We conclude our discussion of Ira Glass’s excellent podcast on broadcasting.
The message here is simple. Any person who wants to be innovative must try a lot of things that don’t work. Which is to say, you will frequently find yourself one minute, one hour, one month into a project that in the end doesn’t pan out. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
This also applies, on a longer time scale, to your dissertation.
The great thing about science as a way of knowing is that failure, properly managed, is still success. The more hypotheses you test in a given project, the greater the variety of evidence you bring to bear, the more interesting the paper will even if your supercool hypothesis bites the dust. And, at the same time, you have given yourself every opportunity to see why it did or didn’t work. You’ll know more than when you started.
So make sure you build the chapters of your dissertation with the eye of an investor who is in it for the long haul. Combine sure fire, more conservative and descriptive work, with projects where you shoot for the moon. Because, rest assured, some of those gambles will pay off.