Dan Drezner on the dissertation prospectus

Those of you in the department know that a whole bunch of people, myself included, turned in and defended their dissertation prospectuses in the last two months.  It turns out the same is true at Tufts, which led Dan Drezner to write this blog post about the standard pitfalls of a prospectus.  A choice quote:

“It’s painful for the readers because it’s the academic equivalent of teenage poetry — there’s a lot of strong feelings and beliefs surging through the text in a thoroughly out-of-control and ungainly manner”

My prospectus certainly suffered from many defects, probably the biggest being that I described my independent variable (regional defense-of-democracy regimes) as the cure for nearly all major social evils in the world.  You would be surprised how, when you get to writing, enthusiasm for your subject matter can overwhelm your better judgment.  Perhaps part of being a professional academic writer is learning to hedge your bets, and maybe not being so optimistic in the first place.(?)


About Jake Wobig

I teach international relations and comparative politics at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina
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