When you speak to your supervisor or read books or guides on conducting PhD research, we are often made to think that the research process is linear.
This makes people panic, because if your research doesn’t fit into these neat little boxes there is a tendency to think that you’re doing something wrong.
Which is nonsense, because the research process is never linear.
Instead, it’s a mess. Sure, these six stages are all there, but you find yourself moving back and forward between different stages – even stages that are seemingly far apart – all the time.
In my PhD, for example, I redefined my research objective and problem slightly after I had collected data. I even made small changes to my research question as I was writing up.
My point is this: research is messy and it doesn’t progress in a linear fashion. You’ll go round and round in circles and you’ll make mistakes. You’ll have to go back, start over and cover old ground.
And you know what? That’s fine; that’s just the way research works.
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