PhD research writing

Research update #46: Proposal writing day 11 – improving the good sentence

Another pretty decent day of writing, I think (hope). I’m still possibly procrastinating the research methodology section, which really is kind of small and I’m not sure why I’m avoiding it but the background and significance bits are done instead. (Well the first draft is done, lets see)

After banging on about how happy I was with a particular sentence yesterday (here and in tweet form), I shared it with a trusted friend who has just submitted her PhD. She noted that it would probably read better as two or three separate sentences and I must admit that she’s right. So I fixed that up and I do like it more now.

I think I’ve stepped slightly into the trap of feeling that ‘proper’ academic language needs to be dense because it seems as though a lot of the literature that I read is written that way. (I’m also currently reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, which probably isn’t helping my style). But it also seems to be dense at the expense of readability or accessibility, which had always seemed like a much more important thing to me, not least politically. I suspect that I may be trying to write more ‘academically’ to fit in, so that there’s less chance that I’ll need to re-write big swathes of the proposal. The reality is though that this is a first draft and it’s basically designed to be re-written. And the re-writing is an important part of learning to be a researcher/scholar/thoughtleader/whatever.

I did have a sudden flash of fear that everything that I’ve been writing here in the blog as part of my thinking and quote capturing and early drafting might ultimately see me accused of self-plagiarism. Fortunately the nice people of #phdchat Twitter (thanks Stephen and Penny) were able to put my mind at rest.

I think tomorrow should be a good day to finally hit the methodology section.