ACRL 2011 Roundtable Discussion--Getting Your Doctorate as a Professional Librarian
1 April 2011, 12:15PM - 1:15PM Roundtable 29, Exhibit Hall A, Pennsylvania Convention Center
I am currently the Head of Public Services at the duPont-Ball Library at Stetson University (more about me
here). I started my class work in August of 2006, and
on 31 January 2011 I successfully defended my dissertation to receive my Ed.D.
in Educational Leadership, Higher Education Policy Studies from the University
of Central Florida (more about the program
here). Note: When I facilitated this roundtable I was an Associate Librarian at the University of Central Florida.
|Tip #1 Librarian vs. Student
If you are pursuing your doctorate in a field other than Library Science,
then try not to tell too many people you are a librarian; your fellow students
will try to get you to do their research for them. While it is okay to help your
fellow classmates (and it is hard for librarians not to help others), you are
not there as a librarian but as a student with your own work to do.
|Tip #2 Time Management & Sacrifice
It should go without saying, but pursuing your doctorate takes a lot of time.
Great organizational skills and time management are a must. Also, be prepared to
sacrifice more than just money; time spent with friends, family, and engaging in
a social life all decrease greatlly; you have to make time for your classes, studies, and
|Tip #3 Pleasing Your Advisor
You write your dissertation to please your advisor and committee. Sometimes
you have to make changes with which you do not wholly agree, but your chair
|Tip #4 Changing Your Advisor
You and your advisor will work together closely. Make sure your advisor is a good fit for your personality and work style.
If you decide to change advisors, then most will not take the change personally.
They understand the need for a good working relationship between advisor and
advisee. Plus, it lightens
|Tip #5 A Good Dissertation
A good dissertation is a done dissertation. If your chair or any member of your committee does not understand that, then make a change. You want to do quality work, but
you do not want to set about to change the world.
|Tip #6 Research and Write as You Move Along
Develop an idea of your dissertation topic early in your class work. This way you can write and research as you progress through your classes. When it comes time to start writing
your dissertation, you will have a bulk of it done.
|Tip #7 Align Your Class and Professional Work
If you have established a research agenda in librarianship, then incorporate
that into your class work and dissertation. You may be able to publish some
related articles while you are taking classes.
|Tip #8 Understand Why You Are Doing This
Earning your doctorate is a marathon, not a sprint. At times, you will want to quit and go have a life; and plenty of people do quit along the way. If you have strong reasons for working on your degree, and you keep those in mind, then it is much easier to stay the course and finish.
Your reasons should be personal. Also, what is it you want to do with your
degree once you finish?
|Tip #9 Focus on the Positive
You will hear a lot of horror stories while pursuing your doctorate. Try to focus on the positive stories while not becoming a horror story.
Find someone currently enrolled in your program or who has completed a doctorate with whom you can vent, ask questions, and generally share in the craziness. Unless someone has gone through this process, they do not understand what it takes
to finish or what happens along the way.
|Tip #11 Make Everyone Call You Doctor
Once you finish, and you will finish, make everyone call you doctor. It just might be the single greatest feeling in the world.
|Tip #12 No One Can Ever Take It Away From You
The doctorate is the highest academic degree in America; less than 1% of the
population has earned a doctorate. To earn the degree takes a lot of hard work,
time, blood, sweat, tears, and the loss of some sanity. But once you are a
doctor, the personal pride you feel can not be matched, nor can anyone take it away
|Tip #13 Know the Requiremetns of Your Program
Are they going to allow you to attend part-time? Do you need a GRE score from within the past 5 years? Re-learning the skills for the GRE,
paying for, and taking the test can be a serious source of stress. Do you need a master's degree in that subject area? How many and what kind
of hours can you transfer from your master's program? Most importantly, what are the requirements to graduate and finish the program?
|Tip #14 Get It In Writing
Get any kind of agreement in writing, especially if you are getting permission to make changes to your program description.
Pursuing and earning your doctorate does have some drawbacks. Be prepared to
sacrifice time spent with friends and family and watch all your free time
disappear. Plus, some librarians and library administrators feel threatened by
the doctorate, expect some "playa hatin." This requires you to understand the culture of your library and campus.
Once you complete your dissertation, you will have a strong grasp on the
fundamentals of research, increased credibility with the teaching faculty and
university administration, and be well-positioned to advance in academia.
Special thanks to Dr. Penny Beile, Dr. Linda Colding, Lisa Nickel, Rachel
Mulvihill, and Blake Stephens for
their help in putting together this webpage.
If you ever have any questions, then feel free to e-mail me: