A process filled with doubt

While waiting for my committee members’ feedback on a particular analysis, I’ve been working on another thesis chapter. In retrospect, I realize I could have written up this section on the first iteration of my design research study long ago. Those preliminary analyses actually were on the right track and do logically lead to the design changes that I made in later iterations.

Laura, a former member of the Brett research group and currently a CIHR postdoc at FIS reminded me today that thesis work is “a process filled with doubt.” Laura suggested I keep checking in with Clare and the committee about my progress if I was unsure. She also reassurred me that if you continue to work hard and conscientiously, “it will all work out.”

I’ve been pretty lucky so far about getting positive responses to my thesis progress from my committee. In consultation with them, I have made a number of methodological changes. For the most part, though, my work hasn’t deviated too far from my original research questions and thesis proposal. Generally, I feel confident about the direction of my work. At the same time, I’m not averse to changing directions if that will help me understand better and improve my work. (Aside: this reminds me of something Todd, another postdoc, revealed to me about his doctoral work. He said was really wedded to a certain interpretation of his data, and published several high-impact journal articles to this effect. Now he is more open to reconsidering other interpretations)

Still, as I turn my attention now to work on a manuscript based on my thesis research, I feel some trepidation. I keep finding literature that I think is relevant and worry about perceived short-comings of my research. I guess this is just part of the research process, because I know some academics–even very experienced ones–who feel this way about their work.


One response to “A process filled with doubt”

  1. Hi Nobuko,
    yes, it always will be a process filled with doubt. I actually ‘rewrote’ my thesis in the journal publications I made afterwards. Especially at the end, I only had one goal: get the damn thing done :). The final perfection version does not exist, never. So you only (I know, this is an understatement) have to construct a version your committee members will agree on :). And then, after finishing the phd, the real thing starts, if you are still in the mood for it :). But of course YOU are, because you are very committed and dedicated to research, aren’t you? :).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *