Re-developing the research proposal

posted
25-Feb-17, 10:50
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Hi Experienced PhDers

For about a month now I've felt stuck. Basically, I am in a position where I really need to redevelop my proposal. I am well into my 2nd year. My first study (of an anticipated 3 studies) is done, and the results of it though interesting mean that the original plan for the next few studies can no longer be carried out.

My supervisors are expecting 1) an updated proposal and 2) detailed plans of the next study. There are time constraints (my research is with children in schools and I need to get ethics submitted so I can recruit and get in the schools and collect data before the Summer holidays). The idea was to develop the proposal... come up with some new ideas.

The problem is - I've spent over a month what feels like "messing around" and accomplishing nothing (in reality I've read a fair bit, been working really hard at trying to do this, and come up with a few research questions that seem interesting/rubbish [depending on my perspective that day] - but still have no a broader plan for the rest of the PhD).

If anyone can offer me some words of encouragement and/or advice I would really appreciate it.

Tudor
posted
25-Feb-17, 13:21
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 4 months ago
Hi Tudor

I don't know if this helps, but mine changed a lot once I got started and, rather than doing various studies in a linear way as I had first planned, I ended up delving more into some of the 'interesting' things that were coming up, and my thesis took a much more qualitative, exploratory focus. I think the main thing is that you end up with a narrative based on your data. Is there a possibility that some of your results lead on naturally to looking at something in more depth, for example?

Best wishes with it all - you might feel stuck or uncertain for a bit, but you will work it out.
posted
25-Feb-17, 13:33
edited about 7 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Hi Experienced PhDers

For about a month now I've felt stuck. Basically, I am in a position where I really need to redevelop my proposal. I am well into my 2nd year. My first study (of an anticipated 3 studies) is done, and the results of it though interesting mean that the original plan for the next few studies can no longer be carried out.

My supervisors are expecting 1) an updated proposal and 2) detailed plans of the next study. There are time constraints (my research is with children in schools and I need to get ethics submitted so I can recruit and get in the schools and collect data before the Summer holidays). The idea was to develop the proposal... come up with some new ideas.

The problem is - I've spent over a month what feels like "messing around" and accomplishing nothing (in reality I've read a fair bit, been working really hard at trying to do this, and come up with a few research questions that seem interesting/rubbish [depending on my perspective that day] - but still have no a broader plan for the rest of the PhD).

If anyone can offer me some words of encouragement and/or advice I would really appreciate it.

Tudor


If you are reading up on current research and trying to come up with ideas then it sounds like you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. Are you trying to come up with one mind blowing idea? If so you might want to try and either break that down or come up with smaller ideas while you allow your brain the time to come up with bigger ones. It could be a patience problem or it could be that you are starting to worry about your deadline. None of those are ideal places to be mentally but it can be impossible to ignore them. Does any of that feel familiar?
posted
25-Feb-17, 18:31
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Thanks for taking the time to write both.

Yes pm133 - definitely the awareness about the deadline is affecting my ability - especially as I have already gone past the date I had set for myself.

Chickpea - that is exactly what I am hoping to do - delve further into the issues I've started to uncover.

Hopefully in a few days/weeks I will update this thread and say I have a proposal in place.
posted
25-Feb-17, 21:41
edited about 26 seconds later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 4 months ago
Tudor Queen, I am not sure of the methodology that you are using but is your primary proposal focused on testing a central hypothesis or is it exploratory. If it is an exploratory study with some qualitative data, then your proposal can be based on questions that help you explore the topic. So given that the first study is interesting but not what you expected, do any questions arise or does this change the sorts of questions you might ask in the next study.

By questions, I am not talking about survey questions for the students (if you are doing surveys) but questions like:How does using BIggle Boggs reading program impact on children's word fluency in their first year of education ? This could be part of a bigger question in your whole thesis that addresses-what impacts do early childhood reading programs have on second language speakers in year 3 and 4? (Pulling any old idea out of a hat at the moment-so it might not make sense).

My data fell through in what would have been the second year of my thesis (part time) due to participant apathy and in desperation I created a data set and question that was fairly out of left field (and only sort of related) but actually makes sense now. However, it has meant that I have added an extra research question into the whole thesis.

So where I had two primary questions I was hoping to address, I now have three. The thesis addresses all three questions but that actual central idea or different piece of knowledge that really ties it together only developed after I had collected, analysed and written up all three data sections and then when I was writing the discussion and conclusion chapter I got what it was really all about. So changed my title-reworked in the extra question, reorganised chapters to make it seamless, rather than clunky , etc. I don't think this is uncommon but it is scary while you are going through the process. You will get there, be kind to yourself and just keep swimming.
posted
27-Feb-17, 17:38
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Hi Pjlu, thanks for your reply. We are on the same page in terms of the kinds of questions we are talking about. The overarching aim of my thesis has now changed, so I need to really think about what it is about now, and then come up with some new research questions that are in line with that aim/major research question (or vice versa - questions first, overarching theme later, as you did). It feels a bit like being at the beginning again - except at least I have one study under my belt - which will relate to the new ones I come up with.

Thanks for your encouragement. When you went through this process was it with your supervisors' close/distal guidance or were you more or less alone?
posted
27-Feb-17, 20:12
edited about 13 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 4 months ago

Thanks for your encouragement. When you went through this process was it with your supervisors' close/distal guidance or were you more or less alone?


My main supervisor has always provided emotional support in that she has listened sympathetically to my issues throughout the thesis. The other supervisor is better for a sort of friendly, non emotional, brisk feedback on aspects of chapter drafts or other structural matters-but I only see her very occasionally as she is so busy. However, with regard to finding solutions and anything else, I have been on my own. First supervisor will extend thinking or seek to clarify when I present ideas and provide feedback to my written work regularly. I haven't always been able to access them though. My meetings with first supervisor are generally one meeting every 8 weeks (it would be four weekly if I were full time). In between that time I have just been working on my own.

During my data collection when things went pear shaped (as it does with data at times), I pretty much came up with solutions, trials and tried to dig my way out of the hole I was in by myself. It was more like first supervisor was peering over the top of the hole going 'you can do it come on'-metaphorically speaking, but not acting or throwing in a rope to help. Does this make sense? it was hard-still is hard but I'm now at the stage when I can see the finish line in the distance and believe it has been worth it. (Although I might change my mind after examination results-that is probably much later on at the end of this year if I can keep to my current timeline). Best wishes...it is a tough time...

PS: I thought I might add also that neither supervisors have expertise in my topic. Their areas are quite different. I was assigned main supervisor based on availability and some very general similarities and second supervisor came in when another senior person who was assigned to be on my panel moved on.
posted
27-Feb-17, 21:11
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
That's good. My supervisors don't give verbal encouragement (that's why I come to this forum!). Thankfully, they read my drafts and give feedback though.

Quote From Pjlu:
PS: I thought I might add also that neither supervisors have expertise in my topic. Their areas are quite different. I was assigned main supervisor based on availability and some very general similarities and second supervisor came in when another senior person who was assigned to be on my panel moved on.


Do you have someone else you talk to who has expertise then? Just wondered. I am moving away from my main supervisor's expertise, and I was actually thinking of changing supervisors for that reason...
posted
28-Feb-17, 06:27
edited about 5 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
That's good. My supervisors don't give verbal encouragement (that's why I come to this forum!). Thankfully, they read my drafts and give feedback though.

Quote From Pjlu:
PS: I thought I might add also that neither supervisors have expertise in my topic. Their areas are quite different. I was assigned main supervisor based on availability and some very general similarities and second supervisor came in when another senior person who was assigned to be on my panel moved on.


Do you have someone else you talk to who has expertise then? Just wondered. I am moving away from my main supervisor's expertise, and I was actually thinking of changing supervisors for that reason...


No I don't have a mentor in my area at all really. It has been quite an isolated study with regard to that...I discuss the topic occasionally with other professionals or friends when they ask, but not for long as it can become too involved. I mainly get to share if I present to others. And that is more about methods or practice, or one of the outlier subsidiary topics not the main one. It has been a bit difficult in respect to that...however, I think my topic is worth it and now I am coming close to the end, my supervisors certainly seem to think so as well. Time will tell I guess...
posted
28-Feb-17, 17:12
edited about 21 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
That is awesome - I hope I can say the same in a year and a half. Thanks again for the encouragement - really needed it.
posted
17-Mar-17, 18:22
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 months ago
Really glad to be able to report that this is coming together a bit now (although I myself am falling apart it seems!).

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