PhD as jigsaw puzzle

by Lilia Efimova on 13 May 2004

Thinking about my PhD approach… Some people do their PhD research in a very systematics way – going through well articulated steps and designs. Somehow I don’t feel like doing it this way. My way of doing PhD is similar to how I would solve jigsaw puzzle:

  1. First I look at border pieces and try to make a frame out of them.
  2. Next I find pieces that stick together and make small “clouds” of them, trying to connect them to the frame if it is possible.
  3. Then big picture starts to emerge, “clouds” get connected with each other and with the frame.
  4. After that there are just a few empty spots and I fill them in with pieces that left.

Currently in my PhD research I’m iterating between 2 and 3, while focusing mainly on making “clouds”. I use my 3 circle personal KM model as a frame (see the paper for academic description) to work on my “clouds”. My idea is to work on relatively independent studies of different aspects of blogging and then triangulate them to re(de)fine the initial model.

So far the studies I’m planning/doing are an attempt to look at weblogs from different perspectives (btw, this is described in a more systematic way in my PhD outline):

  • me – weblog writing – understanding the activities around blogging and their value for an individual
  • others – weblog reading – understanding effects of other weblogs (e.g. work for Ed-Media conference)
  • ideas – weblog conversations – understanding how ideas develop in conversations (e.g. argumentation analysis of weblog conversations)
  • corporate context – corporate weblogs – understanding how far all the nice things above would (not) work in corporate settings

Of course, when it comes to writing papers I also do something in between. For example, weblog apprenticeship paper is a way to connect all four perspective around one practical idea of using weblogs.

Ah, still much work to do before I’m at the stage 4 of my PhD puzzle :)

Archived version of this entry is available at; comments are here.

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