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‘Iteration’ in qualitative research

September 15th, 2009No Comments  

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

‘the penny dropped’…but, time is needed for the new mode

June 14th, 20091 Comment  

I have started working on the Discussion chapter this week, trying to be more focused. I have not been sure where to start from and how to flow in my thinking since the meaning-making process is still taking place, it is not crystallised yet…maybe it can’t be. I write in a ‘patchwork’ sort of mode, a few paragraphs here and there, without cohesion at first, just trying to put some ideas on paper when they come in my mind and think of some headings for this chapter etc etc. I realise that there is a shift in my mode of being and thinking: so far, the research has been mostly ‘doing things to me’. Now that i have to discuss my research and find ways of expressing my ‘contribution to knowledge’ as a result of doing it, it is me that needs to take a more active role (not that i have been any passive but my immersion has had huge impact in my lived experience)….now it is me that needs to make an impact, to find the gems of what i have been exploring and looking for, like when one finds the ‘diamond’ in the mud and work needs to be done to bring it out, it all its shining…so,  having realised that new way of  needing to approachmy writing now, ‘the penny dropped’ in some way…but, there is yet another transition taking place in that shift, it is yet another liminal space and am IN it now…things sometimes feel as if one is trying to ‘catch water in a net’…i trust that i will find a flow for this chapter too, i keep going…keep walking…the journey continues…

PhD group supervision, 25.10.08 (my challenges about ‘language’)

October 25th, 20081 Comment  

We had another very ‘rich’ morning today during PhD group supervision, where everybody brings their own research process or questions/dilemmas around our Phds at this moment in time. When my turn came in the group and as i was talking to them, i realised that i am facing the following layes of challenge in terms of language and ‘finding the words for’ in my PhD:

– I am researching a topic about an experience that my participants find hard to find the words for

– many concepts in my research (like ‘culture’, ‘difference’, what are the boundaries between counselling/psychotherapy/counselling psychology and so on) are highly debatable around what they mean, how they could be defined or how they are differently understood in different contexts, in different countries, in different positionings etc…, how i use such terms in my writing and what is meant when i use them is also challenging, i sense i constantly have to be ‘careful’ or constantly explaining

– i am writing this PhD in a second language. this matter has not been an issue for me so far……..but i do feel that it is so demanding of me to be attempting to write rigorously and correctly about a topic that is often ‘beyond words’ , something that even native speakers find hard to articulate or find words for….and do that in a second language! Goodness me!!!!

State of ‘enmeshment’…and growing out of it (heuristic process notes)

March 25th, 2008No Comments  

After spending months of conducting research interviews, reading,’presenting at audiences, discussing about my topic etc, there is a ‘next’ stage now awaiting in the PhD process that has to do with ongoing data analysis, reading, organising writing etc…and what i experience is a deep feeling of ‘enmeshment’, both emotionally and practically speaking. On the one hand i see that this is a ‘normal’ ( i.e. expected) place to be at this stage due to the size of the whole Thesis thing but i also know there is so much more that is going on for me, which has to do with the ‘nature’ of the topic itself and the dynamics it brings up as well as my personal involvement with the ‘meanings’ and dimensions inherent in it. I can observe that in comparison to months ago, i have developed some ‘resilience’ in terms of being able to ‘stay’ and bear those feelings that the PhD topic is raising. But, no matter how difficult or challenging those feelings are, i still need to produce text in the end of the day and give birth to a Thesis that is coherent, rigorous and contributes to the pool of knowledge and sound practice in some ways, a Thesis that engages the reader and can stand rigorously and scholarly enough as a PhD piece. … Read more »

Anglo-Saxons and ID development

March 14th, 2008No Comments  

Something that seems to emerge in my PhD research is that many British (or Anglo-Saxon) people i dialogue with in research interveiws and elsewhere appear to have a difficulty in holding into awareness issues related to cultural identity etc. I compare that with my own case where, coming from Greece, a culture thathas been masively invaded and as a result our cultural identity has been repetitively attached and under threat, issues of cultural identity maybe (just maybe) come out more easily and accesible in our process (althouh, still, many of my Greek fellows appear also to be ‘sleepy’ or ignoranmt about this whole area, vaccilating from extreme nationalistic views to total dismiss of heritage or anything relevant in the name of being ‘european’ = good enough). This is a very controversial issue. … Read more »