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Writing the phenomenological doctoral dissertation step-by-step

Writing the phenomenological doctoral dissertation step-by-step any piece

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Phenomenology and hermeneutics are not the same, although Heidegger attempts to bridge both. Gadamer in Philosophical Hermeneutics does the same, following Heidegger. The problem, as I see it, is that phenomenology focuses on the problem of consciousness and ‘phenomena’ present to consciousness. Hermeneutics, in contrast, deals with meanings (not in the sense in which logical positivism defines meaning, i.e. as the root of reference but in the sense in which a thinking, choosing agent can possibly understand and also of course misunderstand ‘a message’). Meanings as postulated by hermeneutics we may say constitute ‘messages’ rather than objects as they are for positivists. However, there are multiple variants of phenomenology and hermeneutics, so one has to be careful. You can begin by reading a general intro to German Idealism, then Gadamer’s PH, and probably Heidegger’s Hegel’s Concept of Experience – but be warned that the latter has little to do with what Hegel thinks, it does disclose Heidegger’s thinking though (also ‘older’ books, c. 1900-1930s on this theme and especially on Idealism I think are better).

Read Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement. It starts with Husserl and ends with existential phenomenologies. Hermeneutics is described along the way. In many years of teaching phenomenological method, I find Spiegelberg the clearest step-by-step expositor of the phenomenological movement.

Phenomenology and hermeneutics are not the same, although Heidegger attempts to bridge both. Gadamer in Philosophical Hermeneutics does the same, following Heidegger.

Writing the phenomenological doctoral dissertation step-by-step brief quotation from

The problem, as I see it, is that phenomenology focuses on the problem of consciousness and ‘phenomena’ present to consciousness. Hermeneutics, in contrast, deals with meanings (not in the sense in which logical positivism defines meaning, i.e. as the root of reference but in the sense in which a thinking, choosing agent can possibly understand and also of course misunderstand ‘a message’). Meanings as postulated by hermeneutics we may say constitute ‘messages’ rather than objects as they are for positivists. However, there are multiple variants of phenomenology and hermeneutics, so one has to be careful. You can begin by reading a general intro to German Idealism, then Gadamer’s PH, and probably Heidegger’s Hegel’s Concept of Experience – but be warned that the latter has little to do with what Hegel thinks, it does disclose Heidegger’s thinking though (also ‘older’ books, c. 1900-1930s on this theme and especially on Idealism I think are better).

Phenomenology Research by Mustakas is a good place to begin

Hi,
Methodical structure of phenomenological research included by: 1- Turning to the nature of lived experience. in this step,formulating the questions. 2-Investigating experience before the conceptualize it by interviewing with participates or observing them and writing the result. 3- categorizing the results step by step and Reflation on the essential themes 4- describing the phenomenon 5-interpreting the results

Writing the phenomenological doctoral dissertation step-by-step when the research subject reads

I would like to correct my above post. The text recommended for hermeneutics in phenomenology is Moustakas (1994) Phenomenological Research Methods. Information includes philosophical assumptions and application. The text also provide comparision between hermeneutic and transcendental phenomenology.

Liz Smythe · Auckland University of Technology

I have a chapter published that does exactly what you ask:
Smythe, E. (2011). From beginning to end: How to do hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology, In G. Thomson, F. Dykes S. Downe (Eds). Qualitative research in midwifery and childbirth. London: Routledge.

Thank you very much for your feedback. I will work with your proposals.

Liz Smythe · Auckland University of Technology

Here are the links to some of my students hermeneutic PhDs. Seeing how someone else has done it is often a useful guide.
Liz Smythe

Dickinson, A. (2004). Within the web: the family/practitioner relationship in the context of chronic childhood illness, Unpublished doctoral thesis, Auckland University of Technology aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/341
Giles, D. (2008). Exploring the teacher-student relationship in teacher education: a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry. Unpublished thesis, Auckland University of Technology. aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/537
McAra Couper, J. (2008). What is shaping the practice of health professionals and the understanding of the public in relation to increasing intervention in childbirth? Unpublished thesis, Auckland University of Technology aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/323
Reed, K. (2008). Resituating the meaning of occupation in the context of living. Unpublished Doctor of Health Science Thesis, Auckland University of Technology. aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/398
Sutton, D. (2008). Recovery as the re-fabrication of everyday life. Exploring the meaning of doing for people recovering from mental illness. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Auckland University of Technology aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/simple-search?query=Daniel+SuttonSubmit=Go
Water, T. (2008). The meaning of being in dilemma in paediatric practice: A phenomenological study. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Auckland University of Technology. aut.researchgateway.ac.nz/handle/10292/405

yes, phenomelogy evolved differently in the hands of each thinker. hermenuetics has different genealogy, has its root in mediaval scholasticism and recieved systematic treatment in 19th century Germany. in heidegger phenomenology took its irreversable hermenuetic turn, though ponty’s treatment is different much more husserlian. in recent times analytical philosophy is also taking cognizance of husserlian phenomenology

just try to read the article of STEPHEN J. ARNOLD. EILEEN FISCHER with tittle Hermeneutics and Consumer Research in Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jun. 1994), pp. 55-70. it also decsribes the brief history of hermeneutic and in the appendix there are some example of analysis with hermeneutic approach

Jonathan Smith’s book on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is very practical and will certainly help you articulate your analytic process.

Hi Montse, this is the methodology I regularly use. See my janinasanches.blogspot.com. For universal theory and the methodology I recommend Gilbert Durand (French), Gaston Bachelard (French) and Edgar Morin (French). Depending on what you intend to research about, I can recommend other theoretical fundaments. Enjoy!
Janina

Montse – Im an author of a book which gives very clear step by step detail- Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research (Smith, Flowers and Larkin, 2009). We wrote the analysis chapters to guide researchers through the process when they dont have easily accessible supervision and support. So I would recommend reading this as something which is straightforwards and accessible. If you want and can try and upload some examples too,

There are many comments here and I imagine that it might be hard to navigate through them all. I would suggest that you think about what you are trying to do and accomplish. Are looking to find the structure of an experience? If so phenomenology is what you are looking at. However, the very act of interpreting this experience in literary form brings in hermeneutic ideas since hermeneutics is all about interpretation. Are you interviewing someone? Then once more hermeneutics may inform your process since you are entering into dialogue with someone. Gadamer’s questioning process that he takes from Plato in Truth and Method is a good background for what you are trying to aim for in this process. In my opinion you have succeeded in the hermeneutic exercise when the research subject reads your interpretation and says that description of me is better than what I could have said myself.

That being said. When it comes down to arriving at the essence of an experience, a Husserlian approach might help you best. You must look for the essential components to the expereince and subject them to free-variation to see what is essentially invariant. In other words, in subjecting the experience/interpretation to all possible varieties of the self same meaning, ask: what changes? What stays the same? That which is constant is the invariant and is necessary for the description. A very bad example, though it helps clarify is the following. Say an experience can be described as 2 + b = zebra (a very arbitrary non-sensical description for demonstration sake). Now say that in free variation I find that the same meaning is preserved when I imagine it as 42 + y = baboon. The invariants are as follows 2, and 42 are species under the genus numbers, b and z are species under the genus alphabet. zebra and baboon are species under the genus animals. What stays constant are the operations + and =. So these are the invariant aspects that relate genus to one another.

It all depends on what you are looking to accomplish. If you want to understand something about another individual, then hermeneutics would be a practical starting point. If you want to understand something about yourself then phenomenology would be the best place to start.

Oh ya, read J. Creswell’s (2013) – book on qualitative research. it spells it out quite clearly.

Read Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement. It starts with Husserl and ends with existential phenomenologies. Hermeneutics is described along the way. In many years of teaching phenomenological method, I find Spiegelberg the clearest step-by-step expositor of the phenomenological movement.

Hope this helps

Dear Montse,
for me this article has been most useful: Lindseth, A. Norberg, A. (2004) A phenomenological hermeneutical method for researching lived experience. Scand J Caring Sci, 18(2), 145-53.

Thank you very much Kajsa. I’ve read and has been very helpful.

One helpful text is Linda Finlay’s PHENOMENOLOGY FOR THERAPISTS. She has a useful overview of the many styles of phenomenological and hermeneutical interpretation. One thing to keep in mind is that, ultimately, the phenomenon you are studying dictates the method, thus what works to study at-homeness may be entirely inappropriate for studying sense of place. Also, there are many modes of phenomenological and hermeneutic research that ranges frrom broad interpretation (e.g. Bernd Jager’s work) to empirical (Andy Giorgi) to instrumentalist (Jonathan Smith’s IPA–Interpretive phenomenological analysis).

Check out some of the other questions on this site, esp. the one on using software for qualitative analysis.

Just as a small addition to the conversation: there is a recent paper (Gill, M. 2014. The Possibilities of Phenomenology for Organizational Research. Organisational Research Methods. 17: 118-137) that is of interest here. This is a useful paper because it maps out different kinds of interpretative phenomenological analysis, and I don’t think that the ideas only apply to organisational research.

The utility of the paper is illustrated in this brief quotation from the abstract (Gill, 2014:118): “The purpose of this article is to illuminate the scope and value of phenomenology by developing a typology that classifies and contrasts five popular phenomenological methodologies. By explicating each methodology’s differing assumptions, aims, and analytical steps, the article generates a series of guidelines to inform researchers’ selections.”

However, I think that there is room for debate about some of the categorisations and applications that Gill presents – as with anything interpretative, there is more than one way of seeing the field! But I think it’s still worth a look, and I’ve provided a link below.

Kaltham Kenaid · Knowledge and Human Development Authority

For my thesis I’m using Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation as a framework. Lindseth, A. Norberg, A. (2004)( A phenomenological hermeneutical method for researching lived experience. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science, 18, 145_153.) developed practical steps that fit Ricoeur’s theory of analysis but applying them empirically. Their method was also utilized by other studies :

Henricson, M. Segesten, K. Berglund, A. L. Määttä, S. (2009). Enjoying tactile touch and gaining hope when being cared for in intensive care—A phenomenological hermeneutical study. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 25(6), 323-331.

Ghasemi, A. Taghinejad, M. Kabiri, A. Imani, M. (2011). Ricoeur’s Theory of Interpretation: A Method for Understanding Text (Course Text). World Applied Sciences Journal, 15(11), 1623-1629

Carrinna Hansen, Hanne Konradsen, Bo Abrahamsen, and Birthe D. Pedersen. (2014). Women’s experiences of their osteoporosis diagnosis at the time of diagnosis and 6 months later: A phenomenological hermeneutic study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being.

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STEP ONE

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Very broadly speaking, there are three types of dissertation that you can take on: qualitative dissertations. quantitative dissertations or mixed methods dissertations. Each of these broad types of dissertation has a number of characteristics. We provide an overview of these characteristics, as well as help you to choose between them in our article: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations: What are they and which one should I choose?

In addition to choosing a particular type of dissertation to take on (i.e. a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods dissertation), you will also end up pursuing a particular route. There are many routes that you can follow, but it is important to understand the differences between them because your choice of route will influence the entire dissertation process. Classic routes when following quantitative dissertations include replication-based studies. theory-driven research and data-driven dissertations. Alternately, classic routes when taking on a qualitative dissertation include case study research. ethnographies and phenomenological research. We call them routes because it avoids confusion, but you may have heard them being referred to as strategies of inquiry. research methodologies. or simply, types of research. We avoid referring to them in this way because these terms have been described in many different ways by academics.

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STEP TWO

Understand the STEPS involved to get you through your choice of dissertation

When it comes to actually doing your dissertation, it is the route you have taken on that really matters. Your chosen route is so important because the steps that you have to go through to get from topic idea to finished dissertation can differ significantly from route-to-route.

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Learn about the THEORETICAL and PRACTICAL things you’ll come across when doing a dissertation

A lot of time is wasted during the dissertation process when you are uncertain about the fundamentals of doing research. By the fundamentals of research, we mean knowing the theory that influences the practical choices you make. For example, when taking on a quantitative dissertation. you need to know about hypotheses, constructs and variables, theory building, types of research design (i.e. descriptive, experimental, quasi-experimental and relationship-based designs), sampling, the statistical analysis of data, and so on. You need to know (a) what these different terms mean, (b) how they influence the choices you make (e.g. whether to choose an experimental or relationship-based design), and (c) how to implement these choices on the ground (e.g. how to randomly sample the population you are interested in studying, how to set up a pre-test and post-test experimental research design, etc.). You can access all of these articles in the Fundamentals section of Lærd Dissertation.

STEP FOUR

Understand how you can WRITE UP your dissertation

Whilst there is no magic formula for writing up a dissertation, or any piece of research, for that matter, there are certain characteristics that you see when reading different types of research. For example, ethnographies have a very different style and presentation when compared with case study research or other types of qualitative dissertations. The same is so for quantitative dissertations and mixed methods dissertations. When you’re ready to write up your dissertation, whether you do this step-by-step, which we would recommend, or all at once after you have collected and analysed your findings, we show you, chapter-by-chapter. different ways that you can do this.

Getting started

Your first step is to get a sense of the three types of dissertation you can take on (i.e. a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods dissertation), which will help you to narrow down your options to a small group of possible routes. one of which you will end up following. Therefore, we recommend that you start by learning about these three types of dissertation: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods dissertations: What are they and which one should I choose?


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