By Rod Pitcher

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In my research I am using metaphor analysis to understand research students’ conceptions as expressed in an on-line survey in which they answered questions about their work. I extract the metaphors and then consider what they tell me about the people who answered the survey and their conceptions. I consider metaphors to be very useful in this way as they express some of the personality of the person and provide insights into her or his thinking Searching for metaphors in my survey responses has heightened my sensitivity to them.

A useful timetable can be drawn up from the work ascribed to each chapter. A metaphor for the thesis A useful metaphor for writing the thesis is weaving. The long warp threads represent the strands of the thesis, such as the literature, the methodology and the intermediate results. The cross threads, the weft, represent the work done at that particular stage. The material, the thesis, can be seen to progress as more and more weft is added to the warp to produce finished material. If the warp and weft are imagined as coloured then a 30 PhD Musings pattern might develop in the material that indicates a useful direction in which to continue.

The data must fit and flow with the progression of the thesis as a story. Completing the finished cloth Even when all the raw materials have been fed into the finished cloth the job is not finished. The ends of the warp threads must be tied off, so that the cloth does not fall to pieces when it is taken off the loom. Any loose ends of threads have to be tidied up so that the finished cloth has a smooth appearanct. Any loose ends must be either removed or sewn into the rest of the materiale. The final tidying up is as important as any other stage in weaving the finished cloth because it will affect its appearance and durability.

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