Are you thinking about applying to a PhD program? Are you already a doctoral student? PhD is a huge investment of time and money. So make sure you spend 15 minutes of your time reading this blog devoted to PhD program success and survival tips. I'm confident that these tips can save up to 10 years of your life, up to $1,000,000 of your money, and, most importantly, your physical and emotional health.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seeking Approval of Committee Members

Being new to the world of science and research, you may think that science is objective. You may think that you can come up with a paper or dissertation that has bullet-proof theoretical logic and superb empirical rigor. And if you succeed in doing so, the faculty in your department will have no choice but to accept your work.

This naivety can be dangerous. Science is socially constructed (read Kuhn). Any research, no matter how influential it is, has many dark areas and can be ripped apart by anyone wishing to do so. So when you do research, you have to seek approval from your committee members. Sometimes it's not even about them offering you suggestions how to improve your work. They may have no clue. It's more about them feeling that they provide some kind of input in your work. Because if they feel like they have put something of their own into your work, they will be less likely to criticize your final product.

So make sure you don't work on anything in isolation. Even if you feel that your committee does not really help you, you still have to seek their approval in the process. And not after you finish. Showing up for meetings with your committee members is at least as important as doing superb job on your own.

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