(a short presentation to the PhD Seminar, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria)
May you have an interesting, interdisciplinary research topic. – Kai Lung
I’ve been asked to speak to the group about the dissertation proposal process, perhaps because I’ve been at it for such a long time and thus have accumulated significant experience points (using gamers’ parlance) and must be approaching the level of Guild Master. I was tempted to title this “The Never-Ending Story” but have decided against that because I think that may have been taken already, and it does sound a tad defeatist or cynical or less-than-inspiring.
But the fact that it has taken me a long time already and I have not yet successfully presented a proposal to my committee (let alone the fact that I do not have a committee – though that is another, albeit not-unrelated, issue) should probably disqualify me from being able to offer any advice to this group that’s worth taking. Or perhaps the best I can do is offer an anti-model, as in: “see what I’ve done? Don’t do that.”
But if there is a more precise – hopefully helpful – message I would like to convey, it relates to the particular challenge of developing a proposal in an interdisciplinary context which, if you find yourself in this position (and, more likely than not, a phd in public admin will entail navigating through interdisciplinary space to some degree), will call upon you skills as a translator and mediator and will require you to develop the skill of what I’ll call active non-listening.