Our guest blogger this week is Ruth Weatherall, a lecturer in Not-for-Profit and Social Enterprise Management at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research uses feminist, queer, and ethical perspectives and is broadly concerned with how social justice, particularly related to gender inequality, is achieved in and through community organisations. She is also interested in how academics can write to achieve social justice. Two of her recent articles: ‘Writing the doctoral thesis differently’ (Management Learning) and ‘Even when those struggles are not our own’ (Gender Work and Organization) epitomise these concerns.
By Ruth Weatherall
Writing a thesis can be a daunting task. Where do you even begin? Happily, there are numerous sources offering guidance to aspiring PhDs. These books have promising titles like How to Write a Better Thesis or Writing your Doctoral Dissertation or Thesis Faster: A Proven Map to Success. Such books guarantee to answer key questions about doctoral writing: Do I write in the third person or the first person? What chapters should I include? How do I know if what I’m writing is ‘original’? How do I structure a literature review? What am I even doing here?
In the early stages of my PhD journey (in the field of organisation studies), I was a prolific reader of these books. I absorbed their advice and used it to start mapping my thesis in my mind. But the deeper I got into my fieldwork, the more I started to feel that such advice was constricting. The models offered in the books simply didn’t fit with my research experience. I felt like I was ‘reverse engineering’ my research journey into a neat formula. Importantly, it felt like this ‘formula’ was restricting how I was understanding the social world and the contributions I wanted to make. So I decided to explore how to write my thesis differently. Continue reading