On motivation

As noted before, next week I head back into the field, for the second round of interviews as part of the Data Collection part of my project.  Herding cats has nothing compared to trying to organise a series of interviews across four sites in a one-week period.  Of course, this tight self-imposed deadline hasn’t happened, and the data collection this time has spread out to between two-three weeks.

My interview style may be slightly different.  The first cycle of interviews was very much a ‘getting to know you’ round, and transcribing and analysing these interviews demonstrates that much of the discussion was not directly related to the project. This will be different, I’m asking roughly the same number of questions, but it will be much more focused on the research questions of the project.

I am struggling at the moment however with motivation.  With about fourteen months before submission, I guess this is to be expected.  I’ve been on the PhD programme now almost three years, two years for ‘Part One’, and the whole of this year on this project.  The end is in sight, but it’s also a long way off.

What can I do to get myself motivated then?  The interviews next week will, I’m sure, raise questions as well as move my project forward.  I’m off up to meet my supervisor face to face early in December, and am looking forward to at least a few days over Christmas with just me, a duvet, and all those papers that I really should have read by now.

One thing I have noted is that rereading the ‘how to do a PhD’ books I have (which I have plenty of) don’t really prepare you for this stage… when you’re deep in the data, and you should find the whole process fascinating.  And whilst I enjoy reading the blog The Thesis Whisperer, some of the postings appear to be acting as a real disincentive, here, here and here for example don’t exactly motivate you.

This feeling will pass, I’ve experienced it before, I just need to work through it and look back at all that I’ve done already… rather than prepare for what I still have to do.  And of course there’s always the best form of displacement activity – writing a blog post!

One comment

  1. Steve Wright (@stevewright1976)

    Hi Andy,

    Good luck – I found the valley of shit article really interesting having watched some close friends and other acquaintances walk it. If you;re there it’s good to know you;re not alone and if you find yourself in it again I think that’s a vehicle for reflection (everyone I know who has been there has got out! Jeffrey’s work on liminality could possibly be re-titled the valley of shit!

    Why writing from day one is nuts is an interesting article – it’s always good to hear a counterpoint. BUT how would you do “Why not separate the processes and develop your ideas first, then move on to formal writing when you know roughly what you’re going to say?” without WRITING from day one? If you;ve been keeping a journal and writing up notes on what you’re reading etc. you’ve probably written loads already but none of it ‘formal’ it’s the ideas development stage.

    Maybe time to look for other motivators – you have some data you;re going to get more what other takes could you have on what an interview is and what’s constructed through it? I’ve just borrowed this EXCELLENT book by Silverman which has some ‘worked examples’ going from theory through data to conclusions from different qualitative perspectives by experienced researchers from different perspectives that could open up
    2nd edition http://www.amazon.co.uk/Qualitative-Research-Theory-Method-Practice/dp/0761949348
    1st edition (oooh I’m SO buying a 1p copy!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Qualitative-Research-Theory-Method-Practice/dp/0803976666/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_9

    That might give some ideas/inspiration/different views to rekindle the interest and from interest motivation?

    Punch through and dig deep or plug away at something you can get done (transcribing’s good for that!) outsource (transcription).

    ANd hey catch up on Skype sometime yeah!?!?!

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