Dr. Adrian Del Caro, Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education, the University of Colorado
In order to ensure the smooth completion of your dissertation, your attention to the mundane but ineluctable issue of parsing the submission and review process is critical. Unless you establish reliable practices for having your material reviewed, misunderstandings could arise and cause delays.
Once you have your committee members on
board, deliberate with your advisor to work
out a plan. Will all readers receive the
same draft at the same time? Will your advisor
first comment on a draft before you submit
it to the other readers, so that they are
viewing copy that has already been vetted?
Do the other readers have the right to recommend
major revisions? How much material will
you submit each time, to ensure that your
readers have opportunity for input? Allowing
your readers to view small segments early
on will help you to establish good writing
habits. Other related questions will arise.
With clear and reasonable ground rules, you should be able to make the rounds of your committee members in such a way that they know when to expect another draft, roughly what shape the draft will be in, and what direction your work is taking. Contrast this with the extreme case of a student who submits lengthy, quasi-finished sections, usually at the last minute, only to find that the work is rejected by her advisor and the other readers who have been kept in the dark. Or consider the possibility that you have kept only two or three of your committee members reasonably apprised, and the remaining ones decide to hold out.
In short, try to work from the outset to
avoid surprises and misunderstandings concerning
the degree of completion or refinement of
your work. Build into your writing process
a management scenario whereby
you earn the good will and constructive criticism of all your committee members. Some students expect their advisors to do virtually everything for them in this regard, but that places an unfair burden on the
advisor. Managing the dissertation process by maintaining constructive relations with your committee is a challenging task, and excellent practice for that "real world" in which not only your knowledge, but your people skills are in demand.