All entries for Monday 08 July 2019
July 08, 2019
Ph.D Update On The Thesis Work So Far, Part B
Progress On Data Analysis And Findings Chapter
Data analysis was completed earlier this year leading what I believe to be a complete set of codes, and a complete set of themes that forms the thematic framework. As per the requirements of thematic analysis, I have been able to identify how the themes relate to each other and as a result, I have been able to complete the findings chapter. There are various theses available that revolve around the use of thematic analysis, and these have assisted greatly with forming and shaping the structure of the findings chapter. Briefly, the findings chapter is where I describe and explain the meaning, description, and explanations of the functions and purposes and variation of each theme, with all claims of the data backed up using relevant extracts from the data that justifies the claims being made.
As a side note that relates to the findings chapter, but also the research design chapter, I very much recommend that you read other theses that apply the methods and methodologies that you use so that you can attain a sense of their functionality and use, and perhaps attain an understanding of the extent to which they have been used so far across different philosophical, theoretical and disciplinary contexts.
What you can state in your thesis is your observations of how the selected methodologies and methods have been used within different philosophical and theoretical positions, and if you can find approaches that match exactly what you are doing in terms of your research design that could be useful. However, this is not a guarantee as research design itself is an evolving field of research and practice. Sometimes, if you feel convicted in your beliefs and reason about your research design, you have to take a risk, but make sure that you clearly, comprehensively, meticulously, and considerable detail, explain, and justify the components of your design, and the way that they relate to each other. An interesting approach is to argue how your philosophical and theoretical positions could provide further insights into the characteristics and behaviour of the phenomenon that other philosophical positions would not be able to observe. I’m planning to write a paper on this subject.
The discussions chapter is where the findings are situated within a more interpretive, theoretical level and situated within existing literature in order to provide reasoned validation to the themes, and to increase their reliability and validity in their ‘existence’ through their existence being perceived and interpreted by other authors across different contexts. The discussions chapter is being divided into a couple of parts. The first part simply discusses the key findings, the core themes, and how they relate to each other in order to address the research problem and answer the research question. It is in this chapter, therefore, that you strongly link your findings to the research question, how they are relevant to the research question, and the way that they connect with the research problem and offer a possible solution. Remember, because your framework is built on a set of reasoned and rationalised interpretations grounded in the data, you cannot be absolute and certain about the absolute validity of your interpretations. This is particularly the extent to which they are generalizable across multiple contexts. This is a big debate in literature.
The second part of the chapter revolves around situating my findings and the discussions of my findings in the context of the wider literature, and this is where I begin to compare my themes, claims, codes, observations, etc. to other research and literature. This is where I am reading literature that very closely matches my own in terms of naming themes and codes with very similar functions to my own in order to validate and verify my themes. Not only this, but I can use extant literature to explain how my thematic framework differs from what exists, why it is different, and why these differences are important. This is where the second literature review takes place, and is effectively embedded and integrated in with the discussions of the findings.
It can take a long time to work out the way that this second literature review shall be shaped. You won't really know till you have completed your data analysis and have, therefore, developed your themes. It is your themes, how you view your themes, and the context within which these themes have been developed, that guide your understanding of existing literature, and how you compare your themes to what already exists. This is why it is important to ensure that the literature you choose for both the first literature review chapter and the integrated literature review is correct and relevant for the purposes of (a) research contextualisation and (b) for the purposes of validating your themes. An incorrect approach to discussions can disjoint your literature reviews and qualitative thesis as a whole. It has taken me a long time to figure this out and, quite honestly, it wasn’t until I completed the data analysis that I was able to build that complete picture of how I am going to discuss my framework and the frameworks of others, and where in the thesis I can discuss them. I am still thinknig about the very fine details, it's an ongoing process.
Have literally just begun this chapter so a full vision of the chapter has yet to be developed. However this takes what has been discussed from the previous chapter, the critiques of the literature and the explanations of the findings, and situates these discussions in the broader and wider theoretical and disciplinary landscape of the research. Because the discipline of my research is Education, I would have to link these discussions to the broader practice of education e.g., how the findings impact teaching and learning practice, how does the framework assist with researchers in their explorations of online learning, how can the framework be used in different contexts, etc. Also link with the theories of learning and perhaps link with the general goals and purposes of Education in our society, I’m guessing, I am not fully sure but I might just go for it anyway…..
I remember writing lots about the goals and purposes of Education in the past as part of the role of Education in society, but I had archived those discussions because I didn’t think they were relevant. Thankfully, they are archived and not deleted completely so they might prove to be relevant after all!
The previous couple of posts show where I am more or less up to at the moment! Still a fair way to go, but I have a vision that continues to unravel itself as time progresses and the more that I write. It is important to keep that vision and to keep that in focus because when you become overwhelmed, you have that to guide you. That, and the mindset that tells you that it is better to feel overwhelmed with so much to say, than to feel underwhelmed and feel devoid of anything to say.
‘till next time!
Ph.D. Update On The Thesis Work So Far, Part A
I apologise for not writing a blog post in quite a while! I noticed that the previous update was way back earlier this year. Admittedly, blogging was put aside for a while as I simply wanted to focus on writing the thesis and complete the data analysis with the intentions of returning to the blog when I had more time to spare to blog about what I have completed and where I am going with everything.
Since I wrote the previous update there have been times when I have felt overwhelmed not because I have struggled with knowing what to say, but knowing what to say where. This has not necessarily led to times of anxiety and paranoia, but of uncertainty. What carried me through the times that I have been overwhelmed and felt uncertain is this single thought: I’d rather feel overwhelmed due to having a lot to say, than to feel underwhelmed with nothing to say! It takes time, but persevere and make sure you are continuously writing. It doesn’t matter what form your ideas take on paper, just get them down on paper and sort out the edits and presentations afterwards.
The Literature Review
Much of the literature review has now been completed and it’s a case of editing what I have already written and complete and edit the critical summary section. A section that I have been working on during the past few months involves the critique of various analytical coding frameworks pertaining the exploration and analysis of the phenomenon of interest. This has not been an easy section to write because of the very nature of qualitative research and approaches needed to write qualitative theses. Briefly, the approach that I am adopting to handle and critique the literature more generally is to split the literature review in a couple of parts, each of which serving different purposes. The first literature review chapter contextualises the phenomenon of interest. By this, the first literature review refers to conceptualisation and definition: I am explaining and critiquing how the phenomenon of interest has been conceptualised in the literature, how the phenomenon has been identified and explored across different contexts, and to critique these approaches to exploring the phenomena in order to situate the need for my research within these critiques.
With the analytical models, in this first part of the overall review of the literature, I have to explain the models in a way that demonstrates how the phenomenon of interest has been analysed, and critique the general approach of the models. The second part of the review is integrated in with the discussions of the findings, and I shall explain this in the next blog post.
Research Design Chapter
This is more or less complete in various drafted forms, it’s just a matter of trying to put the whole chapter together. I have written the introduction section, explanations and descriptions of the research design itself, explanations of the research questions and objectives, my position as a researcher, my philosophical position, and the explanation and justification of the selection of the methodology and methods. Other sections I am working on include discussions about the sources of the data, the setting of the research, and detailing the process of coding and thematic development. Additionally, I am attempting to write justifications in terms of how the methodologies and methods have been used before so that I can attempt to verify the historical effectiveness of various aspects of the research design. Phew!
This has been another chapter that has received many edits and redesigns, but I am now happy with the chapter with the way it is and the way it is progressing. Still a fair bit to write, but everything is basically written in pre-draft form it’s just a matter of editing and putting the sections together so it shouldn’t be too bad. What has been the most challenging section, to be honest, has been the Philosophical section and then working out the way this relates to the methodology. It can take a long time to work out your philosophies, and even then they can change so try not to be too much of an absolutist no matter what your position you believe best matches your own. Be dynamic and be flexible.
In Part B, I shall discuss briefly where I am with the latter part of the thesis.