario where a committee will not schedule a summer defense until the draft is completed.  The draft is not completed until March, by which point the five committee members have done the following:

1.  Booked trip to conferences and research archives and family vacation.  Available dates:  June 1-21
2.  Booked trips to conferences, field research sites on the top of a mountain with no web access and family vacations.  Available dates August 5-15, July 1-4, June 23-30, May 20-30.   
3.  Rinse and repeat with availability of: three days before the start of the classes in the fall (when 1 & 2 are running full-day orientation sessions), a week in early July when they'll be able to Skype, and graduation weekend. 
4.  Rinse and repeat with two weeks in late July open in between trips to rural China and India.   
...

Do I need to continue?   Research trips get planned well in advance.  No one is flying back from a mountainside in South America for a defense of a dissertation that wasn't far enough along for a defense date to be scheduled before the faculty member booked the research trip. 

Skyping in one person, if they're someplace which has such capabilities, is one thing.  Skyping in the whole committee is unlikely to happen at many places. 



Polly, humanities students pay their own tuition, and some places don't have "PhD Hours" which are cheap and other places have a limited number of semesters that you can pay the cheap rate, as incentive to get you to graduate. 
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lurkermom
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« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2012, 11:19:40 PM »

The OP really needs to talk about this to the adviser and committee, but perhaps should first stop by to discuss this with the administrative assistant who schedules things like defenses and helps students fill out the forms, if such a person exists. In the department in which I got my PhD, there were 1-2 such people, who were leaps and bounds more helpful and informed about the various rules and regulations than the actual advisers and committee members. At the very least, they may be able to direct you to the exact place on the internet or the hard-copy booklet which spells out the rules of when the defense may or may not be scheduled and whether Skyping in is allowed at all. For instance, at my institution, committee members had to be physically present. If they were not, then it was expected that an alternate would fill in. The way I chose my alternates was to ask them if they were available on the date that I had agreed upon with my committee members. All this paperwork had to be filled in weeks ahead.

These things vary so much by department and institution that I am afraid we cannot be of much help to the OP at a distance. In terms of why he/she would need to pay the tuition and why the adviser is not doing so, there could be a number of reasons... Some departments simply do not provide funding after a set number of years (5/7 etc). Or the OP could have anticipated graduating before the start of the semester and not have arranged funding for the next semester, in terms of securing the necessary RA/TA hours. Of course, the OP should still ask whether there is any available funding available for the fall semester in case he/she cannot defend before then. In many cases, the department may have some wiggle room in these situations.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 11:20:01 PM by lurkermom » Logged
heynonnynonnymouse
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« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2012, 1:01:59 AM »

Look at kay go, never missing an opportunity to not only be hypocritically disparaging but to give it a sexist flavor at the same time. "Woman", "ladies", and "madam" just in the past few days in various threads as a snarky address to his presumably all-female targets of ire. I can't wait to see what he uses next!
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2012, 1:11:46 AM »

Look at kay go, never missing an opportunity to not only be hypocritically disparaging but to give it a sexist flavor at the same time. "Woman", "ladies", and "madam" just in the past few days in various threads as a snarky address to his presumably all-female targets of ire. I can't wait to see what he uses next!

I'd put five bucks on "beeyotch" if it weren't just as possible it might be "ho."




Kidding!
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 1:11:55 AM by systeme_d_ » Logged

grasshopper
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« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2012, 7:45:21 AM »

I am not clueless, dear ladies, just much less than impressed with self-centered faculty who would rather let a grad student pay an extra semester's worth of tuition than alter (perhaps) one day of plans three months from now, to prevent his having to do so. 

My committee members had no idea what the fine print said about tuition and submission deadlines. The externals didn't even know when our semesters began and ended.

If I hadn't said something, I could have ended up paying for an extra two semesters.

In my book, saying something is a good idea. Worked for me!
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southerntransplant
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No recess.


« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2012, 9:17:25 AM »

My assumptions are just fine, my dear.  A defense takes at best a day, out of the whole summer... all the OP wants is for this to be scheduled on one day before the fall semester starts, in order that he not be required to pay onerous and wholly unnecessary tuition for that semester, just because Professor Important would not accommodate this very simple request of a starving graduate student.  It can be done.  And it would require no more work on the committee members' part than putting that defense down for a day in September, either.

The defense itself may take a day, but a defense is far more than simply showing up and eating the donuts. Committee members aren't simply there to act like an oil painting. They have to read the dissertation, make comments and suggestions for revisions, think about what the dissertation does or doesn't make clear...in short, doing everything like an active, engaged member of the scholarly community expects of them. This takes time - if you take it seriously, a lot of time. This is doubly true if you're the external committee member, as I often am since there isn't anyone else on campus who shares my particular subfield expertise. (Graduate faculty still have to read the old-fashioned way, you know. When we become members of the graduate faculty, we don't get little smartcard slots cut into our temporal lobes for automatic download of data.) Both my MS and PhD committee memberships each number into the double digits - presently. The defenses come in clusters because a) several will want to graduate in a particular semester and b) they all schedule at the last possible minute. I often have to schedule defenses while I'm out of town and dial in through Skype. And I'm not doing this because I've got a major ego and can't be bothered otherwise, but because of an actual conflict that I cannot otherwise resolve.

Additionally, as Polly has noted, often in STEM fields the advisor pays for tuition. That's what I do with my grad students, and even I, as paymaster, don't fault faculty who can't find time to be a committee member or are unavailable during wide swaths of the summer.   

My PhD student had to schedule his defense and managed to find the ONE day in a three month span that all committee members would be available. And this was during the fall semester, when everyone is supposed to be around. I don't disagree that there are egomaniacs who feel their time is far too important than to deign accommodation for a defense, but for the most part these conflicts are come by honestly.
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grasshopper
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« Reply #52 on: April 28, 2012, 9:23:04 AM »

My assumptions are just fine, my dear.  A defense takes at best a day, out of the whole summer... all the OP wants is for this to be scheduled on one day before the fall semester starts, in order that he not be required to pay onerous and wholly unnecessary tuition for that semester, just because Professor Important would not accommodate this very simple request of a starving graduate student.  It can be done.  And it would require no more work on the committee members' part than putting that defense down for a day in September, either.

The defense itself may take a day, but a defense is far more than simply showing up and eating the donuts. Committee members aren't simply there to act like an oil painting. They have to read the dissertation, make comments and suggestions for revisions, think about what the dissertation does or doesn't make clear...in short, doing everything like an active, engaged member of the scholarly community expects of them. This takes time - if you take it seriously, a lot of time.

But in this particular case, all of this is, I'm assuming, already done, since the OP already has the final comments and is doing revisions in advance of the defense:

I am done with my dissertation and well along with the revision process - almost done in fact before going to defense.
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southerntransplant
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No recess.


« Reply #53 on: April 28, 2012, 9:24:40 AM »

(double post)

I will also note, now that it is too late for me to modify, that my previous post was directed entirely at Kaysixteen and his assumptions of the relative ease of scheduling a defense. I do not minimize the problems that the OP appears to be having with his committee and hopes he finds a way out of this particular jam.

(on edit, after seeing Grasshopper's post)

Ah...got it. Thanks.

Usually we have the defense in advance of the final version, so this wasn't apparent to me.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 9:26:51 AM by southerntransplant » Logged

"...And on the other side of this wall is a whole 'nother studio that you'll never get to see...because, you know, fvck you guys."

Steve Albini, showing Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters around his studio
grasshopper
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« Reply #54 on: April 28, 2012, 9:32:17 AM »

Ah...got it. Thanks.

Usually we have the defense in advance of the final version, so this wasn't apparent to me.

Yeah, these things happen differently everywhere. Like you, we also have defense in advance of the final version. In my case, though, I got the committee's comments many months before defense (scheduling is hard!), so I could make a pretty strong guess about which criticisms would require revision and which wouldn't. I was able to do a lot of work in advance.

I'm not sure how things work at Karlhungus' institution, but if he's making revisions in advance of the defense, I'm assuming that he's gotten feedback on the pre-defense "final" version.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #55 on: April 28, 2012, 9:33:40 AM »

But in this particular case, all of this is, I'm assuming, already done, since the OP already has the final comments and is doing revisions in advance of the defense:

I am done with my dissertation and well along with the revision process - almost done in fact before going to defense.


Maybe things work differently in the humanities, but I know that I've seen people make the revisions from comments in progress, submit a revised copy to the committee in the two-weeks-before-the-defense window, and have to do another round of revisions after the defense.  A student is seldom the best judge of where the dissertation actually stands, much the same way someone who apparently has never served on a committee or even paid attention while in grad school is not a good judge of reasonable scheduling procedure.
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grasshopper
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« Reply #56 on: April 28, 2012, 9:39:44 AM »

But in this particular case, all of this is, I'm assuming, already done, since the OP already has the final comments and is doing revisions in advance of the defense:

I am done with my dissertation and well along with the revision process - almost done in fact before going to defense.


Maybe things work differently in the humanities,

Forget humanities to sciences, things work differently from institution to institution.

I'm reading into the way Karlhungus has phrased it: "almost done in fact before going to defense." Makes it sound like it's out of the norm, like most others do the revisions after the defense.

Either way, it's unlikely that the committee hasn't read and commented on the work.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #57 on: April 28, 2012, 9:58:54 AM »

I'm reading into the way Karlhungus has phrased it: "almost done in fact before going to defense." Makes it sound like it's out of the norm, like most others do the revisions after the defense.

Either way, it's unlikely that the committee hasn't read and commented on the work.

I may be reading too much into the post because I'm grading final projects that have had multiple drafts with comments and some of the people who received the most feedback still don't have acceptable final copies, but I'll reiterate that students may be untrustworthy narrators in their own projects and leave it at that.

Say, Karl, we haven't heard back from you in days.  What have you done and how did those people respond at your institution?
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seniorscholar
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« Reply #58 on: April 28, 2012, 10:38:07 AM »


Maybe things work differently in the humanities, but I know that I've seen people make the revisions from comments in progress, submit a revised copy to the committee in the two-weeks-before-the-defense window, and have to do another round of revisions after the defense.  A student is seldom the best judge of where the dissertation actually stands, much the same way someone who apparently has never served on a committee or even paid attention while in grad school is not a good judge of reasonable scheduling procedure.

This is what we do in my English department. Examiners typically hand over a short list of "corrections still needed" at the end of the defense (and the congratulations), and sometimes demand, during the defense a somewhat more significant revision to part of one chapter. Candidate has 30 days to deposit the final final corrected copy in the graduate dean's office. The supervisor is supposed to sign a sheet certifying that the corrections have been made, but I'll admit that for about half of my PhDs to date the defense copy was so nearly perfect that I provided a list of 5 typos, no other committee member had any siginificant corrections, so I signed the sheet then and there, absolutely trusting that particular candidate to make the 5 corrections.

For one dissertation from another university for which I've been outside examiner, the defense copy was so weak that the defense was "suspended" for a month and we all received a second "defense copy" before it reconvened. I was very glad that only the supervisor, not the outside examiner, had to then read the corrected defense copy (which still had typos and formatting difficulties and some other general problems).
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baleful_regards
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« Reply #59 on: April 28, 2012, 11:15:52 AM »


Maybe things work differently in the humanities, but I know that I've seen people make the revisions from comments in progress, submit a revised copy to the committee in the two-weeks-before-the-defense window, and have to do another round of revisions after the defense.  A student is seldom the best judge of where the dissertation actually stands, much the same way someone who apparently has never served on a committee or even paid attention while in grad school is not a good judge of reasonable scheduling procedure.

This is what we do in my English department. Examiners typically hand over a short list of "corrections still needed" at the end of the defense (and the congratulations), and sometimes demand, during the defense a somewhat more significant revision to part of one chapter. Candidate has 30 days to deposit the final final corrected copy in the graduate dean's office. The supervisor is supposed to sign a sheet certifying that the corrections have been made, but I'll admit that for about half of my PhDs to date the defense copy was so nearly perfect that I provided a list of 5 typos, no other committee member had any siginificant corrections, so I signed the sheet then and there, absolutely trusting that particular candidate to make the 5 corrections.

For one dissertation from another university for which I've been outside examiner, the defense copy was so weak that the defense was "suspended" for a month and we all received a second "defense copy" before it reconvened. I was very glad that only the supervisor, not the outside examiner, had to then read the corrected defense copy (which still had typos and formatting difficulties and some other general problems).


I'm at the submission stage and here it is expected that the "initial submission" is extremely close to the final document.

As such, my supervisor and I have been in heavy email/editing/revising mode for the past month.  I submit the  document on Monday and it will then be sent to the committee members who have six weeks to get their comments back to the graduate office. Once comments are back, the defence is scheduled.

Much depends on the timeliness of comments , as that determines when the defence can be scheduled. I am running on the edge of summer ( but have a TT position that I am leaving the country to accept) so the Dept. knows this and is trying to get me OUT.

My defence is based on that "initial" submission, and any major glaring issues will be taken care of post defence. But again, it is expected that my supervisor have very thoroughly vetted the dissertation meaning that any glaring errors, typos, format issues would have been either addressed prior OR she wouldn't have signed off and moved me to submission.
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