I use the metaphor of an expedition to describe my PhD journey in a preface of my research proposal and thought I share it with you. Let me know if you want to join me on this journey!
My interest in this study is linked to the aim of achieving a PhD degree. These two interests are interlinked and metaphorically represent a journey or expedition into an unknown land. I use this metaphor to describe how I see and will approach my study. The goal of my expedition is to find a place (my theory), however, I do not know where or what it will look like. I do not even know if I will like it, but there is a desire to find it and to pursue the journey. On my expedition, there will be rivers to cross and mountains to climb, and other challenges to face that one cannot think of ahead. Initially, I did not know the way or what places I would discover or what they would look like. These have emerged along the way. I have engaged with a lot of literature to prepare myself and to find clues about the route(s) I should take to reach my goal. I have documented in this paper what I have found so far and how I plan to approach the rest of the expedition. Others have completed or started similar expeditions and I have studied their experiences in order to be prepared for what I may have to face. My challenges, however, may be totally different, especially the personal ones.
For an expedition, it is important to be prepared and have good equipment; therefore, I have to choose my tools carefully. I cannot carry everything with me so I have to decide which tools will be the most useful. On the way, I will meet a lot of people. In fact, I will recruit some who are interested in joining me on my journey. Some may come the whole way; some may only join for a while. Some may be helpful and others may not really care. Some may even take the lead for a while and direct which way to go. However, I may decide not to follow, or they may decide to leave. Sometimes we will make good progress and will be joyful, at other times, our journey will seem to go nowhere and tensions may arise.
Some of my companions will have similar motivations in joining my expedition; others will not have the same interest as they may have totally different goals. The people I will meet will come from different countries, different cultures, different social backgrounds, and will have different demographics. We will only be able to communicate in one language, which may not be everyone's first language and not everyone may be able to fully express what they want to say. Our different cultural and social backgrounds, the experiences we share, and the interests we have in this expedition will make the journey interesting and demanding. I have to respect where my companions are coming from and make sure everyone will be treated in a fair and ethical way. I recognise that my companions may have different ethical values than I have. On this journey, I cannot go alone. The people I will meet and the stories they will tell are important to help me find my way and reach my goal. In fact, their stories will become the journey's tale.
Expeditions need supporters. For my expedition, I need the support of a large organisation that will provide me with information and tools that I will need during the preparation, exploration, and reporting of my expedition. I have to convince this organization that my expedition is worth doing and is well planned; and hopefully they will also provide some funding. Further, I will need supporters who are experienced and have done similar journeys. They will be able to provide advice not just at the beginning but also during the exploration as I will stay in contact with them throughout the expedition.
From the outset I have and will continue to document every step I take. I will collect my companions' stories, and information that other people provide or that I find along the way. I will also reflect on my personal thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Being reflexive during the journey will help me to stay focused, to analyse information and the steps that I have taken. This will help me to better plan the steps ahead. I will also encourage my companions to share their reflexive thoughts. In addition, I will report on the experiences I have and the contributions my companions make. Through this, people at home will be able to follow our journey and my companions will know they are an integral part. When we reach the place to which we aim, we will be able to draw a map and document the expedition. This will enable others to follow the journey, to learn about the experiences my companions and I have had, to see what we saw, and to be informed of what we found. I cannot wait to start.