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).


Why is there not a single Doctoral Thesis outline or structure?

After working with the transcription for my doctoral thesis, I have found creating the structural outline for the entire write-up to be the greatest challenge.

Now, don’t shake your head wondering why I am considering this. Indeed, we always need an intro, and some literature, methods, data analysis, and the like. The trick I have found, least for those of us working on a doctoral thesis or doctoral dissertation, is to determine the structure of this given that we are conducting original research.

There is the main issue–this is ORIGINAL research. Why (or how?!) can my work follow the same structure as somebody else’s? Yes, we somehow need to address some of the same things, but our research designs and personal interests and writing skills all come into play. Nobody (I hope!) would confuse a randomized control trial with an autoethnographic inquiry, so why (or how?) should they look or be structured the same? My research engages in narrative inquiry (with a healthy dose of actor-network theory), and as my interpretation will be presented alongside the analysis itself (at least in some places), the thinking about using a cookie-cutter approach to chapters and sections vanishes. For those of us who relish in the originality while still wanting to follow a map, this part of the process can certainly cause some concern.

While an Introduction usually precedes Data Collection, consider that there is not only a single way to organize all of this. Some of these elements, such as the researcher’s ontological stance, disciplinary frame where the research is situated, and significance–to name only a few–can be placed in different locations, as needed. At times they may not even need to be isolated (or even mentioned); again, it depends on your work . . . and original work means there is no standard outline that works best for everybody; you have to make it up yourself.

BTW, don’t forget to be prepared to explain why you did so!


Research Interest Clarification, 2009

phenomenologyI recently had to re- introduce myself to a colleague regarding where my current research interests are, and I thought it may be interesting to share with a wider audience, as I do get asked to explain what I am interested in (since I cannot oversimplify this, however hard I try).

One of the things I learned about myself in the module at Lancaster I just finished is just how much I love qualitative methods. Not just qualitative studies in my own content areas, but the rich methodological particulars in themselves. Yes, I couldn’t believe it when I first said that a few weeks ago – I knew I was interested in application to practice, but now find myself loving the complexities and issues around selecting, using, and assessing various qualitative methods. I can see myself really exploring this more in itself . . .

Since my background is adult education, I tend to think of myself as an adult educator. I like critical theory and constructivist frameworks, and am fond of Wenger’s Community of Practice model, as well as Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning framework. I am a proponent of postmodernity, and as such am interested in identity development, especially in online blogs and other forms of social media where narrative inquiry and autoethnography can be used.

Now, to see how all this can develop toward a thesis direction . . .


Narrative Inquiry Paper Revision – Module 2

I am nearly finished revising my narrative inquiry paper for my Module 2 class, which is due tonight. The more I am processing and reprocessing the Analysis and Presentation section of the paper, the more I am beginning to appreciate narrative inquiry.

Learning to use it here for the first time (or rather, this is the first time I have used it, after having learned about it over the years), I realize how much more I want to explore some of its possibilities.

Has anybody out there used narrative inquiry and want to share what the found useful about it, especially regarding how they navigated the various methodological issues?


Narrative Inquiry and Education

Narrative Interviewing and Narrative Writing. Issues around meaning making, words, and identity development. Transformative narratives cf. Grant, 2007. Nice sharing of autobiographical drawings to show parts of one’s life as  a story in pictures while learning English, develops though the stories of childhood and learning. There was a storyline of hope that emerges and then later gets more developed, and alternative storylines that then develop, such as around caring for family. There are two cases that are being discussed.

There is now discussion about transformative learning that happens within the creation of multiple stories and the construction of meaning in the process. Movements from verbal to drawings, from secrets to mutual valuing, and then going to the one view to multiple views.

There was a change that happened with the second case person, once the writing and narrative took the form of story, as opposed to school topic. She constructed herself through her writing and self-storytelling.

I want to learn more about this narrative identity construction.

This student developed a new learner identity through this narrative writing, with the multiple viewings that this research included.

The second presentation was about discourse analysis, as per Gee 2005, 1999, 1990. Discourse is about using language and representing  through writing. All of us are involved in multiple discourses, the question about how to identify those that influence us to decide, distinguish, and develop. We seem to have an internally dominant discourse (IDD). The IDD shifts in life and experiences (in this case, from test-oriented to self-oriented and from focus on form to focus on meaning.

Implications for this research in and around writing. If writing is defined by the internally-dominated discourse, then how change and develop them. Negative and oppressive IDD’s need to shift, so as educators, how do we shift these?

Creative representational practices, and the process of being and becoming a practitioner and educator and researcher and a scholar—part of the second presenter. Creative and representation within social work, especially when evidence-based practice pushes things to the edge. I wish this presenter would look at us when she is speaking to us as audience.

She is speaking about the use of self. She interviewed and conducted focus groups on how we teach practitioners to conduct reflective practice and the use of self in one’s own development. How do we as educators impress and show the use of self as an important component of understanding and knowing.

Her looking down while she speaks and very rapid speech and awkward stance and choppy motions; I am very distracted. I feel so spoken at. I know that many people  read their papers at academic conferences, but here it seems like a power issue; ironic, as this presenter is a PhD in social work.

It is interesting that she is using poetry she wrote to give examples of what she is trying to illustrate. The poems are getting smaller and smaller on the overhead. This last one she shows, though out of time, is so small that we (or at least I) cannot see it. Wonder what it means? Hope it is clearer to her students at least.

Two of the presenters did not show up, so there is now more time for question.