A method for writing my method

10 Mar

I handed in my draft Literature Review to my supervisor this week, which is a huge relief to me. Hopefully I will get some comments back about it soon, then I can tidy it up. I still have lots of books I want to read, but I feel that I’ve covered most of my essential texts. I will keep reading throughout my PhD and will keep adding to my review if I need to. For now I’m just happy that I’ve handed something in and now I can focus on something else for a few weeks.

So my next challenge is my method section. I will say what I’m going to research in my introduction and Lit Review, so now I need to say HOW I’m going to do it. This is going to be another challenge because although I will have used different methods in my old Uni work, I’ve never written a proper ‘method’ section.

I’m going to start by having a bit of a brainstorm.

My main aim is to create a meaningful and useful account of the collection from aquisition to death of the collector. Therefore, I know I want to use the cultural biography method as a way of mapping this and structuring my research. Cultural biography is a way of showing that objects have lifecycles depending on changes in their status. I can use it to show the changing meanings of the objects as they move into new uses and ownership, and come together to form a collection.

My research evidence is going to come from reading lots of primary accounts, mainly diaries, so I need a method that will get me the information I need from these sources. This is going to be a form of discourse analysis. I started having a read of the diaries over New Year so I have a general idea of their content. I need to decide now exactly what information I want to take from them. I can assess themes such as power and dominance, or record events such as exchanges with other peoples, or look for sentiments such as the expression of feelings towards objects.

When I know what I’m looking for, then I can work out how to read and record this information. At the moment I’m thinking I can do this with some sort of colour coding, which means I might be collect quantitative as well as qualitative results.

I asked my supervisor to give me a rough timeline of how she sees my first year as I felt that I was working on one thing with no idea of the bigger picture and what would come next. So the plan is to spend a month now (hopefully less?) on my method, then to draft my first introductory chapter to include the shaped-up Lit review, then to start going with my primary research around July. So July is ahead of me beckoning me on, and I can’t wait to get there!

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