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It’s been some time since I talked about where I am with the PhD. I passed the 4th year viva, so am now scarily a fifth year and staring down the calendar to submission deadlines and 40th birthdays…

I’ve just had a week off work. My plan was to make a start on the discussion and see if I can nail down what my conclusions were. This I have done, in that I have about 4,000 words of varying quality written into some kind of structure  – I expect perhaps 1000 or so of those might make it to the final version. (It’s more stream of consciousness at the moment).  The problem I came up against was that I was trying to tie my work back into the literature I’d identified but that having not really paid much attention to said literature for a year and a bit, I’d forgotten a lot of what was there; and there are probably 20 or so newer papers to incorporate. So the week became a bit of a mish-mash of re-reading things, looking again at the lit review and deciding how to better structure it, reading new material (on IT and aging, and internet & moral panic), writing ideas down for the discussion, reading other people’s discussions in fits of self-doubt about whether I was on the right track, pulling evidence for the conclusions I was making from the results, looking out of the window, re-ordering the aims and objectives, fiddling with diagrams, etc. On Thursday I pulled together a table of the comparable results from comparable studies from content analysis of religious websites – kicked myself quite hard for not having done that on Monday, because it gave a really clear focus.

I also added a bit to my results where I compared my findings on the overall character of the websites (are they focusing more on organisational aspects or evangelical aspects?) with those from the study I have about this  looking at US Southern Baptist sites – seemed a useful piece of information to add. Same ratios (focus is on organisational) – I have things to think through about this before I can add the genuis insights to the discussion (genius not guaranteed).

I also started out compiling a table of the objectives and conclusions and what evidence I have for those conclusions.

My plan for the summer has allocated three months to June for writing the discussion and then July for the revision of the literature review. I think plan A will have to be modified so that actually it’s more of an integrated process – writing both sides at once, but perhaps focusing more this month on making sure I know which new papers are going in the lit review and what its new structure might look like – I think I am going to condense the sections on the other religions, for example. I have more relevant Christian work to talk about than I did 18 months ago, so although I think the cross-cultural things are still relevant, they’re not so important to sustain the argument.

I would probably have had something bordering on cabin fever had I not had church stuff to do – as usual I think I set myself about a month’s worth of work to complete in five days, forgetting how long reading and thinking take, and worrying that by day 3 of a three-month window I hadn’t got the perfect draft completed.  Fortunately there was encouragement in the shape of a trip to the pub, pom-pom waving and Twitter password hiding from @watfordgap and a few good runs to keep me nearly sane…