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Juggling Design - Lost in the Jumble - Late 2020/Early 2021

Updated: Sep 11, 2021


Designing a research project must be done in conjunction with ethics requirements. Ethics requirements guide, and may even constrain, your methodology. You have a fabulous idea but are unable to proceed, or have to reshape how you proceed. Here are a few of my thoughts on my design journey.


Further consideration needs to be given to how you will present your work - how many words per section, what sections, will a section be a paper? I'm finding this quite daunting at the moment - trying to prevent future problems without truly understanding what my PhD thesis need to look like. Further questions I have concern publishing articles, a) as I go along and including in my thesis b) from my thesis then publish. Editage is a useful website and able to answer some of my questions. Each university may have limitations concerning this. No more than 20 percent of my PhD can be published before I submit the thesis.

Research Design - Draft

The core part of my research is the sensory and trans-species ethnography conducted with my proposed research participants - the sharks and humans in the shark-listener relationships. The second element is documenting perspective change. This all appears quite simple on the surface, however, one I start to drill down I find 'over-thinking' is a process I must adopt in order to ask research questions that will give me good, not wooly, data.

My overarching research question is :

How can illuminating human-shark (Selachimorpha) trans-species relationships and biographies influence human perceptions and behaviour towards the lives and deaths of sharks?


am I really asking about how to protect sharks?

Is a subquestion : How can kissing sharks contribute towards their conservation?

"The process of focusing questions is an iterative, reflective process that leads, not just to data, but to specific data that can add knowledge to a larger field of study. "

Kissing refers to the practise Cristina Zenato has with the sharks she has relationships with but also signifies a non-stereotypical approach towards shark-human interactions.

So I need to see how perspectives change. Who should I ask? What are the perspectives of different groups in the first place? Surely participants all have their baked-in biases? Will divers and shark watchers be positively influenced?; surfers be ambivalent?; shark users (such as shark-trophy hunters) be indifferent?and shark haters continue to hate? My own biases are already baked-in and I need to try to understand what these are and face them. So still what questions do I ask to whom and how do I reach them?

Phase 1 - Questionnaire design

The iterative process of designing the research seems forever present in my mind. In reading articles about how to design research I venture deeper down the rabbit hole searching for 'the right way' to design a questionnaire. I need to think about how I will analyse the results, so will I ask open or closed questions, which methodology will I use? Furthermore, I am bound to want to develop my research questions as my research journey begins and stories unfold.

"The process of focusing questions is an iterative, reflective process that leads, not just to data, but to specific data that can add knowledge to a larger field of study. "

"O’Leary (2014) asserts that questionnaires are ‘notoriously difficult to get right’ and they often do not go as planned." O’Leary, Z. (2014). The essential guide to doing your research project (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.

These are just a few notes, possibly a bit random and unstructured. However, I decided I wanted to blog my PhD journey so they are simply a few offerings.

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