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Metaphor for the PhD (‘on the boat’…august 2008)

Thursday, August 28th, 2008 @ 9:41 am
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Posted in  Creative, Heuristics, Supervision

I am now about to begin my final PhD year and there is so much to do, it does feel really chaotic as i need to deal with so many readings, so much writing to do, analyse the data, see how i will come to the ’synthesis’ of the whole piece, decisions to be made about how to tell the tale…I have noticed that i am more confident now in terms of how i manage ( at least emotionaly ) the challenges thrown at me by the whole research/PhD life, but it it still a path that i need to walk and complete, giving my best shot, finding inspiration for the authorship of it and bringing it to a good standard quality

I was writing few pages in my research diary and a metaphor came up for me to capture ‘ where i am at’ at present with the PhD. I wrote: ” It feels like i am standing in the middle of a boat in the ocean, the deep blue is all over me. I am not scared about the vastness around me butwhat frustrates me is that i seem to be holding  too many compasses, each showing a different potential way but without too clear destination and apart from that, it feels like there are different ropes attached to my boat, each grubbing it towards another route and there are moment i feel as if the boat will start cracking…and i dont want to sink!”

I sent that metaphor with another 3 pages update to William and he responded with the following, in his email, points that i wish to keep reminding myself on the way:

“As a heuristic piece of research YOU ARE THE DATA so you confusions and challenges etc are rich data. Few other methodologies recognise let alone allow this to happen.  You sound sometimes a bit like a modernist psychologist. Is this the MSc speaking? I think narrative/autoethnography would help – read Jane Speedy.

It sounds to me like you need to come to ground around your data before your methodology and lit will finally make sense. And yes this could get circular.

So you have to choose which themes will you organise your findings and your thesis around. i.e. how will you tell it? You may remember from grounded theory you have to choose a core category i.e. that there are different ways of telling it.  Any choice can be made to work. Which thesis are you going to write?
By all means immerse further in the data before you decide BUT decide within 4 weeks and stick to it.

You could produce a document listing the possible the choices and pro and con them BUT then decide. You are the captain of this ship. You cut ropes set sail and guide your ship. Your thesis is the log.

The interviews are what people tell you in dialogue. Your musings around the topic is another layer of data.”

I feel very lucky that i can have rich dialogue with my supervisor and that he seems patient and insightful enough to be empathising with my struggles and offer advice and giudance, even at a moral level, he is totally supportive

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