Deadlines! Formatting! And other dissertation-related minutiae

Lately I've been freaking out about time. Am I going to be able to finish this thing? Will I have enough done to apply for jobs this fall? (A professor last fall told me to allow at least a month for writing job letters, assembling a dossier, and other attendant job-search tasks.) A couple of people I talk to daily are readying their defense copies, and they're finding the editing and formatting to their Graduate Schools' specifications far more time-consuming than they thought. I've already been advised by both parties to find out about and adhere to the formatting requirements and write even early drafts of chapters in compliance with them.

Okay, will do. I'm also researching all required forms and deadlines leading up to graduation. So let's say I want to defend on Tuesday, 2 May 2006. That means I have to submit my Final Oral Exam Scheduling Form and my Reviewers' Report Form by 25 April 2006. The Reviewers' Report Form is something all committee members have to sign; they rate the thesis "Acceptable for Defense," "Acceptable for Defense with Minor Revisions," or "Not Acceptable for Defense," and the candidate isn't allowed to defend if one or more readers check "Not Acceptable for Defense." Then the Graduate School specifies that the readers must be given at least two weeks to read the thesis.

That means I have to be, in effect, finished by 4 April 2006! And the anxiety rises again.

As an aside, I noticed a funny thing on the graduation checklist. One of the requirements is "The microfilm fee of $75 (check or money order only, payable to the University of Minnesota). If you wish to copyright the thesis, there is an additional fee of $45 (use one combined check for $120)." I wonder how many people don't know you don't have to register with the Copyright Office to have copyright? I bet there are a few. I remember when I chose to submit my master's thesis electronically. The electronic theses and dissertations are stored in a publicly-available collection, and several people advised me against submitting electronically because of this, suggesting that the copyright implications were dubious in some way. Some of these people might have wondered if the university would try to say they had copyright, but I'm pretty sure the old assumption that everything on the internet is public domain was in play too. My point is, a lot of people don't understand that as soon as you put content into a fixed medium (save a file, for example), it's copyright You for the rest of your life plus 70 years, unless you explicitly sign it over to some other party, or you do it as work for hire (hence a lot of confusion about professors' creating teaching materials for online courses. Is it work for hire? Or does it belong to the author?).

Anyway, part of me thinks it would be fun to pay the $30 (I guess UMN tacks the extra $15 on as...what: a finder's fee? Labor?), but try to get my dissertation licensed with the U.S. Copyright Office under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Has anyone you know tried to do it before?


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Rockette science

I don't know that I'd agree with the whole "month" diagnosis, but if I did, I'd tell you that it needs to be spread out over as long a time as possible. I tell people here that, in the summer before the market, they need to block out a 2-hour stretch each week over the course of the summer where they'll work on job-related tasks (letters, cv, dossier, etc.).

We have a fairly detailed timeline that we hand out as part of the summer market preparation process--you interested in a copy of it?



I'd love to have the timeline. I'd do something now and over the course of the summer if I knew what to do. Well...I know of a few things I'm going to have to do -- write a teaching philosophy statement and a statement of my research agenda (noting Clay Spinuzzi's dossier here for future reference). Anne Wysocki told me back in March that I could start working on my job talk now too. :-) What else?

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