Writing the Qualitative Dissertation: Understanding by Doing

By Judith M. Meloy | Go to book overview

6
UNDERSTANDING
BY FOCUSING

Ownership, Autobiography, Ethics

Know that you will (most likely) form a relationship with your topic. Like other relationships, this one has good and bad moments! As time goes on, you will increasingly hear your topic, see it, feel it, and talk about it (perhaps incessantly). You may become distracted and/or bore others quickly, but you will grow to know and love (and sometimes hate) your study. (Katie)

Research texts often assume that the researcher has a problem to pursue. Little time is spent discussing what is and is not a problem; more is spent suggesting where to look for one (Meloy, 1989). Determining a focus in qualitative research usually includes examining and reexamining the research context, changing one's mind and giving up preconceived notions of what is important. Understanding the focus occurs nearer to the middle and the end—as opposed to the beginning—of the inquiry. How an individual finds focus and the focus that an individual finds are directly linked to who the individual is. A focus may “emerge” from context, but it actually takes shape as a result of how an individual looks at a given context, what is perceived, and what that individual determines to do with all of that “stuff. ” If a statistical analogy may be used, finding focus is, in a sense, the result of an “interaction effect” of person and context; and, like statistics for some, it's not always easy to grasp. Lisa, early in her doctoral program in 1998, writes: “As far as my own research interests go, I have so many that I've had a difficult time narrowing them to a workable load. ”

-97-

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Writing the Qualitative Dissertation: Understanding by Doing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Research Correspondents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments x
  • About This Book xi
  • 1 - Understanding by Finishing 1
  • 2 - Understanding by Beginning 8
  • 3 - Understanding at the Beginning 30
  • 4 - Understanding by Proposing 56
  • 5 - Supporting Understanding 73
  • References 95
  • 6 - Understanding by Focusing 97
  • 7 - Understanding by Writing 118
  • 8 - Understanding by Doing 145
  • 9 - Understanding by Finishing 171
  • 10 - Understanding by Ending 181
  • Appendix A 191
  • Appendix B - Sample Tables of Contents 196
  • Appendix B 205
  • Bibliography 209
  • Author Index 215
  • Subject Index 219
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