Finishing up that @!#$@% thesis

First off, let me apologise for my lack of blogging. The fall this year has brought along a busy time for me which has included finishing writing my masters thesis, relocating to Coastal BC (Victoria) and beginning work which lays the groundwork for a PhD starting in January (so long as all goes as planned). Ok, enough with the excuses….

As is the case for many graduate students the writing stage of my MSc thesis was/is the most difficult part of my degree so far*. After struggling for many hours/days/weeks on how to get started and write, I managed to get things going by forcing myself to write a minimum of X number of words a day (300 in my case). Some days this worked well and the 300 words turned out to be coherent, quality writing. Other days it turned out that I wrote garbage which had to be re-written/severely edited later; either way, at least it was a way of getting content on the page. While this worked for me and allowed me to get drafts together in a reasonable (in my view, of course) timeframe, your mileage will undoubtedly vary with this method.

The second most challenging part of writing my thesis so far has proved to be editing, re-writing and re-submitting for feedback. The weight that was lifted off my shoulders when a draft was completed was a great feeling, however it very was very quickly replaced when a new batch of edits rolled around. The growing of a thick skin was part of the ongoing learning of how to deal with edits and critiques, and more importantly: how not to take the edits personally. My supervisor helped out a lot with this (knowingly or not) by helping to highlight positive aspects of my writing as well as the changes that needed to be made.

All jokes aside, the green pen was much less aggressive than the red….

Once my draft was in it’s final submit-to-committee form (quite literally days before moving day), I was (and still am) actually somewhat happy with the, much-improved, product. The revisions paid off!

Now as I prepare for my impending defence, I am able to reflect on what a great experience I’ve had doing my masters in the PEPL lab at the University of Regina. It’s also allowed me to get excited for my upcoming defence (I’m an optimist, OK?). Which brings me to another point…

Although the academe is often viewed (often rightly so) as an old boys club, the number of females with PhD’s that will be present during my defence is greater than the number of males in the same role. My committee has a 50/50 split and the defence chair (none other than Britt Hall, I may add) pushes that ratio to to F>M.

Why am I so glad about this, you may ask? To me it highlights the number of respected, highly qualified females doing research in the area that I do. Which, I may hasten to add, is generally dominated by males whom often have a serious I-Have-More-Testosterone-Than-You complex**. I’m sure you’ll see more more on this topic post-defence, once I find a bit more time to hash out a better written post on the subject.

Now back to fretting about my defence and dealing with a severe bout of imposter syndrome

*Note: My defence is next week (Dec 5). I may, in fact, have to update this statement after said event…
** Physical geography/Environmental science in general is perceived to be a macho area of study, often characterised by older men with grizzly beards talking about how on their fieldwork in the arctic they worked alone, crossed glacier crevasses and survived with only a knife (slight exaggeration and generalisation there of course).

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