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January 13, 2017
Hello dear readers and welcome back to the blog at the start of a new year, 2017! It appears that you’ve all recovered from eating far too much turkey (insert vegetarian alternative) and consumed far too much cola (as if) so you can get down to the serious nitty gritty of understanding what I am going to be talking about so if anyone can work out what it is I am saying during the year, do let me know!
The year is shaping up to be the busiest year yet for the Ph.D. with the key tasks of the year being the formal drafting of early draft thesis chapters namely the background, literature review and methodology chapters, and also contribute significantly towards the development of the theoretical framework, which shall be the main output of this research. There are going to be various opportunities during the year such as attending research conferences and also writing conference papers as well as research papers, as well as taking part in various courses that shall help improve my skills and myself as a professional in general. It’s a bit too early to begin writing research papers so I predict that around half of the year will be spent working on the theoretical framework as well as drafting the thesis chapters. Opportunities for conference papers will come in the summertime and probably around autumn time I shall be ready to formally approach research journals to ask if they would be interested in a paper idea of mine at the time, more than likely based on an emerging theoretical framework but not sure if this is actually possible. Either way, I shall be searching for many opportunities to get myself published beyond the blogosphere.
Speaking of the blog, what’s the aim of this blog for the next year?
For the past couple of years, I have been writing primarily about the development of the research design and longer term readers shall probably remember the many changes this design went through before being settled on a research design. That’s the way research projects work! Now that I am much more settled on a research design (still some specifics to work through but in general it’s in place) and the general phenomenon of interest, assuming that everything is alright with the design I am changing the purpose of the blog. I want to engage more at the philosophical level because I am developing a substantial and deeper fascination with philosophy particularly in relation to research design. Therefore, discussions are going to be shifting more towards general methodological and philosophical discussions but still keep these grounded in the context of my own research. What I mean by this is, discuss different philosophical theories and perspectives and engage with debates and discussions about methodologies in the context of my own research design e.g, realism, case study and grounded theory, but also where appropriate and necessary discuss other philosophical and methodological approaches. The idea is to now slowly and carefully build philosophical justifications for the research design, and contribute towards existing debates and discussions. Obviously not everything will be discussed on this blog as a lot of ideas to come will probably be kept for research papers and the thesis, but anything I feel is appropriate and general for this blog I shall put it up on here. I will still be writing weekly or fortnightly posts keeping you all up to date with progress and shall be writing on here about my engagement with theory development, data management, thesis chapter structure and writing, and perhaps discuss specific research papers but primarily the focus is going to shift more towards philosophy of research designs. The overall aim of the blog is still to chart and track my thinking, through processes, and development of these.
It’s going to be a challenging and exciting year with potentially lots of opportunities and possibilities, and I will keep those interested up to date through this blog!
Welcome to the New Year, and welcome back to my academic blog!
January 03, 2016
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!
December 11, 2015
Well this is about the final blog post for the year! Well that’s the plan anyway but given that I could come up with a potential blog post discussion at any time I will probably post up more anyway, I can’t really predict it and I shall not fight any opportunity to post up my ideas, but regardless at the moment I do not have any plans to post up anymore this year.
So then, all the scheduled formal plans and activities of the year have been completed and have gone further with things than I originally planned, and this is something that I am very pleased with because I can now move the project forward onto the next phase as has been discussed and confirmed by a conversation I had with my supervisor, sooner than I had expected. I have written a schedule for next year and have written a detailed schedule for the next few months up to Easter but as I have experienced in the past there is little point in making extensive long term plans because plans can change depending on the efficiency of completing particular tasks at particular times. But regardless, planning is important so that you can have a guide as to where you are going and place priorities on upcoming tasks and activities.
So, the next step really is to intensify Philosophical, Ontological and Methodological thinking. Now that I know what methodology shall be used along with the methods, I can now intensify thinking specific to them and their specific application within my own research. This will be an academic challenge as I will be going to levels of thinking that I have probably never reached before, but in order to progress and proceed and develop ourselves as individuals we need to take that leap of faith and go for it. This shall contribute towards the completion of the Literature Review and Methodological chapters of the thesis. This will obviously go beyond Easter but the important thing is to engage with this more intensified level of thinking as early as is possible.
The other next step is to think about the practical issues of the research and in this case: what is the specific context of the research or in other words what are the participants, what shall be their characteristics, what shall be their interests and in what way shall I engage with them and in what way shall I encourage them to take part in the research? Additionally, what technology shall be the focus, and in what way will they be used? Will they be used to compare certain learning processes between different groups of learners? Will they be used to compare different learning characteristics between different technologies? Some of this I have worked out and some of this I have not. Current ideas were presented to the supervisor and he was happy with them but obviously they need more elaboration. I have had more ideas about the context specifics following the discussion that I had with him earlier, so shall confirm these ideas with him at a later time!
The other key next step is basically develop a better understanding of the methodological issues surrounding the methods and methodology of the research: reliability, verifiability, validity, generalisability, and work out the ways in which each of these, and more, shall be mitigated and managed, along with, for example, the way that the issues identified in a particular method can be mitigated through using other methods that are proposed.
Another plan for up to next Easter is to begin thinking about the conference paper. Warwick University has a post graduate research conference yearly, and at the next conference I plan to present a conference paper with the intention of trying to turn it into a full on research paper at a later time. The conference paper shall be based on the questionnaire method that I am developing, which I have the belief of being quite unique and original but shall have to do some more literature searching and investigating before I can really say that my questionnaire is unique. Plus, I’ll be redesigning the questionnaire as well.
Those along with considering the structure of the Upgrade paper are the key tasks for the months leading up to Easter, and of course beyond but by Easter I’ll have a better idea of what I can complete up to the later summer months.
Lots to do but in the meantime I’m now on a Christmas holiday! I have literature to search for but there shall be no intensive thinking sessions or beginning of any new tasks till after Christmas. I might post up a couple more blog posts during the smaller literature search tasks if I feel inspired to do so, but I don’t formally plan to do so. But then, when has research and idea development ever followed a formal time frame?
Hoping you have all enjoyed my blog posts during the past few months and during the past year. If I do not post on here again till next year, hoping you all have a Merry Christmas / Solstice / Yule / Pancha Ganapati / Hanukkah / whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year, and have a wonderful New Year!
‘till next time, be good, else Santa won’t deliver you any presents!