Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Full draft done

I have sent my supervisors all the chapters, with humble apologies for lack of articulateness on the conclusions, but reporting that I'd got someone else to read at least some of it to check for the cryptic clippedness that supervisor#1 dislikes in my style. My style has so changed, and I didn't realise until one reader said he'd had problems where I'd used 'combinations' as a noun. I had to go back to the theory I was using to check those authors also used the word as a noun, not as combining or combined. It is now so clear to me, but I've read that particular paper many times.

Supervisor #1 has come back all cheerful and praising that I've got it done to the time we'd agreed (took me three 60 hour weeks) and says not to worry about the conclusion as it usually takes a few iterations. Now I have to wait three weeks for their feedback.

Am I on the last 385 yards of this marathon?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Qualitative resources

Here is a a whole list of resources for a research student to use to get to grips with methodological approaches. The list includes a link to a video of Alan Bryman talking about conducting mixed methods research; it has helped me get a better idea of how people use the word 'paradigm' in the context of methodology.

I've now made the arguments that I want to make in my methodology chapter, though I daresay my supervisors will have plenty of critical comments to make. They can only be helpful to sorting out my confusion of terms. I shall submit a full draft of the thesis to them in a few hours, and then must wait three weeks to get their feedback.

But hey! a full draft!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ridiculous confusion

All I have to write is a couple of paragraphs about different ends of the belief spectrum of enquiry (ye wha'?!). Belief system - how you believe reality. It's about what you believe is real, what your assumptions are. It seems reasonable to surface those assumptions, because they influence what you believe you know, and therefore how you go about researching, and I need to explain why I researched it the way I researched it, to justify it.

Except, the belief spectrum of enquiry is full of paradigms, perspectives and isms.
  • Positivism
  • Realism
  • Constructivism
And on top of those there's post-positivism (don't ask me if there's a negativism), critical realism and constructionism. I don't know the difference between constructivism and constructionism. I had thought my approach was constructionist, but now I'm confused and it might be that my ontology is constructionist and my methodology hermeneutically dialectic, though I thought this research was taking a critical realist research perspective because, although the organisation’s IS projects took place in real objective spaces, each individual participant constructed themselves in a particular way in relation to the project or programme setting. Which is they constructed themselves, so aren’t I working to a constructionist philosophy?
Now I have all these different terms to work with:
  • approach
  • ontology
  • methodology
  • perspective
  • philosophy
This bit of my methodology chapter is never going to get writ.

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions and emerging confluences. In N. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3 ed., Vol. 3). Thousand Oaks ;London: Sage Publications.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Philosophical stance

Like a horse at a big jump, I'm stalled. For over a day, I have not written the ten paragraphs I want to write about my research philosophical stance, in my methodology chapter but have considered
  • realism
  • constructivism (what's the difference between constructionism and constructivism?)
  • positivism
I had argued myself into believing I was taking a constructionist approach because I was seeing my informants as constructing themselves in the context of an IT project, that they constructed their relationships and how they engaged with each other. But now I think I'm taking a critical realist research perspective because although the organisation's IS project development took place in real objective space, each individual participant constructed them selves in a particular way in relations to the project or programme setting. That is critical realist, isn't it?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Editing and writing and editing

The second draft of the methodology chapter is under way as I restructure it because it was not meeting supervisor's approval. Supervisor #1 wants something written on other approaches as well as the one I've chosen - but so many academics have already writtenon these, and much better than me so why write an essay on comparing research methods?

I'm off to compare other PhD theses methods and methodology chapters.

As I research qualitative approaches, I discover that 'quality' is next to 'qualm' in the dictionary. Quality ' the degree of excellence' is next to qualm, a 'momentary faint or sick feeling'. I have qualms about my writing, about the excellence in my writing, about the logic of my arguments. I don't feel good.

Friday, 19 November 2010

OUBS blogs

Some OU Business School new blogs are available from
I am also supposed to be blogging there at Winding Up, as I said I'd post my final progress on the OUBS web site. But I said I'd post only once every couple of weeks. It's funny but I find that the more I have to write on my thesis, the less time or interest I have in writing my blogs.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Free consulting

Here is a review of research that looks at the value of consulting. It really looks, and measures it, a positivist approach I think. And so unusual that it is noted in the FT, by an economist.

The pdf paper is downloadable from Bloom's web site here.

Slowing progress

There's been a hiccup in work. I've damaged my left wrist & can't use both hands to type. Bother! Wouldn't it be nice if I could hand write all my thesis and give it to someone else to type.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Stuck in cross-case analysis

I've got to rewrite chapters 2 and 6 - well edit them. They are the literature review and the cross-case analysis.

The literature review edit is fairly straight forward and supervisor has helped by reading it thoroughly and giving me over sixty comments in writing. Is that critical or helpful? I think it's helpful supervision because I know the problem and what I have to do to solve it.

The cross-case analysis on the other hand has been difficult for months, and despite listening to my supervisors for an hour and listening again on the recording, I don't know how to tackle it. Until I have the cross-case analysis in my head, I cannot write it down, so in the meantime supervisors can't comment constructively - just say that they don't understand the abstractness of my writing in chapter 6, and beat me up.

Supervisor #2 suggested I was filtering out stuff and to brainstorm, but brainstorming is a group technique, not a really a one-PhD woman job. However he did also suggest I use a technique called EIAG which stands for
  • Experience
  • Identify
  • Analyse
  • Generalise
The idea is that I know/see/feel and find the experiences from my research and then identify them. The next two steps seem easy enough but I'm still stuck on the experience bit. For instance, at supervision, I pointed out the cycles and feedbacks on the engagement model that I've developed, but I haven't actually written these loops down anywhere and explained them, because I filter them out and yet they are important - because lose the loops and you lose engagement and also lose the evidence that engagement is continual. It was filtering out this idea from writing yet bringing it up in talking that made my supervisor think of EIAG.

Now what do I do? Stuck again in cross-case analysis

I'll go and edit the literature review.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I have NVivo, and am very happy with using it. It's a tool, and I'd no more worry about using it than about using a pencil or a spreadsheet. It has its limitations, but because it allows me to keep track of a mass of data, it saves me time and allows powerful analysis, keeping everything in one place.

Finding training on how to analysis qualitative data is more difficult than learning how to use software. There are training courses on QDAS that tell you what it does, but Gregorio tells you how to use it and how to do qualitative analysis - there's a difference.

Qualitative Research Design for Software Users Silvana Di Gregorio (Author), Judith Davidson (Author) 2009 978-0335225217 at Amazon

Friday, 5 November 2010

Same place

Nearly two weeks ago I blogged that I had only this and that to complete. But I've still got only this and that to complete.

I've been working on this darned methodology chapter all week, yet I don't think I've produced anything worth showing anybody yet because it's still so higgledy-piggledy. I still have the conclusion to write, having concluded that I was nowhere near writing it, despite my hopes two weeks ago.

I seem to be in the same place. Why?

Fellow Post-Grad student has the same question. Six months ago FPG had the whole thesis planned and was going to finish in September. I wouldn't say that I'm competitive but I see no reasons why I should be lagging behind her, and so if she could expect to finish in September, then so could I. Neither of us are lazybones - we put the hours in. But FPGS hasn't submitted yet, and doesn't understand any more than I do why six months ago it wasn't obvious that we weren't going to submit yet.

At the last supervision, a supervisor commented that progress seemed slow. Yes - it seems slow to me too, but I don't need to be criticised for slow progress. Hey! It is progress. So with that slow progress in mind, this week another FPGS grilled a long memoried academic here on when a post grad last completed within the three funded years. The answer after much thought and wriggling was never in memory. So to be where we are, FPG and I are making progress, and it might not be that slow. It's just not as fast as we expected or planned.

So perhaps I'm not quite in the same place as two weeks ago, but just a fraction further.

Monday, 1 November 2010


Plagiarism is
"if you submit an assignment that contains work that is not your own, without indicating this to the marker (acknowledging your sources), you are committing ‘plagiarism’ and this is an offence". See OU plagiarism policy statement.
To my horror, I found I'd plagiarised something in my literature review. I had a sentence that said something like "X urges y to a b and c", but I couldn't identify which of X's papers I was citing. I went over all of them and couldn't see what I was on about. In the end I googled the phrase, and discovered someone else had exactly the same words about X, including the urging. How on earth had I found this phrase before and had copied it word for word into what I was writing? It was fortunate that I was checking my sources so carefully. Suppose the examiner had recognised the quote that I hadn't! Aghast!