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pursuit of my doctoral studies. The course really mapped out a lot of the things that it will take for me to achieve my goals. The first thing is just to understand the process of getting a dissertation. This is not as simple as sitting down and banging out a long-form essay. This is a completely different process and this course has been instrumental in me getting a much clearer understanding of what this process is going to look like for me.
The literature review is something I had to really take to heart. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a scholar. It starts with the literature review. If you had asked me at the start of this course, I would have told you that the literature review was the foundation of the dissertation, but it's actually the foundation of scholarship. The lit review is how you know what you know, and how you can prove it to the rest of the world. The literature review builds your credibility as a scholar, something that is antecedent to the dissertation having any scholarly value.
I also think I gained a lot of value from the teachings about openness. I have that mindset naturally, but there is definitely a part of me that, as someone who has not yet established scholarly credentials, to play is safe. For me to see that creativity and "gray thinking" is accepted and indeed is even expected of a scholar gave me optimism. Instead of thinking I had to tread well-worn ground I know understand a little bit more about how I can be creative, explore new things and make a genuine contribution to my field.
But it wasn't just the content of the course that was important. I had some troubles last semester. I really struggled with some work-life issues and it affected the quality of my work. I needed to push the reset button, and re-envision this entire process. That is something that I feel that I was able to do. I had to shift my mindset from one of being a student to one of being a scholar, where learning is not just a career but a lifelong journey. The objective isn't just to learn, but to build expertise and credibility, and that really is a different mindset than what I have been accustomed to. For me, I think this was the most important aspect of this course for me -- the shift in mindset and emphasis on mental preparation.
2. What I am most proud of in this course has to be the way that I have matured as this process has continued. It is as though I went from a boy to a man, or something like that, the way that my perspective has changed in this past couple of months. I started having a decent idea about the nature of scholarship, but I didn't know as much as I thought. I really learned a lot about what it means to be a scholar, and the different steps that I must take to get me there, and that has provided me with a sense of focus, balance and optimism that I do not feel I had before. The course was useful and informational, but I am proud of how I have responded the course, with enhanced understanding of my own role in this scholarship, and a much greater sense of how I will achieve my goals. Knowing the steps involved really helps.
3. What I enjoyed most was actually starting to build my literature review. Over the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to take the knowledge gained in this course and apply it to actual scholarship. For me, this is huge. It should come as no surprise that somebody who wants to be a scholar has a natural curiosity about things and wants to learn. So for me, learning about the process of scholarship is a gateway to bringing my own scholarship to a higher level. This in turn has me starting my literature review as part of the research process. That has allowed me to begin to build my scholarship, looking at articles in the journals, and following the different thoughts that I have. I understand that it is going to take some time for me to put all of this knowledge together, but I look forward to that. But there is no question that I derive the greatest joy and satisfaction from the process of learning and building expertise, so for me having the skills and knowledge to being piecing together my literature review is probably the most fun part of the doctoral experience thus far.
4. I have mentioned the internal growth already and that is probably the most significant growth area for me. I think having the process of scholarship and putting together a dissertation is something that has allowed me to see the bigger picture, to my benefit and growth as a scholar.
But there are other areas where I think I grew as well. IN particular, there was the unit where we focused on publishing. I had never really thought of seeing my name on a journal article before -- I read them, not write them. So there was a lot of personal growth in actually starting to think about the end result and how that end result of a dissertation is actually just the first step to scholarship. I also feel that the course material added to my skills base. While I think I knew a lot before, it is always good to refine one's skills and to get clarification on critical issues. This is something that I feel I accomplished as a result of this course as well.
5. What surprised me about myself was how well I responded to the challenges last semester. Well, the first surprise was that I really didn't expect to have challenges so there was that. But of course there are always challenges in life, and it is our response that allows us to measure ourselves. In that, I feel that I have recovered in terms of my performance, maturity and the overall attitude that I have towards this scholarship. I can see the entire process towards a dissertation mapped out before me, something I could not have envisioned before, and I can also see my name on a journal article, being cited by another scholar or student in the near future. That is something I could not have imagined before so I am really proud of how my response to adversity, by keeping positive and believing in myself, has allowed me to meet these goals.
6. What I learned about myself is that I am no longer a student, but a scholar. This is something that has put me in a great position going forward. When I started this process I think I was still in a student mindset, which is not really what being a scholar is all about. You really move from being learner to a learner-thinker-teacher, and that is an important distinction. Now that I know that I am a scholar, I am much better-equipped to pursue these doctoral studies.
I also learned to improve my discipline. I think it was a lack of discipline that couple with adverse circumstance last semester. I had far fewer troubles this semester. I was able to think outside of the box a little bit better, so I also think I had more comfort and creativity as well. Put all this together and I am brimming with confidence about my dissertation going forward.
But I had to learn all of these things about myself. I think that the introspective nature of this course really helped with that. I have always been fairly comfortable with introspection, so the way the course was structured definitely suited my nature, but it was very useful to help me learn about myself. I wanted to learn about both my strengths and my weaknesses, and I feel I did that. At this point, I would actually have trouble answering questions about my weaknesses because I don't like to think about them much anymore, whereas maybe in the past I had dwelled on them too much.
Having begun to research my topic, this is one area of concern that I have. I actually think that my topic has a lot of problems and I will need to address those problems in the coming weeks in order to keep myself on course. My initial topic idea was not really suited to academic study, and I have really only replaced it with vague concepts. So this is something that is going to challenge me.
I feel that with respect to the topic, I need to follow the advice I have been given. My research tells me that I am not the only one who struggles with selecting an appropriate dissertation topic. Others have had the same experience.…[continue]
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