Monday, December 8, 2008

Countdown to the End of the Semester

Welcome to the last week of class. In the next week, I have only 2 things that truly need to get done: 1) write a 7-9 page term paper for my thankfully nothing-to-do-with-my-major class, and 2) grade 21 research proposals. The term paper is due Friday or Saturday (my professor is lax, as he should be, since it's been over a month since I turned in the last paper and I still haven't gotten it back); the graded papers have to be finished by Monday afternoon so I can offload them to my students at their final exam.

Looking back at the semester does not make me feel in any way successful. Let's review.

Study #1 - At my advisor's insistence, I continued to collect data on a project after the initial data analysis revealed that the manipulation wasn't work. Final data analysis shows exactly the same pattern, and the additional data points didn't make anything more significant than it had been. This project is a complete wash for anything except doing a follow-up, and I probably won't do that because it doesn't fit into my dissertation.

Study #2 - The downside to collaborating with my advisor and her husband is that they both go on baby leave at the same time. Delays in getting responses to emails and a shortage of programming resources in our lab means that I barely managed to program the experiment, and am squeaking out a minuscule amount of pilot data before the semester ends.

Study #3 - My senior thesis student collected all the data for this project. The follow-up to an early (under revision) project is mixed; the replication is only marginally significant (pending massaging of data), but the expansion is significant in ways we don't know how to interpret yet. The thesis data (another of my ideas, with my student's help) turned out to be a wash, just like every other research project I've conceived myself (except my master's, which was just unpublishable).

Comps - Completed the review paper, reading approximately 150 journal articles, writing 10,000+ words (final draft), and answering every question I outlined in my proposal. My committee decided that I should have asked two additional questions, and instructed me to add these questions - which essentially means reorganizing and probably rewriting the entire thing.

Corrections Draft - My advisor has been sitting on this for almost four months, so I have been unable to make any progress. I'm close to losing my faith in research ethics over this; we found out that the published results were inaccurate almost 10 months ago, and still haven't told anyone. I set a firm deadline for getting revisions back, lest I lose all self-respect.

And...that's my semester. There was teaching a class, and some "lead" teaching activities, and helping out my thesis student - but as far as my "real" activities, demanded for research, the only thing I've managed to completed (Study #3) was really completed by an undergrad; I've just had to do the data analysis. I can't even count my two accepted conference posters, because they were submitted in the summer, and it just took this long to get the acceptances.

Yet another semester at graduate school, with nothing to show for it.

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