Saturday, October 07, 2006

Defining the Bricks

I guess I never realized how technical the literature review construction process is. Had I realized this earlier, I may have completed this chapter long ago. Oh well: such is the learning process for me. I need to experience something to really learn about how I'll handle it.

I enjoy thinking in the abstract, but for some reason my confidence level with synthesizing constructs between works of literature has been low. Horribly low. Perhaps I'm a slow reader and felt behind others in during my time in coursework on making these connections. However I'm usually able to meet, and dare I say exceed, expectations when it was time to write papers, take exams, and so forth.

What's odd is that when embarking on a paper or other writing project, I first feel more comfortable writing about something straightforward and technical. Perhaps it's the "check it off the list" factor. When I've written something technical, there's a logical beginning, middle, and end, and when complete I can check it off the list.

However,when writing papers for courses, there was usually the assumption that the professor had already read most of what I'll be citing in the paper. There was very little need to be detailed in the literature review process for smaller papers. Otherwise I'd receive a comment from the professor like, "I already know this! No need to explain it here!" So instead of writing down the basics and editing them out later on, I would procrastinate on papers because I wouldn't know where to start. I would try to be conceptual right off the bat, though I'd rather start with the technical and move toward the conceptual. That would always throw me off kilter till I actually got into the writing process.

In my mind, the dissertation literature review chapter was this huge wasteland of philosophy and theory, connected by bits and pieces of literature that I'm supposed to be able to recall off the top of my head. Now I realize it's silly to think this way. After reading some other dissertation lit reviews and considering the audience of a diverse committee of professors, I realize I can (and NEED to) include the details. As a result, I am flying through this chapter now, and it's due to the fact that I'm building the foundation of it brick by brick with summaries of literary works, many of which I've already read, some of which I have not. Even my reading rate is speeding up, however, because I have a direction. The process is pretty technical right now, and I like it so far.

I really look forward to the next step of being more conceptual, though, and I'm preparing for it. In the back of my mind, I keep asking myself, "why are you including this summary in here?" I take a few notes separately to answer that, knowing that later on I will need to go back, move the bricks around, and connect the concepts in a logical manner. That's where my favorite part comes in: being able to think in the abstract and use the basic concepts to bring out another idea.

Eureka, I think I've got it! Assemble the materials for building up the wall, but don't lay the bricks and fill in the mortar till later on. It seems so obvious now. I thought I would have learned this stuff before the 23rd grade?

3 comments:

mom said...

I like your thinking and your metaphors...you must feel good about what you are acomplishing.
xoxo

lemming said...

Do you work to music? If so, what?

Rob said...

Lem, I didn't see this earlier. Yep, I usually have on some vocal jazz or something in the background when I work. Pandora.com has been fantastic for this!