Prospectus, a (sort of) outline

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
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For the last few days, I’ve been approaching the prospectus in the “Throw it all, see what sticks” format. No attention really paid to structure beyond a few basic signposts, I’ve just been trying to get the ideas down on (electronic) paper. Thankfully, I’ve been collecting sources and doing little outlines for quite some time now. I’m already up to 52 sources, and still feel like I’m just getting started.

Anyway, I don’t know if the way I’m heading is the right way. There’s another way to do this. Actually, there are a lot of different ways, but for me, usually one of these two is the best one to use. So if not the scattershot format I’ve been doing, what do I do? An outline. First basic, then fleshed out, then more fleshed out, and eventually into a paper of significant length. So let’s start with the outline.

I. Introduction

II. Preliminary Theory

III. Research Questions

IV. Methodology

V. Design of Study (with ethical concerns and rationale)

VI. Proposed chapters

VII. Literature Review/Theory

VIII. Conclusion

IX. Bibliography


As a start, that’s not so bad. Let’s fill it in a bit at a time. Start with research questions. Here are the potential questions I’ve come up with so far:

  1. What qualifies as nonverbal communication in a textual space?
  2. Is there a difference in the nonverbal communication of men and women in an internet environment?
  3. Is there a difference in the nonverbal communication of the transgendered (as opposed to not transgendered) in an internet environment?
  4. Is there a difference in the nonverbal communication of FTM and MTF in an internet environment?
  5. Assuming the heteronormative binary is a bad thing, what is the solution? Is it better to have the ‘spectrum’ approach, the ‘galaxy’ approach, or something else?
  6. What does multivalued logic tell us about sexuality? (If gender isn’t just M or F, but is M, F, X, or N, what does that mean?)

Now, I’m not sure the first three still apply. While nonverbal communication is important, I’m more concerned with Identity. So let’s start there:

  1. What is identity online?
  2. How is identity established and maintained online?
  3. What part does gender play in online identity?
  4. What explorations of gender can be performed online but not (easily) in the real world?
  5. Assuming the Heteronormative Binary is a bad thing, what is the proper way to look at gender?
  6. How does this conception of gender change the way we look at sexuality? (logic of sex)
  7. Does identity online follow the patterns that research suggests it would?

Looking at those questions, I feel like I could write a very extensive paper for each one; which is good. I mean, that’s sort of the point, right?

What I don’t know is how many chapters to expect. I suppose it matters how long a chapter is. I mean, if a chapter is 10 pages, then I probably want 20-30. If a chapter is 50 pages, then 4 or 5 might be enough. And I know that this is largely up to me. So I think I’m going to say that chapters are 20 pages. Here’s my rationale:

10 pages is too short. 15 is about the limit of what I can throw together in a single day, but usually if I go back over one of those papers, I can find places to expand. When assigned to write 20-25 pages, I never had trouble hitting the minimum, but did sometimes have difficulty going past that. So 20 pages is about what I can comfortably maintain on the same topic. This is an average, not a hard design limit: I imagine the introduction and conclusion will be shorter (10-15 pages each), while the lit review might end up as many as 30 or 40 pages. But given that average, here are the chapters I think I want:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Logic and Identity
  4. Gender and Sexuality
  5. Online and computer mediated communication
  6. Online identity establishment and authentication
  7. Gender examination online
  8. The end of the Heteronormative Binary
  9. Problems of online gender examination
  10. Multiple identities: the only X and Y principle
  11. Study of a website of online gender identity exploration (specifically, a transgender community)
  12. Results of the study, theoretical implications
  13. Directions for the future
  14. Conclusion

At an average of 20 pages, that would put me at 280; possibly more than I need. But that’s okay; I’d rather have too much and have to cut than not enough.

I think that’s a pretty good amount of work for today.


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