Putting my roller skates on… #phdchat

My summer has been fruitful in the end and reflecting on the rework of Chapter 2 and capturing the process here has been extremely valuable. So I decided to do the same for Chapter 3.

It feels scary as this chapter is probably the one that fills me with fear, with horror…  but it is not going to stop me. The scissors are out and I have my roller skates on. I will do this. I have to. Again, have written too much. The first draft is just too long, too descriptive with bits that are not needed… The appendices are filling up. A lot of stuff seems to be moved in there… not a bad thing, of course, I am learning. Learning to be more precise and that less is actually more. Easier to say than do, of course.

I will again attempt to capture the re-work of Chapter 3: Methods and Data in a visual way and will be updating this post until I am happy with the next version. My dear colleagues Leslie Robinson and Peter Gossman offered to read sections of it. I am very very grateful for all their help. I will probably reach out again to identify more readers. If this could be you, please let me know, ok?

I will be back soon, with my fist update. This was just a short intro.

Ok,I made a start…  Yesterday. It is definitely not going to be easy… but I think I am starting from the easy part, which is interesting behaviour… I guess I feel more confident in cutting the big bits out… the bits linked to the pilot and the case studies. While cutting, I also decided to start adding about my second case study and I will do this directly into the appendix… It will be useful for me personally, even if not significant for the thesis…

The Methods Chapter… Can this help? – it didn’t, so I started looking elsewhere… I seem to avoid looking at a completed PhD… maybe I fear that I will just copy how somebody else has done it, on the other hand I do need to do it properly…

I understand that this Chapter should not be that extensive (it needs to be short(er), I should say) and that it is best to stick to the standard format… but what is the standard format? What I did find interesting is that in some theoretical PhDs this section is absent… Mmm… how nice would that be? But then again, I don’t think I would ever be able to do a theoretical PhD…

I have been working on the Methods section > this is how I call it at the moment and I am talking in there about the collective case study approach (not the case study methodology) I am using to collect data. While writing this I am wondering if the stuff about case studies and my cases should be in the Data collection section??? HELP!!!

26 September: Today has been a super long day, and I can’t even remember how many hours I have been writing and struggling. It was early morning when I started… I wish I could say that I am happy with what I have achieved… I reached a dead end and need somebody to read what I have written. I have so many questions which do distract me from seeing the connections, the vital connections I need to make in this chapter. I think organising the stuff is my biggest challenge at the moment as I don’t feel confident enough to decide what goes where and go ahead. Obviously the existing organisation doesn’t work but what would? Maybe I am just tired and my brain stopped working.

Despite today’s challenges while also not really looking forward to tomorrow and my plan, I have actually observed a shift in my approach.  Many have told me about tables. Tables here, there and everywhere but they do make sense and while writing and editing, I have found opportunities to turn basic text into something more visual. It makes it easier to read and see the connections.

27 September: This is were I am now…

10 October: I struggled to come back and capture my progress as I felt lost. This is why the massive break and silence… on the blog at least… Through the messiness the following emerged with captures my methodology and data collection strategy but also links the cases which have troubled me a lot to understand how to explain these as I am not using them as method or methodology but as a strategy to collect data. No idea of course what and how many categories will emerge through the data but these will help me shape the outcome space and then my framework. As you can see, I, the researcher sits outside and the researched is all that matters. Will there be four, or five or even less? I understand that there wouldn’t be many… apparently.

!2 October: I spent the last four days reworking Chapter 3. It was painful and this is reflected in the above visualisations but also the longer absense from this post as mention on the 10th. The colours and stylistically different approaches, I had used so far show my confusion and the disconnect, if that makes sense. There was no common thread as I couldn’t see how I would ever be able to re-bundle this stuff. But today, I have to admit, that I feel a mini sense of achievement, finally. I have a basic structure for this chapter and some meat… also still too much fat… yes, my supervisors will probably still recommend radical editing. But that is ok. I have now reached a stage were I need some feedback on all five sections and have found some colleagues who kindly offered to help with reading some of these.

There is some harmony in the above picture and this is how I feel right now. Can’t wait to get some first feedback and continue working on the five sections.

17 October: I have been working on the thesis again today and also created the second version of the visualisation of my research design. This us below. The majority of sections of Chapter 3 have been read by at least one colleague and I have taken their comments on board. I am feeling so much better, I gave to admit. Next week I will be giving the whole chapter to a dear colleague from Salford and I can’t wait to find out what she thinks.

1 November

I have a revisited draft of Chapter 3 ready. Its sections have been read by my colleagues Bernard Lisewski, Dr. Charles Neam, Dr Stephen Powell and Dr Peter Gossman. All helped me refine my work further and be much more precise. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I would struggle the most with this one but I think my understanding about the methodology, the methods and the analysis is developing and I am seeing the links clearer now. The use of the 2 cases has complicated things in my mind, but I think I am getting there. Dr Leslie Robinson has the whole chapter at the moment and looking at it holistically. I can’t wait for her comments.I think the chapter is probably still too long… and bits will be moved into the appendices…

This morning I noticed the following in my Twitter stream… very useful advice indeed


My next steps are to start looking at a phenomenographic analysis, how the categories of description are formed properly. I am really looking forward to carrying out the remaining interviews, hopefully all before Christmas and getting all my data together. I will definitely print out all the transcript and make a little booklet out of them reading again and again so that I can start seeing themes. Hopefully these will emerge…

I am also looking at Chapter 1 and what I would need for this one. My plan is when I submit Chapter 3 to my supervisors before the end of November to have also made good progress with Chapter 1 and share this with them after I have received feedback from them linked to Chapter 3.

I feel that I am moving. Doing tiny steps, but I am moving.

… I have been quiet here… not recording any of my activities and progress I have made… but I have made progress…

28 November

I have now completed the next version of the draft of this chapter and submitted to my supervisors. Again, I have found it extremely valuable to get feedback on sections and I am grateful for colleagues who helped me with this. It has made a real difference and is stretching me but also the process helps me become more precise. I am now looking forward to speaking with Sandra and Keith in December and finding out what they think about this version of Chapter 3.

Thank you all. I will keep going… as Keith keeps telling me.

ps. This was the scariest chapter so far… 


While winter is starting, I feel that I experience a tiny bit of spring and there is now a bit more hope that I will be able to do this. Is some of the darkness disappearing? image source here


3 thoughts on “Putting my roller skates on… #phdchat

  1. Sending you lots of positive thoughts and hugs for energy Chrissi ! Keep going .. you will do this I just know it 🙂

    By the way I was just reading your post from 2012 when you were about to embark on your PHD journey … look how far you have come ! I always find your blog very inspiring but it was such an insight to read that post! 🙂 Thank you !

    • Hi Debbie, Thank you so much. I hope I can reach the end line… maybe I need to read that first post again, the initial one. I hope you are well. Let me know when you want to chat, ok? As I said, very happy to help. Chrissi

      • Thanks Chrissi – you will be fine I am certain of it 🙂 yes please if you do have a few moments some point next week that would be brilliant 🙂 Will get in touch with you next week

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