Pondering the proposal


When I was investigating doctorates – a phase that lasted about ten years – some of the programs requested a proposal up front. The idea was to reassure the university (and any potential supervisors) that the research project could be completed within the allotted time, and that the candidate had the skills and experience to do so.  PhDs and professional doctorates are different. For an EdD the proposal comes after the competency exam is passed but essentially does the same job as a PhD proposal. We have been well prepared to tackle the proposal; our comps paper is essentially the proposal literature review with the theoretical framework in some cases. What we were missing was the methodology – the mechanics of the data gathering and analysis.

When I think of my data analysis, the fitting together of four peoples’ stories, I see myself serenely reclining in a sunlit meadow or sitting at a window (perhaps like a pre-Raphaelite beauty with a loom and pet swan*). The actual “how” was a bit blurry.   For qualitative analysis in general there is a lot of confusion. Vague statements like “emergent themes” sound like a magical process and don’t reflect the reality of a time-consuming slog through pages and pages of words.  I found the book “The Good, the Bad, and the Data: Shane the Lone Ethnographer’s Basic Guide to Qualitative Data Analysis” has a very helpful, step by step way of explaining (text based) qualitative analysis (plus it has cartoons!)  For narrative inquiry I turned to Clandinin and Connolly’s approach. They stress that that the process is never linear, and the researcher continually moves back and forth between field texts (transcripts, notes, reflections made after interviews for example), interim texts (shared with the participants like rough drafts of the story, emails etc.) and final research texts (the final story – my results section) as they navigate the process.

My timeline at the moment is tight; I would ideally like to talk to my participants in Toronto in late September. That means I have to have an approved proposal to attach to my Research Ethics Board application soon, and then pass the UBC ethics approval process in time for my trip to Toronto.  The first full committee meeting is next week, a just-in-time scramble before the committee members leave for their summer vacations.  At the moment I am stalled as I wait for that meeting and any changes that might be requested afterwards. If (a big if) my proposal is approved with minor changes I can apply for candidacy. A doctoral candidate has completed all of the requirements for the doctoral degree with the exception of the dissertation. It’s the next big step!

*I take no responsibility for my imaginative processes


Gaiman S. (2013). The Good, the Bad, and the Data: Shane the Lone Ethnographer’s Basic Guide to Qualitative Data Analysis. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press

Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative Inquiry: Experience, Story in Qualitative Research. San Francisco, US: Jossey-Bass





5 thoughts on “Pondering the proposal

  1. Amanda so much to think about from just a few paragraphs!

    I have noticed that some UK Professional Doctorate learners, after they complete the taught modules, use the initials for the interim award. Examples are PgC Applied Social Research (ASR). I believe I can add the interim award of PgD Heath Education Research (HER), but this would then be dropped once the full DProf was confirmed.

    I am an eternal badge collector 🙂


  2. Yes! Some use the All But Doctorate (ABD) designation if they have achieved candidacy. I did a quick Google and the discussion around this was pretty scathing (like ABD is “a ludicrous pseudo-title”!!) The whole titles thing is interesting as some countries use a lot of the interim designations, some don’t tend to.


    1. Wow!! Do you have a professional designation? We are RTTs – or MRT(T)s where regulated. How would people know you are a radiographer? #curious I also like to add my original DCR(T) sometimes as a proud expat 🙂


      1. Good observation- no we don’t have any initials for being a radiographer since we switched to BSc (Hons). Another positive to being DCR trained,

        The FHEA is a fellowship to the higher education academy. This is automatic for passing a teaching qualification for higher education. Some radiography lecturers have Senior status and a small few have Principal status.

        MInstLM is a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management. A bit of study, experience and annual fee needed for that one 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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