As part of your RhD studies, you should maintain a diary of your experiences as a student and how your understanding of research, your research topics, and other factors change over the course of your degree. This can be published as research in the form of a Self Study.
Self Study Research combines action research, narrative inquiry, and autoethnography.
Self-study of practice is a methodology that helps practitioners unpack and more deeply understand the complexities and problematic nature of professional practice, particularly in research, teaching and teacher education. Like autoethnography there is a focus on self, and like action research there is a focus on practice. However, self-study requires that practitioner researchers examine practice in a way that privileges the self, and considers how one’s identities shape the practices we engage in.
You will be the subject of your own research, and the focus is on describing how you go about learning to become a researcher. You will face many challenging concepts to learn during your studies, and the process you take to learning about these concepts, identifying and articulating the difficulties you have, and describing your successes and failures, is what you can research in a self study. Self Study has developed from previous methodologies of practitioner inquiry, teacher inquiry, reflective practice, and action research, but differs with its emphasis on you as the researcher studying your role within, and not outside, the practice. Equally important as conducting a personal situated inquiry, self-study research also requires that your study is informed by the literature and is open for critical and collaborative reflection and validation. As such, your Self Study can be published in a research journal as part of your publications during your RhD journey.
A few tips to improve your Self Study writing:
The autobiographical nature of your writing should ring true to readers, being relatable to their own experiences;
Your writing should promote insight and interpretation of the key process you have been through, it is not a diary, but a story of your journey, highlighting the nodal moments of significance;
You must be honest and forthright, detailing the good and bad experiences, successes and failures, prejudices and biases;
Your story is about your struggle to become a researcher;
Your story should help others in their own journeys, not as a map, but a guide on how to approach their own travels;
Powerful stories should show your development through dramatic action, what is at stake, what is achieved; and
Situate your story, describing your setting, situation, and actions. It is not just about you, but also the context of your narrative.
The fundamental aspect of self study is that you are exploring your own personal learning journey, but within the academic framework of existing research on personal academic journeys, i.e. you need to refer to and reference the journeys of others and compare and contrast these with your own.
Your self study is on your learning of two interrelated topics: Your personal experiences with your research topic and how you have learnt to study this topic; and your personal experiences with learning, including your ontology, epistemology, and and methodology, in relation to your research.
A realist ontological perspective is described in "Ontology of Learning Environments" as the author explores the changing nature of teaching and learning spaces
Samaras, A. P. (2011). Overview of the self-study research process: what and how. In Self-study teacher research: Improving your practice through collaborative inquiry (pp. 23-48). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452230481.n2 https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/34621_Chapter2.pdf
Garbett, D., & Ovens, A. (Eds.). (2016). Enacting self-study as methodology for professional inquiry. Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP). https://www.academia.edu/28729841/Enacting_self_study_as_methodology_for_professional_inquiry?email_work_card=view-paper