Thesis Methodology: Seminar Notes/Personal Synthesis

I have to give a (max) 30 minute oral presentation on my ‘methodology’ for my thesis in my doctoral seminar. The instructions were relatively loose – stemming from a guest speaker we had at the beginning of the semester.

The following comes from my notes of that particular seminar. There are four primary questions that need to be addressed in terms of the project’s methods are:

1) What is the object?
2) What is the problematic?
3) What is/are the discipline?
4) What is the question of analysis?

With this small template in hand, I have to give a description, analysis and interpretation while being fully aware of the difference between ‘doing research’ and ‘writing research’.  Therefore, the goal of a (good) thesis is to show a problematic of an object from a particular discipline or corpus. We need to be conscious of the fact that in some cases, the object of study can also be the subject of study – but I think I am ok with that as long as it is kept in mind that the passage from object to corpus occurs at the point in which the object becomes structured. In order to do this, we need to be aware of the boundaries of the corpus of choice, and to clearly define and defend those boundaries. If this is done right, the corpus will naturally lead to the problematic in question. The problematic is unearthed in the transition from the corpus to the construction of the object. This leads us to the multiple types of problematics:

1) Problematic that is purely descriptive (leading to hidden details and depths of an object),
2)    ”    that encompasses a categorization of elements
3)    ”    is the analysis (which is not the same as interpretation).
4)    ”    as logical demonstration (hypothesis)
5)    ”    as invention (original work…)

For a ‘good’ thesis, the problematic must have a good balance of ‘le savoir’ (knowledge), originality and verification (in the sense that the reader should be able to make the same logical/theoretical associations/assumptions through the path outlined by the writer – even if they don’t agree with them, they can see how you got from point A to point B). All in all a ‘good’ thesis must open the field.

Through all of this, one must remember that one’s methodology is a philosophy and not the steps one goes about the research itself.

And so – this is what I have to prepare for my oral presentation for March 26th. I think it will be a wonderful exercise to pin down the ideas I have been having about my thesis topic – and I think it’s a good thing to have to do it so early in my degree (if only as a solid reference point when I have to write my formal proposal).

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