Friday, September 15, 2006

Reaching another milestone

Almost 12 months has past since my posting on meeting with IPs, CIs and SP, namely, industry partners, chief investigators and supervisory panel.

Yesterday witnessed the most recent meeting of my supervisory panel, that was preceded by an open seminar for panel members, staff and students at which I presented an overview of my research to date. In many ways, this constituted a mid-late term review of candidature-and the reaching of another milestone. Around a dozen people participated in the seminar which included four of my five panel members—including Professor Terry Evans who travelled from Deakin University to the ANU to participate in the seminar, panel meeting and a meeting for another research project.

The thrust of the seminar was the provision of an historical and methodological account of my mixed method approach. The focus was on reviewing aspects of my qualitative data (30 semi-structured interviews) and quantitative data (NVivo analysis of a component of the project's 2005 national online survey of doctoral candidates). I highlighted major features of narrative and practice theory-both of which have assumed a level of significance above and beyond my original conceptual framework that constituted a tri-focal lens of learning, socialisation and knowledge production.

In preparation for the panel meeting I had previously circulated material that included a 2006 annual report; a draft outline for my thesis comprising an abstract and proposed chapters; and a series of milestones for 2007. Given that there are aspects of my thesis plan that could be described as unconventional—for example, a set of case narratives will form a key component, and aspects of the literature will be integrated across the text (rather than include a literature review as a discrete chapter)—I was apprehensive that some members of the panel would be concerned to say the least. However, some constructive suggestions were advanced, and following discussion a modified version of the plan was endorsed. Given increased accountability processes regarding PhDs at the ANU, there is a level of formality involving signed documentation around annual reporting.

As a result of yesterday's seminar and the meeting, I now have a sense in which I am entering the final and most challenging stage of candidature—a process that will involve extensive drafting and re-drafting of chapters. However, I also feel reasonably optimistic at this stage given that the basic structure, content and argument seem to be in place.