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B is for… Beginning #AtoZChallenge

B is for… Beginning

I have been “doing my PhD” for a good while now though I only registered in October 2011. I’m doing it part time and I seem to have been starting it FOR.EV.ER. I came to a realisation about why this is after supervision the other day. It is because whenever I have been pressed to come up with my research question it hasn’t felt right, it doesn’t seem to encompass what I want to explore.

At the moment I am toying with a new idea and it is one that is still sitting comfortably a week or so later and so I hope to move forward with it.

I submitted the abstract below to an internal Post Graduate Researchers’ Conference – it wasn’t accepted as an oral paper (so substitute the word reading for listening) but I will be making it into a poster and I will share on the blog when I’m done. This summarises how I have been feeling about the beginning of the process. It also links to my theme for tomorrow, C is for… Conferences.

Round and Round in Circles and Back to Square One

This autoethnographic account of my early PhD journey (inspired by Taylor 2008) will explore the confusion I have experienced from trying to narrow my research focus on a topic that is so meaningful to me. A PhD is not just about the one research project but is also about training in research (Marshall and Green 2010). It is therefore important to develop skills of analysis and to be able to rationalise decisions made. A sense of frustration can be created by exploring the ‘dark side of the moon’, only to come back to the ‘light side’ again. What is important though is returning from that journey with the acceptance that where I have settled is the right place for me. My account will be subjective, but by sharing, a dialogue will be opened with the experiences and emotions of those listening (Ellis 2004).

Ellis, C., 2004. The Ethnographic I: a methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Marshall, S. and Green, N., 2010. Your PhD Companion. 3rd ed. Oxford: How To Books.

Taylor, J., 2008. An Autoethnographic Exploration of an Occupation: Doing a PhD. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 71 (5), 176-184.


For me though I think I will still feel as if I am beginning until I am in the data collection process…then, as they say in the vernacular, this shit is going to get real.

If you’ve completed a PhD or are further in the process than me – how did you find beginning? When did it feel real for you? Does the title of my poster-to-be fit with your experience?

A is for… Autoethnography #AtoZChallenge

A is for… Autoethnography

Not surprisingly, as a writer who is studying creative writing from an occupational science perspective, I am taking a qualitative approach to my research, looking at words and not numbers.

My parents and grandparents, who are watching me surrounded by books, think all of this research terminology seems like double dutch. So I will try my hardest to make this interesting and understandable.

I will start briefly by describing Ethnography – this is research that explores a cultural group, one that develops ‘shared patterns of behavior, beliefs, and language.’ (Creswell 2007 p. 68). Ethnographers usually observe this culture and document the meanings and interpret what they witness. Ellis (2004 p.26) breaks the word down to ethno – people or culture and graphy – writing or describing. When we add auto we add the self.

Autoethnography therefore ‘utilizes the researchers’ autobiographical data to analyze and interpret their cultural assumptions.’ (Chang 2008 p. 9).

So, yes, in short, my research is going to be about me and my experiences of engaging in the occupation of creative writing. But, I don’t think I’m quite so vain to think it is all about me or that it’s all about you (cue song)

so I am exploring the concept of Collaborative Autoethnography (Chang et al 2013).

I am making the presumption that writers belong to a ‘writing’ culture, especially those who are online.

The other aspect that appeals to me about autoethnography is the idea that you can be creative when writing it up, using story, poetry etc. It is much more appealing to me to write a novel than a thesis and I hope I can mix the two. Ellis (2004) presents her methodological book in novel format which makes it much more engaging to me as a reader.

Autoethnography does appear to mean lots of things to lots of different people and so I need to read more and make some decisions on what it will mean to me.

Chang (2008 p.49) highlights that ‘autoethnographers face the initial challenge of identifying a research focus…’ – That is what tomorrow’s post B is for…Beginnings will be about.

If you are a writer do you feel you belong to a ‘writing’ culture?
If you have experiences of using or reading autoethnography please do share them.

Chang, H. 2008. Autoethnography As Method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
Chang, H., Ngunjiri, F.W., and Hernandez, K-A,C. 2013. Collaborative Autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
Creswell, J.W. 2007. Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: choosing among five approaches. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ellis, C. 2004. The Ethnographic I: a methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

A to Z – Provisional Post Ideas #AtoZChallenge

Yes, I have decided to take part in the blogging from A to Z challenge this year, and I’m going to take part twice.

I will be blogging about Supernatural/Sci-Fi/Fantasy type TV shows I’ve seen and also a PhD related blog post a day too – I ran this past my Supervisor today who thought it would be a good thing because she might actually get to see some of my thoughts written down!!

TV Shows Provisional List (with additional sneaky mentions on some days and slight cheats on three)

A is for… Angel
B is for… Buffy the Vampire Slayer
C is for… Charmed
D is for… Dead Like Me
E is for… Eureka
F is for… Firefly
G is for… Ghost Whisperer (sneaky Game of Thrones mention too)
H is for… Hex
I is for… Incredible Hulk
J is for… Journeyman
K is for… Kingdom Hospital
L is for… Lost
M is for… Missing
N is for… No Ordinary Family
O is for… Once Upon a Time
P is for… Point Pleasant
Q is for… Quantum Leap
R is for… Roswell
S is for… Supernatural (Def plus sneaky extras inc The Secret Circle, Switch and Smallville – there’s an abundance of S Shows)
T is for… Teen Wolf
U is for… Um there are no Us so let’s go for numbers – 666 Park Avenue
V is for… Vampire Diaries
W is for… Wonderfalls
X is for… X Files
Y is for… Your Favourites
Z is for… Zombies –  Dead Set (If I get round to watching it in time)

PhD Provisional List (Book reviews won’t be able to be of the whole book but key concepts)

A is for… Autoethnography
B is for… Beginning
C is for… Conferences
D is for… Dialogism (Book)
E is for… Ethics
F is for… First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process (Book)
G is for… Grame Harper’s Interviews with Contemporary Writers (Inside Creative Writing) (Book)
H is for… Heroine
I is for… Intertextuality (Book)
J is for… Journalling and Reflexivity
K is for… King – On Writing (Book)
L is for… Le Guin on Writing (The Wave in the Mind) (Book)
M is for… Mewburn (Dr Inger) – The Thesis Whisperer
N is for… Narrative Inquiry (Book)
O is for… Ontology, Epistemology and all that Jazz
P is for… Pratchett on Writing (A Slip of the Keyboard) (Book)
Q is for… Qualitative
R is for… Radical Rhetoric
S is for… Situating Everyday Life (Book)
T is for… Transactional Perspective (Book)
U is for… Ubiquitous
V is for… Value the Personal
W is for… Why I Write (Orwell) (Book)
X is for… X doesn’t mark the spot
Y is for… Your story too
Z is for… Zen in the Art of Writing (Ray Bradbury) (Book)

So, that’s my challenge – now I need to start writing and scheduling as much as possible so that I can visit and comment on other blogs.

Are you doing the challenge this year? Picked a theme? Planning or winging it?

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