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Explaining your choice of methods

Quote From jojo:

i did this in ch.1 and do not have a separate methodology chapter. i also explained it as i went along whenever it came up.

Thanks Jojo! All of this does reassure me indeed :-)

Explaining your choice of methods

Thanks BilboBaggins!

I've just met with my supervisor, who confirmed everything you've told me.
She finds that the short paragraph early in the text is a good idea and would be sufficient to prevent any criticism on that point.
She also said it looks like I have been well and very hard... that kind of feedback never ceases to amaze me - I tend to think of myself as a born-procastinator :p

Anyway, problem solved for now! Now I have to get back to it if I want to take those elusive Christmas holidays (tree)

Double PhD?

======= Date Modified 15 Dec 2010 08:49:55 =======
I know someone who would have done it if his health had allowed him to, but he would have done the second PhD only once he retired... He started preliminary research for it but had to give up on the idea of a whole course.
The only thing is, you're not in your sixties, are you?
A second PhD as a career move seems quite pointless to me. However, I suppose it would make sense to do it if you value your own immediate intellectual satisfaction much more than any potential career, especially in academia. I would understand that. I don't think I would do two PhDs (I'm trying to finish one for now!) but I got into it for the sake of the research itself, not for the outcome in terms of career opportunities...

Explaining your choice of methods

Hi Patrick!

Thanks for your post.

I guess part of the problem comes from the interdisciplinary nature of my topic.

I am in an English department and I don't think that a thesis in English literature necessarily requires a whole, separate methodology chapter. I was certainly not told to write one. In fact, I wasn't even told to write a literature review! I just did it because it made sense to me, and my own research calls for it. (I know it might sound shocking, but on the other hand, maybe they said nothing because they saw I was doing it anyway - I couldn't tell!).

Because I use "tools" borrowed from social and cultural studies amongst others, I suppose I need to justify my choices a lot more than others in my department. This might explain why I'm struggling a bit, actually.

Explaining your choice of methods

Thanks Bilbo! And congratulations by the way :)

It reassures me that your methodology section comes a bit "late" too, but I couldn't do things the way you did though - I don't see how it could work for my topic. However, I just thought of another comment from my DoR - he said that because my topic is highly unusual it would be good to announce the plan of the chapter at the very start.
So I'm now thinking I could do two with one stone, with one simple short paragraph. It would explain:
- that method A fails
- that I will first look into how method A has been used (the core of my lit review) to understand the reasons why it fails
- that for those reasons I will explore the potential of method B

I guess it bothers me because this is far too simplistic - my topic is interdisciplinary and I will in fact draw from more methods, which I identify through the failures of methods A and B, the obvious ones. But perhaps I should just refrain from giving any more information in the first few pages - no matter how frustrating. If I understand my DoR's feedback correctly, this would solve the potential problem of an external "panicking" because methodology is not tackled early enough...

I'm meeting with my supervisor tomorrow - I think she's in for a headache ;-)

Explaining your choice of methods

Hi all,

I wondered if you could tell me: how far into your thesis is it ok to wait before you explain your choice of methods?

I wrote this long lit review a while back, and started to explain my choice of methods at the end of this. Feedback from my sup was that this was fine. Now I am writing another chapter and she got back to me saying that a lot of this new material should be in my lit review. I agree, but then it means that my choice of method is not justified before page 20+, and after I have done some (very basic) text analysis.

Is that acceptable? Is this an issue I should raise at the next meeting with my sup? I'm a little concerned because my Director of Research has said he would like me to bring the issue of methods earlier than I have, not later - just to be sure I don't get into trouble with a fussy external. Also, my lit review directly informs my choice of method, so I don't see how I can solve this one!

Any advice? At which point exactly do/did you bring that point up in your own work?

another job interview another load of feedback...

Well, I'm afraid that won't sort out the issue with your HOD but as far as that student is concerned, you did everything right. I've never taught undergraduates but I used to teach secondary, and I've met lecturers who ended up in sticky situations because of some students, so I have a very good idea of what I'm talking about. You protected your own back, which is always the first thing to do, and you turned the student around. I don't even see why your HOD thought he had grounds to criticize. Everyone is entitled to have their own teaching style - all that matters is that it works!

another job interview another load of feedback...

Quote From eska:

He also said I needed to get a phrase which summed up my philosophy/theory on how I deal with conflict resolution - he said he was a 'rule breaker' - whatever that means. I can't see myself doing that, far to pretentious and rigid.

I'm not sure I get that.
Did he mean you need to provide them with a mnemotechnic phrase? That could be 'breaking rules' in a sense because this would be unacademic in many ways - al in all, it is oversimplification. But I'm totally confused, I can't see why he would ask you to do that! It would work in a grammar class or an algebra class but... Nope, I don't get it! Above all, that would also be way too risky an approach if you are being observed and evaluated.

another job interview another load of feedback...

Oh my, poor Eska!

It sounds to me you've just been around the wrong people... some jealous ones, and some cowards! Sorry for the word which I find very insulting, but I think it is anything but brave to tell you you've done 'wrong' instead of saying 'someone did better' (and it's rude, by the way!).

As for the email to that student, I reckon I would have done exactly the same, If she is a problem, it is best to confront her, and the best way to do this without singling her out is to ask for a meeting by email. I see no other way! And again, not doing anything would have been a lack of courage...

Maybe I'm a bit biased but my philosophy is, if you have a problem, face it, with as much honesty as possible. I think you have done that and none of those you mention have come near it.

Chin up, you'll have the last laugh

should i quit my phd? advice urgently needed


I do, in a sense, agree with what you've been told so far. I am not at all considering quitting my PhD but I did quit another postgraduate course a while back, after completing around 80% of it. I forced myself to hang in there, but when I finally quit, I felt so good I couldn't even explain! However, that course was really bringing me down. Towards the end, I was crying every night, sometimes even in the morning, out of guilt mainly - I had never dropped out of anything before and yes, it does take courage and strength to do that! A friend of mine actually congratulated on giving up which felt weird at the time, but now, looking back, I know exactly what she meant.

That being said, I would really take the time, in your place, to examine where that frustration comes from and to weight it against the frustration you would feel if you decided to quit too - if you like your research area, it is very likely that you'd regret not finishing your project I think! Also, I think part of what you describe is a 'normal' feeling for a PhD student. I agree it is not normal for it to last, but it can also last quite a while before it goes away.

I'm totally with you on the idea to take three weeks off. Do that, but do actually take time off - try not even think about your research for the first two weeks. Who knows, that might just allow you to recharge your batteries and rekindle with the whole process!

Good luck in any case :-)

Atchoo! How to work with a cold?

Thumbs up to Joyce - I wish I had read and followed that piece of advice a few days ago! I found myself ridden with feeling of guilt and exhaustion because I tried to hard (and failed) to be productive. I do have a deadline also.
The cold's now gone, but I'm left with a bad earache and swollen aching eyes... For the eyes though I found something amazing after watching an episode of Freak Like Me on BBC iPlayer - this guy was talking about how much he loved putting warm green tea bags on his eyes and I thought 'what the heck' and went ahead and tried it. In fact, it works wonders and I couldn't recommend it enough!

How many items of clothing?

Great question Sneaks! It's good to see I'm not the only one piling up layers at the moment - I had doubts after seeing this girl half naked on her way to school earlier (some people!)... Me:

Two pairs of socks
Long-sleeved thin jumper
Big fluffy hoodie too
A sleeveless but superwarm kind of blazer when out
Leg warmers on my arms + gloves when out
Undies of course

It's all blue, yellow or black... I can't quite explain why but it makes me feel like some sort of "classy tramp"!

further study ??

In my experience, education is a vocation. You have it or you don't, but liking children is not enough. I do like children, and miserably failed to cope with the admin demands of teaching combined with a lack of intellectual stimulation in general...

I don't think we can tell you what to do but my advice for education is ... try it out! Go for a placement in a school, make it as long as you can. Odds are you'll either love it or loathe it - so you'll know if it's your calling or if you can rule it out and narrow your options down to real estate and finance. If you're in the UK you'll need a CRB check but once you have that, it's easy enough to get a placement somewhere.

I don't know much about the finance world but I suppose you could easily do the same actually - long placement, to see if it's your thing. For real estate I guess it depends on what job you have in mind exactly?

Harvard referencing questions

Hi Dunni!

Well, that makes my day - at least I feel I struggled for the greater good, hehe :-)

Harvard referencing questions

Ha, after over an hour of intense googling I finally found what I needed. If it's of interest to anyone, here it is:


If I knew how to use a search engine properly, I would have saved myself a lot of time :-s