Where do I go from here?

Yesterday and the day before were filled with emotions, hugs, and visits with so many people.

One of the things that happened yesterday was a meeting with my PhD thesis committee and the director of the PhD program. I presented a quick overview of my project (from my proposal seminar) and an update on the data that I had. I was disappointed that one of my committee members didn’t attend. The meeting was setup over a month ago, so I feel a little disrespected.

After much discussion, the conclusion of my committee and the program director was that I do not have enough data to write a dissertation. The path forward at uOttawa has two options:

Option 1 involves a change of methodology – from Educational design research to Case Study – and would require doing another round of interviews, which would require ethics approval from two ethics boards. It would involve a lot of reading on this new methodology, and preparation of new interviews / surveys to align with the new methodology.

Option 2 involves a new project. I would not need to do comprehensive exams or a formal proposal seminar as I have already met those requirements; however, I would need to write some form of proposal that my committee agreed to. In addition, I’d need to change supervisors (my supervisor is retiring) and form a committee that better aligns with the new project.

An additional option would be that I transfer universities. That, however, would involve having to re-do comprehensive exams and the equivalent of a proposal seminar as well as additional coursework. Changing universities would be a three year commitment and would be expensive (since I’m on full scholarship at uOttawa).

My issue now is to figure how I want to be spending my time. I was ready to commit to writing a dissertation based upon the data I had. I figured that if I focused on it for eight month, I could finish before my scholarship ran out. However, that is not an option.

My challenge now is to figure out what I want to do? How do I want to be spending my time? I may very well look at taking a second year of medical leave, giving myself more time to figure out where I want to go. A second year of medical leave would mean that option 1 is dead, and option 2 is the path that I would be taking. It would give me some more time to explore where I want to go, and to self-study new methodologies, so that when I do go back I can “hit the ground running” so to speak.

One thing that has changed over the last year is what I value in research – my axiology. I began my PhD journey as a very pragmatic researcher. I am now much more interested in participatory research. I am intrigued by autoethnography and collaborative ethnography. I value innovation – that is something that has not changed. It is, however, something that is not seen as research at uOttawa.

I also do not want a plan forward that requires that I fly to Ottawa on a regular basis (once / semester is OK, but once/month is asking a lot). I enjoy my visits to Ottawa, but the travel takes a lot of energy. It is expensive from both a financial and physical health perspective. In changing supervisors, I would need to have a supervisor that is willing to supervise remotely. uOttawa isn’t the best place for remote supervision. It has been suggested several times that I look into transferring to a school close by where I live. For me, the location of the school shouldn’t matter. I should be able to do my research from anywhere in the world. There is a philosophical distance that may be harder to surmount than the physical distance.

An so, part of the reason for the meeting yesterday was to help determine what my options were for paths forward. Although the path that I wanted (I guess I didn’t even realize I wanted it) is not a valid path, at least I now have some clarity on that. I know better what my options are, I just need to decide what I want to do about it.

  • Becky


  • Best advice I can give: Follow your passion!

  • Becky ..it was super seeing you yesterday and what a wonderful surprise* I got the import of your meeting with your u Ottawa advisor and agree with you that the committee members showed a lack of respect for your work, but as I have learned …don’t take it personally.People are so distracted these days from their heart/minds, its pathetic sometimes.

    FYI ~ I have a friend who just went through a somewhat similar re-routing on her way to a PHD diploma in ethics /conflict resolution studies from Carleton. Everyone but one woman professor dropped out from her “team”. It was incredibly hard but the advice that that woman gave her was to step back from the pure academic path of PHD land and in stead, she took the diploma route which has allowed her to adapt her real “passion” to applying hardwon mediation skills in situations where people in relationships are now floundering and need help seeing a way through. Her life changed 180 degrees but she is doing what she feels is right for her

    I hope this is helpful, hugs to you and I know you will find your way … Colleen xo

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