and every day you're in this place

My parents will be here tonight. The maintenance guys just put a sizable hole in my bathroom ceiling. And took the fan with them.

I'm not sure when they're bringing it back.

So let’s talk about research. Specifically, let’s talk about how, after drafting and redrafting and editing and rewriting my prospectus draft, I’ve now chucked it completely. Again. For the…um…fifth time.

Because it sucked. And it’s not fair to inflict that sort of thing on my overworked committee members.

Over and beyond the fact that I don’t want something that I *know* is going to get rejected to have my name on it.

I just can’t seem to figure out how to put this thing together. Major problems:

1. There’s very little literature in my discipline that uses the methodology that I want to employ. Less than ten major works, a double handful of articles.

This could be a good thing (hey, look! New directions in IR research!) but I suspect that the reaction will instead be, ‘if it worked, wouldn’t someone have already used it?’

2. The literature in disciplines that *do* use it isn’t readily analogous to what I want to do. The only thing that I know can transfer over easily is work in public health and epidemiology. And that tends to use it for particular situations, not generalized historical analyses like I have in mind.

I’m not good at avoiding problems of scale.

3. One of my committee members is going to want more theoretical detail. Another will want more detail in the parameters for my analysis. The third will want more about how this is important for the discipline.

The fourth is…well, I haven’t quite got the fourth yet. This is, surprisingly, a relatively minor problem. But I’m sure that person will wanting something else—a justification for why this is IR and not public health, probably.

All of this has to fit into a very short document. Very short. Much too short to fit everything.

4. I’m not even sure that what I want to do is possible. And that comes through in the draft I just tossed. That I don’t know if it’s going to work, let alone give me useful results.

5. Honestly? I’d love to say that rigorous qualitative research is just as difficult as this. But it isn’t. Neither is the usual quantitative research we do in IR. I’m sort of terrified of my own dissertation project. That can’t be good.

Meh. Think I’ll go sit in on someone else’s research presentation. Maybe that will make me feel better.

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At 4/18/2007 10:14 PM, Blogger Bionic-Woman said...

Aah the DA sword....it'll work itself out...my magic # was 7!

At 4/20/2007 12:11 PM, Anonymous Serena said...

I think you are being overly analytical...you are too smart not too pull it off!


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