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*ahem* I fear I may be getting a reputation as a world class complainer.  I’m starting to get annoyed with myself so I can only imagine how I sound to others.

“wahhh poor me, I have to write a research paper”

“wahhh typing words on my computer to form sentences is hard”

“wahhh I have to immerse myself in a topic that I love and which inspires me”

“wahhh I have to get a graduate degree at a top ranking university”

“wahhh I still get paid from my full-time job as I sit in a comfy office sipping my coffee and reflecting on my ideas”

shut UP alecia.

ok.  fine.  it’s not all so bad.  Yes, I can be dramatic at times.  Only sometimes though 😉

The process is going well (positivity!).  Khai Truong has agreed to be my second reader…so yay!  I was really counting on him, as considering my research topic and content, as well as how I came to UofT in the first place, he is the most appropriate person.

I am passing over my first draft to Greg tomorrow, so that will be good in order to get past the slowdown I started experiencing last week.  I just find it funny how one minute I will read over what I wrote and be really happy with it, and confident about reaching my deadline, and then the next minute (literally the next minute!) I will be second guessing everything.  It’s emotionally draining…wait, I’m not complaining though.  I think I expected it to some degree, because that’s the type of person I am.  So I guess…if you know someone experiencing the same thing, just let them know it’s normal.  Well, as normal as one can be.  Passing off to Greg will be good so I can get someone else’s perspective, instead of staying in my own little thesis bubble.

In the meantime I’m just writing.  That’s basically it…writing, and rewriting, writing notes, writing paragraphs, etc. etc.  Jorge’s suggestion at a process to follow is exactly right…well for me anyways.  This is what he told me (Jorge I hope you don’t mind me copypasta-ing your words…but you are a DOCTOR now, so you should get used to it cause that’s what happens with important people):

First, write a point-form skeleton of your thesis (it’s OK if you still don’t have the full picture of what you’ll write).

Second, as your first step writing a chapter/section, add some flesh to the skeleton, as if you were writing pseudocode. “Paragraph on the importance of such and such. Paragraph on why X’s work didn’t tackle this.”

Third, write those paragraphs! :-)

Aim to have a first draft finished at about your halfway point (so in 2.5 weeks). It doesn’t matter if it’s a terrible draft that makes you think coming to grad school was the worst idea ever. I find that once the “dough” is there you can shape it any way you want it. So with your draft finished, revise it (maybe at least 4 times! this is why you need to give it time), and you’ll find you become happier and happier with the result.

When you’re reading the whole thing and making just a few changes every time, you’re done!

And that’s what I’m doing.  Aside from the fact that I need to pick up the pace, I think it’s going well.  Ok, back to writing.

So at my lowest point today the convo went a little something like this:

Me: *Staring blankly out the window with a sad face on trying to emote “pay attention to me! pay attention to meeeeee!”*

A.T. : *sigh* What’s wrong?

Me: ARGHHHHHH! whiney whine whine.

A.T.: *blank stare*

Me: I just don’t wanna work on my thesis anymore!!!!! wahhhhh. *sad face*

A.T.: Don’t pout.  I’m going to nap in the park.

Me: Fine!

– temper tantrum over…but hmm maybe I’ll blog about it.

Feeling better now, although I did have to temporarily switch my music choice of Caribou to a Beyonce/Lady Gaga mix…yeah that’s how bad it got.

After today I have three weeks left to basically finish my thesis.  It has been three weeks already and time has flown!  I have a working copy *sort of* which I will post online today, no matter how nervous and uncomfortable that makes me.  I am going to start updating the version daily just like Aran (cause Aran has some good ideas sometimes). If you do happen to take the extra step and open it…which right now I hope you don’t….please be reassured that eventually it will be longer and make much more sense, and sound alot more professional.  Ok enough of that…I’m actually much more confident in my content than I seem right now, but hey, highs and lows man, highs and lows.

My plan of attack for next week is library and lab.  I have written out my rough thoughts/notes/points and now I want to expand on each more thoughtfully and concretely.

This blog post has been a nice little break. I’m sure you are all going to be sitting at the edge of your seats until the end of the(my) work day when I post up my thesis! yay! (see i told you…totally bipolar)

I have been rereading a lot of papers the last 2 weeks that I read, probably in the fall.  I am writing up my results and discussion sections, so have been reviewing papers on grounded theory, and am now kicking myself that I didn’t reread these certain papers before I began my analysis.  Not because they would have changed the way I performed my analysis, as I had already planned out my approach beforehand.  But now that I’m reviewing them again I’m realizing that all of the second guesses I was making and frustrations I was experiencing were normal and part of the process.  It probably would have saved me some time of going over them again and again, and given me some reassurance.  But I commonly do this, make things more complicated than they need to be. *le sigh*

For example, reading this before I tackled the analysis and having it fresh in my mind would have helped alot:

In summary, coding qualitative information into quantitative data is often useful and even necessary, but must be done carefully. It should be  remembered that coding adds neither objectivity nor accuracy to data, although it may appear that way. Coding is especially difficult when the concept to be coded is subjective in nature, when the terminology used to describe it varies and is difficult to interpret, and when different data sources disagree.

(p.565) Qualitative Methods in Empirical Studies of Software Engineering Carolyn B. Seaman


Collection of qualitative data is often a very satisfying experience for the researcher. Although it is often more labor-intensive, it is also more enjoyable to collect than quantitative data. It is interesting and engaging and it often gives the researcher the sense that they are closer to reality than when dealing with quantitative abstractions. Many researchers wish that their work could end there. The analysis of qualitative data is, in this researcher’s experience, not nearly as inspiring as its collection. It is sometimes boring, often tedious, and always more time-consuming than expected.

(p.565-566) Qualitative Methods in Empirical Studies of Software Engineering Carolyn B. Seaman

These words hit the nail on the head concerning what I was feeling throughout the analysis process.  Not sure why I felt the need to share on my blog…but it’s just so classic Alecia, to stress out about every detail thinking I’m doing something wrong, go over it again and again, wasting time…and then realize after the fact that I was right from the very beginning…or that the easiest way to reassure myself was at my fingertips and I just didn’t realize it.  f@%#!

So this whole thesis writing thing is kind of hard.  It’s taking a bit of getting used to, coming to the lab everyday instead of work.  I feel like I’m in a bit of a bubble.  It’s definitely more of a solitary existence than I’m used to, I’m not exactly a solitary kinda gal.  But I’m finding positives and negatives to it. I wonder if it’s acceptable to thank Lady Gaga in the Acknowledgments section of my thesis…because really, I don’t know what I would do without her.

There seems to be some confusion…I have NOT quit my job to become a full-time academic.  I took some short leave so I could concentrate on writing, I will be back at EC in September don’t you worry 🙂  Both my advisor AND my manager are eager to see me finish up, so it was supported on both sides.  I’m lucky to work at a place that offers the flexibility to do things like this…I know that’s not the case for everyone.   I love the environment and Canadian citizens, so how could I leave?  Plus I thrive on client interaction, they aren’t going to know what hit em when I return.  I miss my guys (and my two girls – the reality of IT work) alot…the atmosphere here in the lab is pretty different.  But again, I’m not complaining…just sharing.  I can’t wait for the graduation party my work guys throw me though *hint hint*.

What the heck…why do my blog posts keep sounding like dear diary entries lately? I think I’m feeling reflective and wistful as a result of this thesis, uhoh.  Ok let’s move on.

If you recall from my last post I was pretty gung ho about my process and framework.  Weeeeeell I got a little sidetracked and went back to the results.  It messed up my flow, but I guess I had gotten ahead of myself.  I am delving deeper into my classifications, and will post it up again as soon as it’s done. I have penciled a milestone into my calendar for friday of next week.  Hoping to have some sort of draft to put up.  And as soon as I hit “Publish” that deadline will become much more of a reality to me.

To summarize: Tuesday – productive, Wednesday – not so much, Thursday – frustrated, and Friday – I’m in love…I mean productive.

Look out weekend, here I come.

As most of you who read this blog (yes, all 3 of you) know, I am now in thesis writing mode. Today was my first day, and I told my gracious, witty, and oh so kind advisor Greg (yup, that was me sucking up) that I would try to blog regularly about my progress.

Thanks to Jorge (yay Jorge!) I now have a plan of attack. I came to the lab today with a framework of my thesis. The general structure, chapters, paragaphs, topics etc that my thesis will cover and the order. So I spent most of today going further with this and outlining the message I wanted to convey in each paragraph and writing up general notes. I started with my Background chapter (made sense), currently on the topic of Web Accessibility.

I also found that I did quite a bit of reading, or re-reading if you will.  And I think this will continue for the next while.  Quite a bit of time has passed since I first started researching my topic, and with the conducting and analysis of my research study, staying up on the topics took a backseat.  So now I guess I must review everything so that it’s fresh in my head and I can start writing about it.  Thank goodness for Delicious tagging!

What I am also finding helpful is the final project from Steve‘s class last year.  We had to design an empirical study and write-up a conference-style paper about that study.  Most of us used our research topics, and although mine wasn’t fully fleshed out yet a lot of it is still applicable to my final result.  I’ve been able to look back at it to figure out where I want to go with my write-up.  I also took a look at this over the wknd when writing up my framework.

I’m not really sure what to blog about aside from that. Should I post up the pages of notes I wrote out today? I don’t think I feel good about that, I mean I don’t exactly keep a serious face on (if ever) when I write these posts, but that doesn’t mean I want you all reading my nonsensical notes.

I heard through the grapevine that when Aran was writing his thesis he would post up the drafts even though they weren’t all shiny and glossy. That is a level of transparency that I am comfortable with, so when I have a working draft I will be sure to do so.

Aside from that, my plan is to work Monday-Friday approx 8-6 and keep the wknds for sanity. The first time in 3 years where I will only have one full-time job instead of both work and school! I allowed myself access to social media at lunch…but am seriously going to have to limit that in the weeks ahead. And I plan to meticulously track my progress so I don’t sway too far from my goal.  Ok this starting to sound like a journal entry instead of a blog-post…you may want to unsubscribe now, as in a couple of weeks these posts may just be long-winded rants of thesis writing frustration…but hey, I’m staying positive!

Oh, also, it was very hard to resist the hilarity and charm of Jono today…I hope you can all appreciate how focused I am going to *try* to be!