So what happened?
Well, I saw the big picture. I finally have a clear idea what my disseration is about, from the larger and grander perspective.
Now, you might ask, But Jeruen, you've been dissertating for two years now. Didn't you know what you were doing before?
Well, to tell you the truth, I am not too good at the big picture perspective. Hence, the format of the dissertation is a little hard to negotiate. I usually proceed with research from a small picture perspective. I am a bottom-up guy, not a top-down one. Hence, I have a little research question, I try to answer that, and then I see how things can be extended, and so forth. Rarely do I have grandiose ideas and then proceed to deconstruct it and answer its little bits and pieces.
So, while not seeing the big picture, I wrote three chapters worth of experiments and results. I have given them to my adviser, and he has commented on it. Now, it is flawed, since when I wrote it, I didn't have the big picture yet, and they don't form a coherent whole.
However, once all of my experiments have finished, I saw what I wanted to say to the world, and thus a big picture emerged. I wrote Chapter 1 and 2. Chapter 1 defined and delineated the thesis problem, and covered what I am covering in the dissertation. Chapter 2 is a literature review, as well as a sketch of my theoretical model that tries to account for the phenomena that I am trying to explain. Together, Chapter 1 and 2 is my big picture, and now, I can revise the three subsequent chapters under the light of these two chapters.
So yeah, that's where I am, as of last month. The goal is to finish this dissertation and graduate this September.