Joshua Smart (Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville), once again, is organizing them. He writes in with the following information:
Signups are open through Sunday, January 29th. To join, fill out a short survey at www.jasmartphilosophy.com/virtual-dissertation-groups.
What it is: Virtual Dissertation Groups is a free service for those currently working on their doctoral dissertations in philosophy departments (or philosophy of science or the like). Since 2014, VDG has connected students from over 30 countries to provide peer feedback on dissertation work with a minimal time commitment.
How it works: Each dissertator is placed in a group of three on the basis of a short survey about their project/area of work. Toward the end of each full month of the semester, one member will send some work (3k – 6k words) to the other two, who then return feedback in a week or so. (Usually these are written comments, though some groups choose to have video discussions.)
Why it’s good: While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment and particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach, outlook, or focus. There is even evidence from psychological research that even just thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can promote creative insights. With students at a variety of programs and from around the world, VDG is a great way to capture some of these benefits!