Somewhat long introduction/explanation

I wanted to stop by and intro myself with a sort of long introduction so that if you think I might be asking a lot of questions, here's why. I'm in the middle of this doctoral dissertation and I have a lot of PTSD and grief wrapped up in it. It's a complicated story so I'm going to try and unravel this in the most coherent way possible. Happy to answer any questions you might have, but mostly just wanted to have something here in case you searched my name because you thought I was asking a stupid question. Here is why!

I was in the proposal stage of my last dissertation, a case study on a small non-profit microfinance initiative where I was examining board level decisions/strategies and how they impacted the organization (that's the broad gist of it). I had three committee members - 2 co-chairs and a third. I had moved to London with my husband (at the time...more on that later) and was writing my dissertation by distance.

My third member wrote me at one point and had to drop off of my committee for health reasons and suggested another woman join the committee. I wrote the new committee member, we'll call her Dr. Anthropology, sent her my draft and asked her if she'd be interested in joining. She agreed, and we scheduled a Skype meeting.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, everything was going swimmingly. My co-chairs liked my ideas and were telling me everything was great with my proposal. This all happened in 2013 so I actually just went back and re-read the email threads to make sure I was not crazy and that they had not expressed any concerns. Both co-chairs said "yes, great! you're ready to defend the proposal!"

So in October of 2013 I had my first Skype meeting with Dr. Anthropology. It did NOT go well. She was not impressed with my research, my topic, nor my data (I had had to gather some baseline data before the proposal because of some timeline logistics with the organization - it was all approved by the co-chairs and done with full IRB etc.). She was an anthropologist and felt my research methods were not sound.

Keep in mind, I am not an anthropologist. I had one anthro undergrad course and that is it. My field is international development and we are not nearly as ethnographic as anthropologists, among other significant differences. So needless to say, things went very badly.

What I didn't know was that immediately after that meeting she went to my co-chairs and basically told them this was a **** dissertation and they should be deeply concerned. So, insert political academia here. One of my co-chairs was the chair of my department, but he doesn't have a PhD (he's an attorney as we are housed in the law school) so he's never had to defend a dissertation, and my other co-chair was a professor of practice. She hasn't done research in three decades. Both of them listened to Dr. Anthropology because she was the one who "knew research methods".

No one told me about this meeting afterward and so in December I scheduled my defense of my proposal thinking things were still on track. At the end they told me I had failed my proposal defense. I burst into tears...what the hell had happened????

I flew back to America and arranged a meeting with my co-chairs. It.did.not.go.well. We basically got into a huge argument where I was called "stubborn and intractable" because I was advocating for my research and the work I'd done. They told me the only way to fix it was to go to Peru and gather more data. Well, since we have no funds in our department that wasn't happening.

So I scrapped my original proposal and came up with a new one in England where I was living so I could do the research there. I worked on that for a good portion of 2014. I came home to the States in January of this year to visit my mother and surprise! The doorbell rang and a woman stood there and served me divorce papers.

I have spent the last 7 months getting a divorce and grieving my 12 year marriage and dealing with an unexpected repatriation. And the divorce derailed that topic because I can't gather my data now.

I decided to use this opportunity to also change my committee by switching to a quantitative topic (my other professors were qualitative) but I'm not entirely sure how to go about it since the quant side is NOT my strong suit. I've formed a new committee and I came to them with a proposal but one of the three didn't love it. Our department is VERY VERY small and so finding committee members is tough - I'm stuck with these unless I go back to qualitative. The basically said "go find some data and get back to us".

So here I am. Divorced as of one month ago. With a sort of mediocre quantitative topic proposal that I'm not even sure how to accomplish.

Oh, and, I have to live with my mother because my husband was supporting me while I was in grad school and I haven't worked in five years and I'm looking for a job too.

So that's my story!

Topic (in case you're curious): I'm trying to do something - maybe an index? around Fair Trade conversion. Determining an improvement in livelihood after converting a farm (set of farms? Household? Country?) to a Fair Trade model. The rub is, there are VERY little Fair Trade data out there. The Fair Trade organizations don't share their data and truthfully, I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm looking for - I'm still working on that. I found a couple of coffee data sets that I've been staring at but I just sort of stare at them. I've been using all of my brain power the last seven months to get divorced and so I haven't had much creative energy to actually figure out what I'm looking for and why. This is effectively an econometric study in most regards, so if you're an econometrician and just very interested in this topic, I'd be more to chat more about it in general. I will have very specific questions soon - I'm just trying to nail down what exactly I need to ask and how I need to ask it.


Less is more. Stay pure. Stay poor.
Not an econometrician, but good luck. I would imagine if you keep working hard eventually everything will work itself out. I think a key is just to inundate yourself in the area.