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Do the thesis and dissertation matter more?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Ollie123, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Ollie123

    10+ Year Member

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    Random question:
    Are the thesis or dissertation more important than other research projects completed during your time in grad school? I'm talking about from an internship/post-doc/faculty recruitment position, since obviously they are necessary steps for the degree.

    Basically, I'm going to be running what is essentially a pilot study that will lead to a larger, more interesting study I will run afterwards. That larger, more interesting study may or may not serve as a dissertation depending on my interests at the time, results of the pilot study, whether or not I think I can get funding for it (since I'm determined to get a grant for my dissertation), etc.

    The pilot study would be more than substantial enough to count for a master's thesis (could actually probably fly as a dissertation too). Its just geared towards establishing a new experimental paradigm that I will later expand upon to ask more theoretically interesting questions. However, if what I officially designate as a thesis is more than just an arbitrary tag on one of many research projects, I'd obviously prefer it to be a larger, potentially higher impact study.

    Thoughts?
     
    #1 Ollie123, Jun 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
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  3. psychanon

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    No, it doesn't matter. Especially for your master's thesis, but similarly for dissertation. If you're doing a project that can be applied toward completion of your milestones, use it. If you're doing multiple projects that could be counted toward a milestone, use the one that will be finished first. You can always do extra papers, but you don't want anything to impede your progress through the program. It's what ends up on your CV that matters.
     
  4. BorntoRun

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    I think it matters more to your program than it will to internship or postdoc sites. Other research projects can fail with minimal consequence (other than a loss of funding), whereas a failed dissertation can mean no graduation. Also, most people put the title of their dissertation on their CV under degree (and therefore will be highlighted), whereas the other research projects would just go under publications. I think that's the extent of the importance.
     
  5. Cosmo75

    Cosmo75 Post-Doctoral Fellow
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    Good question. I think it depends on what comes of the research you conduct. The dissertation is a rather large project, but if your pilot study yields promising data that you are able to pursue and fund later on, then any subsequent research in that area would be significant. I personally think it's good to show continuity and interest in a certain area as much as possible.

    To have a solid track record of developing an idea, collecting some pilot data to explore its feasibility, and then launching a follow up study shows that you are able to develop your own ideas and forge a path of study. Does your dissertation have to be part of the flow? Not necessarily. Sounds like you don't want to corner yourself with one idea, which I think is a safe game plan in case things change. Do you have a lot of padding in terms of time to decide your dissertation topic and the exploration of your idea? That way you could see how things go then decide on the dissertation. I personally think that it'd look great to dovetail your dissertation into the study if it pans out, and at a minimum use it for your masters thesis.

    My dissertation was on a topic that I knew I wanted to pursue after grad school, and was an off-shoot of a seed grant I'd gotten my 2nd year. I had some training directors (at internships with a heavy research focus) comment on my dedication to my topic. They were certainly open to incorporating my research ideas into their research programs. Though getting anything done in 1 year is tricky, especially in the VA system. But it definitely got conversations going during interviews.

    My $.02
     
  6. Ollie123

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    Okay, about what I was figuring, but good to hear some agreement. I just finished my first year so there's PLENTY of time for developing ideas and a bit early to have an exact dissertation lined up. Instead we have what could potentially be a very fruitful and important research line with extraordinarily little work being done on it. Without posting my exact idea here, the gist is a new experimental paradigm that might be a vast improvement of other methods for looking at a very commonly used model, leading to a more ecologically valid test that is somewhat less clean methodologically (which is why we don't want to start with the more ecologically valid test) potentially leading to a veritable truckload of more direct clinical and public health applications (I'm also working on a separate public health-y line that should nicely intersect with this).Of course, this is all dependent on how things go with the initial study. It could fail miserably, in which case its back to square one for the dissertation, but thus is the nature of research:) Like I said, I've got plenty of time to figure out my dissertation given I'm still trying to decide which facet of this to propose as a master's. All I know is I'm determined to go for an F31 and am even willing to stay an extra year if it means I can do so, so there should be time. I just want to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot by doing what I consider a very small-scale thesis even though its necessary pilot work for a larger research program.
     
  7. Cosmo75

    Cosmo75 Post-Doctoral Fellow
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    Sounds like you have a plan for going forward. The research sounds exciting. It's always more fun when you come up with something novel.
     

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