Part 5: Protect Your Relationship With Your Committee/Major Advisor
Now that you know the basics of how to research, communicate with, and assemble your dissertation committee, your next job is to maintain this relationship until you earn that long-awaited diploma.The type of relationship that you should really strive for with your dissertation chair is one of mentorship. As three authors describe in Mentoring Through the Dissertation Process, both parties (the dissertation chair and doctoral student) must be involved and invested in the time that they give one another. For instance, dissertation chairs’ jobs are to first help grow doctoral students into academic scholars, researchers, and experts in their fields. Another important and more obvious job that dissertation chairs have is helping doctoral students complete their dissertation. Both of these duties that chairs have are processes, so remember what your committee is there for, and help them help you by being understanding and accommodating. For instance, communicate with your dissertation chair. What I mean by communicating is not complaining or talking negatively about your dissertation, or even personal life; I mean communicate with your chair and give him/her a chance to mentor you through your progress.
I found another article that will help you out, as well: Dealing With the Committee. I’ve mentioned this article before, but its contents also apply to mentorships. Fabio Rojas describes how important it is for you to send drafts to your committee in plenty of time for them to review, comment on, and return your dissertation. Rojas also advises you to constantly communicate with your dissertation chair above all others in your committee. Other tips that he provides include how not to deal with your committee and what to do when certain situations get awkward, such as critical committee members, late committee members, and conflicting advice among committee members.
I have enjoyed writing this series of blog posts about dissertation committees. I hope you now have plenty of things to think about and other things to implement in your studies as a doctoral student. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns by commenting on this blog post or previous ones.
If you want to learn more about what you can do to better communicate, engage, and involve yourself in your doctoral program and dissertation/thesis writing, take another look at our Dissertation Survival page. We are always adding more ways to encourage you, advise you, and keep you motivated. Also, keep a look out for my new blog posts each week. You can never receive enough counsel during this time in your career. Good luck to everyone!