What To Do When You Don’t Pass Your Defense (Part 1)
Office Hours With Dr. Lacy
This episode is part 1 of a 3-part webinar presentation.
Transcript of Episode:
Hi, welcome everyone to finishing your literature review with less stress. I am your host, Dr. Marvette Lacy, and I would like to thank you for taking the time and spending the next 40 minutes with me or so to talk about all things literature review dissertation proposal. We are going to cover a lot today, so I'm going to ask that you as much as possible eliminate distractions, anything running in the background and take the next 40 minutes for yourself because there's no point to waste your time. Um, being here if you're not going to be fully committed and focused on this because I know that what I am sharing with you today will truly help you accomplish not only your goals as it relates to your dissertation, but any other goals that you may have in life. So with that, please eliminate distractions. I want those of you who are here live on a call, please introduce yourself, take some time, let us know who you are, what's your name, your institution, year in the program and the hardest part about being a doc student that you are having right now. Let us know in the chat and any other information that you think it would be helpful for us to know because this is very interactive and the more that we get to know about you, I'm going to share some things about me. Um, it just helps with the time and helps make this a very positive experience. So while you're doing that, I'm going to share a little bit about me again.
I'm Marvette. I currently live in Milwaukee, WI. And I graduated from the University of Georgia in the College Student Affairs Administration Program. It's a whole other topic thing about what student affairs is, if you're not familiar with it. Um, but I just want to talk to you about a critical point in my dissertation program. So my program was set up in that between your first and second year, you as a student were required to do, what is called publishable paper. Publishable papers, some can say that it's kinda like, um, a pilot study. So it gives you an idea of not only what you could potentially research about for your dissertation, but it also gives you an idea as you are completely designing and conducting in writing up your own research project, but on a smaller scale as a way to prepare you for your exams and for your dissertation.
A lot of people in our program do not continue on with the same topic from their publishable paper to their dissertation because the time in between and what you learned in between can, it's a large gap in, so this is truly meant as an educational tool, right? And it's happening in between your first and second year. So I started working on mine. I remember taking at least three or four months to really focus on the literature review because I knew that like people usually say that's the hardest part and that I knew that I was only in the program for about a year. And I knew I didn't know a lot, right? I didn't even know how to, um, like build a research paper. I only, I think only how like an intro to research course, um, at this point. And so I just did not know what I was doing. And so for me, you look at what people have done before and you model what they do right. And that's what I was doing. And so I spent a good two or three months just reading article after article and like seeing how they set up their literature reviews and which topic. I just knew that I wanted to study black women, but I was like, I don't know exactly what. And so I was just doing my best to collect all the references and write all the notes and I just remember having notebooks and notebooks and documents and documents of notes right. And, Somehow after like three or four months, I managed to put together some sort of document or a proposal because you also have to go through the process like you would and and dissertation and that you defend your proposal, you conduct the research and then you defend the entire paper.
And so I really worked really hard and I got it down to like a 30 page proposal. I was so proud of it. Right. Cause I was like, I went from somewhere, I was like overwhelmed with all these notes and now I have a whole thing. And I was so excited about my committee cause it was like dope faculty members, like the two black women. I had a new chair, I was like support it. Um, and if you haven't heard about my story and my first semester and how I failed then you would know like why this was such a big deal that I was making it to this point to be able to defend this. And, I was prepared to answer all the questions right about like my literature review. I was just so proud, Like, it's well done. And I failed that defense.
Let me tell you why I failed the defense because they started asking me question after question like what's the purpose of your study again and what were you going to study and why black women. And like what are you planning to do? And it was just all these questions about like methodology and methods and exactly what I was going to do to, I couldn't answer and I was like, nobody even asked me a question about my literature review, which is what I spent all my time on. I was so upset. I started crying and that defense when it hit me that I wasn't going to pass, I was crying because I was like, I should know better. I should have known this. I made a fool of myself and then I was crying because I was crying cause I was like, you can't show up and cry. There's no crying in phd process. And then I just was also crying cause I'm like, they're having pity on me, I suck, blah blah. Like all of this came up to the surface and I just walked out defeated and I have to Redo my whole proposal and where before I had months to do it. This time I only had like, I believe like a few weeks, like a couple, two or three weeks that I had to turn this around because it was really close. I felt like people were going off contract or something and that was a reason why I had to finish it.
Now fast forward two and a half years later, after this whole fiasco of failing that publishable paper, I got through that. I got through my exams, I've defended my dissertation proposal and now it is April, 1120 17 and I am walking into my dissertation defense and most of all I feel good. It's like night and day from that publishable paper. Um, defense. I was nervous though and I wasn't nervous because I didn't feel like I wasn't going to be able to do it. I wasn't nervous from the fact that I had to write this in like three months, which I did. Again, another story, I had to finish this. Like I do my dissertation in three months. I was nervous because I knew that it was gonna finally like be over. Like I had reached the end point did that day I was going to walk away and they were going to call me Dr Lacy.
Like I knew it deep down, but I was scared. Like I was like, I can't believe that it's almost going to be over the picture at the bottom right - I look a hot mess, I was tired y'all. And because you know I did it in three months and I was also confident that I was walking away being like I was passing it. It was nothing that anybody was going to say that was going to stop me from being Dr. Lacy and I rocked it and I was able to answer all the questions. It was, it felt like a discussion that was happening. All my friends were in the back room. People were live, tweeting, streaming and I didn't feel nervous about that cause I knew there was no way that it wasn't going to go the way I thought it was going to go.
I don't share my story because I want to brag to you. I share my story. So, one, you get to know a little bit about who are you listening to. Two, so you can know that I know what it feels like to on one end have no idea what you're doing. Like have no idea where to start and just like trying to make it up as you go along and it's still not working out and you fell in completely on your face to knowing how it feels to walk into a room and own it and be confident and your study, your decisions, who you are as a researcher and be able to look at your committee and be like, prank it. I don't like do your words. Whatever question you asked me, I'm going to be able to answer it. That's why I shared that story. And, I want you to know that I believe that your story one doesn't have to be as difficult as my, but that you have something that you must share with the world. There's a reason why you have the topic that you have on your mind, the topic of your heart that you want to do, the research that you want to conduct. There a reason why and you have to do it and to not do it, to pass it up, to give up on this process would be a disservice to yourself, to your participants, to the world. You would be like robbing people of a necessary experience, of a necessary, like data and research and your perspective if you don't share it. I also believe you already have everything you need to finish this dissertation and graduate.
I know today we're supposed to talk about literature reviews. And, if you don't walk away from anything but that, I want you to walk away with knowing that you don't need anything else. You don't need to know more. You need to be more. You have what you need to finish this. So I want you to imagine walking into your dissertation defense like you've collected the data, you've written up everything, had all the conversations you needed to have. You walk in and you're ready. You walk in, your committees there, your chairs there, maybe your friends are there, maybe the hating so-and-so person is there, the person you don't like. Maybe all of those people are there. Your family friends, your loved ones. They're all in the room waiting for you and you walk in to give your presentation for your dissertation and maybe a little bit nervous because it still makes you nervous to speak in front of people, but that's it. Like you know what you're going to say. You feel so good about your dissertation that you're like, I can't wait to tell them it's going to blow their minds and you kill it. Like imagine just you are there now you're killing it. People throwing questions at you. Even that hatin-a... See, I'm trying not to curse, but you know, hating ass person, they, they trying to throw questions at you, and it don't matter. You can answer it and you can move on. They're not, you know, they don't phase you none. You sit down, you have not the conversation where your committee is like you tell it, like your people. Y'All just having a regular conversation. You're talking about what you are gonna publish. Like you already know. You Pass. Y'All are just talking about next steps. You're talking about what's next, what else you gonna study. Imagine what that feels like. That's what I'm offering you today. This is the first step to getting that.
So. You're in the right place because I don't want you to waste your time. Remember, and I'm not about wasting your time. But if any of what I just said resonated with you, you're in the right place. If you're like, yeah, that's what I want. You're in the right place. If you are working on your comps or your exams or your proposal, you're in the right place, but maybe you're feeling like cat. That what I just imagined. That's for me. I want that, but right now I'm having a hard time figuring out how I'm gonna get there. Maybe you feel like you're doing all of these things or you're writing, you're in writing groups, you're reading, you're asking questions, but you feel like you're still not getting anywhere. You don't have a completed draft to show for any of that hard work and all those questions you should try to figure out what, what do I need to do next, what's the most important thing I need to do so I'm not wasting my time so I can be as efficient as possible.
Or maybe you feel like you're falling out of love with your dissertation. You're like, yeah, I feel you. I need to share with the world. But I just, I'm not feeling it no more. Maybe this phd thing isn't for me. Maybe for like your, you have so much going on at your constantly forgetting to do something. Like I know I'm supposed to do something. I know I'm supposed to do something but you don't, you're not quite sure. And You keep looking at all your to do lists and whatever you use to manage your time and you just felt like you can never be on top of it and feel like you're getting everything done and she needs to get done and you're exhausted and you're like, I'm just, I need something else. Cause it's not it. This is who I'm talking to today. This is what this training is for is for you.
My promise to you is for the next 40 minutes or so, I'm going to talk to you about how I went from that person who failed their publishable paper defense to somebody who walked into their dissertation defense. Ready? I'm not sharing with you theories or what I read in book, even though you know I have two degrees on that like development. That's not the point. I'm not sharing about that. I'm sharing like actually what I've done and what I've done with clients to get them to the end. I'm talking to you about my "Get it Done" framework. My three step process from taking you from feeling busy, exhausted, overwhelmed, to like intentional, confident, excited about that business. I'm explaining it to you over the next few minutes and I want you to use that and implement it because it's cute to sit here and listen to this and consume it, but if you don't do anything, this doesn't matter. You're wasting your time. Remember, I don't want you to waste your time, so I want you to listen to this and do this. That's what I'm going to share with you, but I need something from you, right?
Right now I need you to make a promise or at the very least for the next few minutes, you can agree to these things. You can agree that you're going to keep an open mind because some of the stuff I want to talk about you and be like, no girl, what? It's gonna seem a little bit out there, but I'm asking you to keep an open mind right now. I don't want you emailing me or clicking off cause you like what? That's not what she said. I'm asking you now. You decide to keep an open mind. I'm asking you now to take responsibility for where you are today. Take responsibility. If you're not writing, like you're supposed to take responsibility. If you don't have pages or you're not meeting deadlines, take responsibility for if you wish your relationship with your chair and your committee was different. I'm not saying you control other people or you're responsible for their actions. I'm telling you to take responsibility for where you are. Because the moment that you can do that, you become in your power. You step into your power. You're not a victim anymore. Life isn't just happening to you. You are controlling your life. Cause the moment you can say that, that means you can change things to get to what you want, like to happen, to get to the results. And then the third thing is you're willing to put in the work. Cause what I'm going to say to you, it's gonna take work. It's not going to be easy. It's simple, but it ain't easy. But I want you to say you agree right now and that you're willing to put in the work. Okay? Now don't go past this without agreeing to that.