Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Tues. Nov. 15, 2006: Book before dissertation

David doesn’t behave like the normal Ph.D. student, which is acceptable in Finland.

(by David): I had to prepare for the dissertation seminar, which is mostly a coaching session for people who haven’t done extensive research in their careers. I have to say that I’ve found this a strong point in the training at HUT. This seemed to be something that was missing in my education when I was at UBC. Last year, I was sitting in a class taught by my friend Annaleena, where she stepped the master’s students through how to do library searches (e.g. the Web of Science database). Annaleena has said that the professors at HUT may not be the most dynamic speakers, but they’re good researchers. I would add that they’re generous with their time with Ph.D. students who are apprentices. This is despite the fact that in North America, where a professor supervising five students would be considered heavy, and Stanford chaired professors aim for one — Finnish professors may supervisor as many as 25 students. They’re really overworked, so I mostly try to stay out of their way.

That being said, I’m still a Ph.D. student here, and participate in the doctoral seminar. To be up front, I haven’t done that much writing on the dissertation since I was here in the spring, but I’m not going to hide behind that. One result of aligning my dissertation research on innovation with the research relevant to my day job is that I’m now making advances on book, to be co-authored with some friends at work. Thus, it’s become an interesting pitch at the university. I’ll probably get the book done and published before I finish the dissertation, which itself will be done sometime before I finish my course work. It’s certainly everything backwards from the normal student.

In my university role, I’ve come to prepare fewer slides, and find that writing on the blackboard works well with students for whom English isn’t the first language. It slows down my talk — I really work on speaking slowly, already — but for the dissertation seminar, I put together a lot of the slides that I used at the conference in Florida in September. I created three slides up front to explain the outline and direction of the book. The whole presentation deck was 35 slides.

At the dissertation seminar, I decided to only speak to 3 slides. I’m sure everyone was happier.

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