Thursday, 11 February 2010

Planning thesis

Fellow OUBS post graduate (FOPG) and I were comparing notes. We're both doing qualitative research in the public sector and we're both planning our thesis chapters.
  • FOPG's written an outline of an A4 page for each chapter, in which she outlines the content; I've written around half a page for each chapter.
  • FOPG's including her case study material in the methodology chapter, but I'm planning on a separate chapter for my case studies. Therein lies an interesting difference, because she's got twenty small case studies whilst I've got five in-depth case studies.
  • FOPG has only one interview usually for each case study, and her biggest case has three interviews whereas my cases have at least three interviewees.
  • FOPG's analysis chapter will be separate from her case descriptions; my analysis will be part of the case studies chapter.
  • FOPG's using grounded theory; I'm building theory around the existing literature on engagement, having drawn up a theoretical framework that I'm using to code against. The consequence is that she has to iterate over her work to identify themes, whereas I'm working against pre-identified themes, though open to new themes. So her methodology chapter is more important to her arguments whereas mine is probably less important than the literature review that justifies my framework.
  • FOPG hasn't yet blocked in word counts; I've suggested word counts for each chapter.
  • FOPG recognises that the maximum length is 100,000 words whereas I'm planning at around 70,000 believing that appendices, references and verbosity will add another ten or fifteen thousand.
  • FOPG's aiming to submit a draft 25th June; I'm aiming for 1st July. So we're not far apart.
My plans have been influenced by Patrick Dunleavy's book and Rowena Murray's.

Can we do it? FOPG's discussing her plans with her supervisors this week; I'm discussing plans with my supervisors at the beginning of March. In the meantime, we're writing.

Watch this blog.


Dunleavy P. 2003. Authoring a phd : How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke ; New York.
MURRAY, R. (2002) How to write a thesis, Buckingham ; Philadelphia, Open University Press

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