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Piecing together my own map: Choosing a dissertation off the beaten path, and other metaphors

I have been learning a lot about autoethnographic research over the last month. Here is a paragraph from my dissertation proposal about the potentially bewildering (but nonetheless exciting) adventure ahead:

Figuratively and sometimes literally, both autoethnography and dissertation research entail moving through uncharted territory. Anderson and Glass-Coffin state, “although it is generally accepted that autoethnographers ‘learn by going,’ little attention has been paid to the question of ‘how’ one learns and how one ‘does’ autoethnography… as a contribution to emerging scholarship” (Anderson & Glass-Coffin, 2013, p. 57). While methodological openness is a key virtue of autoethnography, it also presents a particular challenge for emerging scholars, who might “miss the trees for the forest” without a grasp of techniques of data collection that create the “bigger autoethnographic story or mosaic” (Anderson & Glass-Coffin, 2013, p. 64). In fact, Struthers' (2014) chapter on his own process of learning by doing analytic autoethnography was written specifically to “forewarn researchers as to the areas which require early consideration when constructing an analytic autoethnography to safeguard the researcher’s psychological wellbeing” since “venturing into the unknown of self-study can be intimidating, especially when no guide provides an overview of how the methodological processes interrelate” (Struthers J., 2014, p. 83). The methodology I propose contains a framework and process informed by available scholarly literature and guided by the advice of leading autoethnographic scholars not to “fall into presenting an overly intellectualized and reified map” or assume a partisan stance (Anderson & Glass-Coffin, 2013, p. 58).

Here's to the scholars who are forging and foraging our way through the tangled fields of knowledge!

P.S. I am offering "Focus Fridays" for anyone doing research, writing, or creative work and could use a dedicated space in which to immerse. 

Remaining dates in Antrim, NH:
June 28; July 12, 26; August 2, 9, 16, 30; September 6, 20, 27 

Additional dates at Antioch University New England:
July 19; August 23; September 13

Interested? Let's connect.