December 04, 2016

Key Highlights From The Upgrade Presentation

The upgrade presentation, including the subsequent time spent with the supervisor, took up about four hours. Reflecting back that might appear like a long time, but this was a crucial time where my own concerns were confirmed leading to a change in methodology and explorations of the phenomenon of interest. This blog post highlights the key insights of the upgrade presentation:


Revert Methodology Back To Grounded Theory


Methodological concerns that I had realised and had been playing on my mind since submitting the original upgrade paper, and therefore was too late to do anything about these concerns, were confirmed. As I personally predicted, and hoping for, the grounded theory aspects were well received and my passion for the grounded theory appreciated, but the questionnaire and general mixed methods methodology were dropped as a result of the assessors confirming my own concerns.


Whilst I appreciate that some Ph.D. researchers would view this as a negative outcome; for me, this was a positive outcome. The fact that I realised concerns about the questionnaire aspect before being told by Professors simply builds my confidence in my own ability to identify methodological faults before being told by those far more qualified. Plus, a little while before the presentation began I told myself that as long as I can continue with the grounded theory research that is all that really matters from a methodological perspective. This has been achieved, and therefore I consider this a positive outcome.


Update Upgrade Paper With New Insights


Since the completion of the upgrade paper, I have had new insights and ideas into what exactly I am exploring. Aspects of the upgrade paper are therefore to be rewritten, whilst other aspects (namely the literature review and all references to grounded theory) are to be left as they are. The methodological section is to go through a near complete rewrite in order to completely remove all references to mixed methods and replace with grounded theory. Objectives, research questions, discussions of anticipated findings, and the introduction aspects of the grounded theory trial are to be updated to reflect insights and directions that I have considered since the completion of the upgrade paper.


This is the way the Ph.D. works: you cannot submit a certain paper then stop work till you receive feedback or attend a presentation. The work simply continues at the regular pace. As I explored the data and continued to code data during the trial study, the need to perhaps redefine phenomenon of interest started to emerge during the data coding, and became obvious during the upgrade presentation. Again, this confirmed my own ideas and concerns that I had about my own approaches. Again, a positive outcome.


Use Of Literature And Critique Of Literature


The literature review aspect of the upgrade paper is to be left as it is as the literature review approach impressed the assessors from what I could make out, including the analysis and synthesis of literature and the use of literature to evidence the need for my research. Additionally, the assessors do not appear to have any concerns about my writing and my ability to write a thesis: my supervisor has even encouraged me to write conference and research papers as soon as I am in the position to do so. This is obviously a key, important outcome of the upgrade paper because if they had concerns about my writing and my ability to write a thesis then it would be just silly to continue it.


I personally feel that I can write a thesis. I personally feel that I can write conference and research papers; if anything, the upgrade presentation has simply boosted my confidence in my ability to do so. That’s not to say that I think I know everything: there is still much to learn about constructing a thesis but I am learning and refining my skills all the time. Reading theses certainly has helped.


I have started some literature review work, but will have to put most of the work towards it on hold whilst I update the upgrade paper.


In all however, this was a key, positive outcome!



Use Of Grounded Theory


Assessors appeared to have no problems with my use and understanding of grounded theory nor did they appear to have any problems with the way that I explained the use of grounded theory in the upgrade paper. Although, personally, I might make some changes to relevant aspects of the upgrade paper to upgrade my thoughts of grounded theory that have developed since the original submission of the upgrade paper.



Overall:


Personally I think I did alright. Could have been better I suppose but the supervisor said that I performed and came across well with what I was saying. What was interesting was the background of the assessors background: they had a background in language (Professorships) and discourse, and were viewing my research from a discursive, linguistic perspective rather than my own technical, process based approach. Never actually thought about what I am doing from a discourse, linguistic approach and I appreciated their insights, and might be something to consider more significantly whilst developing the theory.


What I am particularly pleased about with my own general approach was having my own concerns about my own methodology confirmed, along with being offered the chance to update the paper with insights and ideas that I have developed since the submission of the upgrade paper.


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