Update about the PhD process

Nov 08 2010 Published by under my doctoral program

Yes, it's been terribly quiet around here. Not even any prodding about the Donor's Choose (but please consider giving 🙂 ).

Personal and work lives have been really busy. Lots of neat and interesting projects at work, one of which has me presenting a poster at the upcoming American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco. I registered as part of the AGU blogroll, but I'm still negotiating how much of work stuff ends up here. Typically not so much.

So everyone asks: when will you finish? I growl.  But it is a fair question as I've been a doctoral student since 2005!  Here's the status right now.

The draft title of the dissertation is: The role of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in information and communication in science.  A conceptual framework and empirical study

The idea is that there are a lot of models of communication in science and there are attempts to update these when new ICTs are introduced. There are also lots of studies of new ICTs that do not rely on any of the communication or information science literature. Both the updates and the studies have expiration dates as new things emerge. What my dissertation does is to review this massive body of literature and to create a conceptual framework to describe the features and functions of communication in science. I will then analyze older and newer tools to show how they fit in that framework and update the framework. Finally, I'll do case studies on several new ICTs (and their science users) to learn more and further test the framework. The idea is that this framework - since it's based on the people and what they do and lots of research - will be longer lasting and will help designers and researchers better define what they're doing.

I've been quite depressed, thinking that none of this was new and wondering about its value. On the positive side, I explained it to a couple of people at ASIST and they seemed to think it would be useful.

The other bit is that I feel like I've been taking too long and my proposal is too big (it's about 15k words so far, but probably another 3k or so before its done). My advisor talked me down off the ledge with this one. He pointed out that my proposal isn't just an introduction, it's the end work, too. The analysis is part of the deliverable, in other words. I'm anxious to get on with the empirical part.  If all my ducks are in a row, I'll use my time at AGU wisely.

The time line is basically to get the proposal approved by the committee this calendar year, to do the case studies probably over 6 months or so of 2011, and then to finish writing over the year after that, I guess.  The thing is that since my proposal includes a bunch of stuff already (the first 4 chapters - would be 3 if I were normal), maybe the writing part will be quicker. The case studies will depend on IRB approval and targets of opportunity. Also how many I end up doing. I'm looking at 3-5, each with 5-15 interviews, qualitative content analysis, and participant observation.

6 responses so far

  • Mark says:

    Sounds like a great contribution to me! I'd read it. And I do *not* say that about many dissertations at all.

    • Christina Pikas says:

      Thanks! I actually do read dissertations (even more evidence that I'm not typical, lol) - they usually have decent lit reviews if nothing else. that stuff gets cut in jnl articles later

  • Joe Kraus says:

    I'll read it too. Would you be posting it to an IR at UMCP?

    • Christina Pikas says:

      The finished dissertation will automatically go there. I'll post a copy of the proposal some place with a cc-by license. Probably on my umd site (which will have to migrate when i eventually graduate)

  • "What my dissertation does is to review this massive body of literature and to create a conceptual framework to describe the features and functions of communication in science. " This sounds awesome, and given the summaries I've seen here on your blog, it's going to be immensely useful. Thanks for reading a bunch of stuff so that we don't have to!

    Part-time Ph.D.'s are really hard work--kudos for prioritizing yours!