Yesterday, I came to the most painful part of writing Chapter 4: tying up the loose ends and deciding if some data should go unreported. As I wrote about the more minor points, I continued to ask myself, "Is this important enough to include in the Chapter?" There are times when I say maybe and others when I say no. I keep the "maybe" points in to get my co-chairs point of view. However, I predict that they will tell me to throw them out, but I'm not certain enough.
Once I got beyond that part, I was able to finish the last section and write the conclusion to the Chapter. I missed my arbitrary page-limit goal by only 3 pages, but I know that I can easily add 3 pages as I noted to myself to flesh out the introduction. Because I'm exhausted, I left the introduction bare bones and it does not reflect what I discovered through the writing process. With my conclusion better written than the introduction, I know that I need to revise the introduction when the time comes to Chapter 4, draft 2.
I have decided to leave Chapter 4 alone for the next week or two. I've been more intimate with Chapter 4 than anything else while I was "vacationing" in Florida, so it's time that I take a break. Incidentally, I finished the first draft with exactly 24 hours remaining in Florida, but I'm a bit too exhausted to celebrate...for now.
Besides exhaustion, how do I feel? I feel that I wrote small islands of good research writing surrounded by an ocean of poor writing with incomplete arguments, positions, or evidence. One reason for these incomplete arguments is that I don't have my full arsenal of literature with me because I'm "on vacation." Another reason is that I gave enough for the beginning of an argument or position, so I could flesh it out later. Like I wrote in the earlier post, there may be some arguments or positions that I may need to remove completely, so I did not want to spend too much time composing well-formed arguments and positions for every point.
I'm also keenly aware of the sentences and paragraphs that are wholly poor reasoning. I changed the font color in the areas to red so I could later decide if that reasoning needs to be either reworked or removed. In those areas, I feel like I was rushing to conclusions and/or making points that may be better made in Chapter 5.
There is one very weak area in my data analysis and Chapter 4 because there is one participant in my study who may be going through a major stage of his adjustment process during the time I was composing Chapter 4. I hope to hear from him after I send him my summary of his experiences and observations as part of the member check.
The member check is the next step in my dissertation process. The responses from my participants will help better inform me when revising Chapter 4, especially the one participant I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Another major step is learning how my colleague coded my data using my themes. She may reveal parts that I either overlooked or misinterpreted. If this is so, my corrections in the revision will definitely improve the quality of the chapter.
I do not expect to hear from my participants about their member checks or from my colleague about her coding procedures for at least a month. In the meantime, I will be making smaller revisions to Chapter 4.
Once I return to Iowa tomorrow, I plan to send my co-chairs my Chapter 4 outline, my conclusion, and a graphic representation of part of my grounded theory. Their input will also greatly affect how I approach the first revision of Chapter 4. I foresee the months of January and February on Chapter 4 revision and Chapter 5 pre-wrtiting.