January 03, 2016

Entering Planning and developing Strategy Phase!


Welcome to the first post of the New Year and what an academically exciting and challenging year this shall be! Hoping you all have had a lovely Christmas and New Year where Santa spoiled you, the turkey was so big that it couldn’t fit in the oven, that the jumper you had from your Aunt Nelly wasn’t itchy, and that you didn’t drink more than you really should have! Celebrations are now out the way with so it’s time to get back to my work and, obviously, get back to blog writing!


So now I am entering the phase of planning and developing strategies that shall contribute towards achieving the goals and objectives of the year and indeed of the Upgrade Process. There two main goals of the year, academic wise, between now and the end of the year but especially between now and September where the Upgrade paper is due to be sent in. Yes, I now have a time frame within which to complete the Upgrade paper whereas before I did not, hence the need to spend this coming week replanning and redeveloping strategies. The two main goals are as follows:


Publish, or be in the process of publishing, my second research paper


Although this shall be a challenge to achieve and I am not completely confident in being able to achieve my second published research paper during this year, I do have the belief that I might have something worth publishing this early in the Ph.D. as long as I can identify and contact the correct research journal publishers.


The research paper shall begin as a conference paper that shall be written during the next few months and presented at a Post Graduate conference in the early summer at Warwick University. The focus of the conference paper, and the eventual research paper, shall be the continually developing survey method therefore the central focus of the paper shall be the discussion of the way in which, and why, the survey explores learner perspectives and beliefs of an aspect of the phenomenon being investigated. The discussion shall additionally include the possibility of discovering new correlations and relationships between certain variables of interest, as well as discussing and evaluating the surrounding literature that has contributed towards the identification of the need for exploring particular variables and identification of correlations and relationships. Not quite sure to what extent I shall be discussing all this, but the foundations were laid with the second ARM assignment to which I had positive feedback about, which has encouraged and motivated me to push this further.  


Following the conference and if the conference paper has been received well by the audience and the organisers of the conference, then I can start exploring avenues of transforming it into a research paper and publish it in a relevant research journal although alternatively I could begin exploring these avenues before the conference depending on any advice that is received. There is no doubt that the construction of a conference paper will be an academic challenge but a natural progressive step in my academic and Ph.D. journey. Most importantly, this is something that I want to do not just to increase the chances of passing the Upgrade assessment but having the wanting to engage with the wider academic community about my methods, methodologies, and research in general. Publishing a research paper gives that opportunity for meaningful and appropriate engagement, and whilst challenging no doubt it will be an exciting endeavour of personal and professional development.


Complete the Upgrade Process


The upgrade process is the central, focussed phase of the Ph.D. research for the coming year and does involve the process of publishing a research paper because if it can be shown that the Ph.D. can produce publishable material already, it would stand the Ph.D. in an excellent position to pass the Upgrade process. It’s not an essential part of the process, but it is a desirable because the potential for a published research paper at this point demonstrates to a higher level the research’s authenticity, validity, reliability, and originality. I can’t say at this time if I feel confident in drawing out a research paper from the conference paper, but I do feel fairly confident about producing a conference paper as long as I balance the workload enough to give myself time to write the paper and use it as a platform to fully elaborate ideas up to this point on that particular survey methodology.


The other activities of the Upgrade Process are the Upgrade Report and the Upgrade Presentation. The Upgrade Report is the core feature of the Upgrade Process as this effectively communicates the proposed research: a full elaboration, within four thousand words, of the research methodology, a mention of key authors, the techniques used to identify key authors and other literature and the research methods. Essentially, the Upgrade Paper is going to elaborate fully the phenomenon of investigation, the key surrounding literature, what the methodology is and what methods shall be used to explore this phenomenon, explain why this phenomenon shall be explored and why using particular methods, why there is a need for this research, what shall be the time frame of this research, and results of any trials. There are probably more things to think about but shall have to revisit the Upgrade information on the University website and form the structure of the Upgrade paper from that.

Keeping a long story short: if the Ph.D. passes the Upgrade Process then my research shall be upgraded from Master of Philosophy level (MPhil) to Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil or Ph.D) and I have every intention for my research to be successfully upgraded!


Keep writing this blog!


Obviously, you could say, that I would want to maintain writing of this blog! The blog shall continue to focus on discussions of Philosophical perspectives of research, Methodological perspectives of research, Theoretical discussions, all in the context of Educational Research although I shall provide insights and discussions from a more general perspective when I feel the need.

All this on top of the continuous reading and writing activities for the literature review and the methodology chapters of the thesis and experimenting with different formats of the way in which the phenomenon could be investigated before settling on a set format that shall be put in place next year. As ever, I shall keep you all update with all things Philosophical and Methodological!


‘till next time, remember: Easter is on the way!


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