Write Prospectus Dissertation

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Emily Van Buren is a Ph D student in History at Northwestern University.

You can find her on Twitter at @emilydvb or at her blog, dighistorienne.

But when it came time to fulfill the final phase of the candidacy process — writing and defending the dissertation prospectus — I found fewer resources here (but found these two especially useful).

So as I settle into the long process of dissertation research, I thought I’d share a couple of things I learned while writing and revising my prospectus.

Last quarter, after surviving coursework, qualifying exams, and the dissertation proposal, at long last, I arrived at the glorious land of being ABD.

Along the way, I’ve taken advantage of many of the strategies suggested here on Grad Hacker, and have found the archive of advice and reflections very helpful.

Sometimes my friends asked questions about things that had seemed obvious to me, and this forced me to be more explicit about my contributions and arguments.

It’s also encouraging when you realize that your idea is clear and interesting to someone who is not you, especially when making the commitment to a long-term project. Keeping tabs on what’s interesting to you from the beginning saves time and energy.

The process of connecting so many of my interests into one dissertation topic was invigorating. Coursework is a really valuable opportunity to rehearse your questions and to get to grips with the secondary literature.

I used research papers and course assignments during my first two years of the Ph D to try out versions of my dissertation question on a small scale.


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