Deadlines and headlines*


There’s a natural hiatus in July and August. Things slow down, people are away. Here in Western Canada it’s been hot and dry and we’ve had forest fires, lots of them. The skies have been gray with smoke, the sun struggling to appear. Before working at a university I assumed the faculty would be whooping it up in far flung locations in the summer, drinks in hand – academia far from their minds. This doesn’t seem to be true. Our students are away but most people are still here, working on courses for the fall and reviewing and revising courses from this past year. Our new students are here next week for their orientation. We get to attend some of this and I’m excited for the drumming ceremony and slightly disappointed to be missing Wednesday’s student-organized party at the local gay bar.  They also have MANDATORY (yes, in capitals) sessions on professional standards, team building and social accountability. How cool is that?

Among all this preparation and pondering, I’ve been looking at my own deadlines. Not a lot to report on the EdD front but a lot going on in the rest of my life. I’m helping to develop a post-graduate course on a subject I know nothing about (magnetic resonance imaging) and getting used to a new life and a new city. I’ve been travelling back and forth to BC and adapting to remote parenting/joint custody. The “I should be writing” guilt has taken a bit of a backseat to the “faculty imposter syndrome” and “extra-mega-ramped-up-maternal-angst”. I’m aware that time is ticking away (and feeling that itch in the back of my brain that means I want to sit down and write something) but I’m busy, it’s still August and my last blog said I was fine with not worrying about end dates**!

A doctoral degree has its own momentum, but there are deadlines to consider when thinking about graduation. The first one (for UBC) is the appointing of the external examiner. This person has to be familiar with the field and joins your supervisory team, and one or more university appointed examiners to dissect your dissertation.  After the external examiner has been appointed, the clock – essentially – starts ticking. A couple of months later is another deadline, the submission of the finished and formatted dissertation to the full committee. A month or two later, comes the oral defense and then the revision and resubmission process. Once the revised dissertation is approved you can apply to graduate (another series of dates and deadlines). For UBC, there are four dates for graduation in the year.

Although this sounds very structured, it’s really only the graduation dates that are hard deadlines. When I asked my supervisor about this and suggested I aim for a fall 2019 grad she told me not to focus too much on the deadlines, but envisage the huge party I’d throw when I’m done. Great advice – but what do I put in the rest of my Gantt*** chart? I’m feeling the back-to-schoolness of the new academic term and wanting to set some goals. We have an EdD educational event in October where I’m presenting. At this point I’ll just be reading everyone one of my stories (which I actually love as a concept!)

So my deadline is still September to start the discussion section, and if you asked me the headline it would be – “Overwhelmed Researcher Reluctantly Learns to Live with Uncertainty”. Nothing new there!



* Not to be confused with Headlines and Deadlines, the compilation album by the great eurosynth masters A-Ha (1991, Warner Bros Records)

**Yes, yes, OK, obviously slightly untrue

***Fun fact: named after its inventor, Henry Gantt


Image: Alberta sky