Successful Viva = PhD

As I mentioned in my Tweet on March 25, 2013, I successfully passed my Viva Voce exam at Lancaster University and was awarded my PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning (Educational Research) forthwith. In the British system, passing a viva forthwith means I passed without corrections and was thus awarded the degree.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva Tweet

As a result, my doctoral thesis, entitled Navigating Liminality: The Experience of Troublesome Periods and Distance During Doctoral Study, is being printed and bound at the university.

I especially want to thank my supervisor, Professor Malcolm Tight,  (standing next to me in the image below), and my examiners Professor Paul Trowler (in the left on the picture) and Dr. Margaret Kiley (who attended remotely from Australia). Alice Jesmont (also in the picture below) has been invaluable in her assistance while I attended Lancaster University, along with Dr. Gale Parchoma, who started off as part of my supervisory team before moving on to the University of Calgary.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva

I am now working at publishing some of the results of my work, so hope to have lots more to share. Thanks goes to all who have supported, guided, and helped me along the way, about which I will also speak more in the near future.

Viva Voce Scheduled for March 25

My viva voce (by live voice), otherwise known as the doctoral defense, is scheduled for March 25. Time to start my preparation (as if the previous 4 years were not enough!!).


and no, I will NOT be making anything up!

I Submitted My Doctoral Thesis!

submit-nowI want to share that Thursday morning, January 10, 2013, was the day that I submitted my doctoral thesis. More years in the making than it may seem by my four years at Lancaster University, I am happy that this step is now complete.

It is now being printed and bound to send to the university examiners who will review it. We began scheduling dates for the viva voca (dissertation defense), where I will travel to the UK to discuss my research.

I am sharing this in part because this blog and my online presence has been a vital aspect of my research, as well as to let people know why I may have seemed somewhat distracted recently while this has been going on.

I will appreciate some positive energy while preparing for the upcoming process that will hopefully bring this academic experience to a satisfying resolution.

Thesis Final Draft = Done!

draftI have been Tweeting about this recently, though decided a quick check-in here is well overdue. This is the news I have been working for — I completed the final draft of my doctoral thesis today!

No, not submitted yet. Tomorrow I need to format and proof it one last time, then to my supervisor for the nod (or pointer to more corrections), after which I will submit.

The goal is to get done what needs to get done and submit this week.

Then comes its binding, sending to the examiners, and scheduling of the viva.


I Completed My Analysis

I am happy to say I have just completed the analysis of my data for my doctoral thesis!

Let me clarify what I mean. By analysis, I mean making sense of the 23 interviews I completed by coding them, grouping similar concepts together, and then putting these concepts in a coherent order to present for my readers. That may not sound like a lot, but with hundreds of pages of interview transcripts and over 1000 codes to navigate and organize, it is a significant  accomplishment.

While I have written up my analysis along the way (cf. Richardson’s work on writing as a method of inquiry), I hope to have my full draft analysis completed in another week or so. As I am engaging in narrative inquiry, this will be, in all likelihood, my longest thesis chapter.

I just sketched a tentative timeline of thesis work for the next week, so will keep my fingers crossed to maintain its trajectory (which I will do via Twitter).

Here comes the Analysis!

I have neglected my blog for a bit recently, though the (good?) reason is because I have worked so intensely on my thesis! While I continue to tweak and clarify and refine my first chapters, something that I fully expected to still be doing, I am nearing ready to send the first round of my analysis for review (with the target of Wednesday, 12 September). While I do not envision being finished with it by then, I expect to have enough of substance to get some real feedback on it. I find that having a concrete goal and date is helpful with this experience in endurance!!

Between now and then will find me finish making all the corrections and edits that have previously been identified, continue to refine my literature, and adjust internal issues of consistency and repetition. Phew!

Life Gets in the Way: Writing Gaps in April and May

I feel I have gotten very little writing done toward my doctoral thesis in the last few weeks, and after being asked about it again by a great encourager of me remaining focused on finishing my PhD, I decided I needed to write a brief check-in on my happenings. April and May have been quite troubling as I try to write my research and finish this degree.

Let’s see, where to start? I think I need to go back to the very beginning of April, when I was away at the Networked Learning Conference in the Netherlands. Fine, and well-planned. The jet-lag and cell-phone issues while there took a few days to overcome, though when I was finally getting back into a routine by the middle of the next week–it hit. We had a flood in the apartment on April 11.

The pipe displaced itself from the toilet, and while we were home and while we were able to get the super to turn off the water within 5-10 minutes or so, there was enough water that came out and spread into the apartment that the wood floor was ruined. Completely ruined. Even with the water extraction company sent by the insurance company 4 hours later setting up fans and a large dehumidifier that then ran for the next 6-7 days, the water under the wooden floor tiles loosened the glue holding them down (as well as causing many of them to buckle and split) so it would have to be replaced.

So, where does that leave my story that began with my conference on April 1? Yes, the equipment in the apartment was finally removed on April 17. What a mess.

With all of the rugs gone (sent to the rug cleaner to try to ultimately save them; at least the flood water was clean!!), and the wood now making noise wherever we step, we then had to navigate between our insurance and the building insurance, with their finally taking another two weeks to agree on who will pay for all this. You see, we also had to have 3 estimates in the process, with samples seen, while this all took place, with the decisions as to which color to switch to. We chose the one that is closest to what we have. You see, there was such extensive wood floor damage that tiles could not just be replaced as they would not match — it all has to go.

Just lovely, the entire floor has to go, which means we have to move a lot of things (even though, thankfully, the furniture was not damaged much). As one of the bookshelf / desktop units had some water get under it, and this piece really being a composite of 5 separate parts that had been built and added onto over the years (taking an entire wall and including two desks, a file cabinet, 3 cupboards, lots of bookshelves, and several lighting units), it would be removed. Alas, it could not be reassembled easily at all, so out it all went. Yes, that meant we needed to purchase new desks (both on order) and have new bookshelves designed (also currently being  built), which all takes time. And disruption . . . don’t forget about the disruption in routine (i.e., time for writing).

Lots of time.

Did I mention that 14 months ago I also bought tickets to see Wagner’s The Ring (16 hours of opera over 4 days) at the Metropolitan Opera, the week starting May 5 and ending May 12?

So here, a week later, the floor replacement is beginning tomorrow, and while that should be usable just after Memorial Day, the desks and shelves will arrive 1-2 weeks later. Yes, things should finally be back to normal around the first week of June.

First week of June, and here it is I am trying to write and finish my data analysis!

I think writing this post has helped me to better understand where all my time (and energy, emotional navigation, and money) has gone over the past 2 months. Suffice it to say I have had to take a few vacation days here and there to manage all this, for otherwise I work full-time, though thinking about it and sharing it a bit more widely here helps me to close one episode, if you will, and begin to again focus on another — my thesis.

Life does get in the way while engaging in the years of non-stop work toward a doctorate, though for me the lesson is that I only have so much energy, and sometimes it has to be directed toward immediate problems at hand. That is not bad, it is simply healthy. Of course, as the wheel turns, we do have to make our ways back to our other commitments, chiefly among them is my thesis.

With that said, I have this afternoon and several days in the coming week dedicated to my studies. In many ways, that is a welcome home.