I’ve reached that stage in my PhD programme where I have to start ‘formalising’ my research proposal. I need to iterate a few drafts over the next few weeks with a view to submitting it for formal assessment towards the end of July. In the same time period, I do my first proper draft of an ethics application. That isn’t the ‘end point’, it can be refined or even changed after that – but it is a goal to be reached and a goal to make the most of.
But there lies a problem. As I read – both the ‘content’ literature and the methodological literature – I can easily talk to myself about what I want to do and why, but when I get faced with the structure (template) for a research proposal, it just won’t come out, I can’t construct all those ideas into a coherent sounding explanation. So I wondered whether writing it in my own words first of all would help – hence this blog. Some researchers refer to this sort of thing as first person memos – so given it has a name, it must be an appropriate way of moving forward! I have no idea as I start whether it is going to be one long blog or the first of a series focussing on different parts of a research proposal but here we go anyway….
I’ve made myself a list of all the theories, concepts and key players that seem to appear in literature about the policy process. The idea is that I use this braindump as a springboard to structure my reading a little more. Kingdon and his multiple streams approach was the first one on the list. You see it in lots of places.
So I’ve read relevant sections of Hill’s book (2013) and Cairney’s book (2012) and a few other bits and pieces. As Paul Cairney has written a great blog summarising all the key elements and concepts in Kingdon’s work I am not going to repeat all that here.
Instead I want to reflect on a few things.
This was written yesterday…just didn’t get round to publishing it…so for ‘today’, read ‘yesterday’!
Today, I started what I hope will be a longer inquiry into theories of the policy process. I’ve been telling myself for a long time that I need to ‘get to grips’ with it. As mentioned in my last post, I’ve kind of got this general overview of the landscape and know names of some theories and bits of associated jargon, but I do need to develop my understanding (and confidence in that understanding) more if I’m going to do research in my interest area of ‘healthy public policy’. So, instead of just staring at a pile of books and thinking “I need to read them”, I’ve written myself a topic list to guide my learning. Just hope I can keep the motivation going alongside the ‘real’ studying of my PhD module.
Today, I read the Introduction (well most of it, I was using the Amazon Look Inside!) and penultimate chapter (available as a pdf on Paul Cairney’s blog) of Sabatier and Weible (Editors) Theories of the Policy Process (third edition, 2014).
I’m not going to reiterate the content, just note a couple of insights…