Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The second life of the dissertation

The day I received my dissertation as a printed and published document, I considered it a final, finished entity of writing. I thought of it as a milestone, or even a giant monument in my life.

And for a few months, it felt like a finished entity indeed.

But then things changed. As I started working on my papers, I started working with the dissertation again. I started to look up in my dissertation how I precisely did certain things, and I started to look up my experimental data.

My dissertation became a tool. It is on my desk, and I use it often.

And now that I am using it often, I am aware of the flaws in my work. There are theoretical elements that I am refining. There are typing errors. There are printing errors (a few rows of the overview table of my experiments is missing, and I didn't notice that in the print proof). I came to realize that my dissertation was not the holy grail for which I took it.

I'm still very proud of my dissertation, and I still believe in the value of my work - but I'm also bothered by the mistakes I found months after publication.

I've come to understand that my dissertation marks a milestone in a learning process, in a process in which I evolved into an independent researcher, but it is not the end - not the end of my research on shear in slabs, nor the end of my writing on this topic.


  1. I agree that having your dissertation printed and binded is unforgettable. When after all the sleepless nights and lost nervous cells, you have your dissertation in yoru hands, you are happy and proud at the same time. (At least, that's what I felt). It's like seeing your own child or a part of your soul embodied in a piece of writing.

  2. Absolutely! I was so proud, I kept petting the printed books :)


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