My DBA Journey - Approaching the Finishing Line

Trying to get back to the main stage has required discipline, focusing, endless hours of writing, deleting, citing, looking for references...

Riitta Lumme-Tuomala, 06.03.2017

My DBA journey has been out of the “limelight” of our Aalto Leaders' Insight stream for a while now. Trying to get back to the main stage has required discipline, focusing, endless hours of writing, deleting, citing, looking for references, formulating frameworks, and killing darlings. And then, starting it all over again.

Thus, it gives me great pleasure to quote the famous song: and now, the end is near. While still busy doing all of the above, formulating new frameworks maybe excluded, I also know exactly when I am supposed to cross the finishing line. Or at least I know the date when my opponent is supposed to listen to my dissertation defense and give his strict feedback on my work. Apprehension on my side is still prevailing, so I will not disclose the exact date here and now, but I promise to keep you posted!

Apprehension is a feeling that I have understood most doctoral candidates share with me

The confidence roller coaster is a weekly phenomenon. The wee hours witness the doctoral hat evaporating into thin air in front of my eyes just to reappear at the height of the flow feeling of an efficient writing spree in the afternoon.

Not once have I said to myself that I wish I had never started this.”

Despite the rollercoaster described above, regret is not one of the emotions I am going through; not once have I said to myself that I wish I had never started this. On the contrary. I would just do some things differently, which is easy to say now that I know so much more than what I did in the beginning of 2014 when I started the journey.

Doing differently is mostly related to academic research and writing in general; finding the most relevant articles and frameworks, citing correctly, using the right terms, and letting go of things that are outside your scope. I would start writing the literature review earlier, be more meticulous with referencing and organizing the articles and the main points in them, and. The list goes on.

Naturally, more important than the above is what I have learned, and that list is a long one

I started this story with talking about discipline, for which the word rigor is often used in the academic world. It follows you everywhere, and little by little becomes your friend and the guardian angel. It gives guidelines for argumentation and makes you check what you argue and state against what is already known and done. Rigor stands by you and reminds you about checkpoints and requirements. Rigor scared and irritated me in the beginning but has now, as I mentioned above, become a lighthouse guiding me on the research sea. I have actually found an admirer of structure and academic reasoning in myself. (Anyone who knows me, understands, that this can be called a small miracle!)

Reviews and feedback are something a researcher - I am gradually starting to have the courage to call myself a researcher - cannot do without

It is a well known fact, that you only exist as a researcher or as an author of articles and other publications if you are out in the open in the academic world, and let others see and comment what you produce. Feedback and critique is surprisingly rewarding even when all your hard work is considered not-that-good and you are required to rewrite, justify, and kill your famous darlings. Encouragement is naturally needed as well, and I am very grateful to professors Tikkanen and Tienari, who have done a fantastic job in criticizing, demanding, correcting, and most of all telling me to keep on going even at times when the confidence roller coaster has taken me to the lower parts or the ride.

In preparation for the D-day, I will now hide in my chambers and come out with a manuscript to be reviewed, checked, and challenged. And then, I promise, publish the final blog post in My DBA Journey. Take care, and stay curious!

Yours, Riitta

Riitta Lumme-Tuomala is Head of Growth and Director, Talent Management at Aalto EE. She is also an Aalto Executive DBA candidate.

All My DBA Journey blogs by Riitta:

Currently reading: Aalto Leaders' Insight: My DBA Journey - Approaching the Finishing Line

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