Tag Archives: PhD

All posts related to PhD’s. This includes data management strategies, sampling strategies, polices, procedures and mechanisms.

How to write a discussion chapter?

Discussion Chapter Burger
The discussion chapter burger

It never ceases to amaze me how often students underestimate the importance of a good, solid discussion/conclusion chapter. As part of your dissertation or PhD the final chapter is worth its weight in gold, it brings together all the disparate elements of your thesis, allowing the researcher to finish with a flourish!

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Using Template analysis

Fork in the Road
Which road to take?

Finding an analytical mechanism that can be employed to analyse Qualitative research is a road filled with laughter, tears, pain and in some cases misery. With so many differing approaches to choose from it can be a difficult decision to decide on what you feel is a suitable mechanism to help you analyse those interviews, documents and memos, which you have so meticulously collected over the lifetime of your research. Hence today I want to talk about what is a relatively new method of Qualitative Data Analysis called Template analysis (I say new but it is about 15 years old, so still a teenager!). I will discuss this as a viable alternative to IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological analysis).

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thirteen reasons researchers get asked to write their methods chapter again

Some good advice here. New researchers especially can lose focus.


Dissertation examiners always check the methods chapter or methodological writings carefully. And the more the doctorate is seen as research training, the more important it will be for examiners to make sure that the relevant writings in the thesis really do indicate that the researcher can do the technical stuff properly. So here’s my list of what I look for in methods chapters and/or methodological writings, and what I’ve seen other examiners look for. To know the worst is to be better prepared. Well, that’s the goal.

1. The researcher does not know the difference between methodology and methods.

2. The researcher has written a long essay about epistemology and ontology. They have named their own stance but have failed to develop what it means for their subsequent choices of methodology and research design.

3. The methodology does not fit with the theoretical framework and/or the research tradition of…

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Types of interviews for data collection

Interview in Progress
Key to a good interview

In this blog post I want to take some time looking at the different types of interviews for collecting data. Every qualitative researcher will at one time or another need to conduct research where they need to interview their research participant(s).  In the view of the research (Burnard, Gill, Stewart, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008; Gill, Stewart, Treasure, & Chadwick, 2008; Morse & Corbin, 2003) there are three fundamental types of research interviews, these are:

  • Structured,
  • Semi-structured
  • Unstructured

Each of these have a slight variation in their structure and more importantly conduct. Morse & Corbin (2003) discus this in more detail and note that the main difference between the three approaches is “The degree to which participants have control over the process and content of the interview”.

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How to … Nvivo Data Classifications

Filing Cabiner
Use Nvivo to organise data

As discussed in one of my previous blog posts, Nvivo is a very powerful Data Management tool which is ideal for managing large data sets. However for the Novice the power of Nvivo can be overwhelming and confusing and for the early career researcher it can be off putting and intimidating. Hence in order to demystify Nvivo, my aim is for the next few blog posts to create a series of Vlog’s (Video Blog).

Hence my first Vlog is about Nvivo and Classifications. Click on read more to view my youtube video on Nvivo Classifications and a short summary of what Nvivo Classifications are, how they work and why they are important.

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My PhD Viva experience

Guy Fawkes
Remember, remember the 5th of November

For me the Fifth of November will no longer be associated with Guy Fawkes and Bonfire night, from this day forth it will no longer be the fifth of November if will be the “Phifth” of November, the day I had  my viva.

Completing my PhD has been one of the biggest achievements of my life, as a process it has been challenging, rewarding and life affirming, with many, many bumps along the way. However after submission, the part of the PhD process I was dreading the most was the Viva. Today I want to discuss my experiences of the fifth of November 2015 in more detail.

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Data management strategy

Data management in chaos
Binary code chaos

For the Qualitative researcher the implementation of data management is a necessary and essential task when attempting to analyse data as part of the research process. It is very much likely the case, that as the researcher, by this stage you have  amassed a large quantity of qualitative data which can include  interviews, focus groups or survey data. Before anything can be done with this data it needs validating, organising and preparing for analysis. Hence at this juncture there are two options firstly the researcher can develop a manual process of data management or the researcher can live a little on the edge and go hi-tech by employing an electronic process of data management.
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“I Will Survive” (The Viva): Part One

Good points, key elements which hopefully can help me when my time comes.


“As those of you who follow me on Twitter will know, earlier this year I successfully defended my PhD thesis on the topic of childhood, performance and immigration in post-Franco Spanish cinema.  Since then, I’ve been meaning to write a post or two about this, including my experience of the viva, how I prepared for it and a list of handy resources for those yet to face the dreaded examination.  My thought had initially been that writing these posts immediately after the viva would be favourable, given that the whole experience would be fresh in my mind.  Life, inevitably, got in the way so here I am writing these posts nearly five months after the event.  Taking inspiration from both Gloria Gaynor and Dr Nathan Ryder’s superb podcast and workshop series “Viva Survivors”, I’ve titled the posts ‘“I Will Survive” (The Viva)’.  In this post, I concentrate…

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Starting the PhD

This is really good blog. Great for starting off.


The PhD is a big undertaking. Your association with the university is going to last for some time. So it’s as well to know some basics at the start.

The first thing to understand is that a university is a complex organisation. It has grown like Topsy. It isn’t rational; some bits of it will work better than others. It is, like all bureaucracies, indifferent to you in significant ways – the university deals with all doctoral students in much the same way. That bureaucratic indifference is both a strength and a weakness, because procedural rules are designed to prevent people demanding and getting special treatment. Adherence to standardised rules and forms and process is the way in which bureaucracies do their work. Of course, some people do require something different from their university, and there are separate processes, sometimes pretty idiosyncratic, that are put into place so that something other than the standard process can occur.


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