The musings of an Aboriginal researcher: Disrupting the thesis template

Year: 2018

Author: Hogarth, Melitta

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The thesis template is the guiding document for higher degree researchers to assist their transition into research.  But what happens when the template does not mirror your ways of knowing, being and doing?  How do we speak back to an institutionalised structure that advocates support and yet, feels like a boa constrictor squeezing you into conformity?  If I was to embark on and isolate myself for such an extended length of time, it needed to be a reflection of me.  I have never seen myself as an activist.  I like to sit back and observe my surroundings and ascertain the landscape before inserting myself.  In my PhD, I introduced each chapter with a  narrative using the metaphor, ‘Research is an ocean’. In this presentation, I share a selection of those entries to illustrate the struggles with the chasms of identity and dominant social norms and how I navigated the undulating mountains and valleys of policy discourse on the land prior to entering my boat.  I provide insight to the waves of achievement and the troughs of isolation as a PhD candidate.  Articulation of the ethical rogue waves that saw my data disappear below the waves is presented.  This paper aims to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HDR students to further take up the challenge to disrupt the thesis and to challenge the institutional structures so that the thesis template can start reflecting our voices rather than making us fit the box.