Two PhD packages to complete

2019-05-10

in PhD thesis, Writing

Today was the end of term party in the political science department. I showed up in a suit in part to convey to any of my committee members present that I am focused on getting the dissertation done. *

I have promised my supervisor two big packages of work.

First — The output from the process of digitizing interview notes and coding them in NVivo. This will take a lot more tedious data entry, but this is the main empirical contribution of the project and will be the basis for the analysis.

Second — Drafts of the four thematic chapters, on political opportunity, repertoires, mobilizing structures, and framing. This is where three things come together: my experience with the climate activist and divestment movements, the theoretical framework of contentious politics (where the chapter labels come from), and the specific information I have collected from research subjects.

I’m not going to estimate when these packages will be done, but by that point most of the labour required for the PhD will be complete. I will need to incorporate and respond to comments from my committee, as well as write an introduction and conclusion, but the core of the dissertation will be in place.

* Part of me rebels at the idea that people will use information about how you appear in front of them to judge something essentially unrelated (the progress of a writing project), but an error of mine demonstrates how thoroughly our reasoning depends on present sensory inputs, even when seeking to approach a situation rationally. At the gathering, I spoke at length with a woman who I assumed was a PhD student, given her appearance, and given that with 200 students in the program at once there are many who I don’t know. Only just now, scrolling down the faculty directory to find the name of someone else, I went past the photo I took of the woman. At that photo session which I did for the department, I asked her at the outset if she was a PhD student and now remember being told she was faculty. Beyond a vague familiarity, I had no memory of her during the party, and only remembered the photo session meeting when prompted by a random external input.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Milan June 12, 2019 at 1:37 am

I have only finished five of the interview reports so far, but I do have over 20,000 words written in a new draft, having set aside everything I wrote before October.

Once I have a solid draft of package 2 I will go back through my older chapter drafts for anything worthwhile to integrate.

In terms of package 1, it seems to be possible to produce interview reports in an hour or two for interviews of normal length. Getting through the rest then will take me at least several more weeks, even if that is the main focus of my effort.

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