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PhD Discussion Forum

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31 to 45 of 104 PhD Forum Posts
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Who's doing the weirdest PhD?


User: aussiechick - 14 July 2009 08:13

Quote From magictime:

Aussiechick - surely you're not suggesting that Santa solicits money from people through an aggressive direct marketing strategy, rather than simply distributing gifts out of the goodness of his heart?!



I hope his lawyers aren't reading this. They *could* be, you know. They could be doing part-time PhDs on 'The Provision of Goods and Services by Imaginary Magical Persons: a New Perspective on Corporate Liability'.



(Speaking of imaginary magical persons - Harry Potter this Sunday!)


:-) LOL Great PhD title!

And being in Australia, I'll be watching Harry Potter in less than 24 hours! :p

User: Sue2604 - 14 July 2009 12:14

Yes, I'm also doing a serious topic - on collective workplace bargaining for family friendly working arrangements. But would love to do one on the portrayal of women in Phantom comics!

User: aloha - 14 July 2009 15:08

cats purring....

User: smoobles - 15 July 2009 11:13

i once heard of someone who's phd involved painting the feet of mice with different coloured paints, letting them run around, then measuring the distances between little multicoloured footprints (or should that be pawprints? what DO mice have on the end of their legs...? discuss...!) always thought that seemed pretty weird :p

i also read the other day about a student who is studying the biomechanics of cheetahs running, so they spend their days videoing cheetahs. maybe not that weird, but sounds fun!

my phd is pretty dull, but i used to work as a research assistant for a vet school, and my job was to travel the country videoing horses who have a twitch ;-) (or 'headshaking' as the official condition is called)

User: siwee - 25 July 2009 23:58

hey Gingersnaps, is your name after the movie?

User: missspacey - 27 July 2009 00:09

A Phd in Figure Skating...
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Ice_work_if_you_can_get_it_-_a_PhD_in_figure_skating&in_article_id=709330&in_page_id=34

User: Ergogirly - 27 July 2009 12:02


Have heard of a PhD (fully funded too) to see if budgerigars could tell the difference between constants and vowels.

User: verypoor - 07 August 2009 12:13

I read today that someone got a PhD in texting, which is just sad. She only examined the texts of around 250 people, which isn't a lot, and therefore not repersentative....and it took her 3 1/2 years to do this! Sounds very boring and pointless (apparantly one of her conclusions were the texts were pointless :S). I'd rather watch paint dry! She also claimed that texting doesn't affects language skills...maybe if she spent the time examining children's and teenagers' writing skills instead she'll think differently. She hopes to study texts made by children next...but children shouldn't be texting in the first place....

User: phdbug - 07 August 2009 12:23

I think this may be a PhD in semiotics and liguistics, in which case it is entirely qualitative and could even have examined just a set of 10 texts. Semiotics are not my area but renowned scholars have done much in the area...

Gunther Kress is one of them...he has done lovely work with children's writing, alphebtical and graphical modes of representations and he works with one or two children's alphabet formations at times...

User: rubyw - 07 August 2009 17:36

Verypoor, dismissing someone's PhD as 'very boring and pointless' seems a bit harsh! We all have to jump through certain academic hoops to get a PhD, so presumably it's valid theoretical research in her field, with appropriate research questions. I doubt whether I'd understand most science-based PhD projects even if they were explained to me in layman's terms, but I would never describe them as pointless. All PhDs have to have a point as they have to make a new contribution to knowledge - they might not all be about to change the world, but they do have a point, small or otherwise.

User: phdbug - 07 August 2009 18:24

Quote From rubyw:

Verypoor, dismissing someone's PhD as 'very boring and pointless' seems a bit harsh! We all have to jump through certain academic hoops to get a PhD, so presumably it's valid theoretical research in her field, with appropriate research questions. I doubt whether I'd understand most science-based PhD projects even if they were explained to me in layman's terms, but I would never describe them as pointless. All PhDs have to have a point as they have to make a new contribution to knowledge - they might not all be about to change the world, but they do have a point, small or otherwise.

Yes, even I found the dismissal a bit disappointing... first of all, 'sample size' does not matter in much qualitative work. Second in work with linguistics, literacy, semiotics and I think also cultural studies, most of which I dont quite know thoroughly, much sounds 'strange' to science/social science people....

What then, of anthropologists who spend decades studying just one family or one tiny kinship structure.... I say these as a socia science phd student though, who does none of these things, and when anthropologists speak to me, they find my stuff strange at times...

User: walminskipeasucker - 07 August 2009 19:48

Quote From phdbug:

[quote]


Yes, even I found the dismissal a bit disappointing... first of all, 'sample size' does not matter in much qualitative work. ..

Actually, not to be a pedant, but I think that sample size does matter very much with qualitative research. Too few and you may not have any kind of generalisability or transferabilty (not really a strength of qual anyway) or be able to generate a good enough description and/or understanding of what you are studying, but too much and you may not be able to generate the 'in-depth insight' typical of qualitative research. I could be wrong there, as I'm just thinking off-the-cuff.

Anyway, I agree that there's no such thing as a boring PhD to someone that is interested in it. :-)

User: phdbug - 07 August 2009 20:09

What would sample size be for an ethnographer who spends 10 years studying kinship patterns in one community? Or, what would sample size mean for a critical discourse analyst who is studying two texts, or for a semiotic theorist who is studying early childhood literacies of two children?

I am neither of these, and I do 'social science' research with N and all similar... but I do interact with these fields which are all 'foriegn' to me, and I know they do extremely meaningful research...

User: rubyw - 07 August 2009 21:19

Agree completely, Bug.

Walminski, surely the nature of your sample and its size should be determined by the research questions you're addressing, as well by existing knowledge and methodologies in that field? If you're scoping a newish topic where little work has been done to date, a large sample isn't essential to argue specific points in your thesis, as long as all the decisions made about using that sample and its results can be justified in your methodology. It worked for me, though I'm aware I'm a social science/arts hybrid. I could develop some parts of my work into a more straightforward, social science project with larger samples at some point in the future, assuming I don't come to regard my PhD as too boring and pointless to develop, of course. :-)

User: walminskipeasucker - 07 August 2009 21:54

Seems I've dug myself a hole here! I'm not attacking either of you, and as you've read, I've just said that sample sizes are important in qualitative research. I've not said you need a big sample (that's plain wrong for qual), and as Phdbug emphasises passionately and elegantly in her response to me (I feel), there's lots of different flavours of qualitative research, each with their own requirements. Anyway, in those ivory towers, fiery debates rage over what the right sample sizes are for qualitatively research. All I can say, in my humble opinion, is that sample sizes are important for qualitative research.

Have a read of this paper if you can get it: Margarete, S. (1995). "Sample size in qualitative research." Research in Nursing & Health 18(2): 179-183. I can provide you with many more refs on the matter if you wish too.

:-)
31 to 45 of 104 PhD Forum Posts





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