Monday, 4 January 2016

Exegesis: explaining what your project delivered

If you are completing a project for a client, what you are doing may not seem to fit a normal report structure. If that is the case, then taking an exegetical approach might help you make sense of the process.

The Oxford English dictionary defines an exegesis as an "expository discourse" (Exegesis Journal, 2013). An expository discourse is writing which "explains or describes a topic" and outlines a problem, the solution, provides supporting argument and some evaluation of the solutions provided - ie, your limitations and your future research sub-sections of your conclusions (LinguaLinks, 2004). 

An exegesis is an "academic text which accompanies a creative piece produced by a [...] researcher" (emphasis added; Krauth, 2011). Your 'creative piece' is whatever it is that you are putting together for your client: it might be a database, a contacts list, creating a communications strategy or developing a call-cycle policy and procedure. Your 'academic text' is your write up of the PROCESS you have taken to create that piece of work.

You do both of these things together as you undertake the work for the client: the project and the write up.

You detail the method, path, planning, decision-making, alternatives, options and choices that you have taken in creating the work for your client.

As you create your project, you are simultaneously writing up HOW you are managing your PROCESS. You record how you manage the project, what your process was for deciding what to do, how you made decisions, what alternatives you considered, what theory you  drew upon to help you to decide, how collaborative you were, what issues you found, and what you did about them.

You need to understand how all your choices work so that you are able to undertake the write up of what you worked through, the choices you made, and the consultation that took place through the course of your project.
  1. The literature review forms the "why" of what you undertook.

    It also explains the choices that were made, and is what you can revisit the next time you undertake this project or revisit it for the client. It is the theory that can be switched out, changed or revisited. It should also draw on decision-making theory, planning theory, scheduling, project management, communication theory, control, measurement and monitoring theory, process theory, policy or procedural theory, quality management or HR theory. It will be up to you to find things to draw on to populate your literature review.

    In addition, you will need to scope out the company background, the industry sector, the location, nation and international environment for that, and related industries, and the backgrounds of any relevant major players in the sector. This is all secondary research, so belongs in your literature review.

  2. The methodology is written up on HOW you went about deciding what on your choices. You have the list of choices in your literature review, but how did you choose what you chose? How did you know when you had done 'enough'? Includes detailing all your limitations and assumptions for the project, as normal. You will more than likely include some theory in here on how you determined your method, which may or may not appear in your literature review (it might be enough to just mention this theory in your methodology).

  3. Then your findings are the detail of what you created and what you discovered for yourself while creating. You might include exploring your meeting minutes with your client, your expectation of times, scheduling, barriers within the organisation. Remember: primary data. Original data that you collect yourself.

  4. The discussion may well be fairly short, as you match your literature review theory to your findings, and talk about what is not yet done, and what the next steps need to be... whether you have met those targets that you set out to achieve.

  5. The conclusions are just wrapping your discussion up, summarising, not leaving any loose ends, and providing any project limitations (NB: only substantive MAJOR issues: your methodology will contain the fiddly little details) and future research is simply summary info from your discussion for those future staff who pick this project up and run with it after you do your final handover and report.

An exegesis is a useful way to record the thought-process and the choices you make.



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