A Dissertation Story

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Postby Rei » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:05 pm

Wow! That's awesome! Congratulations!
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私は。。。誰?

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Postby starlooker » Wed May 14, 2008 9:46 pm

Belated thanks for the congrats, ya'll!

The congrats that i got for the fellowship I got "by the skin of my teeth" according to my advisor today, during our eval. Apparently the dean was in a good mood that day.

I really hated this eval. For a supposedly strengths-based psychologist-advisor in a supposedly strengths-based program, really, the strengths only get used to accentuate the negatives. My favorite line of the day, "Your writing has been consistently excellent, but you already know that writing is your strength, so let's move on..."

It's like, "Cindy? This is the last time that we get to do this so could you spend just a little more time with that one?"

I don't know why I can't move past this last fall's conflict. I really don't.

I don't know why they can't, either. Not that it really matters.

I don't know. I'd just like to feel like someone from this damn department is going to be proud to say that I come from this University, and that they're hopeful and reasonably confident sending me out into the world. You know?

Anyways, that's not really why I'm bumping this thread. At long last, I've started to settle into the grind that is, in fact, my dissertation. And no one I can brag to about it, sadly. So, get ready for much more posting in this thread.

Accomplishments: 1. Created a timeline, and discussed with my advisor.
2. Finished making the survey form.
3. Reopened and looked at previous progress on IRB.
4. Recruited potential raters/coders.
5. Helped someone else with her dissertation.

Anyways, here's the longish-term goals:

By next Monday, have all niggling little questions emailed to Cindy as well as a (hopefully) final draft of the IRB form.

End of May:
Have both dissertation and pilot study IRB forms submitted.
Contact places with potential for recruitment.
Create rating rubric and training manual.
Set up all scales to be used and begin gathering data from all available sources.

June:
Refresh self in Multivariate Statistics.
Do analysis of pilot-question data. Learn to use AMOS for structural equation modeling, including playing with sample data files.
Revamp first two chapters of the dissertation.
Depending on how data collection goes, begin initial analyses.
Revise and submit thesis for publication.

July:
Continue June's goals.
If data collection goes REALLY well, begin final analyses and start writing results.

So, by the time I move to Wichita, I'll have my first two chapters in their (near) final format, all rating will be done and all data collected, I'll have begun analysis, and my thesis will be out floating around in some editor's office.

Yeah, this should keep me busy.
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into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby starlooker » Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 pm

GRAR!!!!!!!!! STUPID LICENSING BOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. So. Anyways. Back to the whole dissertation thing.
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Postby Syphon the Sun » Mon May 19, 2008 5:18 pm

So, I haven't been around Pweb the past few weeks (I've been uber-busy, what with graduation, the wedding, moving, all that jazz), but I defended my senior thesis (yes, the one that was largely rewritten the day it was due because the finished version was destroyed and/or deleted) for Departmental Honors last month and it went well. I was awarded Honors, anyway, so that's what counts. Apparently History Departments like interesting theses and declaring that the founding fathers were a bunch of traitors (twice over, even) who had no regard for the supreme laws of the nation (even those that they helped produce) is an interesting view. So, yay me.

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Tue May 20, 2008 6:21 am

I think the Loyalists who had their goods and property seized and got expelled to Canada would agree with you. "No taxation without representation" my foot.
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Postby starlooker » Wed May 21, 2008 2:33 pm

Today's bit of comedy:

Talked with my advisor about niggling little questions I had left regarding my survey/pilot/questionnaire. Figured out solutions to all problems. She read and returned my IRB forms to me with minor comments (the forms I've been going crazy about for some months now). Done. I make the changes, print the forms, and right as I'm walking towards her door --

Another student goes in and shuts it. I take a last despairing look at her, holding my forms, actually and truly ready to be signed.

The secretary laughs at me. I holler, "Please?" Student opens door, and advisor signs off on forms.

"That was a classic bit of timing," she says, "That was really funny."

And it was. Since she signed them. But at the moment, it was really a sense of comic despair.

Anyways, so my IRB forms are ready as soon as I finalize my question list and make the changes I want to my Internet questionnaire. Which will take approximately forever. Not difficult, just tedious. But I'll have these turned in by tomorrow. YAY!

Moving forward!

Edit to add: Oh, THANK GOD. My advisor can come with me to the full-board IRB meeting.

Whew. Words cannot express my gratitude for this piece of scheduling manna.
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Postby starlooker » Thu May 29, 2008 2:27 pm

Last night we had our farewell party (despite the fact that a few of us don't leave for a couple of months. It was the only day we could all make it.)

So very, very much fun! The three professors I care about were there, and students I like from the department. We played a department specific "Family Feud" style game. It was very funny and I enjoyed it a lot. (Favorite part: "Top Five things the new interns will buy in the next three months" My response: "A piano!" Surprisingly, that wasn't on the list :) Although, Eventually, she decided to accept that as "furniture.")

I also got a note from my advisor that was sweet and acknowledging of tough times this past year and optimistic about the future. So, it was a very nice send-off and celebration.

At the end, five of us decided to go out and get smashed at local bars. And we did. Way, way, way fun. Though still feeling it today. I think the best part was drunk dialing our professors' and department secretaries' office phones and leaving noisy happy drunken messages. Hehehehe.

My message to the secretary, "We love you lots and none of us would've gotten through without you and you're the best person in this whole damn department and I hope you win a lot of money gambling this week!"
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Postby starlooker » Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:17 pm

So.

Alrighty, the IRB proposal for my study has been my big hold up. (IRB = Institutional Review Board, for those of you who don't do research involving human subjects. Their job is to make sure that any research that is conducted at the university protects the rights of participants and won't cause them undue harm.) I'm trying to get information over the Internet from minors without parental consent about a rather sensitive topic. This has a few strikes against it from the perspective of an IRB. Studies involving minors, actually, automatically go to full-board review, which means I have to go to the IRB meeting and present my reasons that my proposed research should go forward as planned.

This has scared me and some of the attendant anxiety has caused the delays. Also, on my dissertation committee sits someone who was the IRB chair this past year. She gave me a pile of recommendations for submitting my proposal (lengthy overview, precedent, build in benefits to participants, etc.) that took a long time to put into the damn thing.

So, it's finally submitted. I'm expecting to hear that I'm on the agenda and have to go before the board. Instead I get an email from someone who says she's my reviewer, that she's signing off on both proposals, and by the way, nursing has hired a statistical consultant for my procedure and I could talk to him if I wanted.

What?

She's signing off on them without full-board review?

So, I emailed it to my advisor, certain that I was misinterpreting it. No, but she says not to hold my breath -- someone will probably catch it before it actually gets approved. If I don't hear back by today, call the office.

So I called the secretary and asked about their status. She says they're approved and she'll have my number tomorrow if I want to stop by and pick it up.

Eh?

Yay! Happiness!

So, then I go to deliver the good news to my advisor. Who put a quick damper on it, because she'd talked to my former chair committee member, who was really surprised, and said the reviewer hadn't been careful enough. But whose responsibility is that? asks professor. "IRB's, but from the perspective of an adverse reaction..." and so the upshot of this is that I have no idea if I'm going to have to go before the full board at 3:00 or not.

ARG. I'll let you know.

[Edit] It is now 2:35 and I still have no idea.

[Edit] YAY! I don't have to go! Woohoo.

I found this out at 3:05. However, that's okay.

Although, I am concerned about the IRB's interpretation of... eh, screw it. This means I can go forward with the dissertation!
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Postby zeroguy » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:34 pm

I'm trying to get information over the Internet from minors without parental consent about a rather sensitive topic.
Uninformed random question: don't you need some way of verifying that they're over 13 or something? Or lacking that, a way that you pretend to verify that?

(Snark directed at the ridiculous mechanisms I've seen over the years, not at you.)
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dgf hhw

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Postby starlooker » Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:19 am

Why, as a matter of fact, I do. Heck, if I weren't collecting data from minors, I'd have to pretend to verify that they're over the age of 18. (Pretending is basically having them click a statement saying I promise I am over the specified age.)

This is one of the objections one might expect from a full-board review, had such a review occurred.

On the one hand I'm relieved. On the other hand, I'm concerned about the state of research ethics at my university.

Relief wins for the moment, however.
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Postby starlooker » Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:00 pm

*dusts off thread*

Hello all.

Well, I've been stalling on the dissertation since moving. However, my supervisor is constantly prodding me to get to work. So, I have officially begun collecting data (although, I will need to do a lot more collecting). However, I have about 65 participants, give or take, which is good for just one site. Woohoo! Also, it is enough to run reliability analyses on all my scales to make sure that they are performing as expected. So, this afternoon, since I did not have any clients, I actually created my SPSS database and ran reliability analyses on all the scales I'm using. And they are ALL performing as expected. I have one underperforming a bit, but not by much. I'm hoping additional participants will bring it up to scratch.

I have, at long last, been productive. It feels REALLY good.

At long last, I can quit lying to my supervisor about my progress. *blush*
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Postby starlooker » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:57 am

Another spate of productivity, another collector open on my account at surveymonkey, yay!

If productivity and progress feel so good, why do I not try to achieve them more consistently? Why, I ask you, why?

I need to reread my old supervisor's book on "Following Through." And then set me up a behavioral plan to use it.
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Postby starlooker » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:39 pm

Damnit.

I did not meet my personal goal of sending the first two chapters to my advisor by 2/28. Therefore, until she receives them, I will be listening to Christian talk radio in my car everytime I drive somewhere.

My own stupid fault. Grr.

Hopefully motivational, though.
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Postby starlooker » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:54 pm

It wasn't motivational.

I eventually quit doing it.

I think I have figured some things out though.

Background:

My supervisor is getting on me a lot to "help me be accountable" due to my dissertation, report writing at work, and job hunting. And the EPPP that I have to take. It's all coming up very, very quickly and we're both getting nervous about it all. And, of course, I've been procrastinating in my usual style. So, whenever she asks, I stretch the truth, deny problems while probably making them sound larger than they are, or just have to admit I'm not doing anything.

And it's the same miserable trap I always fall into and curse myself for letting myself get taken in again by it. I hate this aspect of myself. I've been dreading supervision sessions now for awhile. I'm going to take a wild guess that my dread has probably coincided with the sharp upturn in my being late. Which, naturally, doesn't help her impression of me. Or mine of myself.

And I've been so, so, so depressed lately. I leave and my sense of being frantic is increased about tenfold. But does it help me actually DO any of it? No.

So, here's the deal. It's NOT just an organizational/ADHD sort of issue. It's more than that. There's a weird emotional component, too. I've been struggling with procrastination LITERALLY since I can remember. Basically, anything remotely boring I would whine about and put off and try to get out of. It was always a power struggle. Schoolwork? Constantly last minute. And, damnit, there was something rewarding about this for me. There still is. There is something rewarding about getting out of a miserable, boring obligation. And so, in supervision sessions, I've basically recreated this damn dynamic again, where I'm this kid trying to get out of chores. Fact is, telling her that I've finished something or crossing something off of my to do list will never be as rewarding as the thrill of feeling I'm getting out of something.

In my head, always when I get into trouble, my mother's voice. "Kirsten Louise. If you had done it the first time, like I asked you, you wouldn't have this problem, now would you?"

True.

But not motivational. Just irritating.

This really has been hell on my self-esteem.

And so, report writing and dissertation have, due to the fun "accountability" process, turned into chores to get out of.

But they aren't.

It's my fault, partly, for ignoring all the evidence. What does everyone tell you about getting things done? Set small goals! Have someone to be accountable to!

And, apparently, part of me believes that someday, somehow that's going to work for me. That it should work. That, if I were the person I want to be, it would worked.

Ignoring the fact that has never, ever, ever once worked for me. Ever. Ever.

And I'm at my worst interpersonally when I'm avoiding. I'm panicky and afraid and I lie and I make excuses and I get nervous and I don't talk and I don't particularly like myself.

When am I at my best interpersonally? When I'm enthusiastic about something. When I care about something. When I'm talking about something interesting. When I'm teaching something or pondering something or figuring something out.

As long as we approach reports and dissertation like a chore, I'll forever be battling to get out of it.

But they aren't, damnit! They are not chores. I chose the topic because I like it, because it's fascinating, and I like statistics. I LIKE assessment. I like solving diagnostic mysteries and feeling I'm helping someone and having people praise my writing. I want to embrace these things, not keep trying to get out of them.

So my new idea for supervision is this: Instead of asking me how much I've accomplished, help me talk about what I'm doing. Have me explain the model I'm testing. Ask me about articles I find interesting or disagree with or whatever. Help me remember why I want to do this. Because I've accomplished some amazing feats of organizational and written work -- as long as I cared about what I was doing.

My goal is to look forward to working on my dissertation and writing my reports the same way I look forward to watching Bones.

And I think that this will help rebuild the self-esteem and self-respect so that I start job-hunting instead of avoiding it because I think I'm a horrible intern who no one in their right mind would recommend who will someday make a horrible psychologist.

None of which I really believe. Just lately.
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Postby starlooker » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:56 pm

*BUMP*

Alright. Taking the week off to focus and try to get the bulk of this done and shipped off to my advisor. Who de-motivated the process by not getting me back Chapter 1 which I sent her literally months ago. Finally got that back today -- most of the comments were, basically, "Maybe that should go in Chapter 2. I'll know when I see Chapter 2."

Anyhow, I finished the bulk of the methods section and sent that off to her. The data is as squeaky clean as it's going to get. Reverse scored, transformed, and means-replaced. Preliminary analyses have been run, if not written up.

There's nothing to do but actually analyze it.

Damn.

And that's where I'm getting stuck today. I'm scared. Multivariate stats is apparently something that exists in a "use it or lose it" space of the brain. I mean, I'm excited. I keep running these stupid little preliminary analyses just to see how everything connects using univariate stats. But I'm nervous about doing anything more complicated than that. Not sure exactly where to start.

Also, bad news for me: APA Publication Manual apparently came out in its sixth version last summer. Since I'm no longer in an academic environment, no one mentioned this to me. If I have to go back and edit my eighty pages of introduction and lit review -- not to mention the huge, giant reference section -- I'm going to be very, very upset. (Trying not to think about how if I'd done this last summer, I would not have this problem.) The argument a friend of mine in a similar boat is using: We're not actually writing it in APA style, anyways. We're writing it in a style specified by the graduate school.

I cannot see them refusing to sign off on it because my reference list is incorrectly indented.

Obviously, if I try to publish this, I will have to learn the updated style. But, can't that be something that happens then, and this be something that happens now?

My heavens. I got to my undergrad just when the 4th edition was getting updated. If I learn the 6th edition, I'll have been a student with a career spanning three editions of the publication manual. I'm annoyed. I liked the fifth edition. It was a huge, vast, giant improvement over the fourth. Somehow I doubt the sixth is going to be a vast improvement over the fifth. APA works kind of like Windows versions. The fourth edition was Windows ME, the fifth edition was Windows XP, and that means the sixth is going to be Vista. (Actually, apparently the first printing was ridiculously riddled with errors.)

Alright. I need to focus. My goal is to have my model figured out and at least have set it up in Amos by the time I go to bed (even if I can't get it to run). And to have a couple of paragraphs of results written up about the preliminary analyses. And to have a couple of loads of laundry done.

I miss qualitative research. I never thought I'd say that.
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Postby starlooker » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:03 am

Dear Dissertation Diary,

ARGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

This is what I get for jumping in and trying to do the analysis.

NOTHING. WORKS.

NOTHING.

My model is, in the main, utterly WORTHLESS.

s***!!!!!!!

I keep thinking about when Charlie Brown pulls his candy heart from the Valentine's day bowl of candy and it says, "Forget it, Kid."

It was a fool's errand to begin with.

*headdesk*
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Postby Jayelle » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:27 am

*hugs* Sorry it's going so crappy, Kirsten.
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Postby starlooker » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:09 am

Thanks, Jan. I appreciate it.

I am somewhat amused and cheered by this note from the help section of amos on testing the Independence Model:
Several fit measures encourage you to reflect on the fact that, no matter how badly your model fits, things could always be worse.

Bentler and Bonett (1980) and Tucker and Lewis (1973) suggested fitting the independence model or some other very badly fitting "baseline" model as an exercise to see how large the discrepancy function becomes. The object of the exercise is to put the fit of your own model(s) into some perspective. If none of your models fit very well, it may cheer you up to see a really bad model.
Apparently, I am not the only one who has had this problem, if a basic part of the analysis includes fitting a, "You think YOUR model is bad? Look what we came up with!" model.

ETA: Also, I am having fun making up a poem that incorporates the rhyme of "analysis" with "paralysis."

Things could definitely be worse.

Also, there are oreos in the apartment hidden somewhere, should I get really down about this.
There's another home somewhere,
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There's another life out there...

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Postby Gravity Defier » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:20 pm

Do we get to hear the poem? I seem to remember you writing a pretty good one about Rahl once upon a time.

Seriously, though, sorry this isn't going so well.
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Postby Oliver Dale » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:14 pm

You are scaring the piss out of me. This is like me in three years....

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Postby jotabe » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:47 am

I am going to tell you what prof. Goodenough (no, the name is not made up :D check him up in the wiki) told us: "Believe in your results" :wink:
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Postby starlooker » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:25 am

This has been quite the rollercoaster.

First, I was very unhappy. See above.

Then, yesterday, due to factor analysis, pruning, and reshaping, I had a model that seemed to work, and if it did not entirely support my hypotheses, it at least did not dispute them. I was satisfied, happy, confident, felt good going forward. Almost wrote a happy post about it, but needed to go to bed.

This morning, I realized in the clear light of morning that I might be wrong, due to a mislabeling of a variable on my part. And so, I went and looked at the model from yesterday and realized that I have now created a model that more or less disproves my original hypothesis.

*facedesk*

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Postby starlooker » Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:01 pm

I'm on a good happy part of my rollercoaster, so I figure I should write a post so that people know it's not all horrible.

I had a brilliant idea last night while I was reading about the positives and negatives of various fit indexes. However, I was too exhausted to put it into practice. But it was brilliant. Unorthodox, and will probably cause publishers to raise their eyebrows, but I had a rationale. It made way more sense as a way of incorporating this variable than the other approaches I had tried (e.g., jerry-rigging a latent variable with another variable that did not really load, using it simply as an observed variable).

This morning. Woke up and took a shower. (I did not shower yesterday and was worried if I didn't take care of that immediately, I might not get around to it today. Also, the two loads of laundry I mentioned needing to do several days ago are still strewn about my room.) Then, from the shower, immediately to the computer. Put it in, crossed my fingers, constrained some error variance, and told Amos to calculate.

And calculate it did. And what it told me was that I had multiple Index of Fit measures that were actually, truly in the acceptable range. Not me having to beg or cajole or find some obscure article that justifies saying that it should be close enough to acceptable to count. IN.

Emailed it to my chair. (Who had emailed me her ideas for alternative models. Which did not work at all.)

Long, long, long phone conversation with my chair. Long. But productive. She's liking the new model. Came up with a couple of others to check out, but nothing interesting or upsetting.

Also came up with two other sets of analyses I need to do (relatively simple, though intimidating.) Which is on the one hand more to write, but on the other hand will help me address some of the hypotheses I couldn't address through SEM. So, I have to pull out my old multivariate notes and textbook. Woo.

So, I'm supposed to power through that analysis, write up as much as I can today and send her whatever I have tomorrow night, and then write for an hour a day for the next week or two.

Results section will look something like this (basically, my new To-Do list):

Preliminary Analyses

Discriminant Function Analysis of Pre and Post variables.

GLM of group type and variables of interest.

Discussion of Measurement Model, explanation for why I collapsed two variables and removed a few measures.

Model 1: My hypothesized model including the measure other authors used that just did not work. Demonstrate why I had to take it out. (Actually, I wonder if I might be able to do this just when I'm talking about the measurement models without actually having to SHOW the model? *pauses in writing to email Chair about that*)

Model 2: With a proposed variable that worked in the measurement model, but added absolutely nothing to the structural model. Which is very, very strange.

Model 3: Without that variable. My happy functioning model.

Follow up stats demonstrating that this variable doesn't correlate with anything you would expect.

Discussion: What all that means. Implications. Limitations.

Anyhow, yay. It functions. It works. I am not going to have to make radical changes to the lit review or anything else.

Just. Need. To. Write.

*yawn*

Possibly I will nap first. I can kind of feel myself returning to the land of the living. I have to go to work Monday. I need to do whatever I can this weekend, but, man. I'm tired.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby jotabe » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:55 pm

Congrats! :D it's great when you get things to start coming together.
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Postby starlooker » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:26 pm

Thanks!

I appreciate everyone putting up with my dissertation-blog-esque thread.

ANYHOW, I HAVE NEWS!!!

Okay, today seemed like it was basically going to be a bust. I could not get started with writing. None of the discriminant analyses were working at all. The variable is reliable and worthless. Pity. Wish I'd measured it differently. C'est la vie. Also, my count variables have been very, very difficult to figure out. I mean, VERY difficult. And annoying. And I just didn't want to start writing. And I got to reading a technical article about how to do SEM and was noticing several ways I had gone wrong.

Well, my chair did not go for my idea about just writing about the problems with the Real Me variable in the measurement model. So, I asked if maybe I should show the original model in which I had two variables separated which I later combined (due to factor analysis similarities and the fact that I was trying to find SOME way of reducing parameters. I hadn't figured out that I should just dump the useless variable at that point).

So, anyhow, I was working on creating a new, streamlined version of my original model when it dawned on me that I hadn't ever run the original model since I'd made the really, really positive changes (dumping useless measure, useless variable, introducing a mediator). I mean, the only reason I'd collapsed the two to begin with was to try to get a better fit by reducing number of variables (and that they had similar FA loadings. Although, that was when I was using the wrong extraction method for FA. ARGH.)

SO. I wasn't expecting much to come of it, but figured that it was something I should address. And so, I did.

And it worked.

I mean, really.

Okay, remember before when I said that the fit measures were really, truly working, not just fake working? Well, that was true. Except that the chi-square was significant. That is not a good thing in this situation. However, my adivisor and another department professor laughed when I brought this up, because, "Chi-square is always significant."

It wasn't significant.

Chi-square is not significant. My original model, with a couple of tweaks.

Okay, granted, it's close. Significance means that p <.05. In my case, p = .052. All the same. It counts. Significance is a black and white sort of thing, theoretically.

So, I'm waiting to hear back from my advisor. The one downside to this model is that I now have three latent variables with less than three observed variables. That's bad. Especially since one of them only has one (however, that one would be true no matter what I did.)

Yes. I hope she agrees that this one is better.

Oh my gosh. The chi-square is NOT SIGNIFICANT.

Okay. I'm out of time, is the bad thing. Have to go to work in the morning. And I have no writing done.

But I will. I will. I've regained some motivation tonight. So, I'll just work whenever I have a few minutes. It will be okay. Because MY MODEL WORKS. IT REALLY, REALLY WORKS!

Hell, it might even be publishable.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:59 pm

WOOHOO!

For your success, my love, I am going to take you to a monster truck rally!

VRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
"Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul." -- Pope John XXIII

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Postby starlooker » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:00 am

Thanks!

rrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRumble!

VVVRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!

SCREEEE!!!!!!! CRASHSMASHCRASH!!!!!!!!

Wheeee!!!!
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby starlooker » Wed May 26, 2010 3:44 pm

*BUMP*

So, long time no post.

Alright, HAVING a model that worked was one thing. Writing about it was totally another.

Everyone I know who's done a dissertation recently has had some kind of mental block that was impossible to get over. One friend could not manage to update her lit review to save her life. I have another friend who just could not bring herself to write the discussion.

For me, it was the results. Writing the results up seemed nigh unto impossible. Mainly because I still felt like I only had a fuzzy grasp of what I had done.

So, it got put off. A lot.

Also, things at work got very, very intense and busy and, well... this just fell off the radar. I spent one very long week thinking of nothing else but dissertation, and I think my brain was absolutely refusing to consider doing something that intense when I also was working some very intense hours/situations.

Problem with this is that my advisor is not going to be around for reading for the summer. So, she tried very hard to give me fake deadlines to write to. Trouble is, I only ever actually hear the final one. Fake deadlines do nothing for me.

So, finally, this weekend, something snapped. Part of it was probably that I had a good friend defend, and I was tired of being left behind while other folks finished. Partly, I think my sense of urgency finally kicked in. Partly, I think the backrooms of my mind finally had come up with an approach strateghy. Stayed up till 4AM Monday morning with everything -- including tables and figures -- just about done. Called my advisor at noon on Monday. She told me she can't make any promises, but she knows I'm a good writer, so knock out the methods and send chapters 1-4. Stayed up till 2:AM Tuesday night. Got most of the damn thing knocked out. Methods, results, and old lit review with some comments to make it look like I was planning on updating it.

Stayed home sick from work yesterday and today. Here's the deal, though, I honest to God could not have responsibly gone to work on Tuesday in that kind of sleep deprived state. And then I really DID get sick. And, so, basically, I was burned out until just a couple of hours ago. I mean, I tried to work on it and would just get confused and irritated OR I would all of a sudden decide that there was ANOTHER analysis I needed to run or table to add. Was doing that a bunch today, as well.

The problem is, I get stuck on the little things. I know she doesn't really care how my table is formatted. But I can't stop until it's in somewhat decent shape.

Then this afternoon. Suddenly, I knew how to approach the discussion section. And, despite my brain's insistance on running a few multiple regressions in the midst of things, I knocked out nine pages. It's not stellar, to be sure, but it covers the major points.

Sent that to her.

Have not heard back on my chapters 1-4.

Praying, praying, praying to God that she lets me set a defense this summer. I have a LOT of editing I need to do prior to said defense, but editing and embellishing is easier than the first round of writing. And, honestly, I think I'm about as done as I am going to be be with the results. Edits will mainly be lit review/discussion. And stupid picky stylistic stuff. Which is really not hard for me.

My advisor has my dissertation!

I don't know quite what to do with myself now. Shower, I think, would probably be good. And I need to go to the bank. And get ready to drive tomorrow.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby starlooker » Thu May 27, 2010 7:59 am

I think I'm fighting a losing battle to keep my immune system from going crash! BOOM!

This is what happens traditionally after I get through some big stress. The only thing I have right now keeping me from getting a raging cold/flu/other infection is that I can't miss work. So if I can stay nice and stressed out about that, I should be okay. Trouble is, I'm going to see my parents today. Driving. Seeing family and people I love. Sudden lack-of-stress is likely to cause a big, big crash. It's happened before.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
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There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:30 pm

How are you feeling these days? I hope things are okay. i know that post-stress crash - amazing how it just knocks you flat.

Anyway, I was wondering if you ever have trouble re-reading stuff you've already written? Self-editing is my weakest non-strength, and I'm fighting it now. I get maybe half a page and then I have to take a break.

P.S. How the heck is one supposed to tell whether something is publish-worthy or not?
"Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul." -- Pope John XXIII

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Postby starlooker » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:38 pm

I'm feeling better, thanks. The immune system crash, fortunately, didn't get too far off the ground. And, I have the word for certain that I can do this in July (if I can get the edits back to my advisor pretty quick, and get the committee together). And my results actually only needed marginal editing, thanks be.

I will not read things I've written after they've actually been submitted in the final form for several years; however, ordinarily, I'm actually a bit better at editing than original writing. I like the process. But I think I avoid it sometimes because my brain is trying to protect me from getting obsessive and crazy. (The fact that my mother actually is an editor/proofer and pursued a career in that direction for much of my upbringing may have something to do with this.) But once it's submitted -- ACK. Can't touch it. Cannot look back. Because I will find errors. Not until a few years and a good dose of perspective later. At which point I'm able to go, "Damn. That's good." (Actually, I've been avoiding my lit review like the plague and then read it and was like, "Crap, I'm supposed to make the rest of it look like this?)

How do you know something's publish-worthy? Apparently, if it gets published, dear :) Seriously, an article in school I worked on got rejected multiple times, the first author decided to give up, and a year later I got a surprise email saying she kept submitting it and it was in the November edition of the Archives of Suicide Research. You never know. You get it back, they criticize, you decide whether or not to change it and send it out somewhere else. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
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There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:56 pm

How do you know something's publish-worthy? Apparently, if it gets published, dear :) Seriously, an article in school I worked on got rejected multiple times, the first author decided to give up, and a year later I got a surprise email saying she kept submitting it and it was in the November edition of the Archives of Suicide Research. You never know. You get it back, they criticize, you decide whether or not to change it and send it out somewhere else. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But how do you even know if it's worth submitting? I'm so insecure, ha.
"Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul." -- Pope John XXIII

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Postby starlooker » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:49 am

How do you know something's publish-worthy? Apparently, if it gets published, dear :) Seriously, an article in school I worked on got rejected multiple times, the first author decided to give up, and a year later I got a surprise email saying she kept submitting it and it was in the November edition of the Archives of Suicide Research. You never know. You get it back, they criticize, you decide whether or not to change it and send it out somewhere else. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But how do you even know if it's worth submitting? I'm so insecure, ha.
Dude. It doesn't matter what it is. Of COURSE it's worth submitting. Because then it might get published. Or, even if it doesn't get published, it comes back with lots of valuable remarks explaining why they don't want to publish it, so that you can decide whether or not to keep submitting it. And, even if you decide that particular article is not worth submitting again, you've actually learned from the editors themselves what they are looking for, which will help you decide next time you're planning a project how to make it submission-worthy.

(Also, I think most things are publishable SOMEWHERE, even if it's not a top tier journal. But submit there first. Actually, submit to a top-tier journal that you don't think will publish it first, so that they will give you advice on how to gussy it up that you can use before you submit it to the top journal that you actually DO want to publish it. That was the advice I got for my thesis, anyhow.)

Of course, my experience is psychology and I'm not sure how it translates to your field, but I think that's probably good general advice. My graduate program spent a lot of time instilling the fact of rejection in us so that we wouldn't be scared, but just accept it as a step in the course of getting a publication. Step one, write, step two, submit, step three, get rejected, step four, look at the comments they make and decide whether or not to make changes based on those before resubmitting, step five, resubmit, step six, get rejected, etc., etc., etc. Until someone accepts.

(You might get accepted first try, of course. But that is like saying you might win the lottery, or, more realistically, you might land the job of your dreams where you remain for the rest of your life with just one interview after college. Could happen, shoot for it, but don't base all your expectations on that eventuality.)
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby starlooker » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:52 pm

Okay, the deadlines kept making these whooshing noises as they flew by today. Which is not to say that I was not extremely productive. Everything is done but the discussion rewrite. Everything. And I've even got outlined in my head how that should go. Much better than the crappy draft I started with. No more XXXs filling in for places I know I need to cite something. It's not perfect, but good enough once I finish the damn discussion. Which I intend to do at 6:00 AM tomorrow, give or take, following some sleep. It's 98 pages now, I'm sure it'll be 100 tomorrow (without references or appendices).
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter

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Postby starlooker » Tue Sep 07, 2010 12:49 pm

My fiance wins big, big hero points.

Oh my gosh. Nightmare scenario today.

I was chugging along on the discussion, moving and grooving, fingers bopping all over the keyboard when, for some reason, I had to scroll up and look at something. And I saw it. A comment in the margin I was sure I had deleted. And then I saw and XXX I had replaced. And then I knew.

I had accidentally saved the draft I was working on yesterday to the computer instead of the jump drive. At least, that was my HOPE of what had happened after I ascertained that it was nowhere on the jump drive to be found.

*panic*

Call D. 20 minutes till a client shows (that I could be working). He doesn't answer. Try texting, phone doesn't work. Send him an email with EXTREMELY explicit instructions on how to locate, attach, and email me the file. (I only taught him to attach documents to emails a couple of weeks ago. He's not exactly the most computer-literate person I know.) He calls right when my client shows, I give him my password and bid adieu.

Finish the session and voila! In my inbox, there it is, my baby.

Obviously, saved it again with a totally different and identifiable name. Whew.

~~~~

In other news, can I beg someone to let me email you my beautiful figures and tables? Methods and results sections? I am rather in major need of someone going, "Damn, that's a lot of work." PM me.
There's another home somewhere,
There's another glimpse of sky...
There's another way to lean
into the wind, unafraid.
There's another life out there...

~~Mary Chapin Carpenter


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