The time has come to conclude my thesis, my labour of love for so much of this past year. Fittingly, finishing this task will also serve as the conclusion of my honours year – sending in the work for printing and leaving it in the hands of the big man! A lot of talk has circulated in the Honours lab recently about making that switch from writer to reader, and edit accordingly.. It seems as though it is one of the main distinctions between a good researcher and a great researcher. I just wish I could handle it better..
I’m feeling some pretty extreme angst at the moment, now only a fraction more than a week away from submission. I have been throwing everything I have got at the process of editing my thesis down to size, even attempting to shift large quantities of contextualising information to an appendix.. but I still have a lengthy monster on my hands.. worse yet, it is one without a conclusion.
Writing about the contemporary music scene, and the position of concept albums within it, has been comparatively more simple than writing about the 1970s and 1980s eras (Jethro Tull and Queensrÿche). This is because I operate within the current scene as a progressive rock musician and have engaged closely with the trends effecting it for quite a few years now, particularly since starting university four years ago. Consequently, I have had a harder time editing out words in my 1990s and 2000s case studies (Radiohead and Coheed and Cambria), but I realise that a lot of the material there can perhaps be shelved for future writing endeavours.
I do, however, read back over my case studies of these earlier eras and realise just how much I have learned from exploring the technological states of the music industry in those decades and the social/political/cultural affairs that these bands sought to address in their concept albums.
Now that it has come to the point at which my focus needs to switch to the writing of my conclusion and the editing of my bibliography, I feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of material that still needs to be axed from the body of my work. I am realising that there are so many thoughts, ideas and key concepts that need to be tied off and succinctly addressed in the conclusion in order to make my desired claims convincing, and deliver a fitting finale for the year of research.
This afternoon, I had a “click moment” that perhaps explains why this task seems so daunting – it’s the sheer scale of the work.. As a 21 year old student straight out of my Bachelor Degree and into the demanding world of Honours, the reality is that I have never dealt with such a large piece of work before – and it is natural that I should find it harder to control the amount of research material that I have compiled. Before I commenced Honours, the longest academic essay I had ever written was 5000 words. Of course the task of piecing together 12-15000 well-developed, well-referenced, thoughtful and academically correct words was not going to be easy!
While at the start of the year I genuinely feared that I might not be able to compile enough words to fulfil the submission guidelines.. the amount of research I have undertaken to prevent such a fear from becoming a reality has left me with an entirely different problem – having too much material to cohesively and concisely address in my Honours Thesis! With one and a half weeks left to go to complete my editing and appropriately format my bibliography, the simple solution is to throw EVERYTHING I have left to give at this. I want to finish the year and be able to say that I was the best researcher that I could possibly be.