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One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with during the doctoral program is accepting the real and sometimes-harsh value of the the peer review process. That process requires the author to openly subject himself or herself to the critiques of peers, hopefully before publication and widespread embarrassment.
On the other side, being a peer reviewer requires that you be place real or potential personal friendships and professional relationships aside to be able to say things you might never want to say face to face. For example, gems such as
‘you just didn’t get it regarding…’; or
‘the new area of research has been well covered in the existing literature, and I don’t see anything new in the paper…’; or
‘when referring the a government agency using the ‘p’ word, make sure you include in it the middle ‘l’.
I’ve come to learn and respect the value of the peer review process, which might be boiled down to the following: It’s better to have trusted friends and peers pick your work apart rather than strangers who care not one wit about you or your research.
Authors and peer reviewers should have the same guiding goal in mind: Intellectual integrity is what we strive for in our work. Identifying gaps in our own work, and gaps in work we are asked to peer review is not a failure, but an opportunity to better achieve the greater goal and good.
(Updated April 5, 2016: Take a peek at this page if you think you know the results I will publish in my thesis regarding my research. That will make one of us.)
On Friday, July 10, 2015 I successfully defended my thesis proposal at Northeastern University. My thesis proposal is titled, “Cell Phone Sites and Single Family Home Prices in Calabasas, California: Perceptions and Percentages.”
Here is a summary of my proposed and approved research:
In the proposed research, I have two principal aims. My first aim is to assess whether single family home prices, reflected in public arms-length buy-sell transactions in the studied city, are impacted positively or negatively, or not at all impacted, after the installation of a cell site near single family homes. By studying single family home sales price data, I will have a quantitative basis that will disclose whether a statistically significant sale price change may be observed and attributed to the installation of a nearby cell site. The second aim of this proposed study is to learn why cell site project opponents actively resist installations in and adjacent to single family residential areas. By approaching the question of cell site impacts on single family home prices both quantitatively and qualitatively, this project will test whether public perceptions are in line with changes, if any, in nearby single family home prices.
By successfully defending my thesis proposal, I have been promoted from doctoral student to doctoral candidate. Life is good.
As a doctoral student conducting research, I will work under the supervision of a faculty member at Northeastern University who possesses a relevant doctorate and experience.
Normally, doctoral candidate supervisors–sometimes called principal investigators– are selected by the one of the program chairs. I, of course, have to be different. I want to control my own fate, at least to the extent possible in academia.
Given the nature of my proposed project, which will be heavy on stats and math, plus interview and survey techniques, I have approached a professor at NEU who has all of the requisite credentials to serve as my PI/supervisor. I already know him from the first year of doctoral program, and also know of his very supportive supervision style from a previous Cohort member (now a LP.D) who had the same supervisor a few years ago.
The professor has agreed to supervise me, subject to confirmation by the program chair. I put in that request yesterday. We’ll see if I get my first (and only) choice for my supervisor.
I’m still working on securing my required second reader, but I have a couple of strong candidates identified. I’ll reach out right after the holiday weekend.
[Updated 7/14/15] I now have a Principal Investigator and second reader assigned to me. The PI is not the person I suggested to the thesis chair, but he is someone of great intellectual and academic strength experienced with hedonic price modeling. My second reader is exactly the person I hoped would guide me. He’s a Ph.D and attorney, and his humor matches mine for dryness.
I’m on a long road, but I’ve reached the half-way point. I turned in my thesis proposal tonight. It was a struggle to keep to the page limit while still expressing the necessary elements, but I think I’ve accomplished my task.
I’ll hear back from the thesis supervisor in the next week or two.
A year ago 25 people came together as the initial members of Cohort VIII in the DLP program. A year later we’re down to 16 members. A group dropped out right after the program began, and we’ve lost 1 or 2 each quarter thereafter.
The members of my Cohort, without exception, are outstanding leaders in their own right, and truly quality individuals.
The survivors of our Cohort…and we certainly think of ourselves in that way…have drawn together to support each other through the program. We’ve become very close friends–much closer than I would have imagined just 12 months ago. We regularly communicate by text and email throughout each week. We celebrate our happy events, and join in mourning with our friends in those less-than-happy events.
The friends I have made over the past year are likely to remain my friends…and I, theirs…for life. I am very grateful that we have been thrown together into this melting pot.
My thesis proposal is due on July 1. I’ll announce it here once it’s formally accepted. I have great confidence that it will be accepted given that I’ve provided it to the thesis advisor in preliminary form, and I received very positive feedback about my research goals.
What’s my topic? Let’s just say that I plan to evaluate a law and policy area of wireless tower siting that commonly comes up in planning hearings. What? You think you know what I’ll be studying? Maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re not.