Dissertations are all about physics

Capacity refers to the relative amount of some quantity with respect to another quantity upon which it depends.

The dissertation process is invariably added to a life that is already filled to capacity. In a finite system (capacity), something has to give—actually it turns out a lot of things have to give. Friends in my cohort said they relied on takeout, rarely cleaned (but couldn’t afford cleaning help because they were paying for school), and like the line in the movie Office Space, did the “minimum” in most other areas. They/we asked spouses, friends, family to stick with us because we were sure there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

Centrifugal force is the apparent force that draws a rotating body away from the center of rotation.

If we apply this to a dissertation we could see it as all the forces that draw you (the rotating body) away from working on your dissertation (the center of rotation). Doctoral candidates in my cohort were simultaneously dealing with aging parents, an adoption, the challenges of tweens and teens, becoming first-time grandparents, neglected spouses, and every family scenario in between. And that doesn’t begin to address the forces of work and friends and extended family and ….

Closed system is a physical system on which no outside influences act; closed so that nothing gets in or out of the system and nothing from outside can influence the system’s observable behavior or properties.

Okay, that’s heavy. But that’s what working on a dissertation feels like. It’s a physical system that nothing permeates. The dissertation process may have an ebb and flow but the writer (you) remain closed off from the world. Add to that the forced linear structure of the dissertation (proposal, review, IRB review, changes, approvals, rejections, writing, research, more changes…) and you feel like John Travolta in the one of his first movies, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Unlike the movie you don’t break free from the bubble until you’re done and your committee at your defense calls you “doctor.”

Energy is a property associated with a material body. When bodies interact, the energy of one may increase at the expense of the other, and this is sometimes called a transfer of energy.

Applying this to the dissertation process means that, in my opinion anyway, if you’re not careful the dissertation process can sap all your energy leaving you a husk of your former self. (Too much information?) What I found helpful (and others I talked to agreed) is to do the last thing you feel like doing—exercise daily. Not sure there is anything to the whole endorphin thing but oxygen helps—especially if you’re stuck or in a waiting or holding pattern.

Law of inertia says that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

One simple bit of advice can make the whole dissertation process easier. Do something every day; do not take even a single day off. Even if all you have is 15 minutes or 5 minutes, do something. It will help you stay in motion—and maintain speed and momentum. That’s it.

Kinetic energy is the energy a body has by virtue of its motion. The kinetic energy is the work done by an external force to bring the body from rest to a particular state of motion.

This could vary person to person. For me the kinetic energy was a combination of my chair and my own need to finish. I over-promised things to my chair that I then had to deliver. Others said the outside force was a spouse or a major life event. One woman said she was not losing another summer to her dissertation.

Reaction. Reaction forces are those equal and opposite forces of Newton’s Third Law.

Some places refer to this as absolute uncertainty and relative uncertainty. Gotta love that! The dissertation process can get so involved we don’t even know what we’re certain or uncertain about. And then scientists and physicists who haven’t already been complex enough say there are two kinds of uncertainties—indeterminate and determinate.

Variable. A symbol representative of a set of numbers, points, values, etc. In science, variables represent values of measurements of quantities.

My personal favorite. The variables involved in the dissertation process. Friends. Family. Work. I asked a friend of mine who was working on her dissertation a year before I started mine if she could have coffee sometime. She said not until she was done. She was sorry but it took 100% of her mental and physical and emotional energy to complete the dissertation. All she did was work and work on her dissertation. Then when I got knee deep into my dissertation I knew what she meant. It was all I could do to stay upright let alone take a break and have to try and get the energy back.

Dr. Kat

Fun, fast, experienced, reasonably priced dissertation editing, coaching, and therapy.
Contact drkatcannon@dissedit.com

©2016 KathleenJCannon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *