Generally, I’m upbeat about my thesis. Yes, things go wrong, I have the occasional moan or wonder whether (insert research problem here) will ever work out, but on the whole I love my project and being a PhD student. Right now though…my thesis is annoying me. There, I finally said it.
What’s brought this on? Well, I’ve reached the point in my PhD where I’ve laid the majority of the ground work for the study that is the bread and butter of my thesis. The study is exciting because it’s novel, has practical use and could potentially help fill a gap (read: black hole) in the literature. Essentially I’m setting out to measure something really complex, so I need to design the measure and test it out.
The novelty and gaping black hole that is the literature gap in this area also makes designing this measure scary and difficult. I don’t have a comprehensive body of knowledge to lean on. There’s hardly anything out there, and what is out there is often contradictory. I’ve run some of my own studies which have definitely helped, but it will take years of people doing the same kind of research I’ve been doing to really get a clear understanding of the field. As you can imagine then, trying to come up with my own ideas based on what little we do know is challenging; I’ve been thinking outside the box and entertaining even the wildest of ideas. The hard part is grounding these ideas in my rationale, rejecting the ones that don’t fit (no one likes to kill their darlings) and then explaining the why, what and how.
It’s not easy, but at the same time, if it was, someone would have done it already! Knowing that other people think that this is important work and that it will help people also keeps me going when it all seems too hard. The odds are that it might not pan out, but if I work out how to capture even some of the things I need to, it will be a big step forward. I just need to take a leap of faith. It’d be really nice if it did mostly pan out though…
I’ve never wanted to have a preview of my future, but part of me is curious about how this will all turn out. Wish me luck and watch this space!