September 06, 2018

Reflections Of Ph.D. Work: March till Now!

Before taking some time off I shall be reflecting on the given time period. It has certainly been a period of change for the research directions, research questions, research design and the thesis structure.

As I have said before, Ph.D. research goes through seasons of change in almost like a domino effect where changes to one aspect lead to changes in another. In the case of this research within this time period, slight alterations to research directions came as a result of what I was beginning to observe in the data. What I was observing in the data became incompatible with grounded theory and therefore, there was a need to alter the research design and, subsequently, the structure of the thesis. I do not need to talk about these changes in this post as they have been talked about extensively throughout the blog, so feel free to refer to blog posts from March to now to find methodological discussions.

On reflection, I had doubted grounded theory somewhat for a while but I thought that I might have been misunderstanding its use within the context of my research. However as I questioned the relationship between grounded theory and symbolic interactionism, the more I found symbolic interaction as a theoretical framework incompatible with my research.

I attempted to separate grounded theory from symbolic interactionism. Initially I thought it would work, but then I started to become aware of and interested in other data characteristics that I became interested in further but were realised to be incompatible with any version of grounded theory. Eventually I came to realise that the best way to approach the exploration of the phenomenon of interest in the context of the research questions and objectives is to merge various concepts and aspects of different analytical methods together. This shall obviously need careful examination, evaluation, critique and explanations in the thesis.

These academic challenges have led to what I believe shall be a stronger thesis in terms of its breadth, depth and scope of evidencing the need for the research and the need for the way in which I am carrying out this research. I am in a more comfortable and confident position now with the Ph.D. research, but never complacent. Although I have changed methodologies, methods and ideas several times through intellectual engagement with the literature and with the data (this shall be discussed in the thesis), I feel that my research is now in a stronger position.

After time away from the Ph.D., during the next few months up to Christmas I plan to return to the data analysis, whilst writing the research design chapter concurrently particularly the section on detailing comprehensively the process of developing the coding scheme and the themes. I really believe that it is beneficial to write sections of the methodology chapter and carry out data analysis concurrently. I feel that I can detail the process more at the time of going through the stages and phases of data analysis, instead of trying to remember what I did after the process is complete.

There is no doubt I shall be continuing to write about my data analysis experiences on here, and, of course, to a greater detail in the thesis!

‘till next time!

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