going back to the research object

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Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in theory. One theorist leads to another,  and soon you have a stack of books and a folder full of notes that are too big to cover in a 15,000-word paper.

So what do you?

Go back to the research object. I started working through my theories, but after having produced a 12-page outline for a dissertation that will probably be about 45 pages, I decided to go back to the ethnographic material I gathered during my fieldwork in May.

Now, that I’m actually going through my research data, I have a clearer sense of what theories will be useful for my dissertation and which ones I can discard.

The point of the dissertation is to build on theory, but the point of theory is to understand the world. The trick is learning not to lose sight of both points.

[Photo via Flickr user *Kicki*]

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