Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Writing & defending your dissertation, by the numbers



Ever wonder what happens in the last month of a PhD? Yes, I actually tallied all these things as I went along, on a blackboard in my office. Why? Who knows. Much more interesting metrics would've been my salivary cortisol, IL-6, and percent signal change in amygdala activation, but the NIH didn't give me money for that...so here it is:

Words written: 28,168

Last-minute analyses run, "because wouldn't that be interesting?": 92

Doodle polls it took for my committee to agree to be in one place at one time for my defense: 2

Emails sent regarding defense scheduling: 21

Colleagues I called and asked "do you know things about graph theory?": 7

Colleagues who knew things about graph theory: 1

Number of dark chocolate bars utilized as coping mechanism: 18, plus one of those 1 lb solid bricks, which I ate in 3 days

Number of times I googled "dlPFC connectivity" and felt dumb when the first citation that came up was a J Neuro paper authored by...me: 2 (fool me once...yeah)

Number of revise & resubmits for unrelated manuscripts that conveniently also landed on my desk during this time frame: 2

Cups of tea while writing: 84 (thank you, Gryphon's tea shop)

# of times I watched this video of a hamster in a competitive hot dog eating contest: 8

# of times I cried in my boss at the Y's office: 2

# of times Pandora asked me if I was still listening: this one I lost track of. But I highly recommend creating the station "Hip Hop BBQ". What, you don't write well to the tune of "Back That Azz Up?"?

Things I said or typed to people while under varying stages of contemplating life:
"if I was going to be an animal, I'd consider being a moose"
"the blizzard better not delay my chocolate delivery."
"basically I asked everyone I knew if they knew things about graph theory"
"I just realized I have chocolate all over my face."
"I'm just going to turn in this colorful flow chart held together by scotch tape."
"I want to be that alpaca."

Sustained swim-bike-run-lift training hours per week: 15ish, because priorities, and also coping

The acknowledgements section I really wanted to write:

David Smith for chocolate & for being willing to quit and start a goat farm with me if need be, Rebecca Kriepke for sending me that video of the hamster and driving 350 miles on a spare tire to get here, Jenny Dorand for general academia commiseration, Joe Stabile for dragging me out to look at some nice art and reminding me I am a smart person, my little brother for offering to beat up people for me, DJ for all the Irish bacon I ate in addition to the chocolate, my swim coach for letting me unload on him at 5am, and my Tuesday evening cycling class for being only slightly miffed that I was slightly late yesterday because I was defending my dissertation.

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