This is a research moan. It is mine and belongs to me.
I am revising my three data chapters — three out of the four central chapters of the thesis, as a matter of fact — to be able to send them to my supervisor, get her approval and then be able to send them to the seminar participants by Monday at the latest. (The seminar is on the 7th, but if people are to read three chapters they do need to get more than a week cos some of them also have other things to do. Weird, I know, but there you have it.) And the chapters are essentially complete and finished, but when I am going through the email chapter one final time I start thinking things such as “Can I use the word genre here?” and spend half an hour looking up everything I can on genre research, and read things like this paper and realise that I don’t really know enough to know whether I can use the term or not. Except in a lot of papers, people seem to be using the term without analysing it in minute detail. I have read Swales on genres at some point, but it is all so very far away in my mind right now.
And then there are gender-related issues. Which is something I have never been interested in but it would be plain bad research to just ignore them; I can get away without doing any gender analysis in the chat room chapter since it is impossible to know the genders of the participants for certain, but the weblogs and emails are another thing. And I don’t know anything about the differences between how men and women communicate or what the researchers say about it (except the very basic stuff from the general sociolinguistics course I took a couple of years ago), and I feel that I should take a month or three to actually get acquainted with that — but that is impossible of course.
Oh, and then there is the whole question of quoting from the material. The praxis seems to be that you really need the consent of the language producers, but in the case of the email material that isn’t possible. The same goes for most of the chat material, of course. And most of the bloggers I’ve written to ask for consent haven’t answered. In the previous seminars people have clamoured for more examples, but instead I may have to take out most of the ones I do have. Can I use fictitious examples, if I take care to construct the noun phrases exactly the same way they were in the actual examples? (I am reading up on this, and also consulting people who have experience with this kind of problem, but I want it to be solved as of last month, so I don’t have to tinker any more with the examples because that kind of work is tedious as well as worrying. Especially when I have to renumber all the examples in the 35-page email chapter yet again.)
And have I really read everything I ought to read? The answer to that is certainly “no” and that bothers me, and I am worried that I have missed some very basic stuff. And my knowledge of discourse analysis theory is not at all good. Oh my paws and whiskers.
Also, I got very little sleep last night.
This is my research moan which is mine and belongs to me and is related to my thesis, but am I the only one who has ever had this kind of worry?