So the world is in a significant crises as we all deal with the impact of Covid-19. I thought it was worth including here as part of the history of this search process. As a stay at home dad my main focus at this time of lock down is my two boys. But in between I am trying to keep focused by chipping away at the focused coded. There is a tension between desperately wanting to finish and thinking is there any point?!
And so…I am in the depths of focused coding, the point in the PhD after the madness of the methodology chapters when I predicated I may begin to lose my mind. Trying to focus code is a challenge at the best of time but when it concerns something an intangible as ‘silence’ it gets freaky. I am trying to ground myself in the data by asking solid questions…I am using a combo of cards, paper and NVivo. Fun times.
Ok so I submitted by draft methodology chapters which were on the main well received. However my DoS just dropped the question ‘critical realism?’ a few times and left it at that. I was a bit miffed as I spent years getting to grips with radical constructivism (RC) and felt moderately attached to the theory. I thought I can just make a stronger argument for RC. I asked for clarification but I was met with noble silence.
So just to be sure I started reading and comparing critical realism (CR) with RC. It was like the tractor beam of the Death Star, I was hooked and Glaserfeld was blasted like rebel scum. Actually I was able to retain a solid appreciation and references to his work before positioning CR as an evolution in my thinking. Resubmitted for review by supervision team.
I have more work to do than I have time which is much better than the other way round. 13 interviews have been Initially Coded (ongoing as I code the remaining). Feel like I am hitting the wall a little, it takes so long to code and a lot of brainpower to stay focused and mindful. But I guess the prize is the next stage: Focused Coding. Time is also pressing as I am now firmly on the work schedule with a deadline in focus: October 2021. Sounds far away but it certainly is not given the work to be done.
It’s been an excruciating period of rejection! I have had to work so hard to secure each participant. It seems clinicians are inundated with requests to support doctoral research. 99% of the emails were not answered. The most effective way of recruitment was snowballing. Onto final transcriptions and lots of deep analysis.
It is hard to believe that I haven’t had time to blog since February. I have since completed 7 interviews and commenced initial coding.
Ok, so the project has started in super earnest, as I have conducted my first interview with an extremely generous participant. I think it went very well but the transcription and careful eye of my supervisor will soon tell. I have also begun the task of learning NVivo from scratch. Looks straightforward enought but I would rather use cards and pencil – old school I know. There is definitely something to be said about going beyond one’s comfort zone.
Yep, it’s nearly official, I passed the transfer leading to becoming a PhD ‘candidate’. The research board just needs to meet to rubber stamp the internal and external supervisors teams’ decision. I learnt a lot through the delivery of the research seminar and transfer viva. Among them, I had probably written 8,000 words too many for one section. I don’t think I can bear to look at the section for a month or two. I want now to concentrate on the methodology and the first interviews.
So after a mad amount of writing…3 Chapters at quite a progressed level i.e. references and quotes, double checked, I was ready to take a breath. But through a slight miss communication, I missed a formal deadline for transfer. Through appeal and informed mercy, I was allowed to continue but my case for transfer, research seminar, and transfer viva are taking place next week! It is a mixed feeling. One of ‘wow I cannot believe I go to this stage’ with the pressure of flying to the UK and giving the presentation of my life. It’s been an exhausting but deeply creative time. I don’t feel like the same person who started this process. I feel stronger, more focused, more enthused, more creative. Here’s hoping that my next post will be an update on the next stages of potential PhD candidacy…
So after a very painful period of being up against a blank wall in terms of writing, the wall eventually transformed into a maze, as reading and reflecting took me in so many directions, with no clear way out or forward. At last, I am through this period and am experiencing a burst damn, all the water under desperate pressure to be released.
The writing is just flowing out of me as I critique and knit together the wealth of thinking and ideas contained in the literature. There were times when the fantasy of giving up entered my head like a poison. It was lonely, frustrating and dark. I have learnt from this awful period that the most important thing for me was to be constantly writing or rather sitting in front of a computer, line-by-line until the momentum increased. Someone clever said success is about what you are prepared to give up. In my case, I gave up my neurotic need to watch and read the news, therefore clearing a huge amount of unnecessary clutter and distraction.