Writing a Thesis

Writing a Thesis

So, I’ve reached that stage in my doctoral work where I need to start putting together all of the work that I’ve done in the form of some kind of extended writing. Originally, I’d planned to go down the path of a submission of a portfolio – I mean, I’m already there with a couple of articles, a couple of chapters and a few artefacts for the portfolio, but my supervisor suggested I reconsider: in his opinion, I had more than enough data and information to sustain a full-blown thesis – and after all, that would look far better on my CV, should I ever have any wish to be involved in tertiary employment which, as an idea, has been growing in my mind for a little while now.

A thesis outlines my contribution to writing. It needs to be between 80 000 and 120 000 words, not including references: to put that in perspective, even if I stick to my current writing goal of 2000 words a week, I’m looking at more than a year to complete the work! Nevertheless, I’m hoping with school holidays that I’ll be able to do a lot more. Already I’ve set my goal of having completed a few of the chapters of my literature review during the upcoming school holidays – and that’s closer to 20 000 words than 2 000.

I’ve been working with my supervisor to outline a plan; there’s more to it than I thought – or at least he is encouraging me to consider that there should be more to it. Principal amongst our concerns is foregrounding the innovative nature of my research – for this reason, rather than the traditional – intro – methodology – results – discussion – conclusion approach, he is suggesting that I present some of my findings – in the form of a narrative, no less – earlier in my thesis than would be normal. I must admit, this idea really captured my interest. After all, many books – like those written by Ira Shor, or Brian Schulz, have a narrative component. I like the idea of ‘me telling the story of Justice Citizens, through the words of those who were involved.’

I think that will be the trick line to navigate in these sections: how much of ‘myself’ appears in these chapter. Personally, I think it should be pretty limited – more of my interpretation will appear later in the text, when I do the analysis and findings, so the first few chapters are really about the people involved in the research project speaking about it in their own words.

Long way to go, though.