Today I submitted my finished PhD and my filled out submission form to my supervisors for a read prior to next week’s meeting.
I’m done now.
Haven’t written in the blog for a while because I’ve not had a chance to work on the PhD since I started back at work and my kids came to visit for a holiday. But the DH has now read it and made some salient points about what I still need to do. He liked the narrative chapters a lot. He reported that after the very deep and dense literature and methods chapters that he just needed some data. I agreed. He also said the literature needed more signposting, and that the headers in the Methods chapter weren’t always working. I agree, but when you’re stuck with two types of fonts in varying shades of underline or italics then you’ve not much option except for size.
He thought my argument in the literature was fine. He thought my ideas were fine. So, it’s once again just super structure. This is easy to fix with a few diagrams that show where the literature is headed. Clearly while I’ve signposted the links in writing, my visual DH needs a picture or 2 for clarity and brevity, dare I say. So if he needs it, so will others.
I’ve still to finish the discussion but I’m going to give it a red hot go on the weekend – it shouldn’t be too hard to bed down now. I think I’m going to have to argue for an extension on length as I’ve three quite long narrative chapters that are central to my thesis and I can’t lose those. Also my discussion chapter deserves space and it’s not yet finished.
I looked just now at my concluding chapter and the master apprentice paradigm I’m trying to articulate is not completely visible here, so I’ll have to spend a bit of time managing this. Nevertheless, it is nearly done. I can see where to fix it. I’m sending it to my supervisor next week so it is very close to completed. Whether it’s any good…well, I can’t say. I just don’t know any more. I know I can write. I know I can research. Are my arguments any good? Do they work? There’s certainly a philosophical underpinning I’m having difficulty articulating. Something about artistry. Which I don’t have time or space to explore. Gah. That’s a journal article for another day.
I’m having a sneaky peek at the raw video data from my study. In one way it’s reconnecting me to my participants but in another it’s reminding me of the approach of my teachers and how different they are in each case.
There’s so much lovely stuff here. I’d forgotten! The stuff I’ve written in my narrative certainly mirrors the raw data, so that’s a relief. I could do more analysis but hey: no. But I’m enjoying this last looking back prior to closing the chapter (so to speak) on this time in my life.
My discussion chapter is dribbling along rather unwillingly but I’m starting to see where my findings have negated some of my literature. Whew. When one is on the edge of the precipice, the fear is palpable. Have I said enough? Is what I have written even relevant or am I drawing a long bow?
Plus I’m not sleeping. So I’m exhausted.
Bless my DH and everyone else for not really understanding why I need to be left alone now. For weeks and weeks and weeks.
Because when you’re in flow it’s so easy to be there. But when you’re out of the flow state it’s like pulling teeth to get back in. And my PhD is waiting for no one. Certainly not me.
Gah. Besides which, my flow state keeps being interrupted by new literature that I feel I need to investigate in order to show an up-to-date-ness of reading. And that interrupts flow, too.
I think one day I’m going to have a room at the bottom of the garden like Dylan Thomas or Virginia Wolfe.
I’ll be a bit neater, but not much. And I’ll go down there and no-one can bother me when I’m in my flow state. And I’ll write and write and write. And maybe do some arts and crafts. Because that’s what I like to do. I’m pretty terrible at painting and knitting and scrap-booking but I do like to do it from time to time.
In other words, I’ve had a bit of a useless research day today because I’ve been working at the university and flow state was achieved nice and early but not in my PhD. Sadly.
But! Tomorrow is another day. Bring it.
On Friday I handed in my thesis for review. I am much closer than I thought to the end. In fact, I can see the end of the tunnel now. The light is there, shiny….
I’ve worked on my thesis all week including removing one of the research questions because, in the words of my supervisor, it is a rather circular question that is actually partly answered in the first two questions, and then part of it I can’t answer at all. So, take it out. Ok, quoth I. At this point, I’m not going to argue with the wisdom of someone who has done lots of these things. And I’m in need of an objective observer.
I wrote me an introduction on Wednesday and rearranged my discussion chapter. It’s looking better already. My friend (who got her PhD last year) texted me to ask what I was doing – nothing, quoth I, just sitting at home doing my thesis (and also looking at an old article that DH and I put on the back burner because I felt it was a bit too revealing and I needed time away from it. It was a good piece which I’ve sent to a friend for commentary prior to sending it to a journal). So I went into her work and we worked together. Just like old times. And it was great! Super productive and everything.
On Thursday I looked once again at my literature review and began to see a light where previously there was dark, dark swampy swamp. So on Friday I sat in my jimmy-jams and worked on the whole document, reading through each chapter and beginning to fix up bits that didn’t make sense.
And then I put it in one document. Yes, I’ve created a draft thesis. The whole thing. It’s 296 pages and some of it is substantially too long with not enough substantiation or in text citations. (I am a very wordy writer – could use some decent editing.) Other sections have no stuff at all. Including chapter 4, which is just a title. There is a ToC (table of contents). Whoa.
Now, of course, I’ve read it again. Blah. Sometimes I hate my writing. Other times I think it’s fantastic. Usually my writing is fantastic when I have to do it in a hurry. Guess what I’ll be doing in the next 2 months? Writing my thesis in a hurry.
And how did I feel, doing this? Well, DH was home when I sent it. I burst into tears. He laughed at me. He didn’t know why, but everyone cries when one waves the kid off to college. This felt like that – the beginning of the end of my thesis-baby.
And now I have no excuse to delay doing my personal tax.
The title is a misnomer. I’m not actually on holidays. But my afternoon teaching has stopped for the school holidays and while I’m still working at Uni, I’m usually home in time to do some afternoon study.
So I’ve started to look once more at a few things. Such as my Methods chapter. And my Conclusion. Both of which are Not Quite Right. I’ve had fun rewriting them over the last couple of days and it’s easy to see how close I am to actually getting this thing submitted, because they are nearly ready for re-reading by my supervisor.
I’m still dodging round the misery that is my Literature Review. As I said to DH, I don’t have a good Big Picture plan, so the lit review remains awfully sparse and horrible. I was reading in Research Design by Creswell (2014) about how to create a concept map, and I did one of those AGES ago, but I might have another go to see if I can’t get this literature under control.
I’ve missed the ease and joy of doing this type of work. My brain has definitely switched onto PhD study mode and I feel eager to get home and write after I’ve finished teaching for the day. Curiously, the relatively mild amount of teaching I do at Uni when my studio is closed for holidays seems to be completely manageable in terms of brain power. That being said, I have completely given up on keeping the house clean. There are others who can do that. I’ve apologised and will get back to housework in August, once I’ve submitted. There are always areas that I have to abandon in order to finish this work! Besides, I have to beat my sister, who only began her PhD 2.5 years ago. I began mine in 2009. Time to pull out the stops and get a wriggle on, and put a Dr next to my name.
At present I’m studying up to 4 hours a day. Feels good. 3 weeks of this and my literature might actually start to look like something.
Well, ok, it’s not my new studio, it’s my current one remodelled to enable my daughter to have her own room. In other words, I lose space. But while it’s long and thin, I think we’ve made it work very well.
Today my hubby and I returned home after a lovely indulgent weekend on the Sunshine coast hinterland to a house a little hysterically small and overflowing with books. My studio held 4 of those ugly but crazily useful Ikea bookcases and they were full to overflowing, so trying to shoehorn all those bookcases into a smaller area was awful. In the end we came up with some good solutions and now my studio is clean, tidy and surprisingly large given that we’ve lost 6 square metres. We removed the largest bookcase from the room and I upended another so that it sits vertically, not horizontally against the wall. We took out another small bookcase, I’ve remodelled the entry and now folks enter from the lounge room. It’s not ideal because we have to keep the house super tidy – no dirty dishes lurking in the sink! But I think this will work nicely. It feels new and fresh and all the surfaces are clean at last.
Hubby and I went shopping for a glass topped desk in a vain attempt to reduce visual bulk without success but I think I’ve solved the problem of my large desk by sliding it to the left away from the door. It’s out of the way of the students and better suited to my space now.
A nice spring clean in preparation for my last gasp to the finish line with my PhD. So, it’s after midnight here, and I have a full day of teaching tomorrow, plus proofs of my book to correct and send back. But at least I can work in my space now! No more excuses, I believe my supervisor would say, rather drily.
How NOT to do a PhD. Do full time work, that’s how. Full time work that makes one so tired that most of the weekend is spent lying on the couch feeling rather blah.
I’m exhausted, my literature review needs to be completely rewritten and I’ve not even LOOKED at my discussion chapter since I put it down 10 days ago.
Does this surprise me? Nope. Trying to drag myself to the finish line was always going to be like this. Blergh.
At least my discussion chapter lays out pretty clearly the 5 main areas I now need to reshape in my literature review. But I’m also at the point where I feel like I’m 16 again and procrastinating like crazy not doing homework I hate. I don’t have the luxury of putting off my work any more so I’ll be spending most evenings on the couch with my computer trying to make sense of my literature. I think I’ll just completely rewrite it, brand new pages and everything.
I’m grumpy as hell about doing this thing, mainly because I’m a big picture person and I’m being forced to do small picture stuff – editing, rewriting, REFERENCING. Man, I hate doing references. And don’t get me started on EndNote. It’s crap, ok?
Discussion chapter draft 1 is done. Wow. In the end not as painful as I had imagined. Of course, it’s the getting ideas DOWN draft I’m referring to, not the fixing UP phase.
6162 words down of my discussion chapter, 1500 words off my total word target of 80000.
Now for the real work. Supervisor has suggested doing the lit simultaneously with the discussion chapter. Good idea. In theory. So now that I have my 5 meta themes and my cultural psychology and my apprenticeship concepts, it should be easy, right?
Bahdaow. Ugh. Here we go again.
The discussion chapter thus far is ridiculously clear – there is a brief introduction of how I shaped the chapter, then each theme is discussed in order. Simple. Oops. I’ve not finished. Hang on, there’s no ending to this chapter. Bugger.