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!

2 Days to Intro!

My self-imposed deadline of getting the first draft of my doctoral thesis Chapter 1: Introduction, Background, & Theoretical Framework (tentative title) is only 2 days away, and while I am on schedule for completing it, I have a few late nights ahead of me. As this process is around an original contribution to the literature, it is not possible to follow a formal, universal structure for what exactly gets included in this chapter. Let’s face it, how much can really be in an introduction without it’s actually being solid content of some sort?

With this said, I want to share a strategy I found useful–I located about a dozen doctoral theses using the same methodology I am planning to use (narrative inquiry), and isolated the various tables of content so I can see how people organized their work and named their sections / chapters. While most of the doctoral theses / dissertations contained a number of the points of content (intro, design, data collection, presentation, etc.), the ways they organized these parts and holistically fit them together all differed. Nothing like getting an overview of how others (who finished!) pulled their work together. While my supervisors will ultimately agree or disagree with me (and provide guidance), I want to try to get it together in my own informed way first.

Anyway, back to writing . . .

Data Collection, Here I Come!

I am happy to report that I concluded the pilot testing for my doctoral thesis research, and am now ready to begin data collection in earnest.

I finished the pilot interviewing last Thursday, debriefed it over the weekend, and worked with my supervisor this morning to process it. I learned a great amount about my research area by interviewing some people for the pilot, revealing some unexpected areas in the process. I will then write-up my findings and process the experience to put it directly into my thesis. Now, with one or two tweaks of my invitation to participate in my research study that I do this evening, I plan to seek participants for my research beginning tomorrow.

Wow, data collection. Finally!!


Weaving a PhD via #PhDchat

My life revolves around my doctoral studies at this point (at least outside of my full-time job, of course!), as I am busily working on my doctoral thesis proposal that is due at the end of the month. While I have heard it said, and even experienced it at times, that there are few things as lonely and isolating as doing a PhD, I think that having a community of practice (here’s to you, Etienne!) for support and with which to share and grow and weave thoughts, is worth its weight in qualitative methods texts.

With this said, I find that the #PhDchat that exists on Twitter is fantastic in its communal support of struggling doctoral students, sharing of resources, answering of questions, and suggesting of apps and software. With this said, just knowing that there are others out there who are reading along while facing their own struggles and liminal experiences is beneficial–I am not working alone in a vacuum but weaving my experiences with others along shared, but different, paths.

Some of my colleagues in this synchronous chat that exists in an ongoing asynchronous manner as well have started to discuss ways of studying, or at least beginning to explore this experience. Martin Eve @martin_eve discussed the early history of the #phdchat experience in his fine post On #PhDchat: Call for Collaboration/History, Overview, Themes and Response, and Andy Coverdale @AndyCoverdale talked about considerations related to ways of understanding Twitter networks, among other things, in On #phdchat – some initial thoughts. I have previously spoken about this experience in my earlier post PhD Chat as #phdchat and Liz Thackray @lizith with her Networking post soon thereafter. While this post here is partly in response to calls for people to discuss their experiences here (such as from part of an exchange I had with Jennifer Jones @jennifermjones) among others, I am going to take a slightly different perspective on this experience.

For those who know me, it may not come as a surprise that I am not terribly interested in understanding how the #phdchat network works, who responds to whom, who retweets what and when they do it. Yes, they are all valuable questions and may very well lead to some interesting research (anybody thinking about Internet Research 12 or 2012’s Networked Learning Conference that was just announced in this regard, please let me know!), though the questions I tend to ask are more around the area of meaning and how this experience helps to form identity:

  • How does your experience of participating in #phdchat help or hinder your doctoral studies?
  • What is your experience of community in #phdchat?
  • What have you learned through active or passive involvement in #phdchat?

Ahh, so many interesting ideas come about when we involve ourselves in something really engaging. I wonder how my (current or future) colleagues involved in this see themselves as part of something larger than themselves? How do you weave your PhD?