The Importance of Saying ‘Yes’ in Ethnographic Research

To prepare for ethnographic research, doctoral candidates learn a diverse set of skills. From observational techniques to critical discourse analysis, we study the best methodologies to engage in fieldwork studies and document the experience. I’ve taken many classes and read countless guides on best quantitative and qualitative practices, many of which I employ on a daily basis here in China, where I am conducting ethnographic research for ten months. Although I have studied, lived, and worked in China in the past, this is my first time in this country in a new role: researcher. I’m now learning to navigate the fine lines between asking questions vs. interrogating, observing vs. staring, and not being nosy despite trying to be invited to everything. Appropriately conducting oneself as a researcher takes a significant amount of cultural knowledge, aplomb, and to be honest, trial and error. Of all the skills I have studied, practiced, and employed, there is one skill that has provided far more opportunities and data than any of the prescribed methodological practices: always saying ‘yes.’

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Feeling secure in myself within my reality

The PhD journey is also not always fair or objective.Some people have money, some people have creativity, some have great social support, some have romance, some have their family around, some have familiarity with British society, some don’t look like outsiders, some never have problems with their supervisors, some have charisma, some have native English, some have peace, and some have good health.It is not fair, but everyone has something valuable.

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Succeeding at Writing a Theoretical PhD Thesis

My dissertation contains no interview or survey data, even though I was a journalist and should be good at interviewing. This option – a theoretical study – appeared to be a relatively rare one among my PhD colleagues. It certainly has its own perks: you don’t need to worry about travel plans and other fieldwork problems, and your friends will probably be jealous of you, because to them you are just sitting in a library all day.

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PhD Money Matters: Funding a Final Year

Most funding bodies fund PhD research for three years (full time) and five years for part time students, maybe four at a push for full-timers, and six for part timers. Other students successfully plan to self-fund, or partially self-fund for the initial three or five years. However, we all know (on the down-low) that many projects extend beyond the funding/planned period. So what do people do?

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