Thursday, Dec. 5 is going to be a nerve-wracking day, but hopefully in the exciting & fun way, and not the queasy stomach way. 🙂 My proposal defense is scheduled for noon (EST). Since I am four states away from my university, I will connect via a web conferencing tool, but those on site at the university will gather in a meeting room on campus. I feel so honored; one of my classmates who lives there emailed me today and said that she would attend! That degree of moral support is so encouraging.
So, what’s a proposal defense, you ask? (Well, even if you didn’t ask, I’ll explain it anyway.) 🙂 Chapters 1-3 of the dissertation make up the proposal. At this point, everything is worded in future tense. You talk about the “proposed study” and what it will do or seeks to do. Chapter 1 is the introduction, which gives an overview of your idea and why you want to study it. Chapter 2 is called the literature review, and you discuss what other scholars have to say about your topic. Chapter 3 is the methodology, and that’s where you explain the theory(ies) and statistics that you’ll be using. You describe how you plan to gather the data and how you are going to examine it.
Chapters 4-5 describe the study, your findings and recommendations. You can’t move on to Ch. 4 until you’ve defended the proposed study, to begin with. That’s why this step is so important. In the case of an experimental study, you can’t start the experiment until you’ve defended your proposal. In my case, I’m not doing an experimental study, but I still can’t proceed until I get the green light for Chs. 1-3. That’s what I’ll be doing on Dec. 5: I’ll give a PowerPoint presentation to provide an overview of the first three chapters, and then open the floor to questions. My committee members may have (will have!!) questions — hopefully ones that I can answer, LOL. Others in attendance (such as the department chair, other faculty or curious people who are sitting in the discussion for fun) can also raise concerns or ask questions. I’ll have to think on my feet and know my stuff.
I’m looking forward to it, because it’s such an important step, but of course, I’m a little nervous. My committee may send suggestions between now and then, which I’ll be working on as we go along, but they may just save their questions until that day.
Once the presentation is finished, then I should receive approval to proceed with the rest of the study. That’s the fun part! I will collect my data and analyze it over the Christmas & New Year holiday. I am hoping to have a pretty solid draft of Chs. 4 & 5 by early January. If all goes well, then I should be ready to do my final defense sometime around Spring Break. For that one, I’ll have to go to Georgia and face the firing squad, er, I mean, my committee, in person. 🙂 After that, I’ll be Dr.!!!!