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A PhD thesis with just 2 case studies?

Mine was an ethnographic study of one department. The analysis examined the department in the bigger picture of the organisation, and then narrowed down to department level. Each of the (three) analysis chapters included a life history narrative of either one or two of the department members - they were each about 18000 words long. Only using one department did not prove to be an issue - if doing an ethnography, see the work of Harry Wolcott. One of his ethnographies is based on an examination of one school principal.

3 months into my PhD and I'm already thinking about quitting. Am I screwed?

You sound like you are having doubts about your ability to do the PhD. Everyone I know who has done one / is doing one has these. Embrace the mess and confusion - that is how you become an independent thinker. A neat little project is not a PhD, and sounds like you would just be following someone else's thinking. The first year of a PhD is about finding out, exploring and trying things out. If your supervisor is not happy with what you produce, they will tell you. Although I did mine part-time over six years, I was lucky if I saw my supervisor two or three times a year. At the same time, you will soon find out what is relevant and what is not. I went into my topic way too deeply at the start and stressed whether I had managed to find every single piece of literature related to it. You need to find literature that will inform what you do, rather than the 'scattergun' approach that I did. It is easy in hindsight to say that now. I just think if you have invested this much emotional time in a PhD, there will be regrets about quitting.

Narrative analysis in ethnography

There are loads of suitable texts on analysing narratives from an ethnography. As well as the afore-mentioned Reissman book, Gubrium and Holstein's (2008) Analysing Narrative Reality is a good introduction. There is also the Handbook of Narrative Research edited by Jean Clandinin. The most useful for me in terms of putting things into context when analysing narratives from an ethnography was a book by Harry Wolcott called Transforming Qualitative Data. He breaks the data down into Description, Analysis and Interpretation. The work of Andrew C Sparkes, Brett Smith and Arthur Frank are all worth looking at depending upon your area of interest. Finally as a means of considering your own reflexive position within the ethnography, The Ethnographic Self (1999) by Amanda Coffey is fantastic.

Which one comes first??

Addressing the literature will demonstrate that you have an understanding of the nature of the problem.

Thoughts on Cardiff Metropolitan

Some brilliant qualitative stuff in sport coming out of there. I know a few staff that would make excellent supervisors if doing something qualitative related to to sociology in coaching / PE / sport.

EdD or PhD - advice / experiences?

There would be more chance of getting peer reviewed papers from a PhD than an EdD. HE institutions are looking for appointments that are REFable for 2020. Although you would qualify as an early career researcher, it is unlikely that you would get a significant number of papers out of it which may leave you in limbo after the two papers were complete. As an employer, I would possibly have concerns about the level of methodological training an EdD would give in comparison to a PhD, but I can see its purpose in ITE. Ultimately the research question you are asking should answer which route to choose. I would recommend the PhD part-time as the process would give you a better grounding in research. It is not something to undertake just to get the qualification as soon as possible.

Teaching hours as GTA - query

If it was me, I would be keen to go to the lecture regardless; to ensure that I had my own context for the seminar. How can you tailor your seminar to the lecture if you have not been? As a GTA, you are unlikely to be an 'expert' on the topic, and when teaching in HE, I believe it is more about challenging assumptions, rather than reinforcing them. If you are only thinking about the PhD at the end, that is disappointing. The GTAs in my department are keen to pick up as much knowledge and understanding as possible of a multitude of topics that will help them further down the line in their prospective HE careers. By attending the lecture, they are seeing the pedagogy of working with large groups in action. The dynamics of seminar teaching by comparison are very different. I will often get my GTAs to give their own perspective to the cohort of undergraduates during the lecture. I am happy for them to ask questions while I teach. They might not agree with my interpretation, but it is good for the undergraduates present to see debate and different perspectives. By attending a lecture, they are going through the process of equipping themselves to be better teachers and researchers, rather than focussing only upon their final PhD. By querying a few hours here and there, I would be concerned that my GTAs were not really interested in a lifelong career in academia, and were only really interested in the kudos gained by earning a PhD.

Constructing a Conceptual Framework

"This technique allows me to construct a conceptual framework but it relies on semantics and my interpretation. I would like to reduce this reliance by linking the components using a technique which is independent of the person making the links. That is the technique reduces bias and produces the same groupings no matter who performs the groupings."

Ontologically one could argue that it is impossible to use a technique which is independent of the person making the links. I think you simply have to show your link with your criteria and then justify it based upon your own positionality and reflexivity. I think as long as you justify what you did, how you have done it, and the reasons why you have done it in your methodology chapter, then you could comfortably defend it.

About to quit qualitative phd

I think you should choose a narrative approach that focuses upon how exercise has contributed to the recovery of the participants (if indeed exercise has). The narratives could be shaped by Arthur Frank's 'The Wounded Story Teller' - which deals with Restitution / Hope / Chaos. The stories of your participants should be able to be applied to a narrative, although they will be shaped by time and space.

You have so much data, that you should easily be able to manipulate it into a thesis. The work of Andrew C. Sparkes and Brett Smith on Spinal Chord injury amongst rugby players would also be worth considering in demonstrating how your findings would look.

Two books worth reading are 'Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences' by Reissman (the standard narrative text) and 'Analysing Narrative Reality' by Gubrium and Holstein.

Best of luck with it.

summer holidays for phd students??

Writing a paper for a conference / writing a paper for publication. Can cite them when I come to write up.

Methodology chapter HELL!

Mine was 25000 words and could have easily been longer. It depends what type of research you are doing. Mine was ethnographical and also dealt with life history and narrative. Addressed the following:

Research frameworks.
Justification for qualitative / ethnography.
Methods of generating data (Experiencing / Inquiring / Examining).
Access to the field.
Methodological dilemmas in the field (Beginning / Middle / End).
Leaving the field.
Analysis (Narrative).

I included some of the methodological dilemmas I encountered in the field from a reflexive diary and interview transcripts throughout to demonstrate that the methodology is a work in process and is never complete until the thesis is submitted.

Hope this helps.

Qualitative help

The first piece of advice I can give is not to go in thinking about how you will be generating your data. This is why an understanding of the different methodological approaches is so vital. There should be no problem situating your research in the office and doing observation, but use aspects such as unsolicited conversations, and documentary evidence or even photo elicitation to support the observations. Subjective bias is fine as long as it is acknowledged and built into your methodology. Acknowledge your reflexive role throughout the data generation process. Wolcott (and many others discuss making the familiar strange and the strange familiar if you are close to the circumstances). Even simple things pinned on notice boards may say something, or the lack of something on a noticeboard may also be important. For example, when I have used documentary evidence in the past there were always things like rules pinned up, and often loads of notices would be pinned over the top of them - basically that was saying something in itself. For anything 'ethnographic' I would recommend (as well as Creswell, 2013) that you look at Wolcott - Ethnography / Wolcott - The Art of Fieldwork / Wolcott - Transforming Qualitative Data and definitely Ethnography: Principles and Practice - Hammersley & Atkinson (2008).

I personally wouldn't touch Grounded Theory. For Phenomenology, you will need a series of very in-depth interviews with the participants. Is it your co-workers lived everyday experiences that your question focuses upon? The main issue with methodology is to ensure that it is fit for the purpose of the research question. Many of the different qualitative methodologies share similar means of collecting data anyway. For example you could have an ethnographic case study or grounded theory informed by ethnography. I personally find narrative or biographical as the most interesting methodologies. Depending upon your question and what you want to find out, this will ultimately shape your methodology and the methods that you use to generate your data (Remember that there is a distinction).

Best of luck. Let me know a rough question and I can post further advice if interested.

MSc Football Rehabilitation

As it is led by Mark Leather, one of the top chartered football physios in the country, I am not sure why you would look for alternatives. Having previously worked for twelve years in both professional and international football, he is highly rated in the profession. Two of the other staff are chartered, are from professional football, and are highly regarded.

Paradigm, Ontology, Epistemology

Ontology - how you view social reality.
Epistemology - how you come to know social reality.
Paradigm - set of beliefs / assumptions that guide actions.

Who is the better footballer - Ronaldo or Messi?
Positivist epistemology - would focus upon who had scored the most goals, who was quickest over a specific distance / measure how high they could jump etc. A positivist would focus upon determining this through objective and measureable quantities. Epistemologically you would come to know this through tests that were set up / observations / sending out large numbers of questionnaires to get statistical data etc and look at your quantitative evidence..

Interpretivist would take into account who else was in the team, the opposition that they played against, the positions that they took up on the field, how they felt on the day / how coachable they were etc. These would not be seen as measurable as such, but would be based upon perceptions and opininions. These would take into account temporal factors of time and space etc. You would come to know this through observation, interviewing so called experts etc. You might keep a reflexive diary of how you think that they have played.

Where you sat on the continuum between positivism and interpretivism would determine your position or the paradigm that you situated yourself in. Other paradigms could include critical, if for example you thought Ronaldo was discriminated against because he wasn't playing for Barcelona, and therefore is perceived to have less media exposure (just a thought!). The critical paradigm would seek to draw attention to this and change it. Without trying to complicate matters you could start to look at post-structuralism which takes into account relationships of power.

The paradigm determines how you will approach your research, which in turn determines how you will collect, record and analyse your data, and present your findings. The positivist would show who was the better player through a series of graphs and numbers etc, the interpretivist would look for their data in transcripts / notes etc.

Hope this helps.

How long's a piece of string - timescales for ethnography

Meant to add that for your proposal you could look at Wolcott's idea in your methodology.

Data collection split into:

This takes into account all the methods that you would use for collecting your data as part of a school based ethnography. From unsolicited conversations, interviews, observations through to documentary evidence.