I have just about nailed down a defense date. That means I have about two months to wrap all this up (or warp it, as I originally typed) into a coherent, cohesive, narrative worthy of a doctoral degree. It’s amazing to me to think it might actually be done one of these days.
Of course, in research, there’s always more you can analyze about your data, so in reality, I have to make some choices about what goes in the dissertation and what has to remain for later analysis. For example, I “threw in” some plain world images into the eye-tracking as potential controls just to see how people might look at a world map without any data on it. Not that there really is such a thing; technically any image has some sort of data on it, as it is always representing something, even this one:
Here, the continents are darker grey than the ocean, so it’s a representation of the Earth’s current land and ocean distinctions.
I also included two “blue marble” images that are essentially images of Earth as if seen from space, without clouds and all in daylight simultaneously, one with the typical northern hemisphere “north-up” orientation, the other “south-up” as the world is often portrayed in Australia, for one. However, I probably don’t have time to analyze all of that right now, at least not and complete the dissertation on schedule. The best dissertation is a done dissertation, not one that is perfect, or answers every single question! If it did, what would the rest of my career be for?
So a big part of the research process is making tradeoffs between how much data to collect so that you do get enough to anticipate any problems you might incur and want to examine about your data, but not so much that you lose sight of your original, specific research questions and get mired in analysis forever. Thinking about what does and doesn’t fit in the particular framework I’ve laid out for analysis, too, is part of this. That means making smart choices about how to sufficiently answer your questions with the data you have and address major potential problems but letting go and letting some questions remain unanswered. At least for the moment. That’s a major task in front of me right now, with both my interview data and my eye-tracking data. At least I’ve finished collecting data for the dissertation. I think.
Let the countdown to defense begin …