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‘Iteration’ in qualitative research

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm
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Posted in  Reflexivity, Supervision

I have been struggling in my writing with the idea that a PhD chapter cannot get to a stage of completion or coherence in order to move to a next one, i seem to start and stop several writings at the same time, having to return to them numerous times too and getting frustrated with the feeling of  costant ‘incomplteteness’ that fills me with anxiety…that state of ‘flux’ and ‘limbo’ is of course a central theme in the whole phenomenon i am exploring and in the research process.

I went to see my supervisor, seeking his guidance for me to move away from that kind of ‘trap’. And here he came talking to me about this being a natural process that is best to accept and embrace than resist, something that he describes with a new english word for me: ITERATION. This is apparently a concept used in Maths and Computer Programming to describe “the act of repeating a process usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result”. So, i was advised that, at this stage of my attempt to draft a whole of a PhD Thesis, i need to have the patience and useful attitude to be ‘repeating’ parts of the process or move around several parts and constantly add the changes that emerge through the process of writing, till reaching a point that the thesis will ‘hand together’ as a good enough whole. That has been happening anyway in all my projects of academic writing so far…but, i am now taking a new, grounded stance of acceptance and embrace for it…encouraging myself for all these ‘re-visits’ upon my text…till i complete…and, as it is usually true for the therapy process: “a client is ready to complete therapy when he/she realised that it can actually go on for ever”…so, there is the broader issue here about creativity and finding one’s way to express it, knowing that there are several attempts till producing something that sits comfortable…and, although that can be on-going, there is also a point that the writing will have to stop, and that will be ok, at least for the purposes of a PhD

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