I may be repeating myself out of insecurity, but the purpose of this blog is not one of navel-gazing per se, but rather to record my research process as I work through my doctoral project (though admittedly the two may appear indistinguishable some days). I have a motive to offer – if, and where possible – any research which I have collected for the good of another researcher and this blog is likely where they would find that information.
For the purpose of my PhD I have dedicated myself to a methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology . In other words, I am devoted to looking into my research question by noting various things which happen as I work along, and then interpreting them (attempting to make contextual sense of it). This is a form of qualitative research (looking into the unique characteristics or qualities of a given research problem), rather then quantitative research (collecting data in the form of numbers and graphs to derive some understanding in regards to a research problem).
I began this practice in 2013 and have since collected what I believe to be a considerable volume of information regarding the gendering of materials in contemporary art practice through my attempts, travels, education, and in particular my studio practice, as well as my establishment of the Gynocratic Art Gallery one year ago. For each of these lessons I have learned a great deal, and humbly take pride.
Where the progress of my research is concerned, things are extremely slow despite the fact that I am working daily.
(http://nickandzuzu.com/2016/02/sisyphus/) And, though I take no solace in the idea of being regarded as any sort of Sysephus-like character – even I must admit that it is surely where I find myself today.
I’ll just take a moment to delineate – I’ve repeated my literature review twice (I’m not sure how to word this so that it doesn’t sound like a complaint, yet not openly drawing attention these difficult aspects of my research here in the blog feels even more uncandid and dishonest then the possibility of coming across as whining. I created a literature-quilt the first time, which I submitted to assessors along with two-hundred some pages of historical research. That response was shipped in the form of a quilted USB stick in a specially made pin-cushion fashioned from the scraps of the literature quilt itself. Second time, I created a vintage quilt-folder to hold the paper copy of my exam – think standard office file folder with interior pocket, but quilted – that got a pass…
For my methodology comprehensive exam I ‘created’ fossils (yup, think grey, stone-like, ancient, outmoded, relic) along with the submission of a full written exam . For my oral exam I created a zine of my early feminist education (thank you Kathleen Hanna grrrl), and then recently, I wrote a forty-five page proposal paper which was returned for considerable review before I can move it forward to the oral defence stage, at which I will be considered ‘officially engaged in my research project’.
Dr. Daria Loi, who I have previously sited in this blog, has this to say about her own experience of engaging in a practice-led research doctoral dissertation:
“I propose that the boundaries of what constitutes a postgraduate thesis should be ‘stretched’ to enable new ways of addressing, demonstrating and accessing content and to allow different individuals to embark on research that is sympathetic to their potential research capabilities and methodological beliefs.
Researchers should be in a position to adopt multisensorial writing when such an expressive mode is parallel to their won ways of doing, thinking and communicating.
Although alternative formate for postgraduate research are not novel, the author argues that institutions are not yet clear on their full potential nor are they equipped to properly facilitate them. Such proposition impact on thee nature of postgraduate research and on the competencies necessary to supervise such research.
In the meantime, supervisors and their relationships with postgraduate students intending to produce such work will require greater levels of engagement, patience, risk-taking, coordination, flexibility and openness – especially if the thesis is postdisciplinary.
Due to the high levels of pressure associated with producing alternative format PhD theses it is very likely that students will have to pay more attention to the supervisory process as they might be required to operate as reassuring entities, to foster dynamic supervision loops, to translate their vision into a language that is accessible to supervisors, and to establish shared understandings.
It could be said that postgraduate students will in these cases be likely to spend extra time in helping supervisors learn how to supervise them and in teaching themselves how to be supervised – how to be active participants within the supervisory process.
…until a new generation of supervisors will emerge…
PhD research could have a very different flavour then, a flavour we cannot yet predict but only wonder about.