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Andrea Zellner is a PhD student in the Ed Psych/Ed Tech Program at Michigan State University and a permanent author at GradHacker. You can follow her on twitter at @AndreaZellner.
Right now I am right smack in the middle of writing my dissertation proposal. Talk to any graduate student at this phase of the process and they will groan in recognition of the long slog it seems to be. At this point in my writing I have successfully organized my closets and my bathrooms have never been so clean. In spite of all this, I'm still managing to eke out a few pages a day and, slowly but surely, I am getting there. Upon reflection, I realize it is the hugeness of the project that often bogs me down. Which is why I was thrilled to see the news that professors at Duke have proposed making it mandatory that students include a 30-60 second video version of their dissertations. (The previous sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.) Being an avid Twitter user, I also know that shortening big ideas is almost harder than trying to write them out in full. Nevertheless, I am excited and inspired by the ways that institutions and individuals are thinking through public scholarship in a new media world. Here are some other inspiring examples of ways to re-think the dissertation:
⁃ Many of our readers are no doubt familiar with the "Dance Your Dissertation" contest. Sponsored by Science and AAAS, students are invited to explain their research through dance, the most jargon-free medium available." Here is a link to last year's finalists: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/10/dance-your-phd-finalists-announc.html
⁃ Phd Comics (how do they capture so perfectly my experiences in grad school? It's uncanny.) sponsored a contest in which they challenged students to explain their dissertations in 2-minutes or less. The grand prize winner had the thesis/dissertation animated by Phd comics. Worth a look for the inspiration alone.: http://www.phdcomics.com/tv/2.minute.thesis.php
⁃ Sometimes, it isn't an organization or institution at all who inspires the creativity, but intrepid graduate students themselves are the visionaries. I'm completely fascinated with watching Nick Sousanis work through his dissertation: he is completing it in comics form. His art work is incredible and he has been freely posting his progress on his blog. http://www.spinweaveandcut.blogspot.com/search/label/dissertation
Have you created a video of your dissertation or thesis? How has your institution or department approached public scholarship? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
[Image by Flickr user Mag3737 and used under a creative commons license]