Winter 2011 Challenge

Dear students,

Happy New Year, welcome back.

We are hosting in-person Dissertation Houses at  UMBC.  You are invited to join us for the online challenge by posting your goals and receiving feedback.

Best wishes and have a productive session!

-The Dissertation House staff

272 Responses to Winter 2011 Challenge

  1. drwestmoreland says:

    Winter! It’s cold which is making me stay inside and do work. I have been meeting with my advisor each day this week and we are kind of playing with the data so my goals each day are not completely known. Anyways, today I came in later in the afternoon so I will be here for a little while longer. I need to:

    1. Number each segmented section of my 15 journals
    2. Code them using the 1st layer of codes created

    That’s all,


  2. Angel Miles says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I am looking forward to joining you all online next week. I have a lot to accomplish and only a short time to do it. But, I am trying not to freak out! I have a succinct plan and I have meet with my adviser recently to discuss it. This weekend I will finish revising my IRB form and submit it to my adviser on Monday. On Monday I will continue revising my concept paper that summarizes my dissertation proposal, and work on that throughout the week. More detail Monday. Talk to you then!

  3. Angel Miles says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day! Today, I am “remembering the dream” by sticking to my plan as stated above, but I have been off to a later start than originally planned. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping. I think I am worrying a lot, but hopefully that will change soon. I received a lot of feedback from my advisers this weekend regarding changes that I need to make to improve my IRB. So, I am incorporating their suggestions further today so that I can finish constructing a solid IRB application. Wish me well!

  4. Pingback: Delayed Opening at UMBC Today, Dissertation House Begins at 10AM | The Dissertation House

  5. drwendycarter says:

    Good Morning and welcome to day 1 of the 2011 Winter DH.

    Ready, set, go! Oh wait a minute….The start of Winter Dissertation House (DH) 2011 is delayed but I anticipate a good start at 10 am. No– the delay is not a sign for you go back to bed and begin again tomorrow. Join us at 10. Take this time to get you workspace ready to be productive. Do you need a clean office? Take 15 minutes at the end of everyday to clean so that you can be ready for the next. Do you need all of your books in one room? go and get them. Get a cup of tea, coffee, water or whatever it takes to get your mind going in the morning.

    I look forward to meeting new graduate students and helping them through the process. The DH is about making daily progress not waiting for the stars to align to start writing or waiting until you feel motivated to do so. Remember you can make daily progress by setting small goals. You don’t have to work alone. You don’t have to wait until the experiments are done before you start writing. You don’t have to wait until IRB has cleared your methodology before you start writing.

    At TADA we believe “A good dissertation is a done dissertation”.

    What are your goals for the next 4 days? Make a list and post it here. Be sure that your goals are measurable. No tasks is too insignificant. Something as small as completing your title page is not insignificant!!!

    I wish you all the best this week.
    Dr. Carter

  6. renettatull says:

    Welcome everyone!

    This Winter Challenge is open to any graduate student from any campus in world. Join in! Let us know your goals and how you’re doing throughout the week. There will be several students from universities in Maryland online this week and we welcome others (from any school, any state, any country!) to our support network.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Tull

  7. Good morning, everyone! I am a 5th year student in the Human Services Psychology doctoral program at UMBC. I’m looking forward to a productive week at my first Dissertation House! My goals for the week are:
    -Complete outline for my proposal for the Intro/Background, Aims/Hypotheses, and Methods
    -6pgs of Intro/Background
    -4pgs of Methods
    -Clarify Specific Aims and Hypotheses
    -Complete preliminary analyses for group sample sizes
    -Review and select 2 options for data analysis methods
    My overall goal is to have my proposal in a first-draft format that will be ready to give to my advisor next week. Afterall, he’s giving me the week off from the lab for this, so it would be good to have a proposal draft ready for his review!

    I am open to questions, comments and suggestions!


  8. Christy Leung says:

    Hi Everyone,

    During the dissertation house this week, I aim to:
    1. Complete revising my literature review on “immigration experience”;
    2. Create hypotheses for my literature review; and
    3. Revise description of the qualitative method.

    Good luck with your work, everyone!

  9. Susan Mitchell says:

    Hi everyone! Welcome to all who have never attended a Dissertation House before. You’ll be surprised at how much progress you’ll make.

    I’m planning to summarize my pilot study this week. I’ll also be e-mailing back and forth with my advisor regarding a questionnaire that I’m creating. I’ve had a tough year-and-a-half with some family problems, so I’ve lost a lot of time. Sometimes life gets in the way! If this happens to you, just take some time, regroup, and lean on your family and friends for support. You’ll be surprised at how they’ll rise to the occasion.

    — Susan

  10. Yvette Mozie-Ross says:

    Glad to be here! I will be working on requested edits to my dissertation proposal (Chapters 1,2, &3) – which, by the way, I successfully defended on Nov. 30! I also hope to begin the framework for Chapter 4 (research findings).

  11. I am excited to be in Dissertation House again. I am looking forward to getting a lot of work done this week. My list includes
    1. Creating an outline for Chapter 2 of my dissertation
    2. Selecting which articles are to be included in the Chapter 2
    3. Beginning writing Chapter 2 of my dissertation (Focusing on the machine learning section because I have a job interview on machine learning in a few weeks.)
    4. Submitting a new version of the IRB since the first one was rejected.
    5. Creating some datafiles for my CREU students
    6. Meet with my advisor

  12. Wei says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have been working on the current proposal for such a long time that I do not dare to communicate with my advisor and other people, because it is really embarrassing. It made me feel so good after telling my story at the meeting this morning.

    So right now, as suggested, I will make my specific plans for the coming four days, and finish my current proposal by the end of the four days, and submit to my advisor.

    Eventually I see the hope. Thank you.

  13. Hye-Sook Lee says:

    Hi! I hope everyone can work productively during the DH. 🙂

  14. navid says:

    Hi everyone,

    I am ready to do my best to see progress in my research status. I have some long term plans for this semester which all of them depend on how well I can start and do the basic steps. I’ll look through the dissertation house notes, working on the code I’m busy with for almost three months and hope to start my proposal by the end of this week.

    I wish you all the best,

  15. Hilda Huang says:

    My goal for this DH is to revise my methodology draft. For me to accomplish this goal, I need to read two articles about the use of “language log” and “journal” in the assessment of language teaching. I have already have the articles but I need to read them these days. I also need to re-read four articles about two methods I am going to use. I highlighted the sections I am going to put into the paper but I need to organize them and provide examples.

  16. Frances says:

    In Winter 2011 Dissertation House, I will write up specific sections of my results. The specific sections are the main effects of summer 2010 research participation on scientific self-efficacy and whether these effects differ by four subgroups (major, gender, undergraduate classification, and type of previous research participation). The main effects analysis has been written up and I have done initial reviews of the subgroup analysis. These results will be included in a job-talk presentation that I am scheduled to give on Tuesday, January 24, 2011.

  17. tom shaffer says:

    hello, all.

    my name is still tom and i am in my 6th year in the gerontology program. i would like to use my time here this week to firm up some specific details on the format of my proposal. Specifcially, i want to come to agreement with my 2 co-chairs on what we all want the 3 paper chapter to look like, and their content/organization. It is time to start writing and i do not want that to change in mid-stream. To help make this happen, i realize i also need to “check in” more with my co-chairs.

    I also want to develop an approach on how to structure a meta-review that does not bury or drown the reader with too much information. I want to provide a superstructure that the reader can use as ‘heads up’ when they are presented with more detail regarding specific papers. The bigger plan is to be able to defend my proposal before may. The ideas and theme(s) are all in place…now is time to get it on paper.


  18. Adrienne Starks, PhD says:

    Greetings All,
    I’m sending positive and productive energy to all DH participants. I shared my DH experiences with the UMBC community today. I was asked to provide the name and information of the editor that I used to help complete my dissertation. His name is Dr. Ralph Piper and he is a professor at Towson University, among many other titles. His email address is and his phone number is (609) 658-8645. I highly recommend his services of editing, however he does provide dissertation coaching services as well. He may charge by the number of pages edited or for monthly services.
    I was also asked to provide the name of the spa that I escaped to after grueling months of work on my dissertation. The destination spa is called the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA ( It is one of the many Poconos Resorts. It was a little expensive, however I felt that it was worth every penny.
    I wish everyone abundant success this year!!
    Adrienne Starks, PhD

  19. Pingback: UMBC’s Winter 2011 Dissertation House: “Nothing is Utterly Hopeless.” | The Dissertation House

  20. renettatull says:

    Good afternoon everyone,

    It’s great to see you working so hard! I am always excited when we have new students in the Dissertation House because I have seen so many before you finish their dissertations and go on to successful careers. Can you imagine the joy that Dr. Carter and I experience when we work with you in the the DH and throughout your years in graduate school and we see you defend your dissertation successfully. We sit proudly at Commencement in our regalia and cheer for you on as you are hooded by your mentor in your crisp robe with the 3 bars of the Ph.D. and your tam (affectionately known as “the floppy hat.”)

    The key is that you CAN do this. You WILL do this. So for the people in the room, let’s get used to the sound and the look of your future names. Dr. Huang. Dr. Yu. Dr. Goudarzi. Dr. Lee. Dr. Carter. Dr. Shaffer. Dr. Ordóñez Rozo. Dr. Mitchell. Dr. Mozie-Ross. Dr. Van Orden. Dr. Leung. And yes, Dr. Colombo and Dr. Matheny … we see you. And our DH members at College Park … Dr. Miles and Dr. Westmoreland … we see you too!

    You’ve taken this step to take time to focus and concentrate. The hard work will pay off; you’re on the right track!

  21. Today, Dr. Carter really helped me to begin to clarify my specific aims (item 4 on my goals for the week). To support this, I have three things to do tomorrow:

    1. Work on my Problem Statement, referring to the article provided in our folders for guidance.
    2. Develop a table that compares the study I would like to replicate for Aim 1 with the current dataset/study I will be using.
    3. Develop a diagram that shows what the field has done thus far to address the problem(s), which will help me clarify Aim 2.

    Tonight, I will prepare the articles and items I need for these tasks and continue to work on preliminary analyses (which requires significant data recoding). I also need to update to Office 2010 on the computer I am using this week, so that I can write!

    Have a restful night everyone!


  22. Susan Mitchell says:

    Done for the day! I got a good start on writing the text for my pilot study summary. I need to start filling in the time estimates. I also worked on a couple of the figures for the summary. Hopefully, I’m on a roll and will continue doing the same thing tomorrow. Didn’t hear from my advisor re: the questionnaire. But I had enough to do!

    See you tomorrow!

  23. tom says:

    What was done today:
    Hammered down some loose ends such as:
    • what campus’ deadline to follow (UMB),
    • journal requirements for papers

    Started looking at:
    • 3 papers in total and modify aims, added raison d’etre and rationale

    What to do tomorrow:
    • Finish up refining paper aims and purposes for interrelatedness and distinctness (morning),
    • Identify paper lit areas (afternoon)
    • Print Table of Contents of Proposal
    • Email to co-chairs to verify format of papers in regards to how they appear in proposal
    • Email to full committee as a ‘heads up’ about attending DH and clue that I’ll start being in contact with them next week about scheduling the 1st full committee meeting.

  24. renettatull says:

    We’ve posted a re-cap of today’s activities on the front page of this website. The individual article (with photos) can be found here:

    If you use twitter, there were some Dissertation House tweets today:

  25. Susan Mitchell says:

    Well, it’s day 2! I will keep plugging away at my pilot study summary, concentrating on the time estimates that my advisor wants. As with yesterday, I’ll also continue writing the text and drawing the accompanying figures. Hopefully, I’ll hear from my advisor today regarding the questionnaire that I have left to give to my pilot study participants.

    Have a productive day!

    — Susan

  26. Onna says:

    Good Morning! I’m looking forward to Day 2 being a productive one! I’ll be working on the three tasks I’ve outlined yesterday, and I’ll start with the Problem Statement.

  27. Hye-Sook Lee says:

    Hi! Today’s goal is to finish my literature review list. Frankly, yesterday was not productive as much as I hoped. 😦 I really, really need to get done this list so that I can start to re-write a part of my literature review. Cross-fingers!

  28. Christy Leung says:

    Day 2: To-Do List

    1. Finish reviewing 2 articles: (1) Importance of studying the reason for migration and (2) A qualitative study on Chinese immigrants
    2. Identify the references suggested by my committee member today regarding the qualitative methodology
    3. Problem statement

  29. Frances says:

    Dissertation House (DH) Day 2!

    Yesterday at DH I reviewed and cleaned up the main effects analysis that I wrote up over the weekend. I also met with my advisor after DH about questions I had on analyses I had done over the weekend. Finally last night, I worked on my job talk and sent Dr. Carter an updated version.

    Today, I will apply notes from Bloom 2010 & my advisor to results that are currently in tables in stata log files to write up my group differences results. Not later than tonight (hopefully before the end of DH), I will sent my advisor a draft of my results write up and my job talk to discuss with him on Thursday after DH.

    Let’s work productively in the time we have DH Winter 2011 Colleagues!


  30. Hilda Huang says:

    Today I will read two articles about the use of “journals” in language assessment and write why I will use it in my research. In addition, I will also write why I choose both sitcoms from the aspect of their similarity in socio-economics.

  31. Wendy Carter,PhD says:

    Hello All

    Day 2 of the Winter DH.

    Today Dr. J. Ingram from the University Counseling Services Center stopped by to give us 10 Tips for Finding Balance:
    1. Develop Organizing Systems
    2. Focus on Key Tasks
    3. Learn to say “NO”
    4. Take your full lunch break every day
    5. Find Trail. Hike. Repeat
    6. Make Commitments Concrete
    7. Listen to music. Appropriate music
    8. Develop & Utilize a support system
    9. Talk to your supervisor about your needs
    10. Maintain a sense of humor

  32. drwestmoreland says:

    Hi all,

    Yay for DH Day 1 and Day 2. Keep up the good work. Today was a whirlwind for me and my advisor, we met like 3 times in one day. All is well though, we had a deadline today that we thought we could make but we missed it. I was slammed with data today and my eyes are spinning.

    Before I leave today I will make a list of what’s missing from the paper for my advisor and send it to her and in the morning I will start knocking that list to the ground!

    I hope that Winter DH is going well and I can’t wait to hear about all the work being done.

    • Wendy Carter,PhD says:

      Hello Nikki

      Creating a list is always good; it provides a good feeling when you can cross things off! Here is a link to an online todolist.

      You can have it send to your email the lists with items checked off as well.
      Good to see you in the online DH. I should be on your campus Jan 26th.

  33. drwestmoreland says:

    This is just so I can click the box to get replies via e-mail…:)

  34. Susan Mitchell says:

    Well, the end of Day 2! Again, I achieved quite a bit. I met with Dr. Carter, continued work on my pilot study summary, and communicated with my advisor about the questionnaire I am writing. Tomorrow, I hope to complete (or nearly complete) the questionnaire if my advisor gets back to me again. I’ll also continue to work on my pilot study summary.

    — Susan

  35. tom shaffer says:

    got more done today than i thought and managed to let my inner “omg…how am i gonna do that?!?” exist all by itself without letting it stop me. note that it does not mean it went away…it was just a little less of an obstacle, or ok to have in the background for a while longer.

    what is up for tomorrow, Thursday:
    • Talk about how to organize a meta-review as chapter two. Does it make sense to do it by paper or by topic area? methinks by paper is a useful way to do that.
    • Nail down how some hypotheses will be answered in paper two.
    • Bug for confirmation on how paper chapters are to be organized/formatted.
    • Start fleshing out those chapters just shy of the variables.
    • Build reverse timeline for a Dec 2011 or spring 2012 graduation

  36. Onna says:

    Today, I completed my Problem Statement (which also evolved into a 3-page draft of my Background), a draft of the diagram that shows what the field has done thus far to address the problem(s) to clarify my Aim 2, and started the table to compare the study I will replicate for Aim 1.

    Tomorrow I will:
    1. Complete table that compares the study I would like to replicate for Aim 1 with the current dataset/study I will be using.
    2. Complete a diagram that shows what the field has done thus far to address the problem(s), which will help me clarify Aim 2.
    3. Write the Measures section of my Methods (since I am now more clear on which measures I will need to address my Aims).

    Thanks and have a restful night, everyone!


  37. Maya says:

    Good day! Thank you, Dr. Carter and Dr. Tull, for posting the recap of the first two days of the Dissertation House. I look forward to joining everyone in person tomorrow.

    I am working on major revisions to my first manuscript, and I must write the response letter and address comments for the resubmission of the manuscript.

    One reviewer’s comment was to update the literature review to include recently published studies on depression and inflammation. I read the article from CARDIA study and jotted down notes for the discussion.

    I set goals for the semester, including the following:
    1. Resubmit manuscript to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society*
    2. Master longitudinal data analysis
    3. Medical school preparation
    4. Doctoral Hooding and Commencement in May
    *focus for this week

    Goals for the remainder of this week:
    1. Add co-authors’ comments to response letter
    -Dr. MS
    -Dr. EL
    -Dr. JM
    -Dr. RM
    2. Send draft of response letter to senior author for her review
    3. Read recent Whitehall Study articles

  38. Angel Miles says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Sorry I dropped off the planet yesterday. I was not feeling well. To be honest, I think I am starting to feel a little down about this whole process. After getting papers back numberous times and constantly revising, it starts to get to you. At least it is starting to get to me. But, I am picking myself up, and starting today with a new attitude. I did manage to turn in a draft of my IRB to my advisers Monday. I will meet with one of my co-chairs tomorrow (which is really today since I am up so late) to discuss it. We will also discuss the questions I have about the feedback I received from my dissertation committee members regarding the concept paper of my proposal I submitted in December. I spent a lot more time today reviewing their comments, and revising the paper to meet their standards (I hope). Tomorrow morning I will make more revisions and type up an agenda for my meeting with my adviser tomorrow afernoon. The more work I do, the better I feel, which is a good sign. Best wishes to you all.

    • Wendy Carter,PhD says:

      Hello Angel

      Welcome back to the planet. Feedback is part of the process. Just imagine if your advisors did NOT give you feedback and waited until the end to do so.
      Keep up the good work. I should be at UMCP Jan 26th.

    • renettatull says:

      Hi Angel,

      Just for the sake of posterity, I have an entire box full of bound copies of revisions upon revisions of my dissertation. That was a LOT of red ink! It’s funny because I learned so much through the process, but I didn’t recognize it until I became a professor and started providing feedback to my own students. It also helped when I became a reviewer for journal articles and grants. So while it’s VERY frustrating right now, think about it as a learning exercise. After a while, it also becomes easier to just make the changes as soon as possible.

      I went back to Northwestern recently and spent time with my advisor. He didn’t even remember all of those revisions!

      Stay committed. You’ve come too far to stop now. Like the rest of your fellow DH participants, you WILL finish and you WILL get your Ph.D. Keep on going!

      Best wishes,
      Dr. Tull

  39. Onna says:

    Good morning, everyone! Welcome to Day 3. I plan to set some clear deadlines today and re-establish a realistic timeline for my proposal defense date. 🙂

  40. Susan Mitchell says:

    Back for Day 3! I’m afraid that I might hit a wall today — very tired. But I’ve been very productive. Today, I hope to get some more feedback from my advisor re: the questionnaire. Maybe I’ll even finish it today! If I do, I’ll continue on with the writeup of my pilot study summary. Gotta go!

    — Susan

  41. Hilda Huang says:

    Good morning, everyone! Today I hope to write definition of VP framework and justify why I will use it.

    Hilda Huang

  42. Maya says:

    Good morning! It’s time to address the coauthor comments!

  43. Frances says:

    Yesterday, I completed the write-up of my subgroup analysis and went over my job talk presentation with Dr. Carter. While meeting with my advisor after DH yesterday, I discovered an error in some of the previous analysis I had done. I worked on it last night and this morning. I can’t seem to find out why the error is occurring but know I can’t get hung up on this mistake all day when I have already spent several hours on it. So for the rest of today I will inputting my results into my presentation and complete a draft of the presentation to discuss with my advisor tonight. Hopefully, our discussion will also help with the error and I can make the small adjustment in the presentation.

    I will also present my presentation to my department tomorrow.

  44. drwestmoreland says:

    Day Three!!

    Today I am going to make edits to my ASME paper which is essentially the same data that will go into my proposal. I will also work on and finish my final presentation for my externship I had earlier this month with the Navy. I have to hand it to my boss by 0830 am on Friday. Since I am going to meet my boss in the morning I will probably not be online until after lunch.

    Last night before I went home I made a list of all the edits for this publication that my advisor and I will complete.

    Oh, today I will also attempt to submit my abstract for this publication which is also my proposal.

    Happy Work Day!


  45. tom says:

    web of science…web of knowledge…same difference.

    You can find the excellent resource at UMBC here:

    like i said, think of this as pubmed on steroids. it is worth taking some time playing with it to see how it works, or asking a reference librarian if they offer training courses on it.

    Note bene: the UMBC version of this database starts at 1998. The UMB version starts at 1987.

    Discover Web of Science
    Explore the world’s leading citation database with multidisciplinary coverage of over 10,000 high-impact journals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities, as well as international proceedings coverage for over 120,000 conferences. Powerful tools include cited reference searching, Citation Maps, and the Analyze Tool.

  46. Yvette Mozie-Ross says:

    What a great week so far! I’ve accomplished a great deal. Got through just about all the edits. Tomorrow I will focus on adding a small section to the lit review as requested.

  47. Susan Mitchell says:

    OK. My progress was a little slower today. But my eyes are really getting tired. I did make the revisions that I have so far to the questionnaire. And I sent a partial draft of my pilot study report to my advisor. Hopefully, I’ll have feedback from her on both tomorrow. Then I can continue to work on both (questionnaire first).

    — Susan

  48. Maya says:

    Today was productive! I updated the literature review spreadsheet, and began addressing comments.

    I will incorporate more of the coauthors’ comments in the response letter and edit the manuscript tomorrow. I also need to work on a new timeline for the semester.

  49. My goal for tomorrow is to get some writing on Chapter 2 completed. I just wrote a recommendation letter for myself. How strange that is. Something I wasn’t expecting to have to do today.

  50. Hye-Sook says:

    I have been creating a literature review sheet for the last three days. I will complete the table with the literature I have now. In addition, I need to go back to school and work on some of my GA job… Time flies!

  51. Christy Leung says:

    On the last day of DH tomorrow, I aim to:

    1. Review with my introduction draft with Dr. Carter
    2. Incorporate my review of the 2 articles into my draft

    Good luck to all of us tomorrow!!

  52. navid says:

    It was the third day!
    I worked the whole day on code!
    I found the reasons of the bad problems and the main challenge now is to find ways to fix those problems.
    for tomorrow, I hope to complete most parts of the paper review and some parts of the problems i found in the code!

    Tomorrow should be better than today for all of us,

  53. Hilda Huang says:

    I am still working on writing definition of 5 levels of pragmatic analysis in VP framework. I finish two of them and hopes to continue finishing them tomorrow.

    Hilda Huang

  54. tom shaffer says:

    What was done today…

    While only 3 out of the 5 points proposed yesterday were done, some other ones popped to the surface and took their place 😉 They were promptly dispatched.

    this is on the list for Friday:
    • Figure out a post-DH timeline for the month of February. Over 50% of this time should involve active writing
    • Start scheduling alternating weekly meetings with co-chairs
    • Send email canvassing committee members about availability for full committee meeting in February
    • update the proposal summary doc for new points and consistency

  55. Onna says:

    Tomorrow, our last day(!), I will:
    1. Continue to work on my Problem Statement & Background (3pgs)
    2. Write 3 additional pages of my Background & Lit Review
    3. Turn the table that I wrote for Aim 1 into part of my Methods section (4pgs)
    3. Revise my timeline/deadlines for reaching my proposal goal date

    It’s looking like I will have done less than 1/2 of the items on my overall list for the week – but I learned a lot about what I need to do!

  56. Frances says:

    DH tasks completed! I guess I finally learned to list small tasks to feel accomplished!
    Tomorrow will be in and out for me as I need to:
    – Email my presentation by 7am
    – Practice presentation alone (2x’s) and with department (1x).
    – Make changes as recommended by department.
    – Add subgroup results for major, class, and previous research participation to chap 5 to send out to writing accountability team.

  57. renettatull says:

    Hello everyone,

    It sounds like Day 3 was tough! Well congratulations on pushing through it. The good thing about it is that all of you were able to accomplish something. Even if it was something small. The key is that each of has taken time out this week to put forth concentrated effort, and it IS paying off. You aren’t spending the days procrastinating or working on other projects that aren’t related to the dissertation … no, you’re actively putting in the time to move your project forward. This is a process where every single step forward counts. So congratulate yourselves. Be proud of the work that you’ve done and prepare to enjoy results from the time that you will put in tomorrow. Good luck!

    Dr. Tull

  58. Angel Miles says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Today was a good day! I wrote an agenda and met with my adviser like I planned. She did help address my questions and my confusion is finally waning, fwew! Thanks for the encouragement Dr. Carter, Dr. Tull and everyone who has been sharing their goals and perspectives. It really does make a difference. For tomorrow I will
    complete revising my concept paper by:
    1. Discussing how instruments will be validated
    2. Justifying the number of participants for recruitment and sampling technique
    3. Provide more details about how data will be coded.
    That’s all for now. Oh, also I wanted to send a formal invitation for you all to join the Dissertation Study group that a number of us from Promise take part in every Saturday here at UMCP. I am cuting and pasting the info below. We meet from 10am to 4:30 most Saturdays. I hope to see you there. If you have more questions or want to be added to our list, you can email me at or call 240-988-3587. We meet in a similar fashion as in DH. When we meet we discuss our goals, and then get to work. It helps to have support and be accountable to your peers.
    We’ll be meeting in the Stamp Student Union again this weekend. We’ll gather in the study/work area with all the tables on the first floor (same floor as the information desk). See you then.

    As a reminder:

    1- Please let me know if you WILL make it so I don’t drive to UM if I’m the only one working.

    2- My cell phone number, in case you need it: 240-463-1279.

    3- Bring a SMALL food item to share. (Enough for 3-4 people, that doesn’t take up a lot of space, since we may have limited space.)

    4- Forward this e-mail to any Ph.D. students (preferably who are in the dissertation phase) that you think might be interested in joining our community of writers.

    5- Bring your workout clothes. We’ll wrap up and head to the ERC around 4 (Ritchie is closed during winter break on Saturdays).


    Dora Elias McAllister
    Ph.D. Candidate, Higher Education, University of Maryland
    Graduate Assistant, New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability

  59. Susan Mitchell says:

    Last day! If I get the feedback that I need from my advisor, I hope to complete my questionnaire today. Either way, I will also keep working on my pilot study report. I doubt that I will finish the whole report, but I’ve made A LOT of progress. I’m going to try to get back into the 15-minutes-a-day mode after I finish prepping for the classes that I begin teaching next week.

    — Susan

  60. Hilda Huang says:

    I will continue the writing of the rest of 3 definitions and justifications of using VP’s level of pragmatic analysis today.

  61. Yvette Mozie-Ross says:

    Good Morning Dissertation House! Glad to be here with you. Today I will work on expanding section on cultural and social capital. Wish me luck!

  62. I have spent this morning reading the blog. I am motivated by seeing what everyone has accomplished. I realize that I have really only accomplished two of my goals for the week thus far. Although one goal of meeting with my advisor was outside of my control, there are still 3 other goals I wanted to accomplish yet there are 4 things I had to do that I hadn’t foreseen: editing my students’ poster, submitting a student recommendation, writing my own recommendation, and dealing with the electronic IRB submission at Hopkins. I still haven’t given up on my goals but I hope that by the end of the day I will have made some good progress on chapter 2.

  63. Onna says:

    Good morning, everyone!

    Today is one of those examples of when “life gets in the way”. Wake up not feeling well, walk out to a flat tire, and my colleagues would like me to attend a lab event this afternoon. Nonetheless, I will stay on track and keep working on my dissertation goals this morning and take the skills I’ve learned this week with me. Today, I will revise my problem statement and begin moving the pieces I have already written into a proposal cookbook format.

    Good luck everyone!

  64. navid says:

    Good Morning,

    Fortunately, I found the main reason of getting bad results in the code. I know this is the starting point of change some parameters and maybe some extra errors; but the good thing is that it should lead me to get true answers!

    I have better feeling now and looking for getting answer very soon.

    I wish you all a very successful day,

  65. Wendy Carter,PhD says:

    Day 4: Last day of the DH!

    This week was tough; we faced some challenges with the weather and a later start time, yet we persevered. No excuses. We didn’t give up and say that we will begin again next week. We here, we made some progress and continued the journey. As they say “better is end of thing than the beginning of the thing.” Don’t give up, stay focus.
    A good dissertation is a done dissertation.

    All the best to you in the coming weeks.
    Dr. Carter

  66. tom says:

    it’s kind of a friday and also kinda not. usually fridays mark the end of the week and closing things down. with this one i seee that i am preoccupied with planning and starting things up. That is also a dangerous diversion for me – to busy myself with being in the clouds (even if it is dissertation-related) when there are *plenty* of things to attend to here, down on the ground. will plod ahead with those mundane details and leave the pondering of big picture stuff to simmer in the background for a bit. what this week has shown me again is how i often stop myself and it is not anyone/anything else. plodding and slogging through stuff is not so bad after all.

    and with that, let me wish everyone well with your own plodding and slogging.

  67. renettatull says:


    You have so many obligations and you often wonder when you’ll find time to work on your dissertation. I highly recommend consolidating your time so that you have consistent days to work on the dissertation. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. If you can, schedule your other obligations (e.g., TA, RA, PTA) for specific days of the week, and leave some consecutive days available for working on the dissertation. An example would be putting all of your TA and RA hours (including teaching, prep, office hours) into Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and reserving Friday – Monday for dissertation time (and of course family, life/work balance time.)

    True Story: In grad school, my friends and I scheduled our “break time” together. We all went to 8AM church service on Sunday and then went to brunch to eat, talk about what we accomplished, lament about what wasn’t done yet, and vent about our week until about noon. The combination was excellent therapy and really helped us to jumpstart the next phase of our week. Needless to say, we all finished and have very satisfying careers!

    As the DH ends, make sure that you have a structure in place that will help you to stay on track. Make a weekly appointment with Dr. Carter. Have a weekly coffee/work-session with another friend who is working on the dissertation. Make a plan for success and include others in it so that you are not back out there doing this alone.

    Good luck to all of you! We’re in your corner.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Tull

  68. Susan Mitchell says:

    Thanks to Dr. Carter, Dr. Tull, Gloria, and everyone else who made this Dissertation House possible (and a success!). I plan to put the 15-minutes-a-day strategy back in place, talk to my family about how they can help me to finish my dissertation, and go over my new calendar for completion with my advisor. I accomplished soooooo much this week! (Oh, I’m also going to start exercising, even if I have to start a little at a time.)

    I will definitely be applying for the employee DH if one is held. And watch out, Dr. C. — I may just start showing up during your office hours!

    Thanks again!

  69. So this week is a typical one for me. I set up goals and things keep happening to make them difficult to attain. My Goals at the beginning of the week were:
    1. Creating an outline for Chapter 2 of my dissertation
    2. Selecting which articles are to be included in the Chapter 2
    3. Beginning writing Chapter 2 of my dissertation (Focusing on the machine learning section because I have a job interview on machine learning in a few weeks.)
    4. Submitting a new version of the IRB since the first one was rejected.
    5. Creating some datafiles for my CREU students
    6. Meet with my advisor

    Numbers 6 was hindered because I couldn’t schedule a time to meet with my advisor this week and 5 was only partially completed because the data files I have didn’t have the time. Goal 4 was accomplished after a good hour spent on trying to figure out why I couldn’t login to approve the IRB. Goal 3 was accomplished, but goals 1 and 2 were put in the background because of other obligations I didn’t expect like writing two recommendations for students. I realize that I need to carve out time for the reading and the writing in the day. I kept saying I could do that when I got home, but it never happened. The only writing I accomplished was done in dissertation house, not my house. Many tips to take with me. I have stopped drinking caffeine because it looks like it was giving me headaches. I am going to start to keep a schedule like I have this week, include exercise and a full hour lunch and a full hour to dedicate to reading and writing and I will maintain the integrity of my schedule. I have enjoyed meeting new people and I hope we will continue to keep in touch and keep each other focused.

    Thanks Dr. Carter, Dr. Tull, Gloria and Violetta for all you do! Dissertation house rocks!

  70. tom says:

    well, well, well….the week is over and I am now officially brain dead. This has been a productive week since I was able to get some nagging details out of the way. What the removal of these items did was make a little more clear what is ahead and how I should get there. This alone is worth it, but I also see that to get the full and complete picture of it all after 4 days at it might be asking a little too much. There is a saying among sculptors that sculpting is easy because all they do is release the form that is lies dormant within the chunk of stone.

    I am not saying that the rest is easy and comes into being by simply chipping away at what does not belong ( A more accurate thought is that this will be a piece of work, lol), but I do see that chipping away at the smaller pieces really does reduce the size of the overall task. I guess the next chunk of work will be at figuring out what gets chipped away at first, second, and so on, and then keeping at this task in a steady manner instead of thinking that letting it happen on a select day or two is the best way to do that.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  71. Hilda Huang says:

    Today I finished the writing of definitions of 5 levels of analysis in VP framework. I realized that I may not need to use all of them in my research. This is what I need to discuss with my advisors.

    Thanks Dr. Carter and all staffs’ helps and assistances.

  72. Wendy Carter, PhD says:

    Hello All,

    It’s Monday. We are no longer in the DH but we can still put what we have learned in the DH into practice.

    Break tasks down into manageable pieces.
    Write and post your goals for others to see and keep you accountable.
    Cross of the tasks that you were able to accomplish for the day, the week, the month.
    Prepare for the next day.
    Practice our “elevator pitch”….can you discuss your research/dissertation without a lot of “ums” “ahs” “so” “and” or jargon? Get ready to speak like the expert you are training to be.
    Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to get done.

    I am on UMCP campus on Wednesday….do you need a coach? do you need someone to help you get organized? Remember to make use of the available resources on your campus.

    • navid says:

      Hi dr.Carter and all researchers at dissertation house,

      I just got the approval of this semester courses.
      But, as I told you before this semester seems to be not that easy for me. The first day was of the week did not go that good!
      I found a great tool, Mendeley which you can download it for free. It is similar to Research Templates Dr.Carter showed us last week.

      I wrote my winter schedule, full of to do tasks lol

      wish the best for all of you,

  73. drwestmoreland says:

    Hi All,

    I was sick for 4 Days and I am still coming back into myself today but I couldn’t stay in the house any longer and also my first class is today and I didn’t want to miss it. Today I have a short meeting at 11am and I have class from 5-6:15pm. I am going to work on my paper today. I am going to trabscribe three interviews and make a chart of the responses. I am also going to update the background section of my paper. If time permits I will start another item off my paper todo list. I think those 2 things will take the majority of my day.

    If I complete my 2 tasks I will go home after class, if not I will come back until I am done.

    Happy Tuesday!


    • drwestmoreland says:

      I didn’t finish my tasks from yesterday so today (until I have to leave for some bad weather) I will continue to work on them. I transcribed all the interviews. Now I am condensing my table and writing a short discussion about it. I also need to to work on the background section as well. Since I don’t get to meet with Dr. Carter today 😦 I guess I will still be productive. Hope everyone in the DMV is safe and warm.


  74. Alexis Y. Williams says:

    Hello All,

    Nikki, I’m sorry you’ve been sick, and I’m sorry I missed you sing in December. I have been away from the blog for so long, but I’ll try to catch up soon. Good luck everyone with continuing to do something productive each day, no matter how small it seems at the moment. And thanks Drs. Tull and Carter for all your help and for caring about us.

    Today I am making a list of all my fine-tuned to-dos for the semester. I made a general list for my advisor but I need to break it down more if I’m going to actually get it all done.

    I got my IRB approved so I also need to create an addendum and get my applications done for the counties I will be seeking high school teacher participation from. Right now I’m at work, so I’ll start on this when I get off around 5pm. Then I’ll go work out (Nikki, I have been slacking on the gym, but I will say, too, that I have “given my body a rest in January.” 🙂 Feel better!)

    Gonna try to get on Dr. Carter’s calendar now. Thanks again for coming to CP!


    • drwestmoreland says:

      Welcome back Alexis. We missed you. I am starting to wonder if I got sick because I decided to take this little ‘exercise break’. Anyways I am coming back in February. I just think starting a new semester and getting into a new class schedule etc is alot on my body and sometimes starting too many new things at one time I crash.

    • Wendy Carter, PhD says:

      Sorry I missed you; UMCP closed early today so all of my afternoon appointments were canceled.

      I look forward to seeing you in Feb at 9:00.

  75. drwestmoreland says:

    It’s MONDAY!

    Today I came in early for once and got some work done. I worked on my paper today and I:

    1. Updated the background/literature sections
    2. Recrafted the introduction to actually introduce what we are doing
    3. Made other minor grammatical and formatting changes

    I am waiting to hear from my advisor because she didn’t come in the office today. While I wait I think I will go to the gym for a light workout. This is my first day working out again after my short break so I am not going to sweat too much.

    Goals done!


  76. Alexis Williams says:

    I can tell my body is out of the work habit. It’s so hard to get myself going these days. BUT I did go to the dissertation goals & writer’s block workshop on Friday, so I got reminded that I don’t have to despair when I’m feeling this way. I just have to try to keep my perspective broad and my immediate goals narrow, and get work done early in the day so I can feel good later.

    I have struggled to get these research applications done, so today I will push through them. I won’t worry about making them perfect. I will simply get them drafted and see what’s next. Then I will reward myself by working out. 🙂

    I hope everyone has a great week.


    • Hello Alexis

      I will be on your campus tomorrow. Will I see you? Send me an email and I will send you my phone number sometimes the students at the desk do not know who I am and will say that I am not there. So be persistent and give me a call.

  77. I will be at UMCP from 9-5. If you would like to schedule an appt please send me an email If you are planning to graduate in May you should have a plan. Stop by and let’s plan on making your goal a reality.

  78. drwestmoreland says:

    Where can I hide when the pressures of life somehow overtakes me? At home in my bed, but that’s not practical. I literally had to drag myself to school today and I was kicking and screaming the whole way. Not to mention that my advisor was looking for me and I didn’t even know it. I made it finally and it took more strength than I knew I had to stay here all day.

    I feel you Alexis, I need some wheat grass or something! I had that feeling today when you have so much to do that it seems you don’t know where to start and so you try to do a little of this and a little of that which adds up to a bunch of nothing. Weary before I could even start.

    I am giving a lecture tomorrow and me and my advisor worked on that today and I studied for my class. I technically am taking my last graduate class ever so that makes me smile but doing my hw takes away from time I could be working on my proposal. I am finishing up the lecture slides now and will e-mail my professor before I go home.

    I started my hw but I didn’t finish it. Tomorrow before and after my lecture I plan to do some coding of my journals. I will see Dr. Carter Wednesday at 3pm and hopefully have something to show her.

    I’m tired. I need some peace.

    Nikki 😦


    • Alexis Y. Williams says:

      Yup. I completely understand. I’m trying to get myself out of the “I’m tired” mantra. Prayed the whole way to school today and prayed over my desk and my brain that I could focus and be productive, remembering that this is only temporary. This is only temporary. This is only temporary. We’re closer to the end of this struggle than we know. We can expect great things.

      After work, I’m going to type up at least one of the applications I worked on yesterday, and then I’m going to the late Zumba class (about 1/2 hour early because I’m definitely getting in this time, grrr). I need to do as many things as possible to keep positive energy in my life.

      The light is still green. Go, go, go!


  79. renettatull says:

    Hi Nikki and Alexis,

    This is just a quick note to let you know that being tired is normal, but both of you are doing the right things by maintaining your spiritual connections, keeping up physical exercise, and keeping your plans in place. Plan your periods of rest and make sure that you schedule time to refresh. I like the suggestion of planning “off” time 1 hour prior to bed time. If you plan to go to bed at midnight, then you must turn everything off (e.g., laptop, TV) by 11:00. You’ll be surprised how much peace you can have in 1 hour of preparation for sleep.

    You may have already done this, but re-examine your food intake during your busy times. Treat this time as if you’re in-training. Reduce sugar as much as possible. I strongly suggest saying “no” to any and all soda. Both Dr. Carter and I are fans of sparkling mineral waters if you want something carbonated. You can get generic brands. I’m a fan of either Perrier or San Pellegrino.

    Best wishes!

    • drwestmoreland says:

      Thanks for the recommendations Dr. Tull. I need that hour of peace before I go to sleep because it will probably help me turn my brain off. I know that I sleep better on days that I exercise (even if it’s a light workout) than when I don’t. The little things do add up like taking vitamins, eating right, and sleeping well. I plan to keep pushing ahead. I have learned that sometimes (somedays) feelings need to be ignored.


  80. Alexis Y. Williams says:

    Hi all,

    I went to the gym last nite and found out it’s Body Image Awareness Month (aka, Choose to Love Yourself Exactly As You Are Month). So I’ll take it a step further and choose to love myself every moment that I’m feeling unsure of what the heck I’m doing, and just go from there.

    I have a meeting with Dr. Carter this morning so I’m looking forward to the jump-start. Then I’ll come back to work at my assistantship, after which I plan to get at least one research application SUBMITTED tonight. I have another meeting with my advisor tomorrow and she’ll have my head if this stuff is not done asap.

    Yesterday I almost finished typing up the main application I want to get submitted for one county school district (I have already filled in the info by hand on a hardcopy), and I filled out part of another application while waiting in the crazy-long zumba line last night. By any means necessary.

    Ok, here we go. Have a great day.


  81. drwestmoreland says:

    Yesterday is a blur mostly because Tuesday and Thursday are my class days things seem to blend together. I did manage to squeeze some research in yesterday. I coded 6 out of my 15 journals and plan to complete the rest today. My advisor and I are scheduled to meet tomorrow to talk about this coding. Everytime I say that I am “coding” I am looking for something different from the data set. I am coding for design decisions this time and I am not happy with the results but for reasons that were beyond my control. I am going to meet with Dr. Carter today at 3pm and talk about my unfinished literature review that I can’t seem to finish. I left my cell phone at home today so I feel backwards but I don’t need to waste time going home to get it. I am going to the gym later tonight before I leave so that is something that I have to look forward to. I got plenty of rest last night but my brain feels weak. LOL. I am weak about the brain. I am going to go refill my water now to refresh myself and get ready for my meeting with Dr. Carter. For some reason I decided today that I was going to wear a long sleeve shirt and a hoodie….bad idea…because it’s coooool! Brrrr.

    I have memories of a time when life was easier, this too shall pass.

    Time to get ready for my meeting, stop by the graduate school, and get back to my office and finish this coding.

    I love data! (NOT)


  82. Alexis Williams says:

    Hi Nikki – I miss you! Hi Everybody!

    I’m trying to set up a good mental health month for myself. I’ve done some reorganizing and some de-drama-fying, so let’s see if I can be systematic in my good habits from here on out. Better sleep, better food (except Thursdays, hee hee), better exercise…

    I’m still working on a couple of research applications, and once those are submitted I will get my survey items ready for sharing, update my IRB addendum, and submit a required form to one of the survey companies I purchased from. Then I will tighten up my ideas for how to make my study easy on schools I want to work with per Dr. Carter’s suggestions. If I can get these things done this week, I’ll be in great shape. 🙂

    Just gotta not feel so sleepy! No more snooze button in the morning. I’m trying something new to get myself out of the bed. I read a suggestion to put a yoga mat on the floor next to your bed and get up immediately and meditate/do yoga/stretch when the alarm goes off. I’ll still be sleepy, but I’ll be sitting upright, and I won’t let myself lie down again. I’ll see how that works…

    Peace out,


  83. drwestmoreland says:

    Hi Alexis! I miss you too!! 🙂

    Monday started off great! Surprisingly because my weekend did not go so well, just some unexpected turn of events that left me speechless and exhausted. Anyways, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! The guys in my bible study gave us homemade cookies and roses! So sweet!

    Today I spent the first 1/2 of the day working on a presentation for my class. I then my with my group member to talk about our progress. That was something that was scheduled for the weekend but I had to squeeze it in. I came back to my office and started coding again. I finished stage 3 coding and started analyzing that data. I e-mailed my advisor the results from the analysis to see what she thinks. I will talk witht her tomorrow about that. I need to do a little more analyzing tomorrow and start thinking about stage 4 coding process and how to start it. I have been given a 1 week extension for my conference paper so I have until next Friday to submit a full draft paper. I hope I make it.

    I am doing so well with better sleep and better exercise, but I need some work in the better food area. 😦 I am drinking water and not when I don’t drink water I get headaches. So that’s kind of my body’s way of saying hey I need to water chica. I actually felt really energized today and especially this morning when I got in. My issue sometimes is getting out of the house moving like molasses. If I can get out of that house, then I am on point. I was really focused this morning thanks to my good breakfast and vitamins!! 🙂

    I have to not get back in the bed. I can get out of the bed okay, watch Joyce Meyer and Creflo $ at 6am, eat breakfast, shower, and then I want to jump right back in the bed around 7:30am! 😦 The thought of getting dressed sometimes wears me out. LOL. The earlier I get here the more quiet it is and the higher probability that I get more work done in the day than not.

    Were both still a work in progress!

    Getting better every day!

    Keep Going

  84. Alexis Williams says:

    Hi again,

    Nikki, so many of the things you talk about sound just like me. I’m still working on the last things I posted, and I am so exhausted but I have to remember that I’m still in the game. Right now I feel like it’s impossible to do this one task I’m working on, but I know I can do it. I even remember looking forward to being at this point because I saw it as being easier than what I was working on a few months ago. And it IS! But since it’s the task that’s immediately in front of me, it has somehow become the hardest thing. I gotta stop believing these “motivational lies” and get to it. Before I know it, it’ll be over just like the last “too difficult to tackle” thing I did… And I’ll be like, “Huh? Oh yeah, that.” Inch by inch, it’s a cinch!

    The morning yoga mat exercise thing is working nicely, by the way. I tell myself to do one thing on the mat for a few minutes – it could be sitting still and breathing, just letting the thoughts go by, or doing some gentle stretches, or doing a sun salutation. Anything to get my body ready to be awake and alive. I’m also pondering getting up earlier and going to bed earlier after a conversation I had today. Part of Operation: Healthy Me.

    Speaking of which, my inability to fit into some of my “Chub Chub Day” clothing has been bumming me out, but I know in order to get to my more ideal body, I have to love the body I have first. It’s more important to be mentally healthy. So I’m gonna buy a couple pairs of pants and some shirts that don’t ride up around my extra muffin top – so I can actually breathe while I work – and know that eventually I’ll probably fit the “Skinny Day” clothes again. It just doesn’t have to be today.


  85. drwestmoreland says:

    Hey Muffin Top Sister,

    Hi, my name is Nikki and I have a muffin top. (**waits for applause and smiles because she’s not alone**)

    I feel you on the inch my inch. I am the kind of person that once I start something I can’t work fast enough to finish it. But it’s the starting part that sometimes gets me down. I think think think think too much about how and if I want to do it this way or that way and then I end up doing nothing. Then once I finally start it I find out that I knew how to do it all along and it only took 1/2 the time that I thought that it was going to take me and now I’m done. I’ve done many things I thought were hard and now I look back like that wasn’t hard, but what I need to do tomorrow may or may not be. I just gather my resources and march forward.

    I met with my advisor yesterday and some of the calculations that came from my 3rd wave of coding were confusing to here so I had to explain myself and it turns out I did them wrong but now I know how to fix them. I will fix them this afternoon. Since the 3rd wave of coding did not yeild the results due to the nature of the study my advisor wants me to code some of her old data just to verify that my methods are acceptable. This is a step that I did not anticipate but I plan to work on it this afternoon and all day tomorrow. I am going to have to work on Saturday because I need to start phase 4 of the coding but now I feel like I am taking one step back. I know that this will help to verify my methods so I am not so terribly torn about it, just throws my plans off.

    I always say that mental health comes first. Because even if I was a skinny as a stick mental unhealthiness can cause a lapse or cause other dangerous behavior. I love me, muffin tops and all. I’m good with it. I think more in terms of how I feel, how my body responds to food, sleep, exercise, and just a general overall healthy feeling. I was looking into the health and wellness center’s website yesterday and UMD students can have a one on one with a nutricionist for $15 co-pay at the health center. I am going to consider this option because food is my weakness! Mostly sugar! Yummy! I think it would be worth it to hear from a professional’s point of view about how to eat healthier and either way it can only help me even if in some small way. Even if she just reminds me of all the things that supposedly I already know about. LOL. 🙂

    I have been grading papers this morning and soon I will go to lab for my students since Tuesdays and Thursdays are my class and TA days I focus on my students but still try to squeeze some research in where I can. I have one more stack of papers to grade then a short break and then 2 classes back to back. 6:15pm where are you? Please come.


  86. Good morning

    Let’s face it working on a dissertation is a stressful time in our lives. Sometimes we question our ability and our sanity as well. While these feelings are normal, we need to continue to try to find ways to reduce our stress levels. This is not the time to skip a work out. This is the time to stay committed to a regular routine. We need to keep our routines and strengthen our resolve to keep a regular schedule. Dissertation House is about maintaining our integrity with respect to completing the tasks that we set out. Alexis do you remember how you used to hustle to get to the DH by 9? Find the urgency to finish your dissertation; have a plan A, B and or C if you have to. If working out makes you more productive and healthy then you have to schedule your workout sessions and adhere to the schedule.

    Like finishing a dissertation, getting rid of the muffin top is about persistence i.e. working out on a regular basis not just on the days we feel like it. Personally it is rare that I “feel” like working out. I am saying this because I am recommitting to working out for the next 30 days. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. Create a habit to working on your dissertation at least 12-15 minutes a day and working out as well.

  87. drwestmoreland says:

    Dr. Carter and Dr. Tull,

    I will be reaching out to my dissertation proposal committee on Monday asking them for availability and to serve on the committee in April. Do you have any suggestions of what I should say? Or shouldn’t say?



  88. Alexis Williams says:

    Hi All,

    Nikki, I just sent you an email with a message that I sent to a potential committee member. I hope it’s not too late to be helpful (if it would have been helpful at all)…

    Dr. Carter, your words are right on time. One thing that happens when this self-doubt sets in is that it zaps all the urgency along with any pleasure that can be experienced while going through the dissertation process (and, sure, there has been some pleasure in there, I made mental notes that it does happen sometimes). So not only do I forget that I LIKE this topic, but I forget how important it is to keep working hard to ensure that I will be successful in making some basic meaning out of it – NOW. My workout has to happen when I scheduled it – NOW. My county proposal writing/survey designing/principal script brainstorming (all the stuff on my simple to-do list that I’ve overwhelmed myself with) has to happen when I scheduled it – NOW. Not when I feel like it. The urgency will lead to a sense of pleasure when I get into a rhythm with it (21 days), but if I lose the urgency then life won’t be complacent along with me. Life will just keep going and I’ll be more and more bummed because I got left behind unnecessarily.

    Ok, so Operation: Healthy Me. I was inspired by this line in Eat, Pray, Love: “Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.” If God is in the details, then he is in my mental health, my physical health, and, yes, even in the successful completion of my dissertation. I will seek to fulfill The Plan like my head’s on fire.


  89. drwestmoreland says:

    Hi All,

    I just had a major setback! 😦 I was working on my paper for the past 7 hours or more and my file just decided it wanted to be corrupted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I lost it all. The paper is due Friday.

    I can’t take it. 😦

    The file won’t open, the computer is acting funny, I hate it all….

    Is this how my week is going to be?

  90. drwestmoreland says:


    How many shocks to the system can happen in 1 week? My advisor called me at 8 this morning (I was still half sleep trying to get up) to ask me to teach her course and lead her lab section this morning. So, I did. The subject I was not all that familiar with but I figure the experience was worth it, after it was over that’s how I felt. How I felt before is some kind of way.

    I think the lecture went well, all the students seemed to be listening except those few that were sleep but with 103 students I guess that’s expected. 🙂 The tasks I had planned for the morning got thrown off by that, but it’s all good. I’m moving ahead because Alexis gave me the green light! 🙂

    Good news! All my committee members have agreed to be my committee members and my proposed proposal date is April 29, 2011!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    Shout out to Alexis for letting me have a screaming match with myself last night on the phone while she listened. 🙂 She’s the best! Thanks for the green light!

    I am going to re-write the paper tomorrow, yea I know.

    Tonight after class I am going to try and start stage 4 coding even though I have no idea how I am going to do it. The beauty of research.



    • Alexis Y Williams says:

      Oh yeah, and congrats again on getting everyone to say yes to being on your committee!!! Yes yes yes – and yes! 😀

  91. Alexis Y Williams says:

    Awww, thanks Nikki (blushing)!!!

    You encouraged me last week so I’ll do the same this week. 🙂 You are so phenomenal – you draw in positive energy to yourself even when things aren’t going as planned. So take care of yourself and go, go, go ’cause the light’s still green!

    Funny about your last comment: I got Whitney’s song “Shoop” from Waiting to Exhale stuck in my head last night. Better exhale NOW, though, this process takes too LONG not to breathe all the way through it. WOOOSAHHH

    I think I’m going to work a little more tonight, on my survey to get it up online. But I might just go to bed and work on those 8 hours I’m supposed to get every night… Lol.

    Green light..


  92. drwestmoreland says:

    Green Light Go!

    Last night I figured out how a I am going to do the last bit of the coding so today I will:
    1. Code stage 4
    2. Edit paper per advisors comments
    3. Re-edit what I lost from Monday



    • drwestmoreland says:

      Coding Stage 4 DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Edit paper per advisor comments DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

        • drwestmoreland says:

          Re-Edit what I lost from Monday DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

          I lost sleep, but we have a Friday deadline and I went into data overload mode. Time for a nap….:)

          • Alexis Williams says:

            Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo amazing!!!! What???!!! WHAT??!! God is so good. You asked why the other day, remember? 🙂 🙂 🙂 You don’t have to worry about anything. Neither do I (what am I worried about? There’s evidence all around. Things go wrong, but it doesn’t even matter. There can be peace no matter what).

  93. Wow Nikki congrats on getting a proposal defense date despite all of the set backs. Thanks Alexis for pitching in and helping a sister out when she needed it. I am sure that one day she will return the favor.

    It’s always good to know that you are not alone in working on your dissertation.

    I will be on UMCP’s campus March 9th stop by and share your updates!

    • Alexis Williams says:

      Thanks, Dr. Carter! Nikki has already “returned” the favor – she has helped me when I was feeling too bad to describe. She probably didn’t even know it. 🙂 So many others have done the same that now it’s just a matter of paying it forward.


  94. drwestmoreland says:

    One step at a time.

    I submitted my paper at 5pm today!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 I’m beyond done. I’m going home for a well deserved nap. 🙂

    Have a nice weekend Alexis!


  95. drwestmoreland says:

    It’s Monday!

    I officially slept ALL day Saturday. 🙂

    I found errors in my paper over the weekend. For some reason when I converted the paper to pdf all the equations went away!!! I fixed it and apparently they still have the site open for uploads so I re-submitted the paper this morning.

    Today I plan to re-visit my original proposal document and refresh some setions starting with the introduction.

    Happy Monday! 🙂


  96. Alexis Williams says:

    Happy Wednesday,

    I have been moving slow but some things have been changing on my horizon. I can feel better habits forming. Dr. Carter’s encouragement to keep the workout routine going (or get it started again) even when I don’t feel like it really paid off last week for me, and this week I’m definitely more energized. I am getting myself in gear to revamp my writing habits, and today I got to the library before work for the first time all semester. I had been struggling to do that. Although, now, I’m a little late for work, but what else is new? 😉 I’ll keep working on this schedule.

    So here’s what I have planned for today:
    – New daily schedule for semester
    – Agenda to my advisor for tomorrow’s meeting
    – Finish proposal for Charles County (I’ve struggled to finish this, but it’s going to get done asap)

    Have a great day!


  97. drwestmoreland says:

    Alexis!!! 🙂

    I fell off the workout wagon last week. I’m dressed and ready today though. I’m going come hell or high water. I had to wear my outfit to school to make sure I went. Last week was paper catastrophies that I was dealing with and making it on little or no sleep. I did make my Sunday bike ride happen though.

    This week is better! I went to the campus dietician yesterday at the health center and she evaluated my diet and I got almost good reviews. There are definately some areas for improvement in the fuits and vegetables section of my diet. 🙂 Let’s do it!

    Today I am in class at TA mode. I am grading papers and such and I also have a lab to attend this afternoon. My class is having presentations next week and guess who’s first- ME! Tuesday can’t come and go fast enough. I am preparing the last few slides today on Ant Colony Optimization Heuristics. Yea I know, I’m so excited. 🙂

    Back to work!



    • Alexis Williams says:

      Sweet! You’re recovering nicely from that crazy week – I’m surprised you don’t have ptsd after all that, but you really held it down! And I’m jealous of your Sunday bike ride. Did you see the FYI about the bike clinic where they teach you about your brakes and stuff? I need to get on a (real) bike one day.

      I’m not even ready to see a dietitian ’cause I know what they’ll tell me. Lol.

      Ummm, Ant WHAT? Nerd. Lol. Just kidding, I’m about to get excited about this school stuff right now, too. Maybe I’ll make it to the gym after all if I keep it moving…

      Green light. Go!

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Yellow light slowing me down….:) I went to the gym and since then I have been tempted to fall asleep at my desk. I have 2 more tasks and then I can go home. I am glad I went to the gym, it really made me feel good.

        No I didn’t see that FYI, I made a FYI with myself not to read the FYI’s. LOL. 🙂

        I just ate spaghetti’s in my office now I’m really sleepy!

        Back to work…slooooooowly!

  98. Alexis Williams says:

    Ha! I know about the slow work day. I actually made it to campus to do work for a few minutes, since I’m meeting a friend nearby and figured I could pace myself with working every day to be ready for a full day by Monday. So a little schedule adjustment and self-planning, a little form-fill-inning, a little note-transcribing, and then a little fun-having. 😉

    P.S. Aqua Zumba and the sauna after = sooooooo gooooooood. I am inspired to keep going back to the pool on Fridays.

  99. Alexis Y Williams says:

    Today was tough, motivationally. Still lots to do before tomorrow. At post office now, gonna go home and continue my efforts. :/

  100. drwestmoreland says:


    This morning was a blur. I don’t even remember the drive to school. I floated here. My daddy was my alarm this morning. I attended a PROMISE event where we got to talk to some students from SC who might be interested in coming to Maryland for graduate school. That was fun, it’s always fun. I try to give them the “real” deal as best as I can.

    Today I combined the sections from my paper with what was left from my proposal. Now I have “NikkiProposalVersion12” and me and the advisor will meet tomorrow at 2pm to talk about what polishing needs to be done with the document. We hope to have a cohesive document by the 1st week in April and just polish for 3 weeks until I have to submit ti my committee in the 3rd week in April.

    Other than that I have a presentation tomorrow in class and hw due Thursday and a test next week. Life is normal.

    I’m out! 🙂


  101. Wendy Carter, PhD says:

    Hello All

    Good for you Nikki you are almost there. Alexis….remember this is a marathon not a sprint. When you are running a marathon and you no longer feel your legs, you keep moving your arms because you know that they will propel you FORWARD and that is the only direction that matters.

    When I ran my first and only marathon I had a goal of finishing in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I had planned that I would not stop; I would run the entire way. After running 21 miles, at mile 22 when I saw the clock at 4 hours and 30 minutes I knew that I was not going to reach my goal with 4.2 more miles to go. I was tired and exhausted…I could have sat down in the middle of the road and given up but in my head I reset the goal. At that point, I just wanted to “finish a marathon”. I walked from mile 24 to mile 25. At mile 25 my friends were there to cheer me on. I started running again and finished in 5 hours and 30 minutes with pictures to prove it.

    Remember, a good dissertation is a Done dissertation no matter how many times you have to reset, rewrite, reanalyze, rework, revisit,….

    Dr. Carter

  102. drwestmoreland says:


    Today was a Woo Saaaah Day for me. Tuesday I stayed up until 6am trying to finish these HW assignments. I did not finish so I am going to finish tonight. I stayed at home today getting a grip with myself. I got it! 🙂 I went to Ash Wednesday Services at my church and now I’m in my office ready to roll!! I am just waiting on my HW buddies to get here.

    I met with my advisor yesterday and we agreed to some changes that I will make between now at 12 on Friday. It shall be done!

    Thanks Dr. Carter for helping me make it!

    Happy Belated Birthday Dr. Tull!

    Happy Wednesday Alexis!



  103. Alexis Williams says:

    Aww, thanks Dr. Carter and Nikki,

    Man, I needed to read these last posts. I had started off the week crazy nervous over a panel discussion that I had put together for work, and by Tuesday evening I was buzzing because it had gone well and I had some pressure lifted. By today I was back to business, but I had so many meetings and events to run to that I didn’t get any real work done.

    So here I am, sitting and reflecting (despite the fact that it’s bedtime), and I’m noticing more that there are times when I get down on myself for the things I feel like I missed out on accomplishing, but there are also times when I can look at the things I did and understand that I don’t need to judge what has happened as long as in this moment I stay determined to finish the race. The less I judge myself, the more I do accomplish. No sitting down in the middle of the road.

    The light is still green! Go, go, go! Reset, rewrite, reanalyze, rework, revisit…..

    (Oh, I did email some folks and get some contacts that might be able to help me in the schools, and I met another potential contact today, so that’s good.) Ok, good night!


  104. Alexis Williams says:

    I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can. Soooooo tired. Gonna try to tackle the last of these (primary) county research applications once and for all. Time to paste together a couple paragraphs to start off my description, then will work on a principal’s meeting script for when I go in to pitch my study.

  105. drwestmoreland says:


    Today I turned in my really really really BIG homework assignment. I felt the burden lifted. I woke up late, my alarm clock (daddy) didn’t call but text’d me and I didn’t hear it. Anyways, I made it here and had a good breakfast on the way in the car.

    The rain was making me sleepy!! My students had presentations today so that was fun.

    Oh this is supposed to be about research, well none of that happened today but I am working on my statement of research for my future faculty seminar. I guess that counts a bit. I am meeting with my advisor at 12 tomorrow and we’ll talk more about the proposal.


    Nikki 🙂

  106. renettatull says:

    Thank you for my belated birthday wishes!!! My wish for you is great productivity!! I’m attending a robotics in rehabilitation symposium at the Naval Lab today, but will be physically in the Dissertation House tomorrow. Nikki and Alexis, I’ll catch up on your posts soon and wish you good energy today (since both of you were so tired yesterday!) Today is a sunny day! No rain! Have a great day!

    Renetta Tull

    • Alexis Williams says:

      Hi Dr. Tull,

      I have a LEEETLE more energy today, so I’m taking advantage of it in the library. I think tomorrow will be even nicer. Have fun at the symposium – that sounds interesting!

      Wishing you lots of energy, too!


      • drwestmoreland says:

        Thanks Dr. Tull,

        I want some of that energy too Alexis! 🙂
        I am right there with you at not the best but better than before energy levels. The weather affects me so I have to be careful about not loosing steam during rainy days like yesterday.


  107. Pingback: Dissertation House at UMBC, Starts today at 9AM Sharp! | The Dissertation House

  108. Alexis Y Williams says:

    Hi All!

    I’m joining you virtually, getting ready for campus! Today I will finish the proposal for research in Balto County high schools that I have dragged my feet on so I can move on to other nuts and bolts, including really getting my stats rolling and some revisions after that. I really need this last proposal submitted because they take so long to get reviewed.

    Ok, I hope you have a productive day, and that I do, too!!


    • drwestmoreland says:

      You were making this post as I was getting in the bed! Yea I know. How far have you gotten on your BCHS proposal today?

  109. Charles Blake says:

    Hi everyone out in cyber space,

    This is Charles Blake. I gotta write now, but will say more later. Good luck with your writing!


  110. Erica says:

    Hello all fellow virtual bloggers for this pre-spring break dissertation house.

    Here’s what are my goals for the next two days:

    1) abstract
    2) preface
    3) dedication
    4) acknowledgements
    5) formatting
    6) adding the NEJM article to the lit review
    7) checking references for stable websites
    8) proof read for word usage consistency and tense
    9) glossary

    • Erica says:

      Eek, I am feeling the time crunch here. I am taking a 5 minute break to blog about the day so far. I have not finished all of my goals yet, but I am making progress. I have addressed the formatting issues I was having with my table of figures and table of tables. I’ve finished the first draft of my abstract with five words to spare. I am a going to use the next 30 minutes to address the edits suggested by Dr. Carter and then it is back to working on the acknowledgements. I am still feeling really overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do to insure graduation this semester, but I remain hopeful.

  111. Susan Mitchell says:

    Hello! Time to start once again on another Dissertation House!

    My goal for this DH is to get as close as I can to a full draft of a conference paper (ESEM 2011) that is due next Thursday. My advisor has sent me some comments regarding the sections that I need to write. I’m going to look them over, then check out the format that the paper must be in. Next, I’m going to outline the paper sections and begin filling then in one by one.

    I have a lot to do! But the DH always helps me to move along ten times faster than on my own.

    — Susan

  112. Amanda Peeples says:

    Hello all,

    Today I plan to continue working on the second chapter of my dissertation. If I can get 2-3 more pages written by the end of the day, I’ll feel pretty good, considering that I also have reading to do.

    Good luck everyone!

  113. Patti says:

    Between today and tomorrow I want to read and summarize 10 articles that I have dragged my feet on and have an outline for Chapter 2 so that I can hand something to my advisor next Thursday. These articles were all written by my advisor and thus, I think I have been experiencing too much angst about reading them.

    • Alexis Williams says:

      Hi Patti,

      I had a quick thought about what you said so I’ll share something I realized when reading my own advisor’s work and having to write about it: 1) Your advisor won’t see what you’re writing now. If you give yourself enough time, you will end up coming back to what you have written today and changing at least one word, probably many more! So the first product of your thoughts is just that – it’s writing just for you that only you will see. So write your thoughts down as messy and jumbled as they are and then come back later for the revising process, which won’t be so bad because you’ll already have the words on the page. 2) I also realized that my advisor’s writing is just like any other person’s because she’s human. Sometimes if I’m lucky, I even find an error or two! No need to try to write perfectly because no one does!

      Hope that helps reduce the angst… 😉


  114. Danielle says:

    Hello all,
    Forward progress on Chapter 1 at the dissertation house at UMBC. I plan to finish sections 1.2.1, 1.2.2, and 1.2.3!

  115. Dr. Carter says:

    Hello All

    Welcome to the pre-spring break Dissertation House. I wish you all the best between today and tomorrow. If you are on line with us we are headed to lunch and you should be as well so that you can get back to work at 1:00 sharp. We believe in not starving ourselves while we work on the dissertation. Eat on a regular basis, keep up with your exercise, stay healthy. You need to be healthy to finish your dissertation.

    • drwestmoreland says:

      Hi Dr. Carter,

      I had to meet with my advisor through lunch and I slept through breakfast. But I did eat a cookie. LOL 🙂 Thanks for the health tip, I can always use a reminder. I am going to Ledo’s in College Park at 3pm for a PROMISE/BGSA/LGSA group discussion and linner (that’s something between a lunch and a dinner). I will be signing off after that but plan to be online with you all tomorrow. Working. Striving. Pushing.

      Good = Done!


      • Alexis Williams says:

        Nikki, I’ll see you there. I might only stay until 4pm, though. Lot’s going on! I have to work a lot this weekend, too…

  116. drwestmoreland says:

    Hello All,

    Welcome to DH Online! Post your progress, stay for as little or as long as you like. 🙂

    I just finished meeting with my advisor where she revised my Chapter 4 and 5. I will have to work on her revisions over the weekend because they include a re-vamp of some of the coding data which will take me several hours. She is leaving the country next Friday so I need a follow-up meeting with progres before then so that I can have a substantial amount of work to get done over the spring break holiday.

    Happy Dissertation House!

    Bye! 🙂


  117. Alexis Williams says:

    Ok, I made good progress, and I will come back and work some more later tonight. Off to the joint networking gathering at Ledo’s in CP. Keep at it, folks.


    • drwestmoreland says:

      Are you on campus today? What are you working on?

      • Alexis Y Williams says:

        On campus physically but my work is back at home. Meeting a friend for late lunch and she’s late so I’m checking in. Finishing my research application today so I can print out the four copies tomorrow and drop it off on Monday!

  118. Erica says:

    It’s the end of the day and I am leaving with a to-do list longer than the one I had when the day began.

    Tomorrow, I have to complete the acknowledgements (1 hour)
    Formatting (2 hours)
    Insert the article (1.5 hours)
    Check references (check for website references)
    More proofreading (2 hours)
    Check for passive voice and drop in quotes (1 hour)

  119. Danielle says:

    To do list for tomorrow, Sat 3/12
    Finish Discovery of influenza (need to find more references)
    Move on to Orthomyxovirus Family section and then Virus entry section

  120. Susan Mitchell says:

    OK. Today I was able to communicate a couple of times with my adviser. She and I exchanged some ideas on the contents of the conference paper that I’m writing. I drafted the abstract, which she said was good. I then took pieces of my pilot study report and inserted them into the conference paper template. Lastly, I finished outlining the conference paper.

    Tomorrow, I’m going to insert the necessary literature search info into the paper. I’ll then start at the beginning of the paper and go through each section, editing it as I go to make it more conference-paper-like. Hopefully, I’ll be able to periodically submit it to my adviser for her comments.


    — Susan

  121. Patti says:

    I finished reading and summarizing three articles!!! Before lunch I couldn’t understand what I was reading. Somehow lunch made it all clearer. That and the fact that I found the first article that explained everything in detail! Finally! Tonight I want to finish two articles so that by tomorrow I can complete the 9 articles that I was aiming for ( I miss counted, hoooray!). I would be very ecstatic if I actually get to the point that I have an outline for chapter 2.

  122. Wendy Carter,PhD says:

    Good Morning Everyone

    Welcome to the DH on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!! Dr.Tull is in the DH; give a shout out to her…you all know she is morning person. I’ll get to that same measure of enthusiasm by10.a.m.

    Keep in mind—You are not alone,we are here in the DH with you. Each of you should know what you will be working on this morning especially if you wrote it down last night. I want you to hit the ground running; let’s make today a productive day.

  123. Susan Mitchell says:

    Good morning! Yes, Dr. Carter, I know what I have to do today! I’m going to be doing some heavy editing on on conference paper, section by section. I hope to have a solid draft to give to my adviser by the end of this weekend. I’ll get as much of it done as I can today. Thanks for your help!

    — Susan

  124. Danielle says:

    Hi all,

    Hope everyone is doing well and progressing. Today I will finish section 1.2 of chapter 1 and move on to section 1.3. I plan to finish at least sections 1.3.1 and start working on section 1.3.2.

  125. renettatull says:

    Good morning everyone! Dr. Carter’s 9AM discussion this morning is about understanding your dissertation committee. Welcome to the DH … Happy Saturday!

  126. Pingback: Saturday Morning Dissertation House Discussion: Understanding Your Advisor | The Dissertation House

  127. Erica says:

    Abstract and acknowledgements will be done today! This is getting pretty exciting. I also farmed out some of my revisions to friends this morning. It’s so good to have friends. Ok, back to work.

  128. drwestmoreland says:

    Good Morning Scholars!

    This one got a late start, but I’m here. First I will re-segment my 15 design journals.


  129. Erica says:

    I just finished my acknowledgements and I am fighting back the tears. For how ever hard this process is, its so good to know there are people sending prayers up for me to succeed.

    • drwestmoreland says:

      I feel you Erica. I already know that my acknowledgements can be a book of their own! Truly grateful to have people fighting for me to succeed and praying for me.

  130. Patti says:

    Feeling sick today. Struggled to come in and struggling to get work done. I just can’t seem to stay awake and focus. Gonna meet with Dr. C and head home. While I didn’t meet my goal of reading the 9 papers. I read and summarize 5 of them. It’s a good two days of work. If I had been feeling better I know I would have succeeded. Anyway, I am logging off.

    Best of luck to everyone,

  131. Susan Mitchell says:

    Thank you, thank you, than you!

    — Susan

  132. drwestmoreland says:

    Still working over here. I had a question that prevented me from moving forward, was able to call my advisor at home and she stopped what she was doing to help me out and now I am moving forward. We ended up decided to re-vamp some coding that I had previously done into smaller segments which means more work but I am up for it. I can’t say that I will finish today, but I will have something to show her before I go home just to make sure were heading in the right direction.

    I have a midterm next week so I will also take some time tonight to finish studying for that.


  133. Min says:

    Just finished two-day session of dissertation house. That is very, very helpful. I have to admit these two days are the most concentrated days since the day I started writing my thesis. Dr. Carter and all the other mentors shared a lot of great tips to help the dissertation progress. Moreover, I found group working really kept me on the loop. I can not believe that I have not surfed the internet for eight hours today! Was that amazing? I felt relaxing in these two days even when I was doing the most stressful work. If possible, I would attend dissertation house for the second time.

  134. Erica says:

    Great two days at D-House. I’m back at it. It’s 8:46 and I wanted to put up my to-do list for accountability’s sake.
    update references
    format tables
    insert NEJM article
    check references
    check for dropped quotes
    re-read cover to cover

    Dr. Carter, am I missing anything?

    • Wendy Carter, PhD says:

      Are all of the citations in? Don’t forget to printout the sheets that need to be signed by the readers….keep going. The CV is done right?

  135. Danielle says:

    Good morning all,

    Staying motivated! Today I plan to finish sections 1.3.4 and 1.3.5. That would complete section 1.3 then I’ll move on to section 1.5!

  136. Mari says:

    Good afternoon everyone!

    I had a very productive weekend, and today I worked with Danielle and her roommate for part of the morning. I made some edits to chapter 3.
    Here’s a quote I received via email that I’d like to share:

    Some succeed
    because they are
    destined to,
    but most succeed
    because they are
    determined to!
    -source unknown

    Keep up the work and motivation fellow dissertators 😉

  137. drwestmoreland says:


    My thoughts create my world. I read that in an article this weekend and it stuck with me. I think therefore I am. As a man thinketh so is he. The answer to all my problems with my proposal is all about how I think about it. I think it’s done and accepted and so it is.

    Moving on. Today I am looking for a few warm bodies to participate in another design journal study that my advisor and I decided to do for one month at a different stage during the design process. This morning I am prepping materials for the study and at 12 we will have lab and I will get a few students started on the study. I want to get 10 students.

    After lab I will study for my midterm on Thursday until my class at 5pm and then I’m going home to do get some much needed “closet time”.



  138. Alexis Williams says:

    Hi All,

    So far I am surviving the Ides of March. Nikki, I put together a course observation and discussion with an English prof who is teaching Shakespeare, and your “thinketh” takes me back to that. It was a great discussion of rethinking teaching and learning on campus, and I am inspired to get my dissertation on teaching done!

    I tried to get some work done after work, but not much got done after working at my assistantship all day and paying bills. I will try again tomorrow even though it’s another full assistantship day. I know I can do it!

    Yesterday I finally got my proposal turned in for Baltimore County schools. I wrote in my journal how much emotional effort it took to turn in the last of my planned proposals (Dr. Parham recommended someone I can contact in Anne Arundel), since this part of the process could make or break my ability to get mass data from high school teachers in these counties. So I feel like I had a major accomplishment and now I can move on. Next I want to get my final survey forms done (online and print), submit an addendum for my IRB, get brushed up on my stats, and turn my proposal into my “first three chapters” of the final product using my revision notes from my advisor and committee. These are major goals that will take a while, especially the last parts, so I’ll have a lot of breaking down to do. But no breaking down emotionally. 🙂

    The more you break IT down, the less YOU break down. 😉


  139. Alexis Williams says:

    I feel overloaded, but I feel like I’m better at compartmentalizing in this moment so I’ll take advantage of it. Just got away from the office, so I have some dissertation time.

    Tonight I want to do this:
    6:30pm – Splatter my survey items into Survey Monkey
    7:30pm – Put together my IRB addendum
    8:30pm – Start my yearly eval for my department
    9pm – Plan for tomorrow (park downhill) and go to the gym


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Boo. Too ambitious. Now I’ve been up way too late, which will affect my productivity tomorrow. Only got some of the Survey Monkey stuff done. Starting it helped me understand the scope of the project a little better – I thought I could get a lot further…

      Lesson learned: I was doing ok keeping my sleep schedule, and it was helping me a lot. When I tried to be mean to myself and “work til it’s done,” I still didn’t get it done and stole time from tomorrow’s opportunity to start over. Sigh…

      Start over again.

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Awe. 😦
        Well God gives us new mornings and with that new mercies. Today is a great day. It’s the first day to the start of a better Alexis!

  140. drwestmoreland says:

    Hi All,

    Wednesday! 🙂 (Hump Day)

    I studied all day today for a mid-term tomorrow and I will study all day tomorrow until 5pm when I take it. I will leave soon and go home to get a nice nights rest and start again tomorrow. I will pass my mid-term!!! 🙂


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Said a prayer for you to do “exceedingly well” on the mid-term! 🙂

      • Alexis Williams says:

        Tried to say another prayer for you and drifted off. But finally I got the Amen out. Today I prayed that God would keep you calm and steady. Do well!

        I pray that God keeps me awake through this lab meeting. I have some coffee; hope it kicks in!

        • drwestmoreland says:

          Thanks for the prayers. They worked. I was extremely calm even on the problem I didn’t know how to do. I came up with an answer for all 4 problems, put my best brain forward and finished it. I went to bible study and left the test at Maryland. Thanks for the prayers they were felt. 🙂 (Laughing because I fall asleep praying sometimes too, wake up and say amen and God knows my heart) 🙂

  141. drwestmoreland says:


    Got a late start, but I got a start and that’s better than not starting at all. I am reviewing a paper today for my conference this summer. It’s taking me longer than I thought but I think that the writer deserves a good quality review so that they can present the best paper they possibly can. I also have papers to grade today for my TAship. Homework 4 and it’s a beast. Nonetheless, I am going to start and that’s better than not. I am going to also fill out an application today to participate in a conference this summer in VA about graduate research groups that some professors from VaTech are putting together.

    I was recently accepted to attend FORWARD 2011 at Galludet University in DC which is for aspiring professors in May! I’m way excited about it and glad they chose me to attend!!! 🙂

    Besides that I need to clean out my ever-increasing inbox which seems to be in a fight to overwhelm me, but I have the victory! 🙂

    Getting all these *things* off my plate then Monday and Tuesday next week I can focus on my proposal. I am going home Wednesday for a very short spring break until Saturday.

    Happy Friday!! 🙂


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Oh, Nikki – Congrats on all your crazy accomplishments! Conferences, paper reviews, plus all your research and teaching. I want to be like you.

      I wanted to tell you my story about cleaning out my inbox. I had to clean out my email account since I was close to capacity 😛 and I was really sleepy while I was doing it. I finished and was happy because I was able to get almost half of my total capacity cleared. Later I went searching for a note, and realized that somehow I deleted ALL of my “sent” messages, many of which I had deliberately saved as send receipts. Oops..

      Oh well, this will teach me that it doesn’t pay to hoard stuff… 😀

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Hi my hoarding friend…:) Might I suggest that you make some folders. 🙂 That’s where I keep those must have messages.

        • Alexis Williams says:

          Hey, lady! I missed you!

          I have folders, but i needed to delete some emails overall..

          Ugh, so tired. Push push push…

  142. Alexis Y. Williams says:

    Ok, I didn’t post all spring break and I didn’t get anything done. Correlation?

    I am gearing up for the end of the semester and fully committing to this work. Already I made progress this week and I hope to make more this afternoon when I get done with my assistantship. I am having a long day but I have to keep pushing! No down time until it’s time to lay down! 🙂 Every moment counts right now. I can feel it.

    Green light. Go!


  143. Alexis Williams says:

    Happy Thursday!

    Today I’m working on getting the final version ready of my Survey Monkey. I’ve made a lot of progress on it, so it needs to be ready for prime time.


  144. drwestmoreland says:


    It’s come and gone!
    I am coding my eyes out!


  145. drwestmoreland says:


    I am still coding. 2/3 of the way done and then I need to transfer the raw data and then analyze it.
    If I get it transfered today I will be happy.


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Yay! Push push push! You can be happy first, which will help you get everything done. Then even if things aren’t moving as fast as you wanted, you can still feel happy enough later to want to work on it again!

      Happy now!

  146. Alexis Williams says:

    Got Survey Monkey done, yay! Then thought of some changes so I’m going to go back and edit, then get the print version done, then get some other loose ends tied up with IRB and one of the survey publishers.

    Then Friday Zuuuuummmmmbaaaaaaaa!!!

    I’m thinking about checking in with some of the counties to find out the status of my proposals. At least the first county that I submitted to might be able to tell me if they looked over the proposal yet. I’m nervous about that, though…

    • alexiswilliamsinc says:

      Ok, doing good. Survey is getting formatted, figured out that SM allows you to save a print copy (select print) that can be filled out and printed with answers (but not saved). I’m not sure if I’ll use that feature, but it’s there.

      Also started reading my stats background article. The symbols look intimidating, as usual, but I think I can get the gist if I keep reading, and I believe this one will elucidate some of the conceptual stuff related to my analyses. Scintillating!

      Going to take the article with me to the gym… Zumba, Zumba, Zumba, zoom!

      Happy Friday,


    • drwestmoreland says:

      OOPS! I missed ZUMBA! 😦

      • drwestmoreland says:

        I wore my gym clothes to school today…HA! But nevertheless I will still go to the gym. I am 4 hours of coding down about 2 more to go. I am taking a short break to check e-mails and do some TA administrative stuff then I’m back to coding. When I come in on Sunday I only want to do analysis analysis analysis. I have most of the last 2 chapters written but just needs tightening up.
        PUSH PUSH PUSH!!!

  147. Susan Mitchell says:

    Just wanted to let Dr. C know that the Thursday before Spring Break I submitted my conference paper! OK, I was up until 3:30 in the morning trying to get it down to 10 pages and to fit the figures in. But I did it! I then got four hours of sleep and drove to Brooklyn to visit my nephew for a couple of well-deserved fun days. I have high hopes of having my paper accepted and presenting it in September at ESEM ’11 in Banff, Canada. What’s more exciting is that the paper, with some editing, will become a chapter in my dissertation! The paper was the direct result of the pilot summary report that I was working on at the pre-Spring Break Dissertation House. Thanks for all of your help and for holding the DH.

    — Susan

    • Alexis Williams says:

      Yay! Congrats on the submission and on taking the time to visit your nephew! Sometimes I forget to celebrate those victories, but the celebration makes you want to work harder to see what’s next!

  148. drwestmoreland says:


    Susan I feel you. I was up till 3:30 coding and then woke back up at 7 to get here by 8 to submit the data to my advisor. I actually did successful work at home yesterday! It was a trial run because I am a *all work should be done at school* kind of girl, but something just told me to work at home and so I did. I did take maybe a few *xtra* breaks but I got it done nonetheless. I feel like I would have saved maybe 2 hours coming to my office, but I saved gas and I feel better sitting on my couch than I do at my desk anyday! 🙂 Well, it’s done and that is a mighty good feeling. Today I am revising Ch4/5 and will e-mail to my advisor by the end of the day. I hope that she sendd me back Ch1/2 so I can re-revise those tomorrow.

    I am going to skip the gym tonight and head to bed early. My eyes need rest. 🙂

    Back to work.



    • Alexis Williams says:

      Enjoy your rest! Look at you, balancing out your work with rest. 😉 You got the work done, and you needed those breaks, so don’t feel bad when you take them, as long as you come back to work afterward.

      Keep pushing! Do the thing!

  149. Alexis Williams says:

    Today I got an email asking for more information from one of the counties I applied to. I was/am ecstatic! The first time I was ever contacted with a request for more info (for a grant application), I was disheartened, thinking, “They didn’t accept me.” Now the message I tell myself is, “They want to accept me, and if I give them this information, they just might!” This county has lots of schools, so I really feel good with hope.

    ..Which means I need everything else to be ready to go. Survey link has to be ready to send. Copies of the print form have to be ready to seal and mail. My letter to principals has to be ready to email or mail. Ready for prime time. All these little loose ends must be clipped. Stat! 🙂

    What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

    ❤ Alexis

    • drwestmoreland says:

      That T-Mobile Video was to funny! What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? ALOT! Ha! That does give some people a right to dream. Lots of people in this world stop dreaming when they become adults, thinking that’s just kid stuff. Dreaming adults are really what make this world keep going. Kids dreams are important too, but I like to sit and dream up big crazy things and sometimes I make them happen. Dreams are real.

  150. drwestmoreland says:


    Rest is good. Silence really is golden. I spent some time in solitude yesterday before my *nap* and it’s like recharging my batteries. Now I’m ready to make it happen.

    Okay so I met with my advisor yesterday and got some much needed rest. Back in action today. Over SB we had a journal article accepted to our *main* journal and today I need to edit the paper because they want to publish in May. My advisor is editing my Ch1-5 (minus 3) and we will meet tomorrow afternoon to talk about where I am going next with that.

    My proposal is scheduled for April 29th which means I have to give it to my committee on April 22nd and then prepare for the presentation. I am not nervous and I can’t figure out why because usually I am. I have booked the room and the committee. All is going well as can be.

    After lunch I am going to start working on the paper.



  151. Alexis Y. Williams says:

    Nikki, that is so fantastic that you are moving along. Special prayer for your proposal defense and continued calm coming right up!

    I have an advisor meeting coming up this Thursday, and I exchanged a few more emails with one of the counties and the publisher of one of my surveys. Today I am tired after a long day at my assistantship and not enough rest last night, but hopeful.

    I will try to complete a couple more things tonight – finishing rearranging survey items (it’s pretty tedious tracking everything) and working on my addendum for my IRB. Then I will make sure to get lots of rest tonight.

    “And on and on and on, she kept going…”

  152. drwestmoreland says:


    I came to school. Good enough.


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Ha! Some days it’s like that (and that’s the way it is, like Run DMC).

      But seriously, lemme know if you need anything!


  153. Alexis Williams says:

    Productive day at work, now at the library trying to finish up some things before my meeting with my advisor.

    This is one of those meetings that follows a long-ish break from seeing my advisor, so I get more antsy. “Is she going to tell me I’m not moving fast enough?” “Is she going to throw up her hands and give up on me?” I’ve been doing this long enough to know that all my fears of my advisor are projections of my own self-judgment and a defensive way to try to wiggle out of taking ownership of my academic progress. I’M THE BOSS! I might be the boss of jumping through the hoops right now, but I’m gonna be the best hoop-jumping boss EVA!

    …Ok, I’m back. I already sent my advisor my agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. Tonight: Principal meeting preparation, IRB addendum, final formatting of survey, and break down and email those last contacts in Baltimore County before tomorrow! This doesn’t have to be hard unless I make it so!


  154. Alexis Williams says:

    Ok. I survived my meeting with my advisor. She gave me the kick in the pants that I needed. I can work harder and I will.

    I know I can do this. My advisor does, too, and I felt that in our meeting as she prodded me just enough and then backed off and gave me some encouragement. She – and my lab mates – also helped coach me though my “practice principal talk,” and I’m so grateful because even from my first practice to the second, I improved a lot in what I need to say.

    I am grateful that I can see how my experience today is stretching me into a better researcher. A while ago I wouldn’t have been able to see that. So grateful. I really do have a great advisor.

    Don’t fight the stretch.


  155. drwestmoreland says:

    Don’t fight the stretch. Whew, it’s like if you go to bootcamp you workout hard and then after look back and say I did all that. AND just like bootcamp it always helps to have someone LOUD in your ear so you feel the pressure. The pressure makes you put out or go home. I don’t want to go home.

    This morning my advisor and I swapped documents. She gave me a commented version of my proposal which I am about to start editing right now. I gave her a commented version of the journal paper and she it editing it today.

    Time to put out.

    Streeeeeetch. Ouch. Sometimes it hurts.


  156. Dr. Wendy Carter says:

    Hello Nikki and Alexis
    I missed you both yesterday when I was on your campus. I hope you are making progress. It’s April already. When you are writing a dissertation all the semesters start to look and feel the same. Before you know it, the summer is over, and the Fall is back again.
    It’s always important to begin with the end in mind. When do you want to graduate? Generally a dissertation topic takes about 2 years; you really don’t have exactly 24 months. It’s important to have some boundaries around your time. Remember to learn how to say
    “No, I’m sorry I am working on my dissertation”
    ” I would really love to but this is a time when I really have to concentrate on my dissertation.”
    “That’s sounds like a great opportunity but it would interfere with my goal to finish my dissertation this year.”

    • drwestmoreland says:

      Heeeeeeeeey Dr. Carter! 🙂

      Oh I did miss you!!!!!!!!!!! I have a MUCH better draft of my proposal now. That literature review section was giving me the blues. All day. I just re-vamped it again. It seems much better now because it supports my research questions and it’s not scrambling all over the place or reading like a book report. LOL. 🙂 Dear April, I didn’t ask you to come but since your here let’s go ahead and get this thing over with.

      I’m going to use your “remember to learn to say lines”, and add a Thanks at the end.

      • Alexis Williams says:

        Dr. Carter, thank you for this. I will make an appointment with you for the next/last semester visit – is it May 4?

        Really and truly, I needed those examples. I was doing better with saying no, but I have slipped at times. Right now, I need each of those phrases memorized and put to use constantly.

        After my kick-in-the-pants from my advisor yesterday, the question is “DO you want to graduate?” Not “When…” So yeah, the fire’s burning. For me it’s contacting principals and getting them on board while my proposal is being reviewed by their county. And structuring my day so that I’m accomplishing several different things gradually. I haven’t done that well so far, so that’s top priority, too.

        And Nikki, I know what you mean in your note to April. 🙂

        Back to work,


  157. drwestmoreland says:

    It’s Friday 4:30am.

    I re-revised ch1,2, and wrote ch3. I e-mailed them to my advisor. Friday (after I go home and take a nap) I plan to either edit the journal paper or finish ch4 and ch5 edits. My goal is to start writing ch6 on Monday. 6 is future work so it shouldn’t take that long but I need some dedicated time to think before I write.

    Good MorningNight.


    • Alexis Williams says:

      You are my hero.

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Friday was a blur! I remember getting a phone call from my Mom in Texas saying, go to bed and that I wasn’t allowed to leave my house. So I didn’t. I got some much needed rest. Your my shero!

        • Alexis Y Williams says:

          Your mom is a smart woman. I see where you get it. 🙂 Glad you got rest, and I see you’re at it again today! Conquer that minitab!

  158. Alexis Williams says:


    I contacted one of the faculty members on my committee about getting the teachers she works with to give me feedback on my survey. I’m meeting with Tamara today (sooo glad she got in touch with me), so she’ll give me some of her phenomenal advice.

    – IRB addendum will get done and turned in
    – Last revisions to survey
    – Consent form will go up online (google)
    – Work on stats will get continued.


  159. drwestmoreland says:


    Round 1: Nikki vs. Minitab 10am

    Minitab 1 Nikki 0

    Round 2: Nikki vs. Minitab 11am


  160. Alexis Y Williams says:

    Today I’m working my way through a stats article start to finish and making notes about how to transfer what I’m learning over to my own data. That’s all. I will be very happy when I get through it. It’s not short, and it’s not easy, but I can do it.

  161. drwestmoreland says:

    I am done for a few hours. I am going to do ‘Saturday” stuff, but this journal article is due tomorrow so I will probably be back.

  162. renettatull says:

    Hello Ladies!

    You’re doing very well! And even working on a Saturday, congratulations on your tenacity! You weren’t the only ones working, I put in a few hours myself earlier today, so you weren’t alone. There may be another person joining you soon. I gave a mini-dissertation house session in Puerto Rico last year and a student from there may begin to join you here soon.

    I know that both of you will be taking some time out tomorrow to go to the “source of your strength!” Take care and have a great weekend!

    • Alexis Williams says:

      And how!!! I had the nerve to be doubtful because the regular pastor is away so one of the executive ministers gave the sermon. The message was so on time that I was just amazed and thankful. My eyes are open yet again, as long as I remember and keep the knowledge of my opportunity in the forefront of my mind (it slips away easily, even by the moment).

      Thank you for working alongside us, Dr. Tull, and welcome to the PR dissertation house person! And thank you again for recommending that I talk with Tamara back at the summer DH – she is still giving me encouragement, too.

      “Something beautiful. Something good. All my confusion he understood. All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife, but he made something (very) beautiful of my life.” 🙂

      • drwestmoreland says:

        Thanks Dr. Tull and it’s good to know were not “alone” because clearly no-one was in my office with me last night.

        This song has been in my head all weekend…”Write the vision, make it plain, that they may run and not faint, He will do just what He said……”

        Really it’s just that last part that I have been repeating to myself all SEMESTER! It is so, yes it is so. 🙂

  163. Alexis Williams says:

    OK, I didn’t finish the article yesterday, but I did some reading and will work on it again today. But first I wanted to fix something in my survey and draft my Google form. I’m on campus, but once I do these things quickly, I’ll go home and do some Sunday stuff. 😉 Then read some more stats. Ok, go!


  164. drwestmoreland says:

    I’m actually leaving before Monday morning. I just submitted my FINAL MANUSCRIPT to the Journal of Mechanical Design of ASME! It’s done. It’s over. I spent 4 hours straight on the final touches and had a fight with MS Word in the misdt of it. I asked God to help me and He did, so we made it.

    Monday morning I am going to go hear Soledad O’Brien and then back to Proposal draft updates for Ch4/5. I have 2 weeks left until I submit my proposal to my committee.



  165. drwestmoreland says:


    It came so fast.

    Today I have 3 classes and a lecture to prepare for Tuesday of next week on Cost in Manufacturing. I will also spend some time reviewing class notes from Tuesday’s classes.

    On Tuesday night I emailed my advisor Ch1-5 like 90% complete. I hope she is reading them so I can start editing this weekend. Tonight after bible study I will give 3 hours to my proposal in which I will clean up Chapter 5 and write Chapter 6. Chapter 6 is future work and I already have some ideas of what that might look like.



  166. renettatull says:

    Good afternoon Ladies!

    Congratulations on working through your goals this week! Nikki … special congratulations on your manuscript! That is great news! Can you hear me clapping? I need to send you a gif or some sound effects so that you can get the gist of my congratulations. Alexis, how is the survey and how are the stats going? It’s Monday, so I hope that you’re ready for a wonderful week! Enjoy the beautiful sunshine from a nice window … the feeling is almost as good as being able to work outside. I’ve tried working in the park in the past … if this works for you, go ahead and get some fresh air while you’re working.

    Good luck this week!!

    Renetta Tull

  167. Pingback: Summer Dissertation Houses, coming to Maryland in June and July | The Dissertation House

  168. drwestmoreland says:


    I can hear you clapping Dr. Tull! I’m clapping for myself as well! Woo Hoo! If wordpress were a little more interactive then you could just upload a video or soundclip of you clapping for me! I just realized that this doesn’t even have spell check. LOL.

    This weekend I did a James Bond Top Secret Mission Impossible 24 hour trip to Texas for a conference that I work on with the Alumnae women from my High School. I am still recovering. It was fun though and I much need, very quick, break! 🙂

    About that window Dr. Tull….I think this comic sums it up for me.

    Today I revised about 50% of the proposal and sent it back to my advisor. She wanted to review the table of contents before I moved on with the edits. I probably have about another 8 hours or so of uninterupted time that I need to dedicate until I can complete it. I have to give it to my committee Friday so it’s do or die.

    This being Passion Season I have service to attend Thursday and Friday night so I am going to keep myself on a strict schedule this week to get it done without feeling stressed at all. I allowed myself a little break this morning because I was still jet-lagged but I feel much better now. I am going to stop at the store and grab some fruit and veggies for the week to make sure my tummy is under control.

    I am going to clean out my inbox and head home for the evening.

    Happy Spring!


  169. drwestmoreland says:


    This is going to be a good week. I know it! I expect great things! Last night I had a fiasco with the police. I thought someone was trying to break into my house and I was hearing wierd noises outside. Anyways, after the police came and left and all seemed to be clear, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I pushed the couch up behind the door and went to sleep, although it was already very very late.

    I had to teach this morning, my last lecture of the semester. That went well my advisor came and she said that she thought I did really well. I met with her for a quick meeting after and I will see her again in the morning at 9am for a proposal talk meeting.

    2 days and counting until it’s done done done. Since it’s Easter weekend I don’t plan to work on my presentation until next week when I practice with my officemates.

    I have class at 5pm and then I’m going home, I can’t hold my head up I am so tired.


  170. drwestmoreland says:


    I spent the morning with my advisor talking about the revisions that can be made by Friday. I will send her another version by 5pm today. Which means from now until 5pm I will be working on my proposal.

    Let’s get to it.



  171. alexiswilliamsinc says:

    Ok, I’m making time now to write because I can. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind and I feel like I’ll be spending the next month just trying to avoid panic attacks. I have been getting closer and closer to getting data in at least one county, actually two of the three I applied in, with principals on board in both and it looks like more on the way. I have a phone call with another principal later this morning (since technically, it’s Monday).

    I’m still struggling with balance. I’m having trouble finishing things, and I’ve felt really overwhelmed, but I have hope that things wil even out this week after I try some things to get back on track. So my goal today is to have a successful conference call, find out about the feasibility of participating in this preparing future faculty program this summer, and reassess my goals and schedule according to what I’m actually going to finish this semester.


  172. drwestmoreland says:

    Monday, where did you come from? Today I am going to make my slides for my proposal and send them to my advisor for review. Wednesday I will do a trial run for my officemates and my advisor. Right now I am cleaning out my inbox. Too many e-mails. Whew, back to work.


  173. Alexis Williams says:

    – Monday: Conference call went well, followed up with some folks in the county, worked on some the changes I needed to make in my online forms after I got feedback on them, had a good work day despite being tired. Left campus and came back later to help a friend with a presentation. Checked my mailbox in the grad office and found not one but two rejection letters out of the three I had submitted. Went home around 1am and my neighbor was playing the same music that keeps me awake. Spent time tracking her down with another neighbor I woke up by accident, but the culprit wouldn’t answer her door (I wouldn’t either at 2am, though).
    – Tuesday: Bummed. Emailed my advisor with my status and my ideas about what to do next, since I was afraid the last county would also say no. Worked at my assistantship and tried to focus. During the afternoon I received an email from someone in the last county. They accepted my proposal. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, amen! Started sending follow-up emails, then got off work and went to walk-in hours at the counseling center. 🙂
    – Now: Finished following up for the day. Feeling much better, a little shell-shocked but I know that the light is still green. I’m going to type out my notes from the counseling appointment because there was so much good stuff in there (just half an hour or 45 mins went a long way). I know that joy doesn’t require good events, just an understanding that simply “being” is enough, is adequate. I can choose joy, which frees me to make one more step, and that one more step is often all it takes to create my success. The idea of failure (and success, for that matter) as a static quality of an individual is an illusion. And many problems resolve themselves, I don’t need to try to control them through my increasing anxiety. All I have to do is keep being who I am and putting one proactive foot in front of the other, one step at a time. I’ll start with proactively going home and going to bed tonight.
    Tomorrow: Meeting agenda to my advisor and working more on stats. 🙂


  174. drwestmoreland says:

    Monday, Tuesday, Wesdnesday….moving so fast. I am having a small medical problem that is causing serious pain but I press on. I have been working on my proposal presentation all week and neglecting my course. 😦 I just e-mailed my advisor the latest copy of the presentation. I am supposed to meet with her at 12 today but my health might cause me to need to work from home today. We shall see, I just e-mailed her and I am waiting for hre response.
    Tuesday I recieved an unexpected e-mail. The paper I spent all of January writing for the ASME conference was rejected. I have never been rejected from this conference. Also this is the summer I need to make job contacts at this conference and it’s in DC and it’s our *main* conference. I am bummed because having a paper in the conference would have been a good way for me to find job prospects. I know God has something else planned for me, this just doesn’t feel good right now. I don’t know if I should tell my advisor or wait until after I defend my proposal on Friday. I don’t want to get her all up in arms because this is something that we both kind of thought that we had our foot on. With so much happenning this week I’m just not sure what to do. I read over the reviews of the paper really quickly and I think they were pretty fair, they are long and detailed. (Which is also something my advisor might flip about). And she should because this is her career involved as well.
    Tuesday night after dinner I gave myself a hall pass and I spent a few hours dreaming about the future. Nothing in particular but I find encouragement in my dreams and the things I can come up with. Sometimes I dream about a house I will buy in the future and what I will put in it, what color will I paint the walls, what kind of couch will I have and things like that. Some other times I dream about what type of professor or engineer I will become and what my future job situation might look like. I am encouraging myself in the process of allowing my mind to explore the possibilities for the future! That cheered me up and I woke up this morning and worked on the presentation some more before I sent it to my advisor. Besides not feeling to well, Wednesday is going to be a good day. 🙂

  175. Alexis Y Williams says:

    Congrats again, Nikki, for passing your proposal!! You have worked SO hard! What a great milestone for the semester!

    Today I am renewed after an amazing experience at church yesterday. I saw so much evidence of what people can do when they use everything they have to help others, and it reminded me that I am developing talents that can be useful to help real people, it’s not just going to waste away in articles that noone reads, lol. So if that’s the case, then I want to develop the talents the best way I can so I’m not shortchanging myself or whoever I get the opportunity to help. I don’t have to worry about who I’m impressing or how hard it gets, because the best life is one that’s given away.

    Anyway, today I’m contacting friends who know teachers so they can send out my online consent form for the word-of-mouth distribution of my study. I’m also contacting another county and prepping my stats. Also, I’ll organize my attack for the revisions for chs 1-3.

    Gonna be a good day.

  176. Alexis Y. Williams says:

    So my call to Anne Arundel County schools was so helpful (Thanks, Dr. Parham!) that I was able to submit a proposal tonight. I am a little sleep-deprived, and I missed Zumba, but I think I’ll be ok. Next I need to get ready for a talk in lab about proposing research with school districts, and get back to what I was supposed to be working on this week – the stats and the revisions. 🙂

  177. drwestmoreland says:


    I did pass my proposal defense. Thanks Alexis! I am not out of the woods yet, this week has been rough. I am struggling to keep my head held in an upright position. My eyes are saying we want to close. I met with my advisor on Monday and we discussed the proposal and the comments etc. I also finally broke and told her that our paper was not accepted, she wasn’t too frantic about it I think because my proposal was over she was just like let’s move on to the next item. We are going to repair the paper and submit it to a journal this summer. The rest of this week I am dedicating to finishing my course work and my TA duties. My students had presentations yesterday. I have 2 presentations tomorrow and a hw assignment due. Then Tuesday I have my 1 and only final exam so I also am preparing for that.

    I am sad that I will miss the PROMISE Cookout this weekend because I have prior plans. Hope all the graduates shine bright.

    I stayed up till 5am doing the hw, but it was worth it because I got a big chunk done and I am less stressed today even though I am sleepy. I will just drink some tea and keep it moving.

    I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead. I’m here to declare my past is over!

    Keep Going!


  178. Sonia says:


    I’m new to the website! I finally have time to join the group!! 🙂 I have read some of the comments and I’m so glad I’m not the only one that struggles with all the work…. Now I don’t feel alone in all this. My goals for this weekend are:
    1. Do a presentation for my progress committee meeting
    2. Do the introduction for the proposal

    Also I NEED to have most of my manuscript for the 25th of May!!

    Wish me luck guys!!!!

  179. Alexis Williams says:

    Whew! After driving up to Harford county (near Delaware) this morning to meet with some principals (who agreed to help with my study!) and helping run the Distinguished Teaching Assistant ceremony for my assistantship this afternoon, I thought I would be asleep by now, but I’m actually sitting here next to some friends working until 8!

    I made a new general schedule for the summer, and I’m getting my plan together for pitching my study to teachers, complete with an FAQ list of common concerns, which Dr. Carter mentioned to me the other day and then the principals also suggested spontaneously!

    I still have stats and dissertation editing/reorganizing to do, so that will be on the agenda soon, but not tonight. I know I only have enough energy to squeeze out a few more minutes before I have to eat and go fall out…

    Go Go Go!

  180. drwestmoreland says:


    I’m still here. Been sick all week. Went to the dr. today to get my antibiotics. Wrapping the semester up one thing at a time. Need to make changes to my proposal but my advisor agrees that I can start those next week. I have plenty to do and since I am moving at snail pace I am grateful for the dissertation break. I guess I can officially stop calling it my proposal and start calling it my dissertation. Oooooh, that’s serious.

    I got 2 stripes. I made it this far. Keep moving. Go. Go. Go. (Thanks Alexis 🙂 )

    Happy Thursday!


  181. renettatull says:

    Cheers for those stripes!!!!!!! Whoo-hoo! Clapping! Congratulations Nikki! The Dissertation House for College Park will be held near the end of July, so Nikki and Alexis, we’ll look forward to seeing BOTH of you there, ready to push through to the next round.

    Welcome Sonia!!! How did your presentation go? Did you finish your introduction?

    Keep on working … push through together!

    Renetta Tull

    • Sonia says:

      The presentation was good… they kill me with the proposal topic 😦 But that’s all right I just have to be more creative…. In the meantime I have to write the manuscript for next Wednesday so I have to work hard with that! I haven’t started it!!!

    • drwestmoreland says:

      Thanks Dr. Tull!

  182. drwendycarter says:

    Hello all

    Congratulations on your many achievements. I look forward to reading your applications to the this summer’s DH. Applications are due June 10, 2011. Alexis please read your Facebook messages my friend who is a teacher is willing to help you with your survey and more importantly willing to share it with his colleagues!

    Nikki, it looks like you are making great progress keep up the good work.

    • drwestmoreland says:

      Thanks Dr. Carter! I’ve been missing you, but getting myself together over here. Thanks for the love!


  183. drwestmoreland says:


    This week has been ‘on pause’ and ‘reset’ for my mind, body, and soul. It’s going well. I met with my advisor today to talk about summer plans and DH was included in that conversation. I hope that everything works out and I can attend. I have a nephew that might be coming to visit and I don’t thinks DH is his idea of a good time. All my plans have not yet been made, so we shall see. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy that this semester is over, moreover I am glad that I made it out alive.

    Let’s start summer!


    • Alexis Williams says:

      Hi All,

      I’m finally back! Glad Nikki has been reigning me in and Sonia is pushing ahead, too! I am also thinking about the summer and since I applied to one multi-day seminar (Howard’s PFF), I’ve been reluctant to say I’ll also try for DH. But with this gentle nudging from you ladies, I am changing my view. DH really has made amazing changes in my work and in my life!

      I’m going away for a few hours to watch several young ladies perform a routine that I (dare I say) choreographed (it looks so weird but that’s actually what happened), but I’m coming back tonight to “touch” my stats and the formatting of my first few chapters of the dissertation. Wish me luck.


  184. drwestmoreland says:


    Today I am going to meet with my advisor to plan and talk about the goals I have for the summer. Last summer we did the same things and I set about 5 goals and put them on sticky notes on my desk so that each day I would remember that I need to be working hard towards some of them. My advisor may be out of the country in the Fall so we plan to have some quality time this summer to get some good work done.

    Happy Monday!


  185. renettatull says:

    Dear Alexis and Nikki,

    UMBC will also have two students at Howard’s PFF. While you will be planning for your future at that event, you will be working on your dissertation at the Summer DH. Plus, the PFF is in June, and the DH is in July. As you know, the DH is not a vacation … it is structured work time … I will not allow you to say “no.” While you will be pushed to the limit, we promise you results!

    Nikki, how old is your nephew? You don’t have to answer here, but depending on his age, you may consider talking to some of the directors of summer programs on campus to see if he can “sit in” or join in some of the activities on select days. If he is in high school, consider the Young Scholars program: . If he is unable to participate in a traditional way, you might consider investigating a way for him to volunteer. Some of your graduate student colleagues may be mentors for this and other programs as such programs typically hire grad students as summer instructors.

    Alexis, you’re making such good progress! The first few chapters … congratulations. Note that this is still May! Think about how far along you’ll be in June, and then in July. By the time we’re in DH at College Park, you will be cruising!

    Sonia, continue to work with us! I plan to be in Puerto Rico in September, so you and I can have a meeting with Juanky and others to see how you’re progressing. Stay with us online throughout the summer.

    Take care!
    Renetta Tull

  186. renettatull says:

    Good afternoon Ladies,

    Here I am again, twice in one day! I would like to invite you to transition with us to the SUMMER 2011 online section. I’ve just posted the link. . Since the semester is over, let’s transition together to a new section of the blog. I’ll see you over there!

    Renetta Tull

  187. Yvette Williams says:

    Hi fellow dissertation house participants! Best wishes !

    I am working on data entry and analysis for my first chapter today.

  188. Pingback: Dissertation House @ UMBC started this morning at 9 AM sharp! 58 comments online so far! | The Dissertation House

  189. Yvette Williams says:

    Looking forward to a productive day!
    All the best to everyone!

  190. Yvette Williams says:

    I found some errors I had to fix, but nevertheless, a productive day. Tomorrow, I will write about the results!

  191. Hi Yvette! Join us at the new blog (I found this old post when I was searching from a new computer)!

  192. Portia T says:

    Hello everyone! I’ve been M.I.A for a little; however much has happened in the last couple of weeks. First off, I completed, edited and handed to my co-advisor 2 completed chapters! Yay!!!! I also visited Baltimore to get the apartment hunt out of the way. This past week, my research center had our annual NSF Site Visit for which I think went well. I was able to chat a little with Dr. Tull who also came down and spoke in support of our research center.

    I completed the largest data collection effort for my dissertation 1.5 weeks ago (YAY!!!!!) and am currently cleaning up that data and prepping it for analysis. Looking ahead to May, it will be a tough one. To Dr. Carter, no date yet; however I’m getting VERY VERY VERY close!

    Here is the % of my chapters completed:
    Chapter 1 65%
    Chapter 2 99% (pending 2nd advisor corrections)
    Chapter 3 99% (pending 2nd advisor corrections)
    Chapter 4 75% (next to turn in for corrections)
    Chapter 5 30% (results chapter that I am now finally done collecting data for)
    Chapter 6 10% (blah!)
    Chapter 7 0% (Conclusions and Future Recommendations/Work)

    Also in the spirit of thesis hype music, I have included a like to my Spotify Thesis Playlist. WARNING! Explicit language in some songs.

    You will need to signup for Spotify in order to use it. Happy Writing!!!


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