Part III: Differentiating Theory from Method

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1- Doctoral candidates face a mixture of challenges during the pursuit of their PhD. The challenges, however, are part and parcel of the exercise. Recall what I argued in an earlier post: a PhD is research training. Without complexities and challenges, the training would prove neither fulfilling nor edifying. The challenges doctoral candidates face should be regarded similarly to the way as we see a child’s first step, word, and joke: each is an essential element in their maturation and socialisation.

2- In contrast to childhood milestones, which are achieved naturally, doctoral candidates must be proactive in their development. A methodical approach is even more relevant today for many universities have reduced the amount of time available in the pursuit of a doctorate (it is three years at my own institution in contrast to the 4-6 years a candidate would have been afforded just 15 years ago).

3-  In this week’s podcast—you can access it on here—I provide a plan of action to assist doctoral candidates mature in the art of academic research.

4- I begin by setting out the importance of identifying the paradigm or ‘shared way of positing knowledge’ within which your research is being carried out. The paradigm sits atop the funnel I describe in the first part of the series. Next, I tackle both theoretical perspectives and methods, highlighting their differences as well as their complementary character. Black letter or doctrinal analysis along with socio-legal methods occupy the bulk of the second half of the podcast. For good measure, I conclude with a brief discussion of the international and comparative method.


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