I am realizing that almost all of the work I have done on the last two years of attempting to write up this dissertation has been literature reviews to discuss the findings. I did not write the research proposal for this study. I started collecting data the day I started my PhD. I have been playing catch up ever since.
Most of the problem is with me. Although I had just completed my masters degree, I was unprepared for the level of scholarship that I was going to need to conduct this study, and eventually write it up. In particular, I did not understand the relationship between theory, method, findings and discussion. I tended to work retroactively because that was what my experience was. I was experiencing data collection and trying to make sense of what I was observing. I was developing theories to understand the methods we were using and the data we were collecting.
But, to write up my chapter 1 of the dissertation, I must write up what was proposed, not what was found. And so I went back to the original grant proposal and started working my way through it, sentence by sentence. It has been an instructive process, in that I have been grounding my own understanding in the study, and how the proposal set the conditions for the experiences I was having. My work on all these literature reviews and writing has not been for nought. I can now understand the original grant proposal at a level that I was unable to grasp when we started.
That leaves me where I am now. No funding, tuition to pay, and yet another attempt at this chapter 1. I am feeling better, though, I am not trying to invent my own proposal in hindsight of the experiences I have had.
Yesterday I had a feeling that my notes were getting too cluttered and unwieldy. I started again, to set up a system for writing my way through the proposal, and continuing to drop all my thoughts and data from the findings into the last chapter instead of writing them into chapter 1, 2 or 3.