The Revision Process, Take 1

This morning, I officially transitioned into the revision stage of writing my dissertation. Last week, Advisor and I discussed the Chapter 6 draft and she also gave me some good advice for the revision process. She suggested I read all six chapter drafts together and begin to draft a 2-3 page dissertation overview – what will become a long abstract, if you will – to start seeing what works, what doesn’t, and so forth.

Best. Advice. EVER.

I started the complete read-through on Friday afternoon and finished Saturday. I took some sparse notes as I went -nothing as major as when I read through chapters 1-5 in May, but enough to get a sense of what I thought of things. For example, I tried to focus on “What’s my argument?” and “What’s working/what’s not?” for each chapter.

The combination of that read-through and the knowledge that I needed to start revising meant that I had the dissertation on the brain more than ever this weekend. I also took my giant whiteboard and blocked out the arguments for each chapter and the relationships between them.

The outcome? By the time I took my morning walk with the dog, I found that I understood what the argument of chapter 1 really is. The original draft of chapter 1 had a so-so argument – it was decent, but not terribly interesting. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that chapter 1 is really about issues of citizenship rights and obligations, and I began to see what I need to do.

This was, of course, very exciting.

I blocked out three hours of revision time this morning and I got to work. Since the argument needed to be refocused, I had to hone in on the introduction immediately – and this is always the most nerve-wracking for me, and the area I’ll often try to put off. But today, I dove into it. The four-page intro isn’t yet perfect, but the revised argument is shaping up nicely.

More importantly, once I set that foundation I was able to move forward into the first 16 pages of the chapter during my session today. At its heart, a lot of the chapter is already pretty good – the trick now is some reframing and some possible incorporation of some additional evidence. The pieces were there, but the articulation is now getting better. Also, now that I’ve determined what’s at the heart of the chapter, I’m finding it much easier to weave those themes throughout – and more effectively (or at least, I like to think it’s more effective).

Right now, the chapter is 38 pages long. I anticipate it will be around 40, and I think that by Wednesday I’ll have an initial revision of the whole thing. This won’t include tweaking the intro or giving really strong clarification to much of the new content I anticipate, but it will be well on its way.

This, this is a great start.


2 thoughts on “The Revision Process, Take 1

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