Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How exact?

Well, things are looking up. I sat down all refreshed and ready to do the Chi Square tests. I made beautiful little tables and was able to put everything into SPSS. I'm feeling very happy about that.

My book walked me step-by-step through each click. I realized I needed to do an extra step at the end, and went back to do it. Then I realized that the button I was supposed to push was MISSING. It was not there like in the handy picture. It was nowhere to be found.

I decided not to panic and went to the help menu. That's where I saw this:

Can you read that? It says "Note: Exact Tests is only available on Windows operating systems."

Of course - that's what I get for having a husband who convinces me to get a trendy Mac. (You like how the blame is immediately shifted?) Still no problem, I thought. I'll just put this on my old PC.

So I went to my university's IT website and then it hit me. In order to put it on my PC, I have to go to the IT building and use the installation cd. The IT building that is currently 1,590 miles away. (Yes, I just mapped that online.) That's a problem.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Over 200 pages later...

And I still can't figure out what kind of statistical test to run on my listener responses. Ugh. I guess I'll just do a bunch more Chi-Squareds and call it good. Then if that's not correct, at least I can ask my committee what would be more appropriate. In the meantime, I made a pretty outline of a table to show them when they tell me what I did was wrong :) Then again, they're the ones who told me to just do that test in the first place, so maybe just maybe I'm worrying over nothing and it will be right!

On the plus side, I have finished my statistics for the speaker results! And I have several nice p < .001, which makes me quite happy. I spent a couple hours yesterday agonizing over which tests to use for these, then as I was browsing through powerpoints I found online, I discovered that while in theory it's better to use a certain type of test (the one I couldn't figure out), in practice most people just do this other test twice (which I had already figured out and successfully ran). Sweet! So I did, which is how I got my results. Now I just have to be able to explain exactly what they mean.

Monday, September 28, 2009

To all of you professors out there...

who put your powerpoint slides from class out on the web, free for anyone to learn from:


Friday, September 25, 2009


So many reasons to rejoice on this beautiful afternoon!

1. My LSA abstract was accepted! The Linguistic Society of America's annual meeting in January is the official big conference for my field, and it looks really impressive to have presented there. It's also where all the academic jobs interview, so if you're planning to graduate, you basically have to go whether you present or not. I got accepted as a poster, which is great. I know in some other fields, everyone does a poster; but in linguistics, a poster is a step down in prestige from a presentation. But I'm actually quite happy doing a poster, because (a) only people who really actually are interested will check it out and talk to me, and (b) I wasn't expecting to be accepted at all :)

2. I got the book I've been waiting on!

I was hoping and praying that it would be able to give me the instruction I needed to do the appropriate statistics for my research...

3. And so far it has! Today I was able to run the mixed method ANOVA on my duration data. It was an A x (B x C), if that means anything to you. It does to me now! And two (of the possible six) factors/interactions were significant! Whoo-hoo!

Now I just have to figure out what exactly that means :)

4. It's Friday! And I know this isn't the case for many grad students, but I take the weekends off! In fact, I've got to run and shower now - I have a hot date with my husband tonight!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm blue, da ba dee da ba die

(Confession: I had to google that title, because I wasn't sure of the order of the das and dees and so on. Now that I've got it down, I am sure it will stay in my head for a minimum of six hours.)

This afternoon was surprisingly productive! I worked on Chapter 2, specifically my pilot studies. This is still rather easy going, as I'm just copy/pasting from the prospectus and then changing. But hey, that was the goal of the prospectus - to have as much written as possible so that the dissertation writing could be that much easier! So no need to feel bad that I wasn't slaving over writing this stuff from scratch!

I can be a bit indecisive sometimes, and when it comes to what I've written, often I'll want to change something but not be sure exactly how yet. But I don't want to just delete what's already there - that's the basis for what needs to be changed, and I don't want it to just disappear! So I change the font to blue. Anyone looking at these drafts on my computer would be shocked at how much text is in blue. Sometimes when I have too much blue, I'll start using both red and blue - red for more superficial changes and blue for big content changes. About the time I need to start adding a third color (which varies between green and purple and pink), I need to think about just starting over. After awhile, it gets a bit hard to read! (In fact, I was going to change all the font colors on here to demonstrate, but I was afraid I'd give both you and me ADD.) Anyway, that's the method that works for me. I know some people like to use the comments feature, and others will highlight. Let me tell you - the highlighting I save for the REALLY important changes.

Right now, the pages are just black and blue. Which is appropriate, as they're just a little beat up and bruised, but they should pull through okay.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One chapter down, five to go!


This morning I finished the draft of my methodology chapter (which was basically copy/pasting from my prospectus, changing fonts, and slightly updating). It's not perfect, but it does feel nice to have that done! I haven't decided yet if I should go ahead and send it to my adviser or wait until I have another chapter also. I think I'll wait for now - there's too much unfinished (links to the unwritten chapter containing my hypotheses, for example).

Now to figure out what to do next. I mean, I have all kinds of other things I could to do next - go to the gym, workout, have lunch, run to the grocery store, read this other book that I'm really enjoying... But back to the dissertating part.

I really really really want to get my statistical tests done. As soon as I've got that, everything else can fall into place. I'll have results and then I can figure out what they mean theoretically. I'll have beautiful charts to send my committee. But I'm waiting on a book in the mail and/or an email response.

For a minute there I thought I was gonna get away with calling it quits for the day. But after reviewing my outline, I've found more writing I can do - hello pilot studies.

And good-bye internet.

The Outline.

Here it is - a simple version of my outline, in all it's glory!

Chapter 1. Introduction
Background, previous work, theoretical implications.

Chapter 2. Initial Research
My two pilot studies, hypotheses.

Chapter 3. Methodology
Just what it says.

Chapter 4. Results - Identification and Authenticity
Remarkable significant results from listeners' responses. (crossing fingers)

Chapter 5. Results - Vowel Modifications and Cues
More astounding significant results from speakers' phonetic changes. (crossing fingers)

Chapter 6. Discussion and Conclusion
A brilliant discussion that makes people marvel at my conclusions and think this was the most important research done this year and perhaps this millennium in the entire field of linguistics. Or at least something intelligent that connects my experiment to something theoretical.

No, these aren't the actual titles - just what'll be in them. More or less. Ish.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reason #47,693 why I have the world's best husband

Last night he went over my outline and my statistics with me. And since he's been in grad school, he actually knows how to help. He wrote all kinds of helpful notes on my chapter outline, and got me fired up to start strong again today. I love that man!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Productive yet disappointing day

This morning I spent another two hours going over statistics one last time before giving up and emailing my questions to my committee member. I'm not sure that he'll actually email me back, but it's worth a shot. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to run the Chi-Squared. Actually, I know how to run it in SPSS, but I can't figure out what to put in each cell and suspect that it's actually the wrong test to use.

The good news is, I wrote a chapter of my dissertation this afternoon! The bad news is, it's really bad. I didn't think it was possible for a methodology section to be bad! And don't be impressed by the speed - I basically cut and pasted from my prospectus.

Oh dear, what a depressing first entry for this blog! I need to put something positive in here... Does having fun starting this blog count? I say yes.

About Me

I'm Elizabeth, a fifth-year PhD student. I'm ABD, but sometimes that D part seems quite far away! This blog documents my process of dissertating - working on my dissertation. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's exciting, sometimes it's just mundane - but it's all necessary!

I'm a linguist, which does not mean I'm a translator. (Don't worry, that's a common misconception and I won't hold it against you.) I currently live 1500 miles away from my university. It wasn't always that way, but it's working out that way for me to write. This means I can live with my husband - yay! I plan to finish in May of 2010. The money runs out then, as does my patience and commitment!

My research is actually somewhat interesting! I'm looking at foreign accents and whether listeners can (a) determine the accent they hear and (b) tell the difference between authentic and imitated accents. In addition to this, I'm looking at the imitated accents I gathered to (a) investigate the difference between free (spontaneous) imitations and modeled imitations (spoken after hearing an authentic accent), specifically exploring vowel differences, and (b) examine how this reflects on salience and stereotypes.

Feel free to comment, and thanks for stopping by!

(This should go without saying, but just in case: Everything on this site is copyrighted by me. Please don't steal anything - ideas, data, etc. It's probably not that great anyway. If you're interested in what I'm doing, please contact me at egbrunner [at] gmail.)