Monday, November 30, 2009

Further proof of my nerdiness

I was so excited to create several clear charts and a big beautiful vowel space this afternoon! Things are starting to come together and instead of just cranking out numbers, I'm starting to think critically about what these things mean! Whoo-hoo!

It's inevitable

Whenever you have a lot of time to spend on your research, something outside your control will keep you from working on it. (Usually in my case, that's waiting on other people.) You will wind up twiddling your thumbs impatiently and not be productive.

Whenever you want to spend a lot of time on something else (like your husband's upcoming birthday, or Christmas shopping), that other thing will clear up and you will have an enormous amount of work that you need to do instead. Instead of birthday shopping and planning today, I'll be poring over the pages of comments I received from two of my committee members. The good thing is, I'm so relieved to have finally gotten them that I don't really mind too much!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Visual aids are the best

Especially when you do them right.

When I was compiling my results, I basically just copy/pasted from the SPSS output. I ended up with charts like the one below.

Yes, it was very confusing and I had to include an elaborate key below it - but I didn't know how to change the graphs within the program, and didn't really think much more about it. Don't those programs know best, anyway? Won't they always give me the perfect output?


Thankfully my professor suggested I revise my plot, I took the time necessary to create it, and now I have this.

Much better! I can actually learn from this one!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One thankful grad student

I was thrilled to get an email last night from my professor. All my frustration was flung away as I skimmed her several pages worth of comments on my research. My jaw dropped when I saw her brilliant "possible interpretations" and suggestions for further analysis. It's all I can do now not to dance for joy! Thank you, Lord!

As if all that wasn't enough, my committee member thanked me for continuing to contact her, and apologized for any inconvenience in taking so long. I am brimming with happiness and relief!

Monday, November 23, 2009

When I don't post

... it's probably because I haven't done anything. Just wanted to be honest with you.

There was one time that I didn't post because I was actually getting a ton done and didn't want to stop! But usually, if I don't post, it's because I haven't gotten a lot done. Not that I haven't been working (although that's often the case) - just that nothing significant happened.

I've been very prone to blaming other people lately for this. But I really can't. Sure, certain people are super hard to get a hold of and I've been in a holding pattern for a while now as I try to pester them into looking at my stuff. But I knew this was going to be the case when I picked my committee members and when I moved away to finish my degree. So I've had enough of my whole "poor poor pitiful me" bit. I made these decisions, knowing full well what I was getting into. No more complaining. (For at least a week.) No one ever said getting your PhD was going to be easy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm a published woman

Again, actually!

I wrote an article for Language and Linguistics Compass that was published earlier this year. I was so excited - my first single-author publication! I could care less that it's a new online journal - it's a publication, and that's what counts! And then I was even more thrilled when the editor asked me to create a "Teaching and Learning Guide" to accompany it. This just came out, and I'm tickled pink. The guide is basically a syllabus, in case someone was just so inspired by my paper that they wanted to teach a whole course on it. I realize that's probably not going to happen, but I was pumped because (1) it gives me a second publication that I am the sole author of and (2) I already have a syllabus in hand if/when I apply for a job as a professor!

It's interesting to note the differences in publications between the so-called hard sciences and linguistics (and I assume many social sciences). In the hard sciences (specifically physics and astronomy, my husband's field), an article might have some 8 or more authors! What?! In linguistics, an article usually has one author, and almost never more than three. I guess we're just realistic like that - only one person really wrote the article, or maybe two if you have a good working relationship. My one other publication has my name along with two others. But one of the other "authors" and I are quite happy to admit that it was all this other guy's work! Sure, we did do the project together, and the two of us helped with proofing and other things, but Chris is really the one who deserves the majority of the credit.

Not that I was going to turn down having something to put on my CV!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Email from a committee member

"Hi Elizabeth! I did get a chance to look at it, but I was wondering if you would be available to come in to talk about it? I think that would be the easiest way to talk about what to do next."

My response:

"Hi X,
I would love to come in and talk about it, but that will require me to book a flight first :)
I agree that it's much easier to discuss this in person though. So if you think that's what I need to do, I am glad to fly back to Houston. But perhaps we can try a phone call first?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A nerdy and entertaining waste of time

I just got sucked into reading PhD comics for a half hour. I barely escaped!

The answer for my research? B.

I'm at the third stage.

Yes, that has indeed happened to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's so beautiful

I just discovered the ease with which you can create a Table of Contents on Word. I have this document that I've used headings for. All I did was go up to the quick toolbar (or whatever that thing across the top is - the options below the real toolbar), click "Document Elements," click "Table of Contents," choose my style and voila!

An outline of my first chapter! Which needs work. But at least seeing the outline of it was easy peasy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is a test. This is only a test.

Is it possible for me to turn off the internet for the next six hours? To not give in to the temptation to turn the wireless back on? Honestly, probably not. But I'm going to give it a try. Starting now, at 10:20 in the morning. If I can make it to 4:00 without going online, I will do a victory dance that involves jumping around the room, walking like an Egyptian, and dancing like Carlton Banks. I will also have gotten a lot of work done. Here we go!

Update: I MADE IT!! Okay, I might've turned on the internet for less than a minute at lunchtime to check my email. And I might've stopped the clock a half hour before my 6 hours were up. But I'm still considering this a success!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ah, facebook

Relationships between grad students and faculty are so weird. It's like that limbo-land between being subordinate and being colleagues. Facebook helps make things even weirder. Everyone knows that young students (undergrads and below) shouldn't become facebook friends with their teachers, at least until they graduate. (I'm wary of any professors who break this rule.) But what about grad students?

I thought I solved the problem by just not friending them. And then they friended me. Should I have refused? I didn't. I hoped it wouldn't be a big deal, and it actually hasn't been (to my knowledge).

But then there are days like today when I open facebook to discover my adviser in her Halloween costume touting her new-found love of go-go boots. Really?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More refreshment

I was feeling a bit stumped this morning, so I went back and looked at my prospectus powerpoint. I have to say, that was a nice-looking presentation. You know when you choose the right colors and formatting and it just looks good?* Ahh.

It was refreshing to look back and really look at the whole big picture, to remember that I am actually interested in this, to remember that I have actually already done a lot of the work, and to realize that this is going to get done and actually not be too bad in the end.

I'm revising my hypotheses. Does that sound bad? Don't worry, I'm not actually changing any aspects of my research or fudging so it sounds like I was going for something different. I just don't like the way I organized my research questions. I feel like if I somehow reorder/rephrase them, they'll fit in with the big picture/theoretical implications better. Now I just have to figure out how to do that.

* In case you're curious, the pptx theme was "Advantage." It definitely ranks as one of my favorites. Not too busy, no lines boxing you in, enough color to be fun but still professional.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chop chop

Today I switched my focus to chapter revising. It was so refreshing! I thought I preferred doing the objective tasks, but that had become so tedious that it was nice to step back and look at the big picture again.

I'm looking particularly at my pilot studies and hypotheses today. I had written all this up for my original prospectus, but of course am unhappy now with how that looks. I've realized that my second pilot study is only marginally related to my present research and the conclusions actually prompt me to look at entirely different things. So chop chop! and it's gone. Now I just have one pilot study that is clearly relevant and impacts my current methodology. Much nicer.

I should note that I am not usually able to delete large chunks of what I have previously written. It's a psychological hangup of sorts. I want to hang on to it, just in case, and do so by leaving it in and just putting a line through it or changing font color or some other method. However, after awhile that gets really cluttered and you're so distracted by thinking whether or not you should include that stuff that you can't move forward. So I have taken to just creating a new document every time I plan to do some major revision, making sure to include the date. That way, I can always go back and review what I've chopped. This really frees me from the fear of deleting something brilliant. And most of the time, it wasn't brilliant and I don't miss it at all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"So what do I do now??"

I try to write a tiny bit each day about what I've done that day. Usually I just jot down my thoughts as I'm going through things, so that I can look back and remember why I did something a certain way. Other times I think this might be the start of something brilliant, so I'd better write it down so I don't forget it! Sometimes I just write anything down so that I can pretend I actually did something that day. And finally, many times I just write down my complaints.

Yesterday's note ended with a melodramatic "So what do I do now??"

This morning Soothing Encouraging Me responded to Freaked Out Me.

"What you do now is breathe and reevaluate. Go through and think again about what questions you want your data to answer. Then take a break and work on something else, like writing a different chapter. Then jump back to where you were having difficulties with renewed vigor! You are smarter than this dissertation! You will prevail!"

And yes, I actually wrote that down.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's November

And I'm still not done with my statistics. Excuse me while I bang my head against my keyboard.