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 12: Research philosophies and why they matter

Natasha S. Mauthner

Abstract

The topic of research philosophies tends to be challenging for doctoral researchers. Given the vast array of such philosophies within the social sciences, how do you decide on a research philosophy and why does it matter? To answer this question, the author draws on her own experiences. The chapter outlines how she was introduced to philosophical alternatives to positivism and how she came to learn about a feminist method of narrative analysis, encountering tensions between her constructionist philosophical commitments and the implicit realism underpinning this method. Next, she recalls her failed attempts to translate these philosophical commitments into methodological practices, before she ran a research methods workshop and discovered that philosophies are built into methods. Finally, she found a book that helped her to understand this, and much more, providing a philosophy of science she has found utterly convincing and compelling. Throughout the chapter, she considers implications for doctoral researchers.

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