All entries for Monday 07 September 2015

September 07, 2015

Reflection of the first year of the Ph.D!

The first year of the Ph.D. has been fun! The year has been dominated by the Advanced Research Methods course that contained a couple of assignments and plenty of course materials that introduced many research methods and research Philosophies, and encouraged thinking about these in the context of own research. Obviously the course was not an extensive introduction, but rather brief introduction given the complexities of research methods and the extensive argumentation and potential uses of each method. It was a brief introduction because it would be impossible to cover every aspect of each research method (textbooks have been written for specific research methods) and also impossible to cover every possible argumentation for and against each method (for which there are countless, and more arguments can be development: it’s really a limitless area). The course assignments were enjoyable and I feel that the development of particular research methods progressed well, and the assignments laid the foundations of some of the argumentation and reasoning that I shall be exploring further in the thesis. The course therefore has had an important part to play in forming the structure of the thesis, particularly the earlier chapters, early in the process of the Ph.D.

The research conference attended earlier this year was also part of the course and I enjoyed the experience of developing and presenting a conference poster. It built my confidence in the general methodology that I am developing and where I am going with the research itself. I even had nice complements from those who were in their second years and beyond on their own Ph.Ds. I was going to write a conference paper for this conference, but didn’t feel confident enough to have produced a substantial, well informed paper, so decided to go with the conference poster. At next year’s annual post graduate conference at Warwick University I certainly plan to write a conference paper as my confidence in my own research methods and the development of these methods have increased and shall increase further in the future. Currently, the conference paper shall focus on the survey method that has been written about in the second Advanced Research Methods assignment. I could write about my entire methodology and methods but I don’t believe that given the time between now and next year’s conference I’ll be able to get everything completed to that point. Perhaps something to think about for the 2017 research conference? If the conference paper and presentation are well received and if the supervisor recommends it, I would like to convert the conference paper into a publishable research paper and submit it to a respectable research journal.

A key awareness that has been developed during the past year is the fact that in Social Sciences the aim is not to find the “wrong” or “right” answer, but to develop a strong argument. If an argument is effective enough, then an idea or use of a research method can be considered acceptable; not the right or wrong answer, but an acceptable argumentation based on its strength through the use of appropriate evidence and reasoning. Not a lot of people really like the idea of something being acceptable based on the strength of argumentation and reasoning rather than it being a straight black or white yes or no answer, but I like this kind of investigation!

That’s about the main points of the year: lots of other little successes have happened but to detail them all here would be like writing a thesis! I am excited about the second year, it’s going to be an extremely interesting year of wonder, of argumentation development, lots and lots of reading, and lots of lots of thinking and writing! It will be a challenge, but I’m ready for it. The annual conference next year at Warwick University is going to be a challenge as it will really be the first time that I expose the intricacies and specifics of a research method (not the findings from that method yet: the research is still in developmental stage) to the public. Not only this, but I shall be entering what is known as the Upgrade process: this is a process where I prove the worth and value of my research through writing and sending in a four thousand word report, and present my proposed methods and methodology to an expert panel before actually doing the research. When this Update report is handed in and when the presentation is needs to be agreed with my supervisor but I’m suspecting towards the end of next year or early the year after.

Been an excellent first year and if I do have any regular readers out there (hello!) hoping you have enjoyed my academic ramblings. I shall try to keep the blog more updated during the next year as ideas come to me, but obviously I need to focus on the Ph.D. documentation which during the next year shall include: the Upgrade report, a conference paper, a possible research paper, and the early Literature Review and Methodological chapters of the thesis, as well as beginning to develop the methods themselves!

Thank you all for reading during the first year!


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