Archive | January, 2013

Going backward is sometimes the only way to go forward

28 Jan


Eight months ago, in June 2012 I told how things had started to go wrong, then in August I really did try to be positive. That didn’t quite work out and things continued to go not-very-well. In my last blog post (November), I started to see a way out of what I referred to as the murky methodological jungle, although I recognised that I still had some way to go.

Fast forward to now: I believe I am out of that part of the jungle! Having turned around and trudged my way backwards again, I found an alternative, smoother route out. This route was quite different – it was not (as) difficult, it was not forced and I was able to walk down it quite comfortably. My complete re draft of my theoretical, philosophical and methodological chapter reflected this. While this is not a final draft by any means, it does allow me to park it and move forward.

I say move forward as a positive step – and it is. However, the point of this post is that as painful as it was (and it was really very painful at times), despite having spent the last 8 months going backwards (on more than one occasion), I realise that while going backwards I was actually moving forward. As Churchill once said: “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see

Had my supervisors not made me go through all this, then I dread to think where I would have been now. What I do know is that I would certainly have not been able to justify and defend the decisions I have taken to get to this stage. If I couldn’t have done that even at this stage, then goodness knows what would have happened during the rest of my PhD and indeed my viva.

So where to now? I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to getting back to my data. However, following in-depth discussion with my supervisors, I know I still need to do some important work before I can go back to my data. Something else that I never did before jumping into my data last year – develop a clear robust analytic plan. I have 4 large data sets and I need to be crystal clear as to what I am going to do with them, how and why I am going to do it. Without having this clear plan, it is likely that I could find myself back in another part of that awful jungle.

There is a wealth of literature highlighting the importance of having a robust analytic plan. However, unfortunately, there is virtually nothing about how to develop one or even what one looks like. So, this is my next step. My supervisors have started me off, but this will take a little bit of time to get right. That’s ok though – I need this to be right so my data analysis goes smoothly. I will share with you the development of my analytic plan in due course.

Thank you for reading. Please do comment or share your experiences – I, (and others I’m sure) value them very much.

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