Monthly Archives: August 2014

A PhD Summer

This has been my first summer as a PhD student.  Consequently I am awake at 5am sat on the sofa thinking about my 9 month report and everything I have written this summer.  My laptop has not been off since June.  Last summer I was writing my masters dissertation, another project which took up a lot of my time and energy.

This summer has been different.  I have read a lot this year.  A lot of my reading has been on pornography and theories and research by those who research pornography.  I have also read theories about power, mainly Foucault, and theories about modern relationships.  I can tell you that it can be very hard when you have taken weeks to read a book, take notes and fully understand a text only to sum up the whole thing in a few words in your literature review.

I have a number of sections in my project.   I have a literature review which discusses pornography.  I begin by stating the history of pornography and it’s roots as social commentary.  I also discuss Foucault’s ideas about discourses of Sex and sexuality and suggest pornography is another discourse.  My literature goes on to discuss theories about pornography including radical feminist theory, anti censorship theory, feminist theory and  theories of masculinity.  I demonstrate how pornography has evolved as technology has developed and I discuss the effect the Internet has had on pornography and vice versa.  It is at this point that I introduce revenge pornography and show how it differs from other forms of pornography.  At this point I offer some ideas about revenge pornography as a phenomenon occurs and what motivates people to use revenge pornography sites.

After discussing my research questions, which I hope are informed by my literature review, I begin my methodology.  This section I am keeping my fingers crossed for.  I have never found it easy to write a methods section.  It is the bit I like doing least.  For this project I begin by stating my research plan which includes my approach to theory and my ontological and epistemological position.  I then introduce my plan to collect data and the method I will use and follow this by a discussion of my data analysis method.

The last section of my report is a summary in which I state a recap of my ideas and state how far I have got so far.

I have enjoyed working on this.  I really love my project.  I do have a few worries.   Firstly, I really hope I have chosen good literature.  Secondly, I want my literature review to inform my research questions.   Thirdly, I wonder if my methods section is robust enough.  These things do concern me, but I don’t think that I have done terribly with this.  I think it will be fine.

Methodology, numbers versus words and other research matters.

Recently I attended the British Society of Criminology Conference.  I had a great time and saw some fantastic presentations.  There is some really interesting work being done in the field of criminology.  I went mainly to understand what goes on at a criminology conference and to get an idea of how to present my research at future events.  On the whole it was a very positive experience and I feel that my ideas and research would be appreciated.  I had a great time talking to people about their research and understanding exactly what is going on in Criminology today.

Out of the presentations I went to it was interesting to find that almost all the research was qualitative and very little of it was taking place on the Web.  I attended one session which was devoted to quantitative method research and it was poorly attended.  In fact, in one sessions I went to a presenter was very critical of quantitative methods and kept referring to how they were unable to do the ‘numbers thing’.

I found this really interesting, especially as I am considering my own research methods at the moment.  I want to use both qualitative and quantitative methods in my research.  I want to use quantitative methods to define the size of the community I am researching and qualitative methods to try and understand the motivations of the community.  In the end, I believe numbers and words will help with answering my research questions, not either or.

My research is going well.  I am currently writing my nine month report.  It seems to be writing itself as all I seem to be doing is joining the dots between the bullet points.  It feels like I am writing a good piece of work, but my supervisors will have the last say on that.  I have had some help from a friend who has helped me with my data collection ideas.  As soon as I get ethical approval I am all set to go.

With regards to research the summer seems great to me.