You Take It On Faith, You Take It To The Heart
Tom Petty is absolutely correct; “The Waiting” is indeed the hardest part! But, waiting is thankfully where things have massively turned around for me. What I thought was falling behind was a lot more like being under construction; the road to actually, really feeling better and happier is no doubt going to be long and stretch well beyond what I thought it would, but staying the course is something I’m determined to do! The first steps came this week, by re-assessing what is and isn’t working in life in general. Negativity and living in the imagined “worst-case scenario” or “bad outcomes” isn’t going to magically disappear, but it is possible to take a step back, assess the thought, and do my best to work around it. I finally convinced myself that it’s OK to still enjoy the things I love even if I was momentarily stuck and unmotivated with my thesis, and that’s how I found myself spending Saturday and Sunday both weeks rooting for the Riveters! (I really hope that everyone at least got to take a peek at the games, whether on ESPN+, Twitch, or from all the clips and play-by-plays I retweeted! And it was great to get my family into the games as well; my parents are familiar with a fair amount of hockey terms and rules after years of the Devils on their TV, and now they’re getting to know the Riveters as a team! (It’s a work in progress; Madison Packer, team captain, is the only player my parents can recognize and name on their own, in large part because of her pink hair!) Needless to say, they think it’s fitting and hilarious that the team I root for spent a bit of time in the penalty box!
It’s pretty tough to be sad after seeing amazing work like that, and finding a viable path forward in the process! During Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Whitecaps, I had an enlightening interaction on Twitter with Dr. Virginia Yonkers, an amazing and accomplished scholar who opened my eyes to the methodology of ethnomethodology, as well as keeping a methodology but adding a lens, such as constructivism! I’ll explain further down just how my mind’s eye is imagining this is going to play out.
Outside of just the weekends, I’m back to a regular gym schedule, lifting a little heavier, and took full advantage of the few nicer days and went for some long runs, bike rides, and soul searching. There’s something about beating the traffic and pedaling to your backdoor in the middle of the sunset while wind hits your face that makes things feel a little better, just like pulling into the parking lot for a deserted beach and staring out at the water on a cold, windy day. Of course, with student government meetings, the wonderful Twosday that happened to coincide with the Miracle on Ice anniversary, the Devils returning to action on Thursday against the Penguins in a big way, a trip to Broadway, and of course, the Riveters at home this weekend in Newark with the gorgeous Black Rosie jerseys, I can feel a shift coming! The ongoing negotiations between the MLB and player’s association will hopefully have an equitable outcome, and I know it’s ancient news now, but I can’t wait for the Mets to have their Old Timers Day this summer!
(Also, I have my fingers crossed regarding a few more upcoming job interviews and the results of a few past ones!)
Things are in motion, and I am trying to conscientiously be here for it all. And now, a thesis update!
You’ve Got To Trust Your Instinct And Let Go Of Regret
If you’ve been following my progress since September and know me, “All Mixed Up” by 311 is just the right pace and mood for how things have been, and I’m on the happier side of it now! The methodology dilemma is no more! I know where this thing is going, and I know “how to write my thesis” now that I have all of that cleared up. In my last attempt at a methodology section, I got frustrated and overwhelmed and wrote a whole short story as a way to prove to myself that I know what’s going on and how to do things, but I’m not so good at telling others what the framework of my project is. Most of my struggles in school are lost in translation to my parents, and yet this time, my (real, not something of a) scientist (himself) Dad had a helpful response; brush up on my lab manual comprehension and lab report writing skills, because the problem I’m describing is basically the same as those processes! And yes, it worked. (Also, I am still capable of keeping up with the fast-paced and nuanced science talk! Between that, this, some literary theory and criticism I’ve been delving into on the side, and all the stats I’ve been brushing up on and crushing, I’m feeling really good about myself!)
So, it was once again a scenario where I had to work it from the inside out; I might have figured out my angle and style, but I also needed to work on formatting, organization, and introduction of ideas, transitions, and actually sitting still long enough to write things out. Naturally, I rationalized that if there could be different types of literature reviews (narrative, chronological, etc.) the same logic could be applied to my methodology section, and so I chose to introduce my means of analysis by ranking and re-evaluating what a methodology is. Of course, case study and discourse analysis are my top two, and so they were scheduled to appear in that order. Protocol analysis almost threw a wrench in the plans, but since it ties into my case study framework, I just folded it in there. I took a look at content analysis and corpus linguistics next and through the same process, worked out how I would introduce and implement these investigative tactics.
Following this, I used some structural elements of the lab manuals and reports I combed through to create a “composite document,” which was essentially typing out how I would introduce the methodology in a transition from my literature review no matter and leaving brackets with very obvious instructions to my future self wherever necessary, such as [insert name of the methodology here], [insert author’s name here] and [insert quote about the relevance of methodology] to give you a basic idea. I then circled back to add in other important brackets, such as [explication of the relevancy] and [reiterate supporting detail from previous sections], and also added the essential and pertinent headings and sub-headings for each approach and for the rationale section. I then created a corresponding “for filling in the brackets” document that contained all the key terms, definitions, and figures I wanted to mention and used a bold and italic system to once again denote importance versus optionality. I made sure to add in-text citations next to each term where applicable, and created another document for just those. (It’ll be handy through the whole process, so future me will thank me later!) And then, just to make sure I really hit all the bases before loading them up with information, I revisited Telling A Research Story: Writing a Literature Review by Christine B. Feak and John M. Swales and checked my composite document against some of their tips for having concise, pragmatic writing that still addressed all concerns of both author and audience while giving attribution where necessary.
Naturally, drawing up a composite document also meant a lot of re-evaluation of who is this really for, an issue that I’ve constantly been grappling with. (Yes, it is for everyone here, but when published, hopefully, it will be seen by other forensic linguists and researchers!) Luckily, I happened to know of a few categories of case studies, and after some research, I determined illustrative and critical instance case studies were the two that best fit the bill here. As a quick refresher, illustrative case studies are used to dissect and examine a prior situation for the purpose of explaining it to others and are qualitative by nature. Nothing is added, subtracted, or dissected, but it differs from a cumulative case study in the sense that it is assumed the audience is either entirely new or only vaguely familiar with the topic at hand. Critical instance case studies can be utilized to either examine or determine the causes and consequences of an instance or to challenge a universal assertion. Rather than challenge a universal assertion, the question at the center of my thesis, how can linguistic evidence come to be viewed in the same light as physical evidence, seeks to introduce a potential universal assertion. So, that moved finding supporting sources and justifying this approach, my main concern for this section of my thesis to the resolved column. It was tedious, and some of the steps may not have been entirely necessary, but it felt good to feel like something was getting done and eventually filling in all the brackets.
TL;DR: I played a high-stakes game of mad-libs with my methodology section and it paid off really well!
I’ve gotten started on the critical part of my thesis writing, which is the actual application and analysis of all the cases I selected. It’s going to be a hyper-involved process that involves checking out my notes on my sources, re-reading articles and re-visiting podcasts, possibly adding in some documentaries (PBS is the best!), and of course, creating titles for each chapter, but I can, and I will do this!
Out Of The Shadows And Into The Night!
Now that I’m older, I admire how sociable Phil Collins is, insisting Billy not lose his number! (I could never!) As I’m working on my Research Days project, I am also working with the knowledge of knowing it will ultimately become a part of my thesis, and based on the topic, it is coming at a highly polarized time and needs to be completed with a high level of integrity, not just for the sake of the outcome, but also with consideration to the impact it could potentially have. It means working on a disclaimer to place at the beginning of my survey, to ensure that there is a clear understanding that completion of the survey is completely voluntary and that there is content of a sensitive nature that will be addressed. Furthermore, as I load up and trim down questions, I am also cognizant of the limitations of what is and is not permissible without an IRB certification, so I plan to meet with a resource librarian to ensure that the questions are appropriate and within bounds.
Aside from narrowing the list and scope of the questions on my survey, I’ve narrowed down what statistical software to use! I’ve messed around with a few open-sourced tools and found that I really liked both JASP, which is automatically calibrated for APA-style results, charts, tables, and PAST, a similar, but simpler software. I’m confident in my working knowledge of the tools, and I’ve done quite a few practice runs with some stats problems to make sure I know exactly where to input what and everything else. (I will also admit it is inflating my ego every time I intuitively know where to plug in what or click what.)
Aside from the mathematical side of things, I feel pretty confident that I have reviewed all of the pertinent literature on the CSI effect, and am able to translate that into what my survey questions are attempting to measure. I’d also given myself the task of watching a set of shows that I felt were pertinent to influencing how others in my age group and a bit older might view police, investigations, and available resources, and I’m making steady progress working my way through them all. I’m only one person with a limited amount of time, so I’ve devised a plan to try and see if transcripts of episodes are available anywhere, and then, I plan to run a bot to analyze for similarities among the scripts, a set of key search terms, etc. and go from there. (Rest assured, this will be marked in my methodology section if I chose to do so!) So, my Research Days work is alive and a live wire!
All My Dreams Have Fallen Down
This floaty and focused feeling I’m getting from making progress on my work and other concerns are pretty well summarized by “Save Me” by Remy Zero. Just like young Clark Kent, I too am setting out on my journey to become who people will know me as for years to come. Smallville is one of my all-time favorite shows and I usually have it on in the background while writing. This week, it echoed in my life; much like Clark and Jonathan Kent, my Dad and I definitely fight a lot but are still quite close. And just like Jonathan Kent, my Dad looked me in the eyes when he gave me the lab manual review advice and said, “I wish I could tell you all the answers, but you have to find them yourself.” It had me thinking about the insider-outsider feeling, and I came to realize over the last two weeks I hardly felt it, and I want to keep it that way. Forensic linguistics is fascinating and I regret spending even a moment wishing I picked something else to write about. I’m literally going to exercise the option of being able to leave the classroom for the second half of class and walk around as I write, and hope to finish at least half a chapter before heading home.
I also realized I’m closer than further on a lot of big decisions, like how to submit my thesis and how to present in a few weeks. For my thesis, I’m definitely doing a traditional submission and a website. (I figure it might help to have live links to my sources in my work.) Admittedly, the latter half is weighing heavily on my mind; I really don’t want to go for round four of an aggravating instead of exhilarating time in front of the classroom. I could take the easy way out and use it for practice for Research Days. Or, I can stop stressing over what is still way out on the horizon and remind myself that no matter what happens, I’m hitting submit in May.
So, I’m not quite Superman just yet, but the time will pass in the blink of an eye.
Don’t Give Yourself Away!
It’s only fitting to end a post this long and with hints to even longer pieces of my writing with a bop like “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. (This came on at least three times while I was cycling uphill, so I’m equating it with a strong surge of determination and a push against all odds.) As I look ahead to today’s class, it’s all about showing up and supporting Susan, who I am sure will have an amazing presentation! See everyone later!