Thesis writing and the research process, a student’s perspective.

As I am sure most of the six graduate programs accredited by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), Columbia College Chicago requires all of its dance/movement therapy students to conduct research and write a master’s thesis.  As a third year student, this is what I have now transitioned into working on.  No longer am I attending class regularly, in fact I have completed all of my coursework, but instead I am now working on my thesis project.

The thesis road has been a long road to say the least, and it’s currently a road I am still traveling on.  From the beginning of the DMT & C program they geared us students up for the thesis project, probably speaking about in the first few weeks of the program.  This was of course both informative and terrifying- mostly terrifying.  The second year of the program, however, is when the work really begins.  As a student, I had to decide early on what it was I wanted my thesis to be about.

When contemplating this, I began to become insanely jealous of other master students whose thesis projects manifested as art installations.  Why did I, a dance/movement therapy student, have to write an eighty or so page paper in boring APA style?   Was this some form of torture the department had for us?  Thus, this became part of my inspiration for my topic choice: performance as therapy.  Choosing to examine performance as therapy was a way for me to stay connected to my dancer self, my artist self, by engaging in some sort of performance and/or creative process.

Topic chosen.  First attempt at a literature review completed.  Internal Review Board (IRB) proposal drafted.  IRB meeting attended (full of sweat).  Clearance from research site granted (which happened to be my internship site).  Data collected.

That there is a condensed timeline which brings us to now- the analysis and drafting component of the thesis project, which I am finding is leading me to a bit of a road block.  A few weeks back was the first time I sat down and began to actually write my thesis, starting with chapter one respectively.  I jested to myself that doves should have flown through the windows, angels should have started singing that I had finally sat down to start writing.

Of course that didn’t happen.

Where I am currently finding trouble can be traced back to two sources.  One being the lack of structure from any outside institution or time constraints.  Of course I’d like my thesis to be done sooner rather than later, but I have been finding it has been a lot easier choosing other things to do other than write my thesis.  Take shopping for example.  Secondly, I have chosen Artistic Inquiry as the my research framework, which has often confronted my left-brain way of thinking.  I’ve been having trouble analyzing my data with these theoretical glasses on, so to speak, and am wondering where the numbers and percentages are at?

Today, however, I sat down and really began to write, not just brain mush either.  I pulled out my thesis manual and began by simply answering the questions outlined by Chapter One’s guidelines, it made most sense to me to start at the beginning.  That’s not to discredit the brain mush I had written down previously, I think I ultimately needed it to be able to write what I did today.  I also don’t want to discredit any circular or out of sequence processing, because anyone familiar with the research process knows it certainly is not linear.   I just have to keep reminding myself that the research process, my research process anyway, is always changing and reforming itself.  One day it’s brain mush, the next day it’s concrete writing.

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About emilyadannunzio

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist. Movement Analyst (GL-CMA). Researcher. Dancer. Bartender. Detroit, MI.
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