Monday, July 14, 2008

Diss Update (the lit review is hellish, I tell you)

It's no big secret: Writing a dissertation is hard work. I've been convinced for quite some time.

Many of the sources I read about dissertation writing stated to write the literature review first, but did I listen? Did I heed their advice? Absolutely not. I was convinced that I knew my sources, their basic arguments, and I where my work fit within those arguments. Instead of the lit review, I felt the need to write the case studies, the methodology, a chapter on pedagogy, and I've roughed out the intro and conclusion. (I'm nearing the end of this project, the lit review and findings/analysis chapters are all that remain). But now that I'm constructing the literature review, I can see places I need to cut back. I have way too much information, and I'm drowning in it. Constructing the literature review is showing me just how much information I'm working with, and as I mentioned on Twitter more that once today, it's kicking my ass. As a graduate student, I never constructed a literature review. (Shocking, I know!) I've constructed plenty of very extensive Annotated Bibliographies, but never the lit review. So now I struggle.

I spent the day constructing the mind-map below (constructed with Mindjet MindManager Pro 7, damn I love this program) that contains four of the six areas I need to review, and it's within these areas I'll cut back as I don't need another 100-page chapter). The graphic image below is too small to read, but each "arm" is a subject area of the dissertation (literacy, basic writing, critical pedagogy, athletics/athletes, etc.), the major theorists of that subject, what they believe or don't believe about the specific subject under question. The interesting part will be to see how these areas overlap.

With all this trimming, I now have a research agenda for the next several ... months (years, decades?). This is also a very good thing.

Cross posted at Parts-n-Pieces.


Bionic-Woman said...

You have my support but I'm holding off the commiseration until you share what I think ought to be a scintillating story about managing to avoid the dreaded LR through grad school!

Billie said...

Heh, Bionic Woman: It was just never required . . . I'm in an English department that focused very heavily on rhetoric and poetics (think Berlin, Ulmer, Vitanza). I did a ton o'annotated bibliographies, but never had to summarize the material. While I never thought about it at the time (truly, the thought NEVER crossed my mind), I'm paying for that lack right now. ;-)