Benefits of our Present Study

Benefits of our Present Study

Collaborative: In this chapter, we’ve reviewed how our initial proposal for

completing a collaborative dissertation study met resistance from our graduate school dean.

We shared our experiences of working with the dean to negotiate a middle ground where we

would be permitted to collaborate throughout our processes of researching and writing our

study, but we would also be required to submit two independent dissertation texts. Both

dissertation texts were required to have two separate titles and to have clearly labeled

sections of solo-authored and collaborative writing. We would be remiss then if we didn’t

discuss the reasons we feel our cooperative dissertation can be a worthwhile contribution to

the scholarly work on collaboration in composition.

Collaborative: From our first meeting with our graduate school dean, we learned that

his understanding of collaboration differed from our own—namely that our definition

required us to work together from beginning to end, throughout process and product, to write

one text. This initial conversation forced us to think critically about how we defined

collaboration and how this term continued to impact a proposed study that explored

collaboration at the dissertation level. In short, we had to reconceptualize the framework and

textual presentation of our inquiry, which led to our construction of a cooperative

dissertation. We have come to appreciate the reconceptualized version of our dissertation

because we were required to differentiate the scope of our inquiry, in terms of a collaborative

process, a co-authored product, and a cooperative study. By clearly naming the three main

components of our inquiry, we have constructed primary data that presents a nuanced

interpretation of what collaboration means to various dissertation stakeholders. In addition,

our cooperative dissertation challenges the status quo of how a traditional solo-authored

dissertation is written and lends new data to the topic of men and women writing

collaboratively—particularly at the dissertation level. Not only are we the first composition

doctoral students to get graduate school approval for a collaborative dissertation (albeit a

negotiated version of the one we proposed), we are also traversing new grounds by writing

two dissertation texts that are constructed from the same primary data, which foregrounds the

intertextual nature of research and scholarly writing. Through our shared intertexts, we use

multiple genres and alternative discourses to bridge the gap between process and product and

to challenge the standard academic discourse and five-chapter conventions of the traditional

dissertation genre.

Collaborative: Perhaps most important, we hope our cooperative dissertation will serve

as both a model and as another entry point for future doctoral students who want to

collaborate on a dissertation. We view our cooperative dissertation as a marker for progress;

one that shows collaborative scholarship is not a trend or a movement that is over. We hope

our cooperative dissertation builds the framework for a movement we are calling a

dissertation cooperative—a place where doctoral students can find resources to enact their

own forays into collaborative and other nontraditional dissertations.

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