The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 20th, 2015
Graduate school, the job market, the
tenure track, and every other stage in an academic career are so fraught
with challenge that you cannot afford to dawdle too long on foolish
ventures or waste time holding out for perfection when "pretty darn
good" will do.
The first supreme hurdle — the one that scares off many potential
academics and cripples the progress of others — is, of course, the
dissertation. What counts as a dissertation and how long you should take
to complete it vary across disciplines, institutions, and committees.
But that you must complete it — and that others must approve it before
you can move on — is essential.
In this series I will focus on the "getting it done" aspects of the
document that are not field-specific. But let’s begin with that
existential imperative: No excuses, you must actually finish. Yes, there
may be factors beyond your control and, yes, you may want to strive for
perfection. But let me make the case for a completion agenda, above all