I had set up a deadline with my new mentor with agreed upon dates for completion of each step required to complete my dissertation. Of course, my goal is to have all the preliminary work done by January so that I might start my study in January and complete it by December, write up my findings and graduate sometime in April 2012.
At any rate, I made my first deadline! July 30 was the date I gave myself for completing my MRF, or the proposal. In this case, the MRF is seen as the outline of the entire dissertation. First your topic has to be approved, and that was done earlier this year. Then you have to flesh out your topic by answering questions that will eventually be the main ideas of your chapters.
So, now, as I wait for a response on my completed MRF, I’m going to start writing my chapter 1. For the most part, chapter 1 covers all the information I needed to provide in order to get my topic approved. As my topic was approved, I feel fairly confident that I can move on to chapter 1. There are a few sections within chapter 1 that are covered in the remaining portion of the MRF, but I can leave those sections out until I get full approval of my MRF by both my dissertation mentor and my committee.
So what’s next? I need to write chapters 1 through 3. My next deadline is August 13. Meeting this deadline with the completion of chapter 1 will depend on how quickly my mentor can read through my MRF, offer corrections, and eventually approve it. The August 13 deadline is more for myself than for anyone else. I cannot submit my chapters until I’ve written chapters 1, 2, and 3. And, my intention is to complete chapter 3 by September 10; however I can give myself an extra week as the quarter concludes on September 17.
Judging by dissertations that are similar to mine, the first 3 chapters should be approximately 50 to 75 pages. That sounds fairly manageable for a month and a half’s time. I believe I had 60 pages to write in 6 weeks’ time for my comprehensive exams which definitely vexed me; so focussing on my chapters 1, 2, and 3 when I should have the information at my fingertips should prove to be a simpler task.