PhD planning & reflection

Undertaking research for a PhD can feel very unstructured. Often, you are left to your own devices for long periods of time – particularly when studying part-time as I do. So having to write reports for the GPC (Graduate Progress Committee) can be really useful. First of all because it gives me a deadline and secondly because it forces to reflect on my achievements to date and plan the next phase.

The last report I wrote was for my MPhil upgrade so I am assessing my progress since then. Here is an overview of my progress, a milestone plan and an assessment of the challenges ahead.

Issues raised at MPhil stage:

  • Defining the interview participants – justifying specific group
  • Explore methodologies and processes for interviewing & analysing of data
  • Clarity over terminology (EG: Use of terms such as cultural entrepreneur / freelancer)

Completed since the MPhil upgrade (July 2011-12):

  1. Presented ICCPR2012 conference paper
  2. Chapter shortly to be published in Cultural Work and Higher Education (Enterprise in Higher Education for Media Students)
  3. X 12 Interviews with cultural entrepreneurs completed (aiming for 16 in total) and experimenting with techniques for analysis
  4. Presenting methodology at a cultural policy studies workshop

Challenges ahead:

  • Refining my methodology
  • Chapter 1 – literature review by mid January 2013
  • Finish all interviews by end of January 2013

At this stage, I also feel it is worth exploring my key question  and reviewing this with my supervisor. I’ve put together a list of issues to discuss with him.

Issues for discussion / for me to think about

  1. The literature review (key texts & authors) in relation to the themes explored in the findings – any gaps? Too many themes?
  2. The literature – am I too hung up on the critical literature? Such as the Hesmondhalgh / Oakley / McGuigan stuff?
  3. Making sense – is my argument flawed? What is the core hypothesis?
  4. Methodology – robust enough? Interviewing approach and data analysis
  5. Practical – am I realistic? I hope to be able to negotiate a semi-sabbatical during the final phase (6 months)
  6. How does my focus on identity / revealing identities of cultural entrepreneurs address the dichotomy between the celebratory discourse and critique of cultural work? Does it offer a new hypothesis? New recommendations?

 

 

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