Advice on something my supervisors want me to do in my thesis please...


I am writing the first draft of my proposal at the moment for my first review in the middle of May. At my last supervision my supervisors suggested that I write a brief autobiographical section at the beginning of each chapter, that would relate to the content of that chapter. They thought it would be a nice touch as my research is based on personal experience and is entirely qualitative and reflexive. The research method I am predominantly using is a psychoanalytic analysis of autobiographical narratives as well so if I write some little narratives it would be consistent with the methodology.

This proposal I'm writing now is basically an overview of the project and I want to include the little narratives that I will be writing but I'm not sure how to explain it properly. This is what I have at the moment, and I am aware this isn't very well written:

I also intend to include brief autobiographical sections, perhaps to introduce each chapter as personal experience and opinions have been the principal motivations behind this project. As I frequently feel detached from the equestrian community, both due to my own childhood and out of choice, I consider myself to be in an interesting and advantageous position where I can criticise aspects of the equestrian community, particularly in terms of how they associate with the Irish travelling community. I would like the brief autobiographical introductions to each chapter of the thesis to link sophisticatedly with the chosen research method and the content included in the ensuing chapter.

Does this make some sense? And has anyone else had to do something like this before in their PhD or related articles they have written?

Thanks, Natassia x


Think something about the 'reflexive function of writing' would be relevant....


Hey Natassia! Sounds cool to me, though I've never heard of anyone doing anything like this before. But my own thoughts and feelings about my subject have been massively informed by watching my own two grandads fade away whilst suffering from dementia (well one is still alive, but only has months to live), and they are my inspiration for this project because it affected them so differently, in a way that really informs what I am studying. But of course, there is little opportunity to bring this experience into my thesis, so I think it would be really good to do what you are thinking of. I can't really offer much advice on how to go about it though, but what you have written seems reasonably clear to me! Best, KB


Thanks KB - have had feedback from one of them and he was quite pleased with what I had written, it is only part of a first draft anyway. I think it would be a good thing to do as well - one of my supervisors saw it in a journal article (I think) and decided that I should do it as well - maybe I can start a little trend?!

I think that everyone's thesis idea comes from somewhere, in the social sciences and humanities especially, I think that I read somewhere before that you will be dedicating it to your grandparents. I'll think I'll be doing something similar.



I haven't actually done this myself but I know of one well-known thinker who did something similar many times.

In French philosophy one of the central textual forms is the interview where one thinker questions another. I know this may not sound very academic to Anglo-American thinkers but it actually is. Although these read as interviews, and were often intially conducted as such, the inital audio recordings are often later taken away and transcribed with the interviewee then vigorously editing or even re-writing their intial spoken answer.

Anyway many of the interviews with Michel Foucault - try the collection called 'Foucault Live' although there are other relevant texts - begin with a biographical example of how he got interested in an area of research ad how his experiences influenced his research goals, methodology etc. This is particularly the case in relation to his early books on psychiatry and medical clinics that were informed by his experiences working in such institutions.

He has also written a book on the self-reflexivity of writing; although it is very hard to understand even for the work of this writer. Its called 'Death and the Labyrinth'.



Thanks Biddysbottom for the interesting and helpful response - I will definitely look into that. I am quite familiar with Foucault but mainly in the context of Foucaultian discourse analysis, I agree he is difficult to read but I will give it my best shot, and I'm sure my supervisors will help me as they like Foucault as well.


======= Date Modified 03 Mar 2011 10:33:55 =======
Edit: double post