Thursday, December 25, 2008

Find Rest My Soul

When I get stressed, my body gives in.

I did my regular two-and-a-quarter mile run this morning, but I could feel it in my body--a lethargy had crept into it during the night while I was asleep and unaware. I had to push, pretty hard, to complete my circuit.

I could confront this on-coming cold as an external evil trying to knock me down, or I could take a deep breath and let my body tell me that my stress has gotten the better of me, that it's time to be still and take a different perspective.

I will be a smart therapist and take the advice that I would give others: a change in perspective.

1) I have an entire week before the New Year. I can, like I have done multiple times now, simply move my completion target. I can spend today reading Barney Glaser--heck, even the rest of this week. Advisor will be on holidays anyway, so it's not like she will be wanting to read my proposal.

2) While running this morning, I felt the Spirit remind me that God had already given me the funding that I needed for the next year. I do not need to worry. I only have to do the work that I have been called to do. And if it means doing it to the level which I feel it needs to be done (as opposed to just "getting by"), so be it.

3) Chinese New Year is a bad time to collect data anyway. That will give me at least 10 more days of lag. I'll collect data in February instead of end-Jan. This way, my new clients will be more settled before I have to take a break and leave for data collection.

I need to trust God through this process. I am doing this PhD because of him. He led me here, he will lead me through.

Find rest my soul in Christ alone.
Know his power in quietness and rest

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grounded (to a halt) Theory

Several posts ago, I gloated about how much I love Grounded Theory after reading Corbin & Strauss (2008).

Since then, I've started to re-read Charmaz's constructivist version of GT. I thought that I could somehow blend Corbin & Strauss (2008) with Charmaz (2006) and have a proposal that would have a happily congruent epistemological thread (thanks to Charmaz) with some hefty methodology (thanks to Corbin & Strauss).

BUT, Barney got in the way. No, not Barney the big purple dinosaur. Barney Glaser, the first author of the first book on GT with Anselm Strauss.

According to the most recent Handbook on GT (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007)--yes, there is actually a handbook on the methodology--there are three main schools of GTM.
  1. The Glaserian school
  2. The Strauss & Corbin school (the Corbin & Strauss 2008 book is the 3rd ed.)
  3. The Constructivist school (i.e. Charmaz)
Well, I happen to have one of the books by Barney Glasser (1992), in which he systematically counters the Strauss & Corbin school. He claims that his is the original GT, and that the Strauss & Corbin version is not GT but "full conceptual description." In other words, the GT that I fell in love with is not legitimate.

As if it wasn't enough for me to have trudged through Corbin & Strauss (version 3 of the Strauss & Corbin school) and Charmaz (the constructivist school), now I have to not only read up on the Glaserian school, but possibly also read up on the original version of the Strauss & Corbin school. For sure, I have to read the original, original version of GT, i.e. Glaser & Strauss (1967).

[Insert expletive here.]

So many people have graduated with their PhDs without the in-depth study that I have been doing in order to legitimately claim that I understand my methodology well (I can say this because I read a good number of dissertations, some from my own department!)

I have two very contrasting thoughts battling within me right now.
  1. A PhD dissertation is a joke, and most dissertations are wimpy.
  2. I am the joke, and I should lighten up and get over my need to know things 100x more than I need to know them.
So, how much more reading do I have to do before I can write the second half of my proposal?

[Insert extra-loud expletive here.]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dissertating and Friends - A Painful Mix?

This post is made in reference to my earlier post: Dissertating and Friends Don't Mix?

My wife was too tired so she decided to have our friends come over rather than to drive there. To cope, I decided to try doing some reading before they arrived.

I was able to study (with earplugs on) even when the kids were listening to Adventures in Odyssey at a high volume. But once our friends came over (earlier than I expected) my ability to focus dwindled. I had to move from the living room into my study because high level of interaction was too distracting.

Also, I feel (1) guilt for not interacting with them; (2) strain in having to force myself to concentrate when my body feels so tense; (3) tired because I did not have much sleep last night due to staying up late (reading) and having to wake up early to go to church.

I will read for another 45 minutes, and then join them. In addition to this cup of coffee that is almost empty, I'll need a cup of tea to tie me over to the end of my study time. After that, I'm a goner. It'll be a very early night for me. I'm going to try dissertating during the day time next week. (To think that I just spent two weeks converting to night time dissertating.)

I just needed to write this down. It's an importance piece of my dissertating process.

p.s. Thank God for high-quality affordable earplugs. What would I do without them?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dissertating and Friends Don't Mix?

During coursework, it was comparatively easier for me to"ignore" friends who were visiting and spend my time reading or writing instead. Now that I am working on my dissertation, I am finding it hard for me have friends over to my place at all. When they come, I feel guilty for not entertaining them.

I could not figure out why I felt so differently. Until now.

During coursework, I had to report to a professor. There was a deadline imposed upon me. And since all of my friends understoodd what it is like to have to meet a project deadline (or get it trouble with the professor), it was easy for me to excuse myself from their presence to meet my deadline. I was still a "good person," just busy.

However, any deadline for my dissertation is self-imposed. To ignore friends when they visit now feels more like self-centeredness. I have no professor on whom to blame my inhospitable behavior. I am just rude, or bad, or selfish to not spend time interacting with them. In addition, because this dissertation takes so long to do, it feels like I am forever ignoring them.

Perhaps I just have a problem with discipline. If I could discipline myself to get the work done *when* I am supposed to do it, then I could very well balance family, social, and dissertating life a lot better than I am currently doing it.

To whip or not to whip myself. That is the question.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Grounded Theory

I've almost finished the latest (3rd) edition of the very popular text on Grounded Theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). It is a great read.

Juliet Corbin added several chapters of her analysis of Vietnam war veteran's experience of the Vietnam war as an example to teach people how grounded theory methodology works. Extremely helpful to have when you don't have anyone on your committee who is an expert on the latest in grounded theory methodology.

Chapter 12 ("Integrating Categories") was the best. You really get a sense of how all the hard work and detailed analysis come together to construct a theory. It gave me goosebumps to see how she so artfully put together all her painstaking analysis to form a cohesive theory.

I cannot wait to get my proposal completed and begin on my dissertation. I want to tell the story of conflict in large Chinese Family Business that is constructed from rigorous data-driven analysis and elaborated through a cohesive and compelling theoretical architecture.

Then, I want to publish my dissertation in the form of a book.

After that, more research to take the theorizing a higher level of abstraction to include everything about the Chinese family business as a human phenomenon from history to current times. An exciting project that can emerge out of the research is a movie or a documentary on The Chinese Family Business. Something like this documentary project: Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.

The next 10 years will be exciting.


Corbin J. & Strauss A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.