Notes to self: Reflections on writing an MSc module assignment
Rather than what I have learnt through the feedback, I would like to reflect on two mental notes I made to myself while actually writing the assignment – and I only did one, so it shouldn’t have been that strenuous a task really. There were moments though when it felt as if I was climbing Everest – the bit near the top where the oxygen levels are low and therefore the climbing is even harder!
So my first mental note was NEVER, EVER, EVER work backwards again!
I think that between working out what data collection methods I wanted to trial and talking to my supervisor, where the ideas were bounced around and developed, I somehow lost the plot of why I was doing what I was doing. I knew what I was doing, but had lost track of the why (which probably wasn’t very well formed to start with), particularly with regards to the ‘gap in the literature’ that I was trying to respond to (which I actually never had anyway). This resulted in two or three weeks of frantic searching for that ‘gap’ after I had collected my data. After several attempts where I felt I was manipulating the gap towards my data collection tools and writing stuff that I really wasn’t happy with, I decided to start with the data, rewrite the research questions and fortunately, eventually, the gap followed from that. I have vowed to myself never to work like this again, mainly because of the stress levels it induced, but also because I don’t think it is the best way to go about research. Why I am doing it, how it fits within the literature and the RQs are the key starting point. I think I need to stick that on my wall as a sort of mantra.
The second was a reminder to myself that the whole writing process is hard work and time consuming and that fact shouldn’t take me by surprise every time I start a new piece of work. Just because the last one worked out OK, doesn’t mean that the next will just flow out as an almost finished product immediately. I need to remember that the last one went through the same birthing experience that this one will need to go through. There was lots of drafting, re-drafting, re-structuring etc. until I had something that I was happy with and seemed to make up a coherent whole. Another mantra for the wall perhaps.