Why am I blogging my dissertation?

I’m standing on the edge of the diving board.

David Hockney, Day Pool with Three Blue (1978)

This week I begin a dissertation for my master’s in Urban Studies (more on 4 Cities here). My question is the effect of far-right parties governing European cities, focusing on two as yet TBC cities. Over the next year I plan to blog regularly: both on the process of writing such a dissertation and also on the subject of the far-right and urban governance. This will mean – I hope – it’ll be of interest to both master’s students generally as well as subject specialists .

Why write a blog about this?

There are plenty of arguments against, but three big ones come to mind.

  1. Workload. Won’t I have enough to do – writing the dissertation and learning either one or two languages – without adding extra written work on top of this? Can I really commit to a regular schedule of blogging?
  2. Public embarrassment! It’s the nature of research that your ideas will shift, develop, change as you read and write. Won’t I be blogging things that seem naive or even wrong after I’ve read and written a bit more? What if I’m called out on such mistakes (as I hope I would be).
  3. What’s the point? What do I stand to gain, beyond burnout?

Nevertheless, I am going to commit to the blog. And here’s why.

By communicating my progress in concise weekly 300-600 word posts, I’ll have to really digest the ideas I’m working through. Such short, frequent bursts of ‘thinking aloud’ will help me to cut through to the key points of my research. If I struggle to put my week’s progress into a post, is that because I haven’t managed to cut through?

I’ll be forced to keep writing. As the initial diving board metaphor indicates, I’m nervous about starting the dissertation process. The prospect of writer’s block or progress stalling is central to that nervousness. Weekly posting, and the discussions that result, should help to motivate me on my dissertation while the rest of life hurries on.

Most importantly, I’d like this blog to help share my ideas with others who are interested in my topic, and to discover their work too. To be frank, I would only really see this project as a success if it enables such connections.

I hope you’ll check back soon; more is on the way.

David Hockney, A Bigger Splash (1967)


The next post will look at the process of deciding the dissertation’s problem statement and research question.



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