Saturday, February 6, 2010


One of the things I need to do in preparation for my committee meeting next week is present a general timeline of how I expect my different projects (=chapters) of my dissertation will proceed. Uncertainty about this timeline has been giving me some grief. For example, I have been unsure when I will return to Ukenzagapia after this next field season, and also unsure how many trips I have left. Most of this uncertainty has come from not knowing which of the many possible projects I will pursue.

At this point I have settled on four projects that require fieldwork, plus a review paper and a project based on existing data. That's six chapters and I only need four or five, but it's likely that one of those won't work out for some reason or another. I will also pursue some side projects in the field if/when I have time.

I laid out a rough timeline for each project. Sometimes I worked forwards from from the present, and sometimes I worked backwards from my goal of defending my dissertation in summer 2013. In some ways that seems like a long time away, but then when I started laying down project timelines it feels much, much closer. I also worked backwards from the goal of being totally done with fieldwork by early 2012 (preferably by November 2011 if I can do it). This is a serious goal for me because we really can't don't really want to start trying to have kids until I finish my fieldwork. It doesn't seem like a good idea for me to pregnant during my fieldwork in Africa, though I would be curious to hear if any readers have had adventurous pregnancies (in that sense, not the medical sense). I also put some other personal events on the timeline just for reference.

It feels great to have this timeline done because now I feel like I can begin to make decisions about these projects knowing generally how they should proceed in a timely manner. I can also present the timeline to my committee (minus the personal stuff) so that they are also thinking under the appropriate timeframe.


Psycgirl said...

Ooo! this is so pretty. I wish I had a timeline like this when I started!

Transient Theorist said...

This is a great way to think about this; i haven't thought so clearly about such things yet, but I'm definitely going to file the approach away in my head for future use!!!

... What happened to winter? ;-)

Karina said...

Theo, we don't have "winter" here so I left it off ;-)

Psycgirl, you can make one now! I'm two and a half years in and I just made this! Or you could make one for the past. I tried a bunch of different timeline programs but decided it was easiest to see and think about with these discrete cells that I could make on a spreadsheet.

Transient Theorist said...

Let's hear it for the magical world of the ivory tower, where it can be so declared that winter doesn't exist, chuckle.

Also, check this out - you're famous!