Getting ready for the fieldwork and a little the-end-of-year-two note
I’m going home next week for my fieldwork and will be there for the whole semester (four months). It has been quite a while since I went through my panel review in January this year. So, what had I done in the past SEVEN months? You might have seen in my earlier posts that I had worked on the ethical approval process and some conference presentations. Recently, I have just submitted an article to the Cambridge Open Review Educational Research Journal (find out more about the journal here). Still, my priority is getting ready for my fieldwork in my home country!
I started to write chunks of my thesis draft as suggested by Richard, my supervisor. So far, I have had the introductory part of my thesis (which includes the opening, background to my study and a review of literature or some possible theoretical framework) and the methodology chapter. The benefits of drafting these parts of the thesis before going to the field cannot be underestimated. Certainly, I’ll have to rewrite all of them in the writing-up stage, but this drafting has helped me, theoretically, methodologically and psychologically!
First, when trying to write the opening part of the thesis (i.e. “the introduction to the study and the thesis”), I had to think back (to the time before the panel) what exactly I want to do and why because it has been a while and my memory is not so good. This part of the thesis is very short (a page and a half for mine) but it helps me frame how I want my thesis to look like and what path I want to walk on.
Second, I developed my approved proposal into the methodology chapter. In this chapter, I have written specifically on the detailed methods of data generation/collection. In the proposal, I used the future tense when describing “the plan”. This time, I have been using the past tense (e.g. I sent out an abc and asked my participants to blah blah blah) so that I will not have to change the tense again after the data generation process. J I have also kept a research journal about how my thinking has changed and why while writing.
Third, my thesis draft is now about 9,000-word long. Quantitatively, I feel that I have had something in my hands, and that something is about 1/8 of my thesis! This is the reason why I said the drafting has helped me psychologically. There’s still a long way to go, but I will not have to start from zero when I return from my fieldwork. And let’s discuss the quality later on.
Finally, this month also marks the end of the year two of my PhD studies. I have done quite a number of things which wouldn’t be possible without my supervisory team. I’d like to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Richard Fay, my main supervisor for his help, support, encouragement and some healthy amount of pressure he has given to me. Sometimes I am afraid that Richard might think that I haven’t learned anything from him (especially in academic writing) but he’s so kind me. Thank you so very much Richard for putting up with me.