I have always suspected my thesis was amorphous. And now, I have proof. Actually, I don’t really think of it as amorphous. I mostly think of it as very very difficult to get my arms around. And hard to research. And hard to write. Really really hard. But, I feel like I have something good to say, and so I plod forward with it.
I intend to graduate with my MA in technical communication some time in this century, so I am working very diligently on said thesis. While looking for other examples of theses written in the area of writing research, I found this article by Carolyn Rude:
Rude, Carolyn D. “Mapping the Research Questions in Technical Communication.” Journal of Business and Technical Communication 32, no. 2 (April 2009): 174-215.
In this article, Carolyn Rude describes 4 types of research one might do in the area of composition research. Since I will do composition research and then write about it in my thesis, this article caught my eye. The article describes research in the field of technical communication as challenging because it is defined as a practice, not only as an area of research (p. 175). This acknowledgement is immensely helpful to me as I struggle to fit together the puzzle of research questions, scope, purpose, and data.
Professor Rude divides composition research into four areas: disciplinarity, pedagogy, practice, and social change. She goes on to say that research in the area of social change is the most amorphous, and it is the type that is least tied to the other types. Yet, it is the fastest growing of the research areas (p. 202).
Figures. Guess in which of these four areas my thesis lies? Yep, social change–how texts contribute to policy and democracy. I’m glad it is a growing field. But I’ll tell you, I can definitely feel that it is amorphous because I do not find very many examples out there.
On the plus side, the examples that I find have been great. I would have chosen to read them even if I were not working on my MA in technical communication, they are that good.
So, this was a great read for me. And it has a bonus–3+ pages of resources. I bet I can find some juicy reading in there.