I’m BACK! And so is my PhD.

Actually, my PhD and I have been talking for a few weeks now, but I was thinking, who could possibly want to read my drivel when it is just more of the same about narrative inquiry methods and chapter writing and the like?!

But I feel in danger of abandoning my blog altogether, so I’m here to report on the latest and greatest information about my PhD.

I’m writing one of my narrative chapters. Like all my chapters, this one is difficult, engrossing, tedious, exciting to write, but I’m having a few minor epiphanies along the way, so hopefully my supervisor won’t hate what I’m attempting.

My case studies each comprise two main people, the place and time, and a third minor person as reference for the singing teaching that takes place. One of the challenges I face is how to make interview data read as narrative, with all the attendant researcher bias and positioning it involves. The chapter must be both readable story and highly complex reporting and analysis of the data. This is hugely challenging. I am nearly ready for a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the chapter – I am about half way through the first draft, and I also need to submit a paper to the research commission for ISME, so I have a lot of work to do. I also have to weave in some of the lesson data for a fully integrated analysis.

I have decided to create headers for the threads that have emerged as important through the writing of my chapter (sometimes they don’t emerge until you do this), and to really embed myself as a character within the chapter. I hate doing this, because I want to retreat from being front and centre, but what I can see is my own bias emerging, and this is valuable in this narrative approach. My chapter is currently in three parts; the first interviews, where I elicit early recollections and information about the values and beliefs of the participants; the lesson series, where through my writing up of some of the small events in the lesson is in itself a form of narrative; and the final interviews, where my participants can reflect on what has happened over the course of the year. I am choosing this tripartite structure because in this case study, at any rate, something huge happens over the course of the year, and I want a plot device – a reveal – at the end to show how my inability to elicit some great data from the first interview has an underlying reason. I want the reader to also be taken on a story. I wonder if this is appropriate. It is actually what happened to me, so chronologically, I feel, this story is bound by its time and events.

So, that’s it. I’m in the writing phase. It feels great, but I still have some transcripts to finish for another chapter, which are tricky and annoying. I’ve been putting them off. Time to get cracking!

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