This Mortal Coil

Shakespearean skullI think I’ve titled this post appropriately since I can’t think of a better title to indicate the past week’s sufferings and troubles. What I’m getting at, is the frustration of process, whether that process be creative or practical.

I understand fully that the process of research and thesis writing is not an easy task. Last Thursday, it came to my mind (somehow I managed to completely forget) that for my thesis work, I will have to apply to the IRB (Institute Review Board) as I’ve had plans of conducting a survey or two as part of my thesis work. Any research involving human test subjects need to be approved by the IRB. The problem is how complicated the process of just filling out the right forms can be. See: (link IRB) and you’ll see what I mean.

I often wonder how scholars finalize and submit the questions that they plan on asking. What if your style of questioning is fluid and organic? Do you need to be distinct and have rather targeted questions listed?

The bright side is that the more I write and write and write, the more I’m starting to see where this actual thesis can go. I’m mostly writing thoughts and questions down every day. I know the pitfalls involved with actually writing parts of the paper without having my adviser being involved. I’ve heard many a graduate student complain about having written full on sections of their thesis only to get it rejected when reviewed with their advisers.

So I’m planning to lay out the rest of my graduate studies by taking a fieldwork class this summer. It’s a 2 week program at Columbia University, the 5th CIFAS (Comitas Institute for Anthropological Study) program and the course work consists of:

  • Foundations of ethnographic research
  • Theory and practice: social theories in the field
  • Research design
  • Planning the logistics of field research
  • Data collection techniques
  • Principles of organization and indexation of field data
  • Analyzing field data
  • Qualitative analysis software packages: basic principles
  • Individual, one-on-one discussion of research projects
  • Field trips

I’m hoping that the program imparts some needed guidance for my thesis research. I’m also hoping that it’ll be accepted as an Independent Study course for which I can receive 3 credits. If I get that, then I only need to enroll for 3 more classes and I’ll be done with my graduate program. I’m hoping that out of the 3 remaining classes, one will be my master thesis research class and the other a class on Gender and Sexuality being offered in Fall 2014. I’ll have to figure out what to take for that last remaining class, maybe another Independent Study? I’m not even sure if that’s repeatable for credits.

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