Monday, 13 July 2009

Thesis Outline ver2

Here is an update of the thesis outline, after a really helpful chat with my dear supervisors.

We had a in-depth discussion on Research Questions: what are they for in a thesis - I mean after I have done all that research, it is not simply where I started, it is somehow where I will end up going back to discuss in the final chapter as well. I, guess as well as many PhD researchers, started with a huge research question collection in the first year into the research, then we somehow end up focusing down a bit in order to concentrate our energy in actually carrying out some sort of actions to find out answers to some of the questions – well, whether we find the answer is another story yet. But when it comes to write up, it is about telling the story of this journey of finding, which means the research question here serves a different purpose. Somehow we are post-rationalize our research and try to make sense of it with very limited time and materials as we could manage to achieve in three years of learning-by-doing. It doesn’t mean that the answers we could find shapes the questions, but they do influence how we select the research questions to present in a 80,000 words thesis.

As I sign posted in this image, the literature give birth to research questions, so when we write up, each piece of literature we quoted has an aim and the findings point at the questions, which then will be structured and lead to Research Design – sometimes called the methodological approach in some thesis. The findings answer a selected group of these question collection, the discussion structure the answers again. So in terms of writing, it is very likely that we actually start from the answers and return to the questions – not that we invent research questions along the way, we select and refine them. The criteria is that they are important, they are relvant and they are interesting to read!

Any writing is about telling a story, sometimes we can start from the end of the story rather than from the start.