Day 31

Whoops, I did not manage to get a post out on Monday. Unfortunately it was due to distractions rather than productive reasons. This post is mainly a culmination of loosely related thoughts and processes that are happening in my research at the moment.

Right now I am struggling with the distractions that are coming up. I guess you could think of it as trying to conform to the discipline of reading. Its been quite difficult to get motivation to do lots of straight reading, and as I write this I am reminded of a post on ThesisWhiperer about a thing called Pomodoro which is a really great technique.

However, I am really enjoying the study at the moment and there is so much that I am learning in the reading that is happening. So many new fascinating perspectives. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing that I have been encountering more often is the discourse between scholars and the different interpretations of one scholar’s contentions.

I have started reading in a more focused sense since my last post, and it has had very beneficial results which has resulted in more profitable notes being written. The only issue at the moment is that I am reading a few chapters ahead into the thesis, and Im not quite there yet in the writing stage. My next meeting with my supervisor is coming up soon so I will be doing some writing in the next few days so that I have something to present during our meeting. I will be reverting to reading what I should be for chapter two of the thesis, but I am also mindful that some of my books (which are not relevant to chapter two) have short loan times from the library!

Fairly short post today, at the moment its just reading, note taking and more reading. I wish that could be what I said for my methodology: “I’m going to read lots of stuff” – said so many thesis students before me…

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Day 22

Reading, reading, reading..

So much reading to do at the moment. Along with that I am also finding the resources which might prove helpful for the research. However, amidst the blissful life of reading, I am worried about two things in relation to my current process of my thesis.

I am still unsure about my thesis statement. I haven’t heard back from my supervisor yet concerning my draft for my thesis. I  decided to submit revised version of the initial draft that was much more precise about what I would be looking at and why. It basically just added aspects that he mentioned in my project (things that should have been added initially). The reason that I am unsure about the thesis statement that I produced last week is that I feel as though it is still not quite narrow or simple enough. Along with this I feel as though the areas I will be researching are not at odds enough. That is, I am trying to examine an apparent tension in a biblical letter, however at the moment I am left wondering whether there is actually any tension in my chosen texts or whether I am just imagining such tension. Both of these issues could be rather problematic if they are not rectified at this end of the process. At the same time having never done research so intense before it may actually turn out to be a non-issue.

I may have committed a thesis crime (according to one of my former professors). His suggestion for thesis topics was to first think about what drive you and makes you passionate. Think about that idea really hard. Then run as far away from it as possible when you do your thesis. It was quite a funny point at the time and his reasoning did seem to make sense. He argued that the passionate idea is your life time’s worth of research, a thesis for a degree or doctorate is merely a tool to assess your ability to use the methods of your field. Therefore one should concentrate on mastering the tools of one’s trade instead of solving the world’s problems in a thesis. Knowing this I decided to try and pull a quick and fast one by doing something that is related to but not quite that passionate topic. I suggested that I was laying the groundwork for future research. However I am wondering whether it was  wise decision, or whether I should have taken more seriously the advice of my former professor. I kind of wish that I just chose some mildly interesting topic that I could dig into further.

The second thing that I am worrying about is the breadth of my current reading. Basically, I just picked up a whole lot of articles from my College’s online journal article database (EBSCO) and currently I have about fifty that I need to read through and judge. This is proving to be quite a lengthy process and not all of the article are quite as relevant as I had hoped. At the moment I am doing initial scanning of the material, this allows me to sort the articles into four folders on my computer: ‘highly relevant’, ‘relevant’, ‘small section’, ‘irrelevant’. However, right now I am wondering whether it would have been worthwhile to find one to five articles or books that are hyper relevant to my area of research and then use them as a gateway to more resources through their footnotes and bibliographic information. Particularly for the footnotes of high relevance which could offer a better yield of materials. The only problem with this approach is the availability of materials for research. I am not absolutely sure that if I see a resource that I want that I will be able to access it through my College’s library for free.

Alas I find myself in somewhat of a predicament. This writing has proved somewhat fruitful in solidifying the future course of action. I think that for now I am going to stick with my thesis statement unless I hear otherwise from my supervisor, and I am going to go for the more focused approach towards my resources. The good thing about my resource gathering is that this is only the first of five chapters that I am researching at the moment and this could potentially save me a A LOT of time reading menial material.

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Day 15

Hello!

This week has been pretty good, I feel like things are picking up for me and I’m regaining the study momentum. This is a massive plus, especially when your only thing to do for your study is a focused self-directed research thesis. Anywho, this week I managed to do a few major things…

Firstly I finished composing the initial draft for my introduction to my thesis, which I then sent to my supervisor. At the moment he is checking it over to see whether I am on the right track for pointing the entire thesis in the right direction.

The next major thing comes off the bat of last semester and should have been done earlier but as you will find out there were reasons I just couldn’t do it until this week. Last semester I did the pre-research paper, which is a project-based paper designed to introduce the student to doing research. So I did my research paper last semester, along with another postgrad paper, and I was also working full time for a significant amount of that semester. Anyway to cut the story short I finished the research early because I was going travelling (which cut into my semester, and no way was I studying while I was travelling). I had decided to try and get it read and edited before I sent it to my “advisor” (who is now my supervisor) for his check over. As it happened, the person who I wanted to edit it was quite busy, so he didn’t get a chance to edit it. And I never sent it to my advisor to look it over (although I should have done this much earlier anyway, at that point even if he had asked for changes it would have been incredibly difficult because I was overseas without my resources). So I submitted it with two key mistakes, no editing, and no advisor check up. So I got my result back just before my trip finished and it was a C+ which I was really disappointed with. I started reading the first page of comments and I just couldn’t go on, it was too tough. When you put quite a bit of effort into something and then receive a rubbish mark it makes it incredibly hard to read the comments. I decided instead to read the overall comments and the first thing it said was, “why didn’t you send this to me earlier, it could have easily been a B+ without too much effort.” So gutted.

The reason why this was a major thing this week was because I finally got the courage to read through the comments which were really informative for writing this thesis. Lots of stuff that I need to keep in mind. Most of it was about making sure everything draws back to the thesis statement and is relevant to that, and continually explaining why issues that you come across matter for the research. I read this after I had submitted the first draft, so I made a lot of changes to that introduction to incorporate what he said in my project, I haven’t quite sent the revised version, but I will soon (hopefully before he sends back the first draft).

This leads me into the next major thing which was the revision of the draft following reading the comments from last semester’s project. This was particularly important in the methodology to really explain well the research I am going to be doing. I managed to lengthen it out quite a bit too, which helped me reach my word allocation for that section. Now I just need to revise the initial section of the introduction to make sure that I am being as clear as possible in my writing.

Along with this I also managed to create the revised version of my structure to reflect the changes that have been made to the initial thesis statement and the methodology. Which is going to be a big help going forward in the writing of the proper thesis. Although I plan to try and flesh it out the main ideas of the thesis as I get to them as much as possible so that I can write continue to write clearly and keep the flow of my arguments as in-tact as possible

So far, I’m really enjoying the research process, although it is taking some time for the study attitude to kick in to where it needs to be. I am looking froward to getting into the meaty bits of this thesis and also moving on to the next thesis down the road… the big PhD.

Thanks for reading 😀

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Day 8

I think that weekly Monday will work best for this, it seems like a manageable way to undergo this project.

Anywho, I have finally started the writing process for my thesis, I have done a little bit of the introduction as per the advice of my supervisor. The introduction has been an interesting project within itself. In the beginning, trying to write something, anything, on the page was rather difficult. The idea behing writing some of my introduction initially was to solidify my thesis statement and further consolidate my idea so that I can be very specific about my research and nail the direction the project is heading. However, trying to figure out those first few words was a rather hard ordeal. I didn’t know where to start or what was necessary to explain. Although I guess most assignment start out in a similar fashion, but maybe without the expectation of it being a self guided procedure to this extent. In undergraduate and postgraduate taught papers the assignments are still very focused and defined to varying degrees, which they need to be. As I further approach the end of the academic journey (qualification-wise) these responsibilities fall away from my ‘all-knowing’ lecturers or professors and become my own responsibility. All of this to say that I just felt like I had no idea what I was doing when I started that introduction to my thesis.

Once I had about 200 words down on the digital paper a brilliant idea occurred to me! What if I do what I usually do and create a structure for my introduction. That is write out a basic outline for the introduction so that I can develop it in a clear manner. The structuring of my sections in my essays has been particularly helpful for me in the past. I find that when you are immersed in a subject and have done a reasonable amount of learning concerning the specific topic it is often difficult to begin writing well. What I mean is, I find it a struggle to sift through the information in my head to construct well formed arguments that are laid out in a clear and logical order. One of the hardships of my undergraduate studies was reading over my assignment drafts and observing the shotgun like spread of my thinking. Beginning on one thought, skipping ahead to another, then backtracking to somewhere halfway in-between. Which would then kick off the rather time consuming editing process. Fortunately for me I had a conversation with a person named Tim. He told me about his undergraduate days, and somewhat annoyingly recalled the ‘ease’ of assignment writing and his quick pace at writing them. This was not because he was a human encyclopaedia, although he seems to nearly have that particular quality arising in him lately, but because he would start with a thorough structure for his assignments which greatly accelerated the writing process. Therefore, I decided to try out his words of wisdom by creating a few assignments by firstly doing detailed structures of the essay. And it work, it worked really well. I found that you spend more time thinking about the overall argument and flow of the essay which leads to less time moving things around and editing your arguments at the end of the process.

Therefore I have created a rough structure for my research which is admittedly vague on here in the blogosphere, but I assure you is much more detailed in my actual working document.

Structure:

Introduction

Why this Topic

Thesis Statement

Assumptions

Limitations

Methodology

A pretty standard structure for this type of thesis project in my field, but I assure you again that in my working document there are many further substructures in each of these existing headings.

Anyway thats all for now, better get some shut eye, work tomorrow.

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Day 1

Today is the first day of my thesis journey. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and curiosity. I have been waiting to start this journey for a few years now and the day is finally here. The day that I can begin my research life and hopefully launch myself into doing further study beyond my ongoing Master’s degree.

I had a meeting with my supervisor today, which was really helpful to guide me towards a starting point for my thesis, as well as inspiring me to get back to work after being on holiday for the past six weeks in Europe. My supervisor suggested that my topic needed to be narrowed further from what it was in my proposal so that I can just focus on what I want to be researching. Additionally my supervisor directed me toward making a start on my introduction for the thesis, as an exercise in delimiting my thesis as well as helping to begin writing my own thoughts about my research, as this part is going to be done with as little footnotes and references as possible.

Following the meeting that I had today I spent a few hours in the library collecting resources for my study. Grabbing a broad range of material to set the scene for my research. Lots of background information. Lots of preliminary reading.

So here’s to starting a thesis.

Here’s to the journey ahead.

Here’s to the drinks you’ll buy me once I’m finally finished!

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