The Horrifying Research Plan

“Nobody panics when things go ‘according to plan’. Even if the plan is horrifying.” -The Joker

A doctoral student’s research plan is a document that usually isn’t of interest to anyone but the doctoral student herself. Then there are some poor souls such as fellow seminarians, dissertation supervisors, and people in various grant committees that have to read through them. But surely one wouldn’t be cruel enough to subject one’s esteemed blog readers to such treatment?

Well no. But I thought it would be informative at this point in time to outline the main research themes that my dissertation will attempt to tackle. I presented the whole of my research plan in a seminar yesterday and received much valuable feedback on the plan, and got good instructions for improvement from my supervisor also.

So basically, what I’ll do is that I’ll write five articles that will be included in the dissertation, and each article will deal with one specific research theme/question at a time. The data for the first three articles will consist of a variety of texts (understood in a broad sense), and the last two articles will rely on data gathered through direct inquiries from the research objects (i.e. male adventure athletes). The themes are as follows:

  1. How a cultural male/female dichotomy extends to how male adventure athletes’ relationships to nature are represented in contemporary media. This was dealt with in my first published article.
  2. Applying ecomasculinity and protest masculinity as theoretical tools in investigating adventure sports as a form of stylized countercultural protest and that protest’s commodification through professional adventure athletes’ personal branding. This is what I’m working on at the moment, and what I pondered in the last blog post.
  3. The male athlete’s body regarded in terms of material ecocriticism and phenomenology. I’ll still need to do more reading on phenomenology especially but the potential that I see here means that I’m fairly excited about getting to work on this after I have finished my current paper.
  4. First-hand activist views on the problematics of travel and consumerism in relation to sports taking place in nature. I’ll try to get data for this online, possibly through questionnaires or the like, but the thought process here is still ongoing. I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this online data collecting thing.
  5. First-hand activist information, gained through face-to-face life-history interviews, on the interviewees’ own perceived nature relationships. This is what I’m hoping will be the icing on the proverbial dissertation cake, and something that I’m very excited about. I’ve at this point recorded one interview and will record several more during upcoming trips to international adventure sports destinations.

Universities in Finland usually aim for their doctoral students to finish their thesis in four years. In practice, many will take longer but, personally, I’d like to be finished in about three years. The aim is to write the last four articles (each article will probably be in the 15-25 page range) of the dissertation this year and send them to peer-reviewed international journals for reviewing and, hopefully, eventual publishing. I’ll then try to write the Summary part (roughly 100 pages or so) of the dissertation during 2017, while also editing the submitted article manuscripts according to the journal editors’ feedback. Then, all that’s left is to publicly defend the dissertation. So that’s the plan in all its horror. Easy peasy. What could possibly go wrong?

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Unfunny postscript: In all seriousness, I do realize that the above plan is ambitious. There are a myriad things that could actually derail the project’s schedule or cause changes to other parts of the dissertation. Some examples of possible bumps in the road: publishing in academic journals often is a lengthy process, new developments in the field may cause changes to my own perspectives, my own reading and writing may end up taking up more time than I have estimated, etc. That’s all part of the research process, though, and I’ll try to stay flexible and have an open mind when confronting the challenges that are sure to arise. However, I do believe that it is possible to write a high-quality dissertation in about three years, and that possibility means that it’s what I’ll pursue. The task at hand seems daunting at times but then again, that’s a good source of motivation as I like the idea of fully committing to trying to achieve something difficult. On we go.

(NB! Featured image not visible in mobile theme)

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