Saturday, January 29, 2011

Peril in Egypt

What do you think about what is going on in Egypt right now.  Unless you live under a rock you know that Egypt is on the brink of a revolution.  There has been riots and protests along with about 38 dead and over 2000 wounded.  The government has closed down the internet, banks were to be closed today.  People are calling for their current President (Mubarak) to step down after 30 years of corruption.  Today, the President appointed the head of their intelligence agency to be Vice President.  Egypt has not had a VP since Mubarak held that position under Anwar Sadat who was assassinated, a coincidence?

Yes, I agree that Mubarak is corrupt.  He was grooming one of his sons to take his place.  All of his sons have fled to London.  Now there is a new VP, a sign of change? 

Yes, the current government is corrupt and democracy really doesn't exist.  But remember what happened to Iran when they had their revolution.  Hardline Muslims took over along with Sharia Law.  Do we want another Muslim hardline country?  Is El Baradei secretely a part of the Muslim Brotherhood.  He has stood by Iran before.

Yes, the US has secretly support dissidents in Egypt, but look what happened in South America when we supported dissidents, we got Chavez and Noreiga and many others who are worse that what they had before.

I don't know what the correct answer is, but we must be careful what we wish for.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why didn't I start this sooner (cont3).

Well, Chair 5.  I liked chair 5. 
At this point, the CP is entitled
Choosing the Survivalist  Lifestyle: A Phenomenological Study of Living with Stigma and Persecution in the  United States

He was really helpful and seemed to know what he was talking about.  Of course, each time you get a new chair, its like starting all over again.  Each chair has their own ideas and preferences.  Chair 5 thought having both survivalists and preppers in the CP could add to confusion.  Try to limit the use of survivalist.  This is where the CP started to take form in the theory of the evolution of the social movement theory.  Where some survivalists have evolved into the prepper movement.  He did not like the idea of a self-developed instrument. However, no matter how hard I tried there is no way I can used a canned instrument.  There is just no way a previously used instrument would ask the questions needed since there as not been a study on the evolution of survivalists.

One of the biggest frustrations in the dissertation process is that they want you to use instruments that are already validated.  They want you to use scholarly references.  If part of the process of doing a PhD is to bring something new to the scholarly world how can one use stuff that is already done to create something new.  Just tweaking something does not constitute something new in my eyes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why didn't I start this sooner (cont2).

Ok, what chair am I on?  Chair 3.  So On 9/1/10 I submited my concept paper.  On 9/3/10 my mentor asked if I loaded it.  I told him yes, but sent it to him again.  Of course, it needs work. 

On 9/7/10 I got an email from may academic advisor (AA) which stated.....wait for it.......


On 9/16/10 I got chair #4.

During this lag time between chair 4 and 5.  I was completely frustrated.  I hated my CP.  It wasn't reflecting what I wanted to say.  I didn't want to just regurgitate quantitative analysis.  I want to relay a message.  That people who choose to prepare their families for emergencies.

Around this time I discovered a Newsweek article from Bennet (2009) about preppers.  Prepper are individuals who choose to store food and supplies in case of emergencies.  They are normal people. 

So I changed to qualitative.  I wanted to explore the phenomenon of prepping.  By the way, before I changed I was literally ill trying to decide what to do.  I stayed up all night worrying about what to do.  About 3AM, I decided I need to do a qualitative analysis.  I need to interview these people. 

New title:

Choosing the Survivalist Lifestyle: A Phenomenological Study of Living with Stigma and Persecution

I felt comfortable with this. 

One thing I have learned with multiple chairs.  When you get a new chair, you basically start from scratch.  They look at your paper with a different lense.  Their backgrounds are different so they have different viewpoints.  Unfortunately, I think this chair used software to review my CP.  There were multiple issues with the difference between may and might, comma use, etc.

I would change things, then the next time it was reviewed, had to change it back.  My favorite was rhetorical questions. I was told that my research questions where rhetorical questions, as well as titles of referenced documents.  After 6 or 7 times at back and forth crap, I couldn't take it anymore.  This was getting rediculous.  Oh, and after all this time, he says he doesn't like some things in my annotated bibliography.  Why wasn't this addressed at day one.  So, frustrated, I sent him and email.  I will not keep changing this stuff back and forth.  The biggest issue was "a utopian society" he told me to change to "an" even though I told him that according to APA this was not correct.  He insisted. So I changed.  Then he said this was wrong.  It was the software he was using.  That's it, the email to him and my AA.

That day was October 18, 2010.  I get a reply from my AA, you are getting another new chair.

My sister went to Idaho State and was getting an EdD.  I asked her about her chair process.  She said chairs had to be tenured so they didn't have to worry about them being fired and quiting was rare.  But they did pass their students around.  "I don't like your subject" "I don't have time" ect.

More later.


State of Union Address

A little off topic.  What did you think of the Presidents address?  As a student I like the $10,000 credit idea.  However, I think we need to address overspending more.

Why didn't I start this sooner (cont).

On 22 April, 2010, my chair sent an email stating that due to health reasons he would no longer be teaching and would no longer be my chair.  Heartbreak.

I got an incomplete, which is school policy since “I was making progress” and my paper was with committee.  I got an extension so I could get a new chair.

In the meantime, they changed policies and as long as your CP was in committee, you could get a grade posted and move onto the comprehensive exam.  The CP would be finished in DIS #1.  Problem was no chair, no grade.

May 3, 2010.  Received notification of new chair and contacted him via email.  May 7, 2010 still no contact from chair.  May 12, 2010, sent him another email.  This time he replies that he asked to be removed as he has no experience on my topic.  Gee, thanks.

May 14, 2010, I received notification of chair #3.  Was eventually given a grade and allowed to go on to comps.

Nothing gets done on your CP while you are in comps, which is a waste of time.

Our comps are 4 questions that you have to answer in 10-15 page answers.  I know other schools it’s a written exam over a 1-2 day period and you don’t pay for it.  We pay the full course amount and its 12 weeks.

Comps went without a hitch and I passed the first time, whew!!!!!!

More later,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why didn't I start this sooner.

I’m not much of a journal writer, but I don’t know why I didn’t think to start this sooner.

A little bit about me, I am retired military and got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees while on active duty utilizing tuition assistance.  When I retired on 1 Apr 2006 I still had access to the GI Bill, so after thinking about it for awhile and looking into the different schools I decided to pursue a PhD vice another master’s.

My life in dissertation hell started almost a year ago on 1 February, 2010.  I go to an accredited online school, Northcentral University out of Arizona.  I can hear you cringe now; a PhD from an online school means nothing.  Well, I can tell you that several of my online colleagues work at universities and their online degrees do count.  I guess it just depends on the university. 

I chose Northcentral because it was online, accredited, and did not require “in-residence” attendance each year like other online schools do.  PhDs are expensive enough without having to go out of state for a week or two each year.

That being said, I started at NCU (they call themselves NU now) on 1 January, 2008, and completed the required “academic” courses by the end of July, 2009.  Eleven courses.

The way NCU works its dissertation process is that after you finish the “academic” courses you take 4 research (RSH) courses, the comprehensive exam, and then a minimum of 3 dissertation (DIS) courses.

The 4 RSH courses are designed to help us pick our topic, decide which methodology we want to use and develop our concept paper.  I finished the first 3 RSH courses between 1 August, 2009, and 31 January, 2010.  I picked my committee during RSH #3 and was so happy to start class #4 on 1 February, 2010.  Things went really well.  My chair wanted me to breeze through the first 7 assignments in 2 weeks in order to concentrate on my CP.  Loved my chair, BTW.  I had chosen mixed methods as my research design back in RSH #2.  I wasn’t always sure that was the route I wanted to go.  I asked my mentor (that is what NCU calls them) in RSH #2 if that was best for me.  He never answered back.  So I took mixed methods for RSH #3. 

So, with RSH #4, you are to work on your concept paper.  At the start I thought we were supposed to have the CP finished by the end.  I will discuss more on that later.

My original title was:  Extremist America: A mixed methods study of extremism versus survivalism.

Seeing that there were a lot of survivalist blogs out there, I thought it would be easy to get participants. 

With assignment 5 my chair that I should change from mixed methods.  He wrote the following.

My opinion: A mixed methods approach is quite ambitious for a dissertation. Out in the real world (like doing research for a journal article) a mixed method isn’t all that much extra work. But for a dissertation at NCU, a mixed method can be almost twice as much work.

So I picked quantitative. 
When I completed the CP, I thought, OK, one or two drafts and it will go onto committee.  WRONG!!!!

The initial CP went back and forth.  “Good title, can we do better” “Not a scholarly tone” “Don’t use quotes or italics” Is this fact or opinion” “Too broad of a statement” and on and on.

Six times my “draft” CP went back and forth.  Changed the title:

Extremism in America: A Quantitative Study of the Characteristics of Extremism versus Survivalism

Throughout the back and forth we worked on methodology, changed the intent of the survey.  Instead of one survey for one group, now I needed two groups.  We were going to have prisoners convicted of hate or violent crimes be group one and participants from blogs be group two.  Research questions, hypotheses, survey, etc.  On and on and on.

I was getting so sick of it, that at one point I didn’t even look at it for two weeks.  I hated it.  I despised it.

Finally, with draft 7, my CP went to committee on 9 April, 2010.  At that time they were supposed  to give it back to you within 14 days, due back 23 April, 2010.  Course ends 26 April, 2010.  Then the dreaded news came.

More tomorrow.  Elle