Laura Plybon, PhD entered the field of research as an arts major, becoming fascinated with studies on children’s art while an undergraduate and later, when obtaining her MA in child development from Sarah Lawrence College. She went on to receive an MS and PhD in experimental developmental psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, where her interest in childhood disabilities led to a certification in developmental disabilities from the Medical College of Virginia. Laura has spent the majority of the past 15 years in academia, where she has held the positions of tenure-track assistant professor of psychology, a visiting assistant professor of research, and most recently, director of assessment. Her unique approach to understanding statistics as a language and a visual art led to a love of statistics and resulted in an extensive knowledge of advanced statistical analyses (i.e., ANOVA/MANOVA, logistic regression, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, SEM), complimented by her qualitative research skill set, especially regarding the various types of phenomenological research methods. Her research interests are diverse and span the disciplines of psychology, counseling, public health, epidemiology, nursing, education, and business. She holds a special interest in the behavioral health and health promotion of ethnic minority populations; socioeconomic, ethnic, and gender disparities as they relate to education, health, and mental health; and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) across the lifespan. She currently works as a full time consultant for The Dissertation Coach, a position that allows her to assist clients at all stages of their dissertation with compassion, humor, patience, and understanding.
Let’s be honest with each other, the dissertation process is daunting, challenging and a test of true grit. Any preconceived notions we might have of our academic prowess are quickly dismissed with the hard core reality of what I call dissertation (constructive) criticism. The feedback received for required edits are not just grammar related, they are in-depth challenges of understanding design, methodology and analysis. If you think you know it, the subject matter experts from scientific merit review will be sure to put what you think you know to the test. It was at this point when I knew in order to have any hope of saving face, I needed the assistance and support from more than just my mentor, I needed someone on my side that would make it okay for me to admit my ignorance and help me fill needed gaps for the chance to speak in the knowledgeable doctoral tone required to pass through the PhD gate.
I had previous conversations with The Dissertation Coach and spoke at length with Allison to outline my experience and goals, but somehow this return visit felt different. I made changes with my mentor, I battled ethical and moral principles, and challenged the process enough to deliver the message “I am not going away. This process means something to me, and until I achieve it, you will continue to see and read me.” When Allison heard and recognized my passion, she identified the person who would provide the best fit.
Dr. Christopher Bradley, you have been the inspiration and academic professional who introduced me to terms that will forever leave an indelible mark on my brain. Yes, ANOVA F test, R-Square, Unstandardized b coefficients, t-test were challenging in their own right, but when Dr. Bradley took me into the four-assumption abyss of linearity, homoscedasticity, independence/normality of errors and multicollinearity, I had serious concerns of ever coming back to that place called normalcy. Not only did Dr. Bradley share his knowledge with patience (trust me he needed it), he also opened his brain to flood me with knowledge beyond belief.
It was important for me to share my journey with you, because it is important for you to understand you are where you are supposed to be. This is not a mistake. You are not expected to know everything there is to know about dissertation, and you are not expected to spend money you might not have needlessly in order to get through the process. If you have not done so already, contact Alison Miller and help her understand what you are experiencing. Be patient with yourself and know every professional on The Dissertation Coach team is ready and prepared to help you succeed.