Tag Archives: outline

Loosen Up!

Like A Movin’ Heartbeat In The Witching Hour

I’m telling you, Def Leppard’s Hysteria is one of the greatest albums to come out and one of my favorites to have on at any time; in the car, working out, and while working on something when I need that extra push! “Animal” is definitely one of those time-warp songs; you can just see the hairspray flying, the mullets growing out, and all the leather jackets with their back to you leaning over pool tables in dim light, with the haze of cigarette smoke and the smell of stale beer permeating the air. I’m just blown away by how fast spring break flew by and how I managed to figure out my directions for the foreseeable future! I owe a lot of this momentum going forward to hope from external forces; the Riveters, who might be fourth seed heading into the playoffs, but have played some of the best hockey I’ve seen this past weekend (check out Rebecca Russo’s end-to-end goal!), the Devils, for the upset wins over the Avalanche and the Ducks, two teams who they persevered against (with the latter game proving Jesper Bratt is elite and should have been the Metropolitan Division’s Last Man In), and the Mets, with the return of the MLB, new acquisitions, and the chaotic energy of our owner, Uncle Steve!

This blog is a shorter one, but the energy is what’s critical here; there’s a breakthrough taking place right here, right now! 

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light, Go!

I know you know the words to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and it is totally not a guilty pleasure song, so feel free to sing along! As far as thesis writing goes, I am proud to report that I met my goal of wrapping up the first two chapters plus my written component for research days, so that’s a solid thirty percent out of the way! After reading through a recent Twitter feed about presentation fiascos, I also made sure to double-check everything has page numbers and follows the same order of appearance as far as elements of the cases I analyzed go. The next thing I checked for as I was running through it again was any form of bias, which I am glad to say is missing, and if I had adequately addressed any counterarguments, which just took another page or so to work through. 

I was starting to run out of steam and recognized I kept polishing these chapters up because I didn’t know where to go from there, or how to get to that next destination. Let this be a cautionary tale about over-researching; you can find plenty of brilliant cases at all levels (local, state, and federal), but you have to pick and choose which you think you can work with the best. The last major piece of writing I had to spread out over a long stretch was my paper on the Rwandan genocide for Conflict Resolution, so I used the Dr. Lynch approach to figure out what to do; first, look at my abstract to see what needs to be addressed and answered, thus creating the bare bones of a new outline. Next, I generated an exhaustive list of questions for each section of my thesis in no particular order; introduction, literature review, methodology, case studies, results,  the brief interlude and restatement of the purpose, the proposed place and protocol for forensic linguistics, the hypothetical change and outcome, and the conclusion. Then, I went back and categorized the questions, combined what I could, and moved on to the next process. 

I spent half a day alone on this and created a checklist to see what information I had available on every case, and created a checklist; legal documents, academic articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles, podcast episodes, documentaries, and television or movie adaptations or inspired elements that helped me figure out which cases were up next. Following this, it was a matter of pairing each case with the remaining articles or even using previously untouched elements of those already cited to make things easier on my future self. So, what was once my research folder is now sib-divided for each chapter of my thesis, with everything I need right within reach. I’ve been working on each chapter of my thesis as an individual document, and I’m sorting through and moving them around to the appropriate subfolder as needed. 

The elements of conflict resolution I mentioned earlier are also taking shape in their own right; I spent the other half of my organization day formulating questions that I hope to use those concepts to answer, rationalizing to myself why this fits in the intermediary space between case studies and proposed protocol, and the general outlook is decent so far! After all the organization and re-outlining, I was too wired to not make progress, so I started writing “out of order” again. I now have a rough draft of the “interlude” section and the beginnings of my proposed protocol. The case studies are ultimately what should come first and remain my priority, but it’s OK as long as I keep it going!

As far as Research Days go, I’m feeling good about my progress! I’m just about a month out, but I have the time to change, add, and revise my written component, as well as work on my poster. This is where I have the least motivation to get anything done. I trust myself to, but who knows when, and how. 

I can’t ballpark how long it’ll take now, but if I keep going at it I might be able to get through another case study by the end of this week, bringing me to the official halfway point, plus my Research Days work! After that, I’m considering asking someone I know to read things over for me and let me know if mastery of the topic is demonstrated, if enough background is given without detracting from the main ideas and purpose, etc. There’s nothing to do but keep pushing from here!

You Got It, But Are You Gettin’ It?

There’s nothing urgent enough to “Armaggedon It” just yet. I feel a bit of burnout creeping up on me, so I might not be as active as this past week. If I get through the next case study, and st least figure out what my poster looks like, I’ll consider that more than enough! After all, I have exactly a week until I present so that’s where I need to fine-tune my rhythm. Yes, this is bringing up all the ugly, negative feelings that come with the insider-outsider effect, but I’m coaching myself through it. Fear cannot outweigh curiosity and progress! It’s another case of going through it to get past it and walk on. 

It’s Such A Magical Mysteria

The closer I get to the end of this thesis process, and to school itself for me, the more it feels like “Hysteria.” I’m stoked about Jessie’s presentation for tonight! I know that whatever comes of the storm, the story will be a page-turner! 

There’s this gnawing curiosity and unease about how the rest of March and April are going to play out, but I can’t psych myself out trying to forecast too many things or by ripping into myself for not having more done. It’s just like the Mets always say; Ya gotta believe! 

Have You Got It Together?

Writers, Prize Fighters, And Wall Street Traders

I have nothing but love for New Jersey, the state I’ve always called home, but after Susan’s moving presentation and amazing memoir snippet, I had nothing but the infinite possibilities and wonder that New York has held for so many people over the years on my mind and there’s no song more fitting than “An Open Letter to NYC” by the legendary Beastie Boys to inspire me to keep it in perspective while moving forward. It’s one of my favorite music videos, and it’s neat how they celebrated all the positives of New York while still addressing the fact there are systemic changes that need to be made! Thank you for sharing and setting a high bar Susan! 

There have also been other good events from last class to now. I was able to order my graduation cap and gown online, and seeing the order confirmation felt a lot like getting off of the one and nine line. The Meet the GAs event GSG hosted was a blast, and going forward, there are so many more fun events to look forward to, from guest speakers to massages to an alumni panel to a Devils game bus trip! (If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to me or follow Kean GSG on Instagram! Also, graduate students get first priority for game tickets, so definitely make the effort to come if you can!) I finally let go and let my emotions flow during a one-hour run and two-hour journaling marathon one day, and I’m getting better at keeping my mood level. My Dad is still lovingly ragging on my haircut months later, especially now that it’s growing out and the feathered layers are more pronounced; I absentmindedly answered to both Don (as in Don Johnson) and Sonny Crockett, the name of his character on Miami Vice the other day, and he has yet to let it go. (No one else gets to call me Sonny, so don’t even think about trying it!) To be fair, there are definitely a few similarities, and I definitely wouldn’t mind having a Daytona Spyder. I’m anticipating and certainly not going to fall for Nash/Nash Bridges!

I feel pretty good about the direction my thesis and work, in general, is going in after attending the recent career fair and speaking with individuals outside the program to see if there is an audience for it. (And yes, there is!) Riveters hockey this weekend was both a mood booster and major comfort! Seeing a team you love stand up for mental health awareness, especially after a year where you personally have struggled more than ever before is incredible and beyond words. Add into that the fact that both the Riveters and the Devils had thrilling OT wins on the same day, not to mention the crazy awesome calls from Erica Ayala during Tuesday night’s game, and you have the most amped-up version of me on a writing tear! 

I’m feeling better now that I’ve broken a lot of ground on my thesis, and I was able to integrate what isn’t the central focus, but the most important aspect to me, which I’ll get into in just a moment. My Research Days endeavor is full steam ahead as well, and you’ll be able to read about it in-depth in just a second! 

Now, a true thesis update!

We Just Got The Start Wrong!

So, you will definitely need something as upbeat as “Haven’t Had Enough” by Marianas Trench to get through this next section, and I definitely need something as emotive as bolded caps lock for this next statement: MY THESIS IS ON A ROLL AND I HAVE FOUND MY VOICE! Yep, the wheels are turning and the accelerator is pretty much to the floor! 

In terms of progress, I have nearly two chapters done, plus my research days project which I am nearly complete with, barring a few modifications to my research design. As previously stated, I finally mad-libbed together a methodology section, which felt like passing through the EZ-Pass lane, but then I got caught up in the mad scramble for the exit and took a wrong turn at the fork in the road. Essentially, my first stab at one of the case studies I put together wasn’t necessarily terrible, since it was on target and checked off all the aspects that I wanted to assess; the background of the case, the significant factors that made me select it, the key figures in the investigation, the role that linguistic evidence either did or did not play, and the ultimate consequence that perhaps a shift could have incurred. (I also decided once I started to go with a chronological progression of the case studies, to highlight how different investigative tactics and tools have emerged or become more sophisticated.) It just felt like something was missing, and it was something that even Rem Shepard couldn’t help with. (I did give him a second story, but it was more for fun rather than as a roundabout to frustration.) The lab manual approach worked for my methodology section but needed to be tweaked for everything else. And my answer came in the form of something much closer to what I’m working with; a brief crash course in how to draw up legal briefs and memos, and opinions from the Supreme Court. 

Luckily, there are plenty of free legal memos and brief writing guides and examples on the Internet, tailored to all different areas of law. I chose to focus on the organization and language utilized in criminal law, evidentiary, wills, trusts, and estates documents since written and verbal statements and artifacts are crucial here, and used examples of each to create a comprehensive list of terms and definitions that should be kept in perspective and to see what aspects are crucial to mention in real-life situations. (LexisNexis is goated for having all the document examples I need, plus a rad legal dictionary!) I also took note of the headings, length of each section, and the extensive use of superscripts and footnotes, which was a big help in helping to make my work more concise and readable. I was also able to re-organize the chapter, add in a few aspects and instances I had glossed over, and alter the section headers to better reflect the material. But, something was still missing, and that’s where the Supreme Court opinions come in. 

It’s remarkable how easy it is to find Supreme Court opinions, with or without database searches, and I truly loved those I read that were written by Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in particular. I can remember seeing Justice Sotomayor on the news the summer after fourth grade when her confirmation process had just begun, and leaping up in joy when I heard she had also read the Nancy Drew series in its entirety as a young girl, and my Mom telling me, “Maybe one day you’ll work with her!” It’s an honor to include and cite her work in my thesis, and it makes me all the more determined to do a good job. Justice Sotomayor’s majority and dissenting opinions are practically all in the same ballpark of thought that I entered into this thesis with, and if there’s anything I pulled from them it is to organize your thoughts in order of importance and illustrate the consequence of the final findings and rulings. (Her style of writing also emboldened me to go back and revise my statement of positionality to be more paramount.) Justice Kagan’s writing style particularly struck me as inspirational, as there were glimpses of humor and an almost conversational tone, filled with accessible examples illuminating her key points. I blended the two together, and then I found my groove! (And plenty of sensible parallels to other things, such as literature and media! I’m also going to make it clear here: If I can compare anything to anything in hockey or baseball without it being a distraction or hard to follow, you bet I will!) I kept Kagan’s warmth in mind, and it definitely helped me settle down and want to write, instead of feeling the pressure of a deadline and dreading writing.

Now, onto the part of my thesis that is possibly the most important to me; the inclusion of concepts from my conflict resolution course! Granted, I still have plenty of case study analysis to write before I can even begin to plan out and write the future considerations and procedures section, but I didn’t want to lose any momentum, even if it means writing out of order briefly. Sure, it sounds conceited, but I know I have the material locked down and I can and will power through that portion of my thesis; I was able to define and illustrate all key ideas and points from memory, and barring the year, I even had the in-text citations memorized. It’s going to take a lot of refining, but I feel good about the direction things are going in. 

Hopefully, after all of this, I’ll get the story straight and the ending right! Now, onto some Research Days progress! 

Just A Whole Lot Of Noise 

It’s rare for this to happen, but I needed silence at first to figure out how I was going to proceed with my Research Days project. (Usually, I have to have some sort of music or podcast on in the background to set a pace and keep me motivated.) Unfortunately, the time constraints and concerns over whether an IRB certificate needs to be acquired are something I can’t stress myself out over any longer, and as much as it pains me, I have to do away with the survey and statistical analysis. Naturally, this means having to restructure my research design and outline a bit. So, it’ll be a media analysis over a case study analysis of just one character or one series, and I’ll have to stick to finding the role of forensic linguistics and how that portrayal lines up with the reality of the field. Furthermore, I think this is where content analysis best fits with my thesis, so I can work in reverse by completing this, and then amending the methodology section as needed. It’s a tricky business, but this endeavor has to take on a double-identity; a stand-alone project, but also something that ties into my larger thesis. 

Lately, I’ve just had “pulse conditioner” by Cougar, “Blimp Mason” by Citizen, and “Rave After Rave” by W&W on loop as I continue the write-up and poster process. (I think I might have conditioned myself to associate clubbing music with homework!) As far as my poster goes, I have the guidelines provided by ORSP for Research Days, but I think it could be tweaked a bit to become a tie-in graphic I can feature in my thesis. I’ll probably have that ready by the middle of next week, so I can look away and fix it up a bit before formally presenting later the following week. I also figure that by following this timeline there’s a possibility I might even be able to fold it into my upcoming thesis presentation, which I haven’t thought too much about just yet. I better get on that! 

If, When, Why, What? 

West End Girls” provided me with all the questions I need to figure out what direction to go from here. The plan is simple; just capitalize on the momentum! After all, my abstract, introduction, literature review, and methodology are all completed and the pedal has been pushed down to the floor lately. I hope that by the time I’m back in the classroom on Monday I’ll have the two chapters done and edited, plus the written component to my Research Days project/thesis tie-in done, which brings me to roughly 30% completion as far as thesis-thesis written material goes. If I really need to, I can always write out of order and cut to the later parts; the conflict resolution infusion and the proposed protocol of forensic linguistics and projected future changes to keep things going. I know that 30% isn’t much at all, but it takes a step to start a journey, another to keep it going, and a third before you decide to sprint because you’re moving too slowly! At some point a switch will flick and this thing will be done by the deadline!

I know that I have a lot of other things going on as well, such as planning for my upcoming presentation and beginning to prepare the website for my multimodal submission. (I’m also looking into publishing this formally, so it’ll be neat to journey into the world of Proquest/JSTOR/other thesis and dissertation databases! I also wonder if I can get  my Research Days findings published in a formal journal, or maybe even a magazine!) I can’t tell you exactly how just yet, but it’ll be OK. I’m getting there!

Get Straight, Go Forward, Move Ahead! 

And don’t forget to “Whip It!” The rest of spring break is all about figuring out a better routine to carry me to the end of the semester, keeping the momentum going on my project, and of course, showing up and supporting Jessie next Monday during her presentation! See everyone then! 

Am I Throwing You Off?

Nope. Didn’t Think So. 

The feeling that my thesis is giving really drives me crazy. (I’ll cut myself off here before I end up typing a thesis-themed parody of “Promiscuous” instead of a progress report blog, and because I would hate for my musical selections to overshadow every other aspect of my project and blog, no matter how rad they are.)

With the age and amenities of my vehicle, it would be cute if someone special magically entered my life and made a Spotify playlist, but (no pun intended) it would be downright hot if they burnt me a CD with that playlist. At least for now, I finally get to take our home and library’s collections to task, and this week it’s primarily been Loose by Nelly Furtado keeping me company and yielding the best introduction to any blog I’ve written thus far. Everything in life at the moment has just been par for the course at the moment, barring the extraordinary pain the Devils are piling on with that loss to the Maple Leafs. (If you’re really curious, look up the score yourself.) How they ended up at the bottom of the Metro division, despite the Flyers tanking 10+ games is a phenomenon I can’t wrap my head around. The Winter Olympics are what has been giving me life; the Brianna Decker situation, however, was terrifying! I’m thankful that she is going to recuperate, even if it means missing her on the ice. 

Since my last post and class, my goals have slightly shifted and changed, since I need to get a move on both writing this thesis, as well as designing and completing my project for Research Days. I decided to go the presentation route, but it never hurts to put together something publishable and have an accompanying poster or graphic! My goals for my thesis are clear, but I also have some for my Research Days presentation; I’m hoping it’ll provoke plenty of interdisciplinary collaboration and thought, between our program and those in communications, psychology, and criminal justice. It’s imperative to make several key changes to the justice system as it currently stands and to get that change implemented, it’s vital to understand the effect and influence of how others view what the justice system is and is not, and every aspect of it, from the police force to the prosecutor’s office to even the methods of investigation and sentencing. After all, it’s dangerous to just assume that a single perspective is correct, and it’s also imperative to avoid assuming the views of others since that can also stall a dialogue. I’ll explain further about this project below since it is deserving of a section of its own. 

With that out of the way, let’s get into some sturdy progress on both fronts! I’ll walk you through my thesis work thus far, and then a more sophisticated discussion of my Research Days project. 

When She Asks For Something, Boy She Means It

Maneater” is the perfect update to the Hall and Oates’ classic, and also energetic enough to pull everyone through the heart of this post. For the time being, I’ve given my thesis a working title, abstract, keywords, and introduction. The aforementioned aspects all met the parameters I set in my outline from my last blog pretty well. I took some of the critical advice Dr. Zamora mentioned about this section in my one-on-one last class and added in a statement of positionality, as well as a slight re-arrangement of how to introduce the term, the field, and the implications in a more succinct manner. 

Now that I have a composite written for my abstract and introduction, I’m going to look away from it for a week or so, and instead spend this upcoming week, and a bit of the next writing up my literature review and methodology section. This is where things are going to get a bit dicey, as I have to determine what research and resources I want to put into my literature review and what I want to save for analysis, so I’ll have to review my notes and find my path from there. 

The methodology section also has to be carefully monitored, as I don’t want it to be so extensive the approach is not clear or seems to be weak. As previously mentioned and also discussed in my one-on-one last week, a case study would serve this work well; it’s just figuring out exactly which configuration of a case study is most suitable, and what research will bolster this point. Discourse, protocol, and content analysis will all also be utilized as planned, and after careful consideration and reading further on linguistics in general, I’m moving away from corpus linguistics as an investigative method, but instead looking at it as a possible result or resolution. Another takeaway from my one-on-one that is going to affect my methodology section is the integration of critical terms and components from my conflict resolution course. No, I’m not trying to overload this paper with stuffy, academic terms, or trying to pull it in divergent directions, but I do think that if this is going to be a reflection of my academic self, there has to be a shred of the greatest class I ever took that changed my life in more ways than I ever imagined possible. I plan to spend a bit of next class pondering this a bit, and revisiting the text that I’ll most likely be using, Hostage at the Table by George Kohlreiser. It’s a lock that the ideas of schismogenesis, models of power, restorative justice, and forgiveness and reconciliation as separate concepts will appear at some point. 

Finally, I’ll be narrowing down what landmark Supreme Court cases regarding faulty procedures, due process, the first amendment, or sentencing I’d like to include. Riggins vs. Nevada is definitely a lock, and I’m still deliberating on others. (Jackson vs. Indiana is another of my favorites, but I’m not sure if there is a place for it in this project.) Hopefully, I’ll have a definitive answer by next week! 

You Either Got It, Or You Don’t

A discussion of my budding research days project deserves a song like, “Say It Right,” especially when looking at the severity of what I’ve decided to pursue. As previously mentioned, I’ll be looking at both the CSI effect and overall effect that police procedural television programming has had on the general public’s understanding of what the role of police in society is, what they are and are not qualified to do, and what resources are actually available and realistic investigative timelines, as opposed to those seen on television. Much of the research on the CSI effect is growing dated, and many social psychology studies on the effect of watching police procedurals focus less on perceptions of the group, and instead on the effect on someone’s empathy responses. 

For this, I most definitely will need to compile both archival and original data, and with the original data, it’ll be time for me to revisit statistics! So, here’s an outline of how I’m thinking about tackling this:

  1. Complete Preliminary Research  
    1. Look into different scientific, psychological, and criminology themed journals 
      1. Not only for past research on this topic, but also to discern realistic parameters of police + forensic capabilities
    2. Consider the integration of different concepts + theories from social psychology as necessary 
    3. Mention the implications of this phenomenon
    4. Clearly state what this project aims to measure and capture 
  2. Design Survey 
    1. Ensure the questions are bias-free and easily quantifiable
    2. Determine whether a convenience sample or a stratified sample is the more feasible or appropriate option  
      1. Determine whether the stratified sample will be limited to Kean-affiliated individuals or to a larger audience; if Kean limited, which student population? (Ex. graduate students only?)
    3. Utilize a linear ranking scale and dichotomous questions to allow for seamless statistical analysis
  3. Send Survey Out 
  4. Conduct Statistical Analysis (Order of steps will be revised)
    1. For this process, SPSS will be utilized 
      1. Determine the mean, median, and range of responses.
      2. Determine the correlational coefficient.
      3. Based on the claim, conduct a hypothesis test.
        1. Based on the result, either reject or accept the null hypothesis.
      4. Determine the standard deviation of responses.
      5. Determine the associated error via confidence interval testing 
      6. Document all statistical analysis, final conclusion, and feelings 
  5. Full Write-Up and Poster Completion

Sure. it’s a lot, but it can, and it will be done! I have little to no fear regarding the mathematical analysis involved, thanks to having an amazing statistics class I saved my notes from! (That was another one of those life-changing classes for me, and the professor I had is someone I will always look up to! I hope to model my classroom mannerism after her.)

I Only Stop At Exits, Wondering If I’ll Stay Young and Restless

This is the part of the blog where I usually mention what my plans for next week are, and it’s only fitting that looking at all of the above has me nodding along with “All Good Things Come To An End.” 

With so much going on, I’ll have to figure out how exactly to rotate between the two tasks at hand, as well as prepare for my thesis presentation. It isn’t for a few more weeks, but March will probably creep up on me the same way February did. For now, I’ll have to dedicate two hours a day to my thesis, and two to my research days project for equilibrium. One hour dedicated to revisiting research and annotations, and the other hour dedicated to writing and making meaning out of it on the thesis side, and one hour dedicated to compiling research and the other to survey design on the Research Days side. As far as my presentations go, I know that for Research Days, I’ll be bolstered by my poster and photos of all the graphs of my statistical analysis and explanations of the findings underneath. But for the thesis, it’s trickier. No matter what way I turn, that same inside-outsider feeling is there, along with this weird budding internal indignation. 

At least it’s starting to get drowned out by the spring tide of determination I’ve been lucky to feel this past week. No matter how old I am, a diagonally cut, slightly burnt grilled cheese with bell pepper made by Dad while he reminds me that it takes time to strengthen your mind, just like your muscles always makes me laugh, and then gets me back on track. I don’t know when, but I know it’ll be fine. 

The Dogs Were Whistling A New Tune

Oh, and because I want to be open about things; I went to an open house for Montclair this past weekend and by the end of this week, I’ll be sending in an application for their post-baccalaureate certification in paralegal studies, which will probably take a year or less to complete. See you later tonight! 

  

Am I Throwing You Off?

Nope. Didn’t Think So. 

The feeling that my thesis is giving really drives me crazy. (I’ll cut myself off here before I end up typing a thesis-themed parody of “Promiscuous” instead of a progress report blog, and because I would hate for my musical selections to overshadow every other aspect of my project and blog, no matter how rad they are.)

With the age and amenities of my vehicle, it would be cute if someone special magically entered my life and made a Spotify playlist, but (no pun intended) it would be downright hot if they burnt me a CD with that playlist. At least for now, I finally get to take our home and library’s collections to task, and this week it’s primarily been Loose by Nelly Furtado keeping me company and yielding the best introduction to any blog I’ve written thus far. Everything in life at the moment has just been par for the course at the moment, barring the extraordinary pain the Devils are piling on with that loss to the Maple Leafs. (If you’re really curious, look up the score yourself.) How they ended up at the bottom of the Metro division, despite the Flyers tanking 10+ games is a phenomenon I can’t wrap my head around. The Winter Olympics are what has been giving me life; the Brianna Decker situation, however, was terrifying! I’m thankful that she is going to recuperate, even if it means missing her on the ice. 

Since my last post and class, my goals have slightly shifted and changed, since I need to get a move on both writing this thesis, as well as designing and completing my project for Research Days. I decided to go the presentation route, but it never hurts to put together something publishable and have an accompanying poster or graphic! My goals for my thesis are clear, but I also have some for my Research Days presentation; I’m hoping it’ll provoke plenty of interdisciplinary collaboration and thought, between our program and those in communications, psychology, and criminal justice. It’s imperative to make several key changes to the justice system as it currently stands and to get that change implemented, it’s vital to understand the effect and influence of how others view what the justice system is and is not, and every aspect of it, from the police force to the prosecutor’s office to even the methods of investigation and sentencing. After all, it’s dangerous to just assume that a single perspective is correct, and it’s also imperative to avoid assuming the views of others since that can also stall a dialogue. I’ll explain further about this project below since it is deserving of a section of its own. 

With that out of the way, let’s get into some sturdy progress on both fronts! I’ll walk you through my thesis work thus far, and then a more sophisticated discussion of my Research Days project. 

When She Asks For Something, Boy She Means It

Maneater” is the perfect update to the Hall and Oates’ classic, and also energetic enough to pull everyone through the heart of this post. For the time being, I’ve given my thesis a working title, abstract, keywords, and introduction. The aforementioned aspects all met the parameters I set in my outline from my last blog pretty well. I took some of the critical advice Dr. Zamora mentioned about this section in my one-on-one last class and added in a statement of positionality, as well as a slight re-arrangement of how to introduce the term, the field, and the implications in a more succinct manner. 

Now that I have a composite written for my abstract and introduction, I’m going to look away from it for a week or so, and instead spend this upcoming week, and a bit of the next writing up my literature review and methodology section. This is where things are going to get a bit dicey, as I have to determine what research and resources I want to put into my literature review and what I want to save for analysis, so I’ll have to review my notes and find my path from there. 

The methodology section also has to be carefully monitored, as I don’t want it to be so extensive the approach is not clear or seems to be weak. As previously mentioned and also discussed in my one-on-one last week, a case study would serve this work well; it’s just figuring out exactly which configuration of a case study is most suitable, and what research will bolster this point. Discourse, protocol, and content analysis will all also be utilized as planned, and after careful consideration and reading further on linguistics in general, I’m moving away from corpus linguistics as an investigative method, but instead looking at it as a possible result or resolution. Another takeaway from my one-on-one that is going to affect my methodology section is the integration of critical terms and components from my conflict resolution course. No, I’m not trying to overload this paper with stuffy, academic terms, or trying to pull it in divergent directions, but I do think that if this is going to be a reflection of my academic self, there has to be a shred of the greatest class I ever took that changed my life in more ways than I ever imagined possible. I plan to spend a bit of next class pondering this a bit, and revisiting the text that I’ll most likely be using, Hostage at the Table by George Kohlreiser. It’s a lock that the ideas of schismogenesis, models of power, restorative justice, and forgiveness and reconciliation as separate concepts will appear at some point. 

Finally, I’ll be narrowing down what landmark Supreme Court cases regarding faulty procedures, due process, the first amendment, or sentencing I’d like to include. Riggins vs. Nevada is definitely a lock, and I’m still deliberating on others. (Jackson vs. Indiana is another of my favorites, but I’m not sure if there is a place for it in this project.) Hopefully, I’ll have a definitive answer by next week! 

You Either Got It, Or You Don’t

A discussion of my budding research days project deserves a song like, “Say It Right,” especially when looking at the severity of what I’ve decided to pursue. As previously mentioned, I’ll be looking at both the CSI effect and overall effect that police procedural television programming has had on the general public’s understanding of what the role of police in society is, what they are and are not qualified to do, and what resources are actually available and realistic investigative timelines, as opposed to those seen on television. Much of the research on the CSI effect is growing dated, and many social psychology studies on the effect of watching police procedurals focus less on perceptions of the group, and instead on the effect on someone’s empathy responses. 

For this, I most definitely will need to compile both archival and original data, and with the original data, it’ll be time for me to revisit statistics! So, here’s an outline of how I’m thinking about tackling this:

  1. Complete Preliminary Research  
    1. Look into different scientific, psychological, and criminology themed journals 
      1. Not only for past research on this topic, but also to discern realistic parameters of police + forensic capabilities
    2. Consider the integration of different concepts + theories from social psychology as necessary 
    3. Mention the implications of this phenomenon
    4. Clearly state what this project aims to measure and capture 
  2. Design Survey 
    1. Ensure the questions are bias-free and easily quantifiable
    2. Determine whether a convenience sample or a stratified sample is the more feasible or appropriate option  
      1. Determine whether the stratified sample will be limited to Kean-affiliated individuals or to a larger audience; if Kean limited, which student population? (Ex. graduate students only?)
    3. Utilize a linear ranking scale and dichotomous questions to allow for seamless statistical analysis
  3. Send Survey Out 
  4. Conduct Statistical Analysis (Order of steps will be revised)
    1. For this process, SPSS will be utilized 
      1. Determine the mean, median, and range of responses.
      2. Determine the correlational coefficient.
      3. Based on the claim, conduct a hypothesis test.
        1. Based on the result, either reject or accept the null hypothesis.
      4. Determine the standard deviation of responses.
      5. Determine the associated error via confidence interval testing 
      6. Document all statistical analysis, final conclusion, and feelings 
  5. Full Write-Up and Poster Completion

Sure. it’s a lot, but it can, and it will be done! I have little to no fear regarding the mathematical analysis involved, thanks to having an amazing statistics class I saved my notes from! (That was another one of those life-changing classes for me, and the professor I had is someone I will always look up to! I hope to model my classroom mannerism after her.)

I Only Stop At Exits, Wondering If I’ll Stay Young and Restless

This is the part of the blog where I usually mention what my plans for next week are, and it’s only fitting that looking at all of the above has me nodding along with “All Good Things Come To An End.” 

With so much going on, I’ll have to figure out how exactly to rotate between the two tasks at hand, as well as prepare for my thesis presentation. It isn’t for a few more weeks, but March will probably creep up on me the same way February did. For now, I’ll have to dedicate two hours a day to my thesis, and two to my research days project for equilibrium. One hour dedicated to revisiting research and annotations, and the other hour dedicated to writing and making meaning out of it on the thesis side, and one hour dedicated to compiling research and the other to survey design on the Research Days side. As far as my presentations go, I know that for Research Days, I’ll be bolstered by my poster and photos of all the graphs of my statistical analysis and explanations of the findings underneath. But for the thesis, it’s trickier. No matter what way I turn, that same inside-outsider feeling is there, along with this weird budding internal indignation. 

At least it’s starting to get drowned out by the spring tide of determination I’ve been lucky to feel this past week. No matter how old I am, a diagonally cut, slightly burnt grilled cheese with bell pepper made by Dad while he reminds me that it takes time to strengthen your mind, just like your muscles always makes me laugh, and then gets me back on track. I don’t know when, but I know it’ll be fine. 

The Dogs Were Whistling A New Tune

Oh, and because I want to be open about things; I went to an open house for Montclair this past weekend and by the end of this week, I’ll be sending in an application for their post-baccalaureate certification in paralegal studies, which will probably take a year or less to complete. See you later tonight! 

  

Tomorrow’s Getting Harder, Make No Mistake

Son, Don’t Let The Man Get You!

It doesn’t take a lot to feel genuine happiness. Just a flickering lamplight, notepad, static crackling on whatever station I’m tuned into, a good book or ten, and a whole lot of solitude. (I’ll add my winter break reading list to the bottom of this post!) With all the reminiscing lately about how our family’s journey in America started out in Louisiana, I can’t help but start things off with “Born On The Bayou,” a household staple. 

It’s truly something to behold, looking back at all the moments, minute and monumental, that make this year stand out in my mind. A year split between what was becoming the “new normal” and the unfamiliar “old routine.” A regular sleep, work, and exercise schedule. What should have been my undergraduate ceremony in the spring that was actually me wrapping up half of the graduate school experience. But also, finding a new appreciation for the people who stuck around. A couple of new arrivals, and departures, if you will, to carry on with the metaphor of transitory spaces from my last blog. Growing closer to people as time grew scarcer. A sense of adventure, in all of the forms that can take on, beginning to form and solidify. Putting those map-reading skills to the test for more than just navigating life. And a sense of familiarity, comfort, and enchantment with the unknown, perhaps the greatest ironic gift of all. I hope I can capitalize on it, and make meaning of exactly what I’m doing here, and in a more meaningful sense of that question.

And with all of this, a project that I’ll be carrying with me for the foreseeable future, one that will serve as a marker of my identity in areas where it’ll make a big impact. 

I’ve Been Swimming In A Sea of Anarchy

It’s only fair that a transition to a new year and a fresh thesis process warrants a song with the same concept, like “Everyday Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow. Thankfully, I’ve discovered another search term that yields useful resources even without extensive filtering and truncated searches; forensic oration. Granted, it has more so to do with litigation practices and actual courtroom semantics than evidence, but that’s perfectly fine! In fact, it ties in perfectly to what I’m hoping to achieve after all, which is exploring how linguistic evidence can be valued in the same regard as even the smallest scrap of physical evidence. 

A lot of last semester was spent as my foray into archival, involved, and innovative research and much of the break was spent evaluating sources, approaches, and research designs in between chasing joy. I’ve finally figured out what would work best for this project, in terms of organization and design, and it’s a very special construction that I’ll outline below:

  1. Abstract 
    1. Brief summary of the thesis and the associated keywords meant for database searches
    2. Projected Length: 250 words or less
  2. Introduction
    1. Defining the Term + Field of Forensic Linguistics
      1. Begin broadly, and narrow the scope to pertinent components
    2. Introduction of Field History + Key Figures + 1-2 Landmark Cases/Expert Testimonies
    3. Introduction of the Conflict/Central Question and Its Importance 
  3. Literature Review 
    1. Should segue seamlessly from the Introduction
    2. Components 
      1. Re-Iteration of the Hypothesis Question and Individual Sections to Address Different Instances of Forensic Linguistics Being Critical, But Overlooked (Meant as In The Different Forms of Forensic Linguistics, Not Necessarily Different Cases)
      2. Methodology (Will Be Thoroughly Explained and Expanded Upon Appropriately)
        1. Qualitative Mixed-Method Study using Discourse Theory, Case Study, Protocol and Content Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Possibly (?) A Criminal Justice Theory 
      3. Explanation of Projected Impact of this Research
        1. A nuanced portrait of the entire legal process, from arrest to courtroom, linguistically
        2. A path forward toward equitable interviewing, evidence collection, and courtroom processes
        3. Possible changes to the justice system 
    3. Projected Length: 4-7 Pages
  4. Thesis Casework 
    1. Determination of Parameters of Forensic Linguistics Necessary for Demonstrating Competence/Mastery +Defining of the Following
      1. Interviewing Procedures/Outcomes 
      2. Enhanced Auditory Evidence
      3. Forensic Stenography/Handwriting Comparisons 
      4. Forensic Oration
      5. Examine the Ethics and Motivations Associated
    2. Careful Selection of Cases Where Forensic Linguistics Could Have Been Employed via Expert Testimony But Was Neglected
    3. Cases Where Forensic Oration Was A Deciding Factor
      1. Once again, Ethical Implications, Factors of Bias, Etc. are to be examined
  5. Approaches to Demonstrate Thoughtful Analysis and Application of Forensic Linguistics (Only For the Purposes of This Outline, Not A Section In The Paper)
    1. Discourse Theory 
    2. Protocol and Content Analysis
    3. Explication and Imagined Application of Corpus Linguistics in Appropriate Scenarios 
  6. Results 
  7. Conclusion
  8. Overall Projected Length: ~70 + Pages

While the above is my overall outline, I recognize that there is a need to further flesh out and define the components I’ve condensed, in my hypothesis so that maybe my project can shed after-thought labels like “unique” or “interesting” when discussing or presenting it locally.  So, have a very bare outline of just the things involved in my hypothesis question! 

  1. Forensic Linguistics (General Premise, Field of Study) 
  2. Linguistic Evidence (What It Is, What It Is Not)
    1. My Points of Focus 
  3. How Is Forensic Linguistics Currently Utilized Today 
    1. Expert Use 
    2. Use By The Prosecution 
    3. Use By The Defense 
  4. What Does The Above Mean For the Field? 

It’s hefty stuff, but that’s what the abstract and introduction of any good thesis are for since they set the stage! I’ll focus this week to refine the work I’ve steadily completed on this thus far, and then set it aside. After all, fresh eyes will yield a different perspective, even if the writer and editor are one and the same. 

Smile and Grin At The Change All Around

After checking out the outlines above, and seeing all the work I have to do, there’s nothing that exemplifies how I’m feeling better than the screech in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. (Also, it was the theme for CSI: Miami, a great show that will be mentioned again later!) Naturally, the above sections I have to write are going to continue to be refined until I feel that they’re thesis caliber. Maybe it’s an impossible idea that I’m chasing, one of the perfect thesis, or something that I’m not capable of, but I just know that I can, I should, and I will be better than this. 

Beyond that, however, it’s almost eating me alive how I really shared what was on my mind in terms of what I mentioned during the TROIKA exercise last class. Dr. Zamora summed it up perfectly by mentioning the insider-outsider phenomenon because there is a dissonance attached to seeing all the meaningful feedback flying around and then just stopping or slowing when it gets to you. And for what it’s worth hearing a week later, I’ve somewhat always known this isn’t the audience for my work. I guess the best way to describe this is more of a social than an academic struggle; my work is sound, but my feelings are not, and that is grating. It feels valid and important yet somehow also juvenile and distracting. Nevertheless, I won’t get lost in the cycle or fooled by these feelings! My mind’s eye is focused on the process, and I just have to stay the course. 

It’s going to come down to two things to pull everything together; grit and resilience. And there isn’t anything I do better than the two. So, that May 5th deadline is one I’m going to battle onwards to. 

I guess the best way to summarize my thesis work thus far and the overall process is that I’m essentially working it from the inside out; I’ll have to really, truly treat this as an investigation; I have all my evidence, a few theories of how the events unfolded, and now I need to put things together to find the actual occurrence, not the one of convenience. Parallel to completing my thesis, this is only going to enhance my investigative and academic skillsets. So, with this out of the way, I’m going to tackle my literature review, specifically the nuances of the methodology after I clear up the introduction and proceed from there. 

Don’t Bend, Don’t Break, Baby, Don’t Back Down 

It’s only fair to end the blog post with a song as stubborn sounding as I am, like “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi, while I detail what I’ll be presenting on at Research Days in the coming months! Especially since it is adjacent to, but not exactly my thesis work! 

I’ll be presenting a media-studies content analysis of the CSI effect, which means that yes, I have a good reason for why I’ve been re-visiting the three main series and the current re-boot! (Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle will always have a special place in my heart as a primary reason for why I pursued my thesis topic and this research.) I’ll be conducting some original quantitative research for this as well, so be on the lookout for a survey in the near future. And with that, I’ll see everyone in class! 

Tomorrow’s Getting Harder, Make No Mistake

Son, Don’t Let The Man Get You!

It doesn’t take a lot to feel genuine happiness. Just a flickering lamplight, notepad, static crackling on whatever station I’m tuned into, a good book or ten, and a whole lot of solitude. (I’ll add my winter break reading list to the bottom of this post!) With all the reminiscing lately about how our family’s journey in America started out in Louisiana, I can’t help but start things off with “Born On The Bayou,” a household staple. 

It’s truly something to behold, looking back at all the moments, minute and monumental, that make this year stand out in my mind. A year split between what was becoming the “new normal” and the unfamiliar “old routine.” A regular sleep, work, and exercise schedule. What should have been my undergraduate ceremony in the spring that was actually me wrapping up half of the graduate school experience. But also, finding a new appreciation for the people who stuck around. A couple of new arrivals, and departures, if you will, to carry on with the metaphor of transitory spaces from my last blog. Growing closer to people as time grew scarcer. A sense of adventure, in all of the forms that can take on, beginning to form and solidify. Putting those map-reading skills to the test for more than just navigating life. And a sense of familiarity, comfort, and enchantment with the unknown, perhaps the greatest ironic gift of all. I hope I can capitalize on it, and make meaning of exactly what I’m doing here, and in a more meaningful sense of that question.

And with all of this, a project that I’ll be carrying with me for the foreseeable future, one that will serve as a marker of my identity in areas where it’ll make a big impact. 

I’ve Been Swimming In A Sea of Anarchy

It’s only fair that a transition to a new year and a fresh thesis process warrants a song with the same concept, like “Everyday Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow. Thankfully, I’ve discovered another search term that yields useful resources even without extensive filtering and truncated searches; forensic oration. Granted, it has more so to do with litigation practices and actual courtroom semantics than evidence, but that’s perfectly fine! In fact, it ties in perfectly to what I’m hoping to achieve after all, which is exploring how linguistic evidence can be valued in the same regard as even the smallest scrap of physical evidence. 

A lot of last semester was spent as my foray into archival, involved, and innovative research and much of the break was spent evaluating sources, approaches, and research designs in between chasing joy. I’ve finally figured out what would work best for this project, in terms of organization and design, and it’s a very special construction that I’ll outline below:

  1. Abstract 
    1. Brief summary of the thesis and the associated keywords meant for database searches
    2. Projected Length: 250 words or less
  2. Introduction
    1. Defining the Term + Field of Forensic Linguistics
      1. Begin broadly, and narrow the scope to pertinent components
    2. Introduction of Field History + Key Figures + 1-2 Landmark Cases/Expert Testimonies
    3. Introduction of the Conflict/Central Question and Its Importance 
  3. Literature Review 
    1. Should segue seamlessly from the Introduction
    2. Components 
      1. Re-Iteration of the Hypothesis Question and Individual Sections to Address Different Instances of Forensic Linguistics Being Critical, But Overlooked (Meant as In The Different Forms of Forensic Linguistics, Not Necessarily Different Cases)
      2. Methodology (Will Be Thoroughly Explained and Expanded Upon Appropriately)
        1. Qualitative Mixed-Method Study using Discourse Theory, Case Study, Protocol and Content Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Possibly (?) A Criminal Justice Theory 
      3. Explanation of Projected Impact of this Research
        1. A nuanced portrait of the entire legal process, from arrest to courtroom, linguistically
        2. A path forward toward equitable interviewing, evidence collection, and courtroom processes
        3. Possible changes to the justice system 
    3. Projected Length: 4-7 Pages
  4. Thesis Casework 
    1. Determination of Parameters of Forensic Linguistics Necessary for Demonstrating Competence/Mastery +Defining of the Following
      1. Interviewing Procedures/Outcomes 
      2. Enhanced Auditory Evidence
      3. Forensic Stenography/Handwriting Comparisons 
      4. Forensic Oration
      5. Examine the Ethics and Motivations Associated
    2. Careful Selection of Cases Where Forensic Linguistics Could Have Been Employed via Expert Testimony But Was Neglected
    3. Cases Where Forensic Oration Was A Deciding Factor
      1. Once again, Ethical Implications, Factors of Bias, Etc. are to be examined
  5. Approaches to Demonstrate Thoughtful Analysis and Application of Forensic Linguistics (Only For the Purposes of This Outline, Not A Section In The Paper)
    1. Discourse Theory 
    2. Protocol and Content Analysis
    3. Explication and Imagined Application of Corpus Linguistics in Appropriate Scenarios 
  6. Results 
  7. Conclusion
  8. Overall Projected Length: ~70 + Pages

While the above is my overall outline, I recognize that there is a need to further flesh out and define the components I’ve condensed, in my hypothesis so that maybe my project can shed after-thought labels like “unique” or “interesting” when discussing or presenting it locally.  So, have a very bare outline of just the things involved in my hypothesis question! 

  1. Forensic Linguistics (General Premise, Field of Study) 
  2. Linguistic Evidence (What It Is, What It Is Not)
    1. My Points of Focus 
  3. How Is Forensic Linguistics Currently Utilized Today 
    1. Expert Use 
    2. Use By The Prosecution 
    3. Use By The Defense 
  4. What Does The Above Mean For the Field? 

It’s hefty stuff, but that’s what the abstract and introduction of any good thesis are for since they set the stage! I’ll focus this week to refine the work I’ve steadily completed on this thus far, and then set it aside. After all, fresh eyes will yield a different perspective, even if the writer and editor are one and the same. 

Smile and Grin At The Change All Around

After checking out the outlines above, and seeing all the work I have to do, there’s nothing that exemplifies how I’m feeling better than the screech in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. (Also, it was the theme for CSI: Miami, a great show that will be mentioned again later!) Naturally, the above sections I have to write are going to continue to be refined until I feel that they’re thesis caliber. Maybe it’s an impossible idea that I’m chasing, one of the perfect thesis, or something that I’m not capable of, but I just know that I can, I should, and I will be better than this. 

Beyond that, however, it’s almost eating me alive how I really shared what was on my mind in terms of what I mentioned during the TROIKA exercise last class. Dr. Zamora summed it up perfectly by mentioning the insider-outsider phenomenon because there is a dissonance attached to seeing all the meaningful feedback flying around and then just stopping or slowing when it gets to you. And for what it’s worth hearing a week later, I’ve somewhat always known this isn’t the audience for my work. I guess the best way to describe this is more of a social than an academic struggle; my work is sound, but my feelings are not, and that is grating. It feels valid and important yet somehow also juvenile and distracting. Nevertheless, I won’t get lost in the cycle or fooled by these feelings! My mind’s eye is focused on the process, and I just have to stay the course. 

It’s going to come down to two things to pull everything together; grit and resilience. And there isn’t anything I do better than the two. So, that May 5th deadline is one I’m going to battle onwards to. 

I guess the best way to summarize my thesis work thus far and the overall process is that I’m essentially working it from the inside out; I’ll have to really, truly treat this as an investigation; I have all my evidence, a few theories of how the events unfolded, and now I need to put things together to find the actual occurrence, not the one of convenience. Parallel to completing my thesis, this is only going to enhance my investigative and academic skillsets. So, with this out of the way, I’m going to tackle my literature review, specifically the nuances of the methodology after I clear up the introduction and proceed from there. 

Don’t Bend, Don’t Break, Baby, Don’t Back Down 

It’s only fair to end the blog post with a song as stubborn sounding as I am, like “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi, while I detail what I’ll be presenting on at Research Days in the coming months! Especially since it is adjacent to, but not exactly my thesis work! 

I’ll be presenting a media-studies content analysis of the CSI effect, which means that yes, I have a good reason for why I’ve been re-visiting the three main series and the current re-boot! (Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle will always have a special place in my heart as a primary reason for why I pursued my thesis topic and this research.) I’ll be conducting some original quantitative research for this as well, so be on the lookout for a survey in the near future. And with that, I’ll see everyone in class! 

An Outline For My Thesis: Proof I’m Actually Accomplishing Something

To prove that I do indeed have a plan for my thesis and I’m not just stalling for time while having absolutely nothing done, I am sharing a rough, but detailed outline of my Memoir of Care. I have the anchor stories holding the ship steady, now I just have to secure them together so it is less a mess and more a cohesive…mess. Without further ado, I present my outline and I’ve even included links to the stories if anyone wants to read and give me feedback (and I need all I can get):

Outline for unnamed “Memoir of Care”

  1. Introduction: What do I mean when I say “care” and how does this memoir of care contribute to a conversation on issues of care?
    1. This will kind of be a lit review/proposal to explain the theory behind the stories I am telling. I wish I could get across all the things I want to through the experience of reading my Memoir, but I know that isn’t going to work. So this piece will be what sets the scene theoretically and the stories will apply the theory to real life. My main themes are the following:
      1. Ethics of Care
      1. Evidence Based Treatments in Community Mental Health Agencies:
        1. Peer Support Specialist
        1. Supported Education Specialist
      1. Trauma Informed Care
        1. Equity Centered Trauma Informed Care
      1. Burnout/Vicarious Trauma

I know this is what the intro needs to be, and I have various pieces written here and there, but I don’t have a complete draft of this yet… coming soon.

  1. The Interview
    1. The story begins with the protagonist (me) in an interview for a peer support specialist (PSS) position – a job she has many mixed feelings about. In the course of the interview, the reader learns more about what the PSS position is and they are introduced to some “tools of care”. The questioning of what care is for the protagonist begins. 
  1. Shadowing Troy
    1. The protagonist begins working at the mental health agency. As part of the training for a new PSS, the individual is required to “shadow” other peers. The first shadow experience with a “high functioning peer” exposes the protagonist to some failures to care properly within the agency and within the client/provider relationship. We get the first glimpse into a client interaction.
  1. Jeff’s Unraveling
    1. The protagonist continues their shadowing with a peer who she is working in the same department with and who will alter her view of self-care. A shadowing experience with Jeff exposes her to the duality of how a peer can present themselves to a client as caring and yet be in a state of burnout. We learn that an unraveling is occurring, both in Jeff and the protagonist.
  1. Training Day 1
    1. This is my weird shit story. The protagonist has been working a few months now and already the signs of burnout are appearing. The story highlights the dynamics between the institution and the carers and the disconnect that often occurs between the two. We also find out more about the protagonists background and learn the significance of “story” as a “tool of care” within the PSS position.
  1. Training Day 2
    1. The cost of not having your story figured out comes to light in a second day of training. The power of language and a new vocabulary is explored in the context of a “person centered” practice. This again highlights another “tool of care” and furthers the questioning of the adequacy of this tool.
  1. Jon and the Library
    1. As Jeff gets progressively worse in his unraveling, the protagonist starts to step in for him and ends up having her first one-on-one with a client that she has visited before but only with Jeff present. It shows the conflicting feelings that go with the practice of caring: client victories and institutional policies.
  1. Crystal and the Dog
    1. Another client story that highlights in a painful way the failure of the proper tools of care. We see the impact of trauma on the client’s behavior and the signs of burnout in the protagonist. An example of how trauma informed care has to be practiced in situations that aren’t clear cut or easy to know what is the right thing to do.
  1. Deliah and the Rainy Day
    1. This was the first story I wrote that helped me see how I want to move forward with this memoir. It will need to go towards the end of the story because it is set at a point in the protagonist’s experience where she is at the high point of burnout and is looking for a way out. It shows the protagonist in a state of dissociated despair that mirror’s Jeff’s but she is mimicking his behavior of putting on a face with clients to keep the appearance of care going.

These are the pieces I have in semi-states of completion (i.e. they are written, but need editing and rewrites). Now my goal is to solidify things more by aligning things on a tighter timeline that will span from the time I started to the time I left (close to 3 years). I have a pretty good foundation started for the beginning, but I need to write the intro, have a story that shows the turning point in the middle, one that explains my experience of learning about trauma informed care, maybe one or two more client stories, when my unraveling comes to a head, and a kind of epilogue that shows how the crash and burn of my time as a peer support specialist and supported education specialist lead to a deep personal exploration about care and how Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care has now become the focus of my personal life ethic. I am on track to have this done by the end of the month and then I will use the remaining time to edit.

The main issue I can see in these pieces that are done is that I am not being able to maintain the same voice through each. I have a very abstract tone in some and in others it’s more realistic. I am not sure how to fix that at the moment… I want to lean more towards the abstract, but I don’t want to be SO abstract as to be off-putting.

I feel like the writing process of doing this thesis has been a kind of unraveling in and of itself. I started with one lofty idea and I just didn’t have the ability to pull it off in the time I set for myself. This memoir was birthed not totally out of desperation (though there is some of that) but it came from me stopping one day and saying – why are you so obsessed with trauma informed care? This led me to a journey of self-exploration and introspection. I decided I wanted to share my story to highlight something I don’t think is talked about much – how lacking the tools people are given in positions of care can be and how this impacts both them and the people they care for. My hope for this story is to capture something that people recognize in their own struggle to care and that they know it isn’t just them. My hope is that through this recognition they can seek the “proper tools of care”, whatever those may be. I don’t know if those hopes are too lofty, but at least I’m moving in a direction now.

Cry A Little Less, Laugh a Little More!

“One thing I hate is people screaming at me. If you want me to do something, just talk to me.” – Mario Lemieux 

It’s Time To Focus In On Where I Go From Here

It’s about the mid-way point of the semester, and boy, am I feeling it! Despite the doozy of a blog post from last week, I actually dropped the ball in just about every area of my life; I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, I wasn’t as kind as I possibly could have been to people, I wasn’t efficient enough with my work, and I had a few instances of academic turmoil that I’m still reeling from, but also recognize I cannot change. This isn’t normally how I handle things, and it’s hard to dissect there’s no threshold of responsibilities you need to reach to warrant feeling stressed and on some level, defeated. It’s hard to live up to the expectations you set for yourself, let alone those others have for you.

I did find some bright patches in all of this turmoil! This past week, I honored an age-old tradition my Dad and I have of playing the Tim McGraw song “My Next Thirty Years” on his birthday; the song is from an album that came out the year I was born, and it’s a whimsical number, especially to him considering his age. One of the nice things about your parents getting older is that they also start to get a little more sentimental, and hearing some of the stuff my Dad had to say about his life thus far definitely provided me with a sense of closure for some things, and a whole new list of questions for myself and my future, some of which are proving invaluable to this thesis development, and who I am as a person. Two of my friends also celebrated birthdays this week, and I saw the Devils yet again fall to the Capitals but triumph over Buffalo, who have surprisingly been off to a strong start this season, and then fall tonight to the Flames. And so, the world continues to turn.

But, as I was tasked at the end of thesis class last week to synthesize all my research and figure out what is the question I want to ask, I found that to be the most cumbersome task this thesis has asked of me thus far, and I’m not exaggerating when I say tears were shed over this specifically. I know why I’m interested in forensic linguistics. I know what gets under my skin about the field. I know who I’m researching and writing this thesis for. I know my initial line of inquiry was turned away for being more of a dissertation and less of a thesis, and that frustrated me to no end. (It also killed some of my confidence in myself.) Isn’t a dissertation like a longer version of a thesis, therefore validating my line of inquiry? (I’m not trying to degrade dissertations or pretend I know a ton about them, but this is what initially went through my mind.) And if I’m asking a dissertation-worthy question and keep hacking at it research-wise, doesn’t that mean I’m also on a trajectory to answer it, or at least explore it? Why can’t my thesis be a stepping stone on a larger path? What am I lacking? One thought ran circles through my mind; the TikTok audio that asks Am I…dumb?

 I spent a lot of the past week getting screamed at and screaming at myself, both literally and metaphorically, and amazingly enough, it accomplished nothing! Seeing everyone else getting the ball rolling or keeping it going on their projects had me feeling even worse, and I nearly slipped into the worst cycle possible; learned helplessness brought on by social comparison. But, who am I if not the kid of the guy who did everything on his own schedule, whether it was two years or two decades later than the norm, and accomplished his goals when no one else believed because it was on his own terms? Re-assessing the situation, I found that I’m not in as bad shape as previously believed; I’ve already created a substantial annotated bibliography, I’ve basically drafted the bulk of my literature review, proved a profound understanding of my topic to myself and others, and a stable understanding of adjacent topics and fields of study. 

 I read, and read, and re-read, and annotated my little heart out, and I still feel like I have perspective but no clear answers, or so it seems. It’s complicated, and I hope I can give you a concise answer for what my question is, and what this thesis will be, or at least something that gets you thinking, but for now, I recommend buckling up and getting ready for yet another journey through the thesis progress! 

I’ll Try to Think About the Last Time I Had A Good Time

Trying to figure out what I’m looking for with this thesis sure is reminiscent of being a kid and knowing that something major, in a negative way, is going on either at school or at home, and no one wants to clue you in because they think you can’t handle the news, and all the adults in your life look at you with pity. It makes “I’m Just a Kid” by Simple Plan the perfect accompanying soundtrack to this section. (Also, life is a nightmare at the moment.) As stated above, I spent the past week going through what I already have in terms of research and annotations, while adding in some fresh information and found myself once again being drawn to that dissertation question, even though I know it isn’t what I need. The outline I included in my last blog post was another good resource, but another intellectual cul-de-sac. 

I can say in earnest that yes, it feels like my thesis project is haunting me; I connect everything I’m doing in other classes to my concept, and I can’t shake the feeling that it may just be the most important thing in my life for a while. It isn’t so much an all-or-nothing mentality that surrounds it for me as it is a time-is-of-the-essence sort of complex. I’ve thought about doing a creative piece and this looming presence the project has taken on is making me think it’s time for a mystery novella, but I know that isn’t what I really want, and I refuse to take an easy out. I analyzed everything this week from the gaze of a forensic linguist, ranging from how my classmates spoke in class to my own text messages and writing. I could create a satirical handbook regarding how to apply these methods to blend humor and practicality, but again, something is missing there. E-lit, which I love, is also out for the time being because as I realized when I was running and saw a teardrop of frustration go flying, it doesn’t matter what I pick as a medium if I don’t even have a question. Also, why am I pushing myself so hard to add a creative angle? There’s nothing embarrassing about admitting that yes, I love research, I understand the process and terminology, and both the design and actual experimentation and collections are some of my key strengths as a writer and academic. It’s instinctual. I can already thread together the bare bones of a mixed-methods qualitative case study and protocol analysis based look at the field of forensic linguistics from its genesis to now, but it’s all weaving together around the question I can’t have, of why it is that linguistic evidence is not held to the same pedigree as physical evidence unless it is for the purpose of establishing guilt, especially in situations where there are several intersectional factors in play as well. Time is the one thing I don’t have too much of, and yet it’s the one thing I need to rework my research design around a new question. If I go this route, it’s more of a reduce-reuse-recycle scenario than it is a landfill dumping. 

Completing this thesis is more than a requirement or springboard into a career for me; I want this to be something meaningful beyond the people who see it in this program. I want it to be able to stand on its own, without me having to constantly explain and prop up what the premise and importance of it is. But with my confidence shot, I feel like a stickshift 1987 Chevy Chevette with a timing belt that’s slipping and a clutch that is stuck, just waiting to stall in the shoulder. 

Going back to Wednesday night, my Dad made a comment off-hand about what it took to become the person I know him as today on the way home. One of the biggest things my Dad has always emphasized to me that I respect and appreciate is the sheer amount of mistakes he’s made throughout his life, and how some, but not all, have defined him. Of course, I won’t share any of those with you, because I know he won’t like that! But when I hit a low and massive wall like I did this past week, hearing him be vulnerable about what it felt like to be behind or inadequate in regards to something more profound than a thesis is what struck a chord with me. There’s something bizarrely comforting about knowing that no matter how old you get, you never figure it all out, and it’s that mysterious space where you live the best parts of your life. And it inspired me to realize something: It’s my project, just like it was his life! So here’s what I’m planning:

  1. I’m not going to conscientiously think about what I want my question to be at all for the bulk of this week.
  2. I’m not going to think about what approach and medium I want this project to take on for the bulk of this week. 
    1. I’m not looking to get myself worked up again, and my gut tells me I’ll know soon enough, but right now just isn’t the time to know. 
  3. I’m not going to add to or subtract anything from the research and annotations I have already compiled.
  4. I am going to continue revising the formatting of my annotated bibliography. 
  5. I will work on the parts of my literature review that I can with everything I have already. 
    1. Dr. Nelson was kind enough to lend me a few resources about how to tackle a lit. review, and seeing it framed as “academic storytelling” is making this a more palatable, and dare I say it, fun task to work through.
  6. I will work on the applicable parts of my early project proposal. 
  7. I am going to find a better way to split my time to account for my student government responsibilities, the Rwandan genocide research paper, group presentation, and pop quizzes in Conflict Resolution, prep myself for the upcoming test, country report, position paper, and project in World Englishes, and round out my draft for the short position paper, conclude the work on my presentation and start working on what I know is going to be my final project for Lang. of Racial/Ethnic ID. (I can put the other assignments off for a bit.) 
    1. I’m not writing all of this out to prove how busy I am, but by seeing everything I need to take care of mapped out in front of me, and knowing I’ve seen the connections forensic linguistics holds to it before, it’s another way to figure out the focal question for my thesis without being overly conscientious, and succeeding in other areas of my life at the same time. Yet another tandem, if you will! 
  8. Health is going to be a priority, no matter what.
    1. Sleep is most definitely a target area. 

Regaining my confidence won’t happen overnight, but I’m the only one who can make the attempt, and this seems like one way to get there. 

Carve Your Name Into Those Shining Stars

I know I say it a lot, but I don’t think I can ever say thank you to my Dad enough. I literally owe my life and existence to the guy, and I know that the older I get, the more I want to be just like him but better. (I don’t see myself ever being a parent, but if that somehow happens, I’m going to try my best to be what he was to me!) The heading for this ending piece is not only what I hope to do with this project and my life in general, but it’s a lyric from “The Nights” by Avicii, a song I can never tire of. (Also, good on the Carolina Hurricanes for using it as a goal song!) I just plan to experience life for the next week, with no guilt over the unknown. And in regards to the quote above from one of the greatest to ever play the game, I’m sticking to that sentiment, and I’m not going to scream at myself to figure everything out on expert mode.

And just when it seems like all the pieces of a thesis and its author are about to break apart, they come together! (If you know what movie I love, live by, and reworked this line from, I like you! Have a cupcake!) See you next week!

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side! 

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

In terms of why I leave myself semi-vulnerable in every post or seem to be going outside the scope of a professional graduate student, with the hockey and meme and music references, it’s because I do the actual thesis work, and stayed in grad school essentially to inspire others, and take away some of the fear and trepidation for them. Like me, there is someone who might be questioning where they belong academically, and where they fit in the grand scheme of things. There could be someone out there who knows who they are, what they are interested in beyond the academic world, and what they want to do, and just needs to see someone else who is a human, who isn’t yet settled into a career, who has relatable struggles, and who has held onto more than just their academic persona exists. And maybe I’m not the strongest example, but I hope to be one of them.

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side!