I feel as if this post is a bit of a nerd confession. I fell in love with a journal article during my spring semester of the doctoral program. In addition to the wonders of this article, I look forward to using the diary-interview method in my research on young adults one day. Here is the citation for this glorious article:
Zimmerman, D. (1977). The diary: “Diary-interview method.” Urban Life, 5(4), 479–489.
Part of me loves Zimmerman’s writing because it reads (at least to me) slightly cheeky. I have a great appreciation for humor in scholarly work. It’s difficult to pull it off and I’m not entirely sure humor is “approved” of in academic writing. After reading so many well-written but dense and dry during my first year , coming across a piece of writing that studies “the counter-culture” and asks the question, “why had a particular diarist not gotten stoned before going to a Chinese restaurant…” (1977, p. 492). Why not indeed.
Along with this unusual (?) love, I’ve become drawn to a few theories . It has been an interesting experience to find myself fascinated by an area that only a year I found extremely intimidating. Savolainen’s Everyday Life Information Seeking, Dervin’s Sense-Making, and Siemen’s Connectivism. Maybe lecturing undergrads on IB models inspired me more than it did anyone else….
Other current social media and tech obsessions include infographics, 3D printers, MakerSpaces, and memes (of the cat variety in particular).
In closing, I will leave you with my favorite quote from Zimmerman’s article.
We should note that if the diaries we collected were to be constructed as exhaustive records of the diarists’ activities, we would have to conclude that this group was characterized by extraordinary bladder and bowel capabilities, since no instance of the elemental act of elimination was reported.” (Zimmerman, 1997, p. 487).
Anyone else have a strange love or obsession? Am I all alone in my strangeness?
Now that I’m in my second year of the doctoral program, I’ve been asked more and more about my dissertation topic. So far my reply has been somewhat vague and confusing (both to me and to the person). Usually I respond with words like ‘social media’, ‘young adults’, ‘informal learning’, and ‘libraries’. This doesn’t feel or sound like the correct response for a second year doctoral student. I have so many research ideas and curiosities that it is hard to wrap my mind around the idea of narrowing it down to just one focus. Then, I start to think, “should I have a complete and well honed dissertation title? Has everyone else in my cohort figured out exactly what direction they going with their dissertation? where should I go with this? what am I suppose to say!?!?”. If there is one thing I’m a professional at, it’s becoming pointlessly anxious about pretty much anything. It’s all too easy for me to compare where I am in my work with other doctoral students and stress out about how far behind I am (or seem to be). This is probably a common activity among doctoral students. I tell myself that anyway.
Luckily, this week I met with my major professor, settling some of my anxieties and concerns. I even have a few theories that I’m excited about researching more. I feel much more comfortable with the direction I’m heading, even though I still have some uncertainties and confusions. At least my dissertation topic is better than these. Although it’s definitely less interesting and not nearly as sexy. I imagine I will continue to adjust and modify my dissertation focus, at least a little bit. This is probably the norm. Right??? Now, hopefully, my response when people ask about my dissertation will be slight more intelligent and focused (at least sound like it is…). At this point, I still have a lot of thinking to do about my dissertation, so don’t ask me about it just yet! If you do, I imagine I will still look at you blankly (probably for just a few seconds anyway).
For my fellow doctoral students: At what point in the program did you figure out your dissertation topic? How do/did you respond to people who ask/asked about your dissertation as you were figuring out where to go with it? What do you stress or feel anxious about as far as your dissertation goes?
The premise of this journal club is to discuss articles and blog posts about Diversity in STEM and academia. We post the paper/topic the 2nd week of the month, and discuss the third Friday of every month at 2pm EST, under #DiversityJC on Twitter. Hope to see you there!