2015 ODI Dissertation Boot Camp:
From ABD to PhD

Dissertation Boot Cmap participants

Receiving a doctoral degree from The Ohio State University is the culmination of many years of time and effort. At Ohio State, the path to the PhD includes coursework, a candidacy examination, a dissertation, and a final oral examination. For some students, finishing their dissertation can become a daunting task. But for the 26 students who attended the annual Office of Diversity and Inclusion Dissertation Boot Camp, writing (and finishing) their dissertation just got a little bit easier. The Boot Camp’s aim was to provide PhD candidates from underrepresented groups with the space to work on their dissertations alongside other Ohio State students and faculty, helping those students kick-start their dissertations or continue writing chapters to complete their doctoral work.

The format for the three-day event, held January 31 through February 2 at NorthPointe Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center, consisted of time set aside for writing, as well as time to ask questions of the eight Boot Camp Instructors who provided feedback and guidance. The instructor’s disciplines included: Education; Political Science; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Comparative Studies; Geography; Kinesiology; History; English; Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology; and Business.

Narrowing down a topic and explaining jargon to readers can be the first stumbling block to writing the dissertation. At the Boot Camp, students were able to sit down with faculty to help sort out and organize their ideas. Students were asked to present an “elevator pitch” that explained their projects in scope and contribution, an exercise that participants said brought clarity to the way in which their work was shared with audiences who were unfamiliar with it. Others were given daily goals that helped them sort out their writing into small, manageable accomplishments.

Even with an outline in place, just finding uninterrupted time to write can be overwhelming. The quiet location of NorthPointe, along with set times for writing, provided participants the impetus for making significant headway on their work. “I was able to have a place where I could exclusively focus on writing and have conversations about my dissertation work without having to worry about basic daily needs,” stated on student. Another was thankful to be able to concentrate on writing his dissertation without the interruptions of email, family and TV.

Last, but not least, students who attended the Dissertation Boot Camp appreciated the support they received from their peers, leaving them with the understanding that they are not alone in this process. “Just being in an atmosphere of productivity – rubbing shoulder, thoughts, and ideas with my colleagues, many who share similar interest, was refreshing and encouraging. It was reassuring to hear the narratives of other “doc” candidates are so close to your own.” One participant stated how close the participants became over the course of three days: “The experience was so great to the extent I felt like I was in a small family where everyone knows one another by name, their aspirations, and relationships.”

Valerie Lee, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion, remarked about the Boot Camp, “Having written a dissertation myself, I know just how important it is for PhD candidates to have the support of their fellow students as well as the advice from faculty members who are invested in their success. I am glad that my office could provide a space were students could focus on their writing and receive valuable feedback in a nurturing, relaxed atmosphere.”

When asked if there was anything that could be changed, one student simply stated, “I wish I had known about this last year!”

The Office of Diversity Dissertation Boot Camp is held annually; for more information, contact Robert Bennett III, PhD at Bennett.460@osu.edu