Best-laid plans

Well, I’d hoped to have my Masters dissertation in draft by now, but as the post title suggests things haven’t quite gone that way…

I had a meeting with my supervisor last week, the upshot of which was that I needed to rethink my plans, as I was getting bogged down in detail, and letting my argument be shaped by my sources rather than vice versa. He also wanted me to bring in some wider sources, placing my narrative in a wider context. The dissertation is now split into four chapters:

  • an introduction giving an overview of the founding of the RAE (or RAF as then was) up until the end of the First World War
  • background to the interwar period – RAF strategy, the aeronautical industry, Air Ministry and R&D organisation, and key social networks
  • Engine development c. 1918-1932
  • Engine development and rearmament, with the rise of the jet engine

All this is with reference to the way that government supported engine development, directly and indirectly, and the role that the RAE played in this.

I have the first two chapters pretty much done, but I need to do more on the final two. My primary source base is a little weak, as many of the documents relating to the RAE have been destroyed or are not catalogued, and there isn’t a huge amount of material in the National Archives. Still, when needs must…

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3 Responses to “Best-laid plans”

  1. Erik Lund Says:

    This is a cool beans project, long overdue. Now if someone could only cover the Army and Navy shops…
    And I remember the ever-extending MA. University housing waiting to turf you out, advisor rolling his eyes, so I’ll caution that you shouldn’t letdon’t let yourself be rushed into something.
    Except that it is far too late.

  2. Jakob Says:

    Heh. As ever with this kind of thing, it feels like the submitted piece of work will have barely scratched the surface, as I haven’t had the time to go trawling through the National Archives for engine stuff. I will console myself with the thought that I can always come back to it down the line, especially as the PhD should mean doing deeper research on the 1930s at least.

  3. Ross Says:

    I agree with Erik don’t be pushed around. A good supervisor is there to guide you through your dissertation/thesis. However, the changes he has suggested seem sound and provide the neccessary context to your research. I would suggest that you ensure that the final two chapters provide the bulk of your word count. They are the important bits.

    Also do not worry about the issue surrounding sources. If they are not there state it in your introduction. Then you making your examiner aware of the problems inherent in the subject area. If this were a research only degree I would be worried but I assume this is the dissertation element to a taught MSc? Also time is alway a limitation. As I say any limitations you can think off i.e. avenues not explored, just tell them that.

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