How to Keep your Doctorate on Track
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How to Keep your Doctorate on Track

Insights from Students’ and Supervisors’ Experiences

Edited by Keith Townsend, Mark N.K. Saunders, Rebecca Loudoun and Emily A. Morrison

The path of a doctoral student can feel challenging and isolating. This guide provides doctoral students with key ideas and support to kick-start a doctoral journey, inspire progress and complete their thesis or dissertation. Featuring observations from experienced supervisors, as well as the reflections of current and recent postgraduate researchers, this intimate and entertaining book offers vital insights into the critical moments in any doctoral experience.
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Chapter 5: Asking “the” question

Emily McDonald


When I began my PhD in Sociology in the United States, I did not have a specific dissertation question in mind. Rather, I began with a broad set of overarching questions that emerged from particular contradictions, injustices, and peculiarities I saw in the world around me. Given the vast inequities we face as a society, how are we able to address power relationships inherent in altruism, voluntarism, and philanthropy? What does it mean to develop our moral capacities to serve our fellow human beings, given that our human relationships are both informed by and inform larger economic, political, social, and cultural structures? How do we not just study injustice, but address injustice in meaningful ways?

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