Committee meeting

I have to have a thesis committee meeting on Thursday.  I am being forced to do so by my department because I haven’t had one in over a year and we’re supposed to have one a year.  I had been putting off having the damn thing because in about a month I’m going to have almost all of the data I need for my thesis and at that point I’m going to have to have another damn meeting so they can give me permission to schedule my defense.  To have one right now is particularly frustrating because I have to take time away from my experiments to prepare the damn thing.  There’s the committee report, there’s the powerpoint presentation I have to put together (lest you think I’m going overboard, it’s required that we put together a presentation), there’s the damn cookies and coffee I have to get for them (technically not required, but expected).

Everybody keeps telling me it’ll be good to get my committee’s input right now.  This assumes that my committee actually gives me input which they don’t.  I have yet to have a committee meeting where someone suggested an experiment or a new way of looking at things.  Pretty much, I go in there, I show them my data, I tell them what I’m going to do, they nod and ask questions and that’s about it.  Yes, I can see how that’s going to be terribly useful to me right now. *rolls eyes*

I think the idea of having thesis committee meetings is great.  But, in practice, they just haven’t been useful to me at all.  The thing is, the faculty on your committee are pretty much going to bow to whatever it is that your advisor wants you to do.  So, for instance, when I went into my committee meeting as a 5th year student and I had exactly one piece of data that I had been working on for years and I told them it was going into a paper that I was third or fourth author on, my committee did not say, “Um, shouldn’t you be keeping that for yourself so that you have something for your own first author paper since you’re a fifth year student and all that?”*  So, I’m not really sure what the difference is between me having regular committee meetings and me just being advised by my advisor.

So, what with one thing and another, I’m pretty pissed off at having to have a committee meeting right now.  Since there’s nothing I can do about it, I should probably just quit whining, suck it up, and stop sleeping so that I can get everything accomplished before Thursday

*Yes, I argued with my advisor about putting that data into that particular paper.  I did not win.   It’s a long story.

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4 thoughts on “Committee meeting

  1. To put it bluntly, your committee sucks. A good thesis committee will suggest experiments, will help you negotiate with your advisor, and will not just bow to your advisor.

    I know this doesn’t help you when are about to finish, but early stage grad students need to know that they should expect, and if necessary demand, more.

  2. Ugh. Now see, this is my biggest fear about putting my committee together at some point in the semi-near future. (Well, my second biggest fear — the first is that they’re not helpful and jerks.)

    Good luck, though! And don’t put too much effort in, if you don’t have to.

  3. I’m sorry this comes at a bad time for you. Hopefully I can give you some perspective. I love putting together powerpoints. It helps me to organize my ideas. So don’t think of this presentation as a stupid meeting with your committee try to use the presentation as an outline for your dissertation, as a time to think about how your work all fits together. And by making this presentation now it will be easier to tweak it some for your committee meeting in a month or so, requiring less preparation then.

  4. Just had my (hopefully final) committee meeting yesterday. They’re pretty much like your committee, useless. Just nod and smile and say well done and then that they have to go, they have another appointment. Such a waste of time! But at least it keeps the powers that be happy… Hope that your meeting goes well today

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