Progress Report…

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I’m still struggling with the dissertation. There’s a whole ‘enthusiasm to actually do it’ thing; and trying desparately not to leave it, like the EU packs, to the last possible minute. So actually getting down and working is really me beating myself repeatedly over the head with the self-knowledge stick of “if you leave it you’ll still have to do it in the end”.

At least, this weekend, I’ve actually made some more progress – but I’m still battling against having chosen a topic in a field that very little research appears to have been done in. Although if you type in ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ or even ‘homosexual’ into the British Nursing Index or the Cumulative Index of Allied and Health Literature you’ll get lots of hits. Lots of them. Scrub out all those before 1995 and you’re suddenly into far fewer. And do you know what the majority of them are on? They’re on AIDS. They’re on AIDS and the medical system staggeringly failing to care for people.

But there’s very little there on the gay / lesbian patient experience. In fact, finding 8 primary research papers for a literature review that are less than 10 years old, in English, published, peer reviewed and centred on the patient experience has become something of a crusade. I’ve not succeeded yet. I’ve got 2 probables. I’m not sure if my search terms aren’t right, but even searching just by hand through upwards of 200 papers that have the word ‘lesbian’ in hasn’t yeilded results that I’ve missed.

I’ve looked up papers from other papers (I’ve forgotten the name for this, there is a technical term for it) – I’ve just searched on Google for things, I’ve used PubMed and asked for papers from the British Library – and I’ve got a huge stack of papers that turn out to be secondary (not always suprising, but I’ve been getting a bit desparate), paper’s who’s abstracts are subtly misleading. Well, by huge stack. I’ve got about 20.

I’m scared, frankly, that there aren’t going to be enough, that my dissertation is going to be a disaster because I won’t be able to find two more papers.

What has struck me is that my scan-reading of papers is not as effective at catching out the bad ones as I’d once thought. Although I know what to look for, if I scan papers sometimes I don’t notice the subtle missing things that indicate something’s wrong in my quick scan read.

Mostly it’s the sampling technique – if you’re trying to reach a difficult to reach population, and this certainly counts as that, then it’s understandable. But it does mean that some of this research has all the transferability of a RISC OS programme. It’s a big scary thing, the dissertation. I know I can fill 3,000 words easily, on this topic. Finding an argument is harder; because pretty much everything I’ve read has been depressingly similar; Gay and Lesbian individuals get a raw deal from health services.

It’s changing my practice; because there are things I’d not realised – which is only because I’m staggeringly dumb, heterosexual-assumption based questions instantly put the glbt individual at a huge disadvantage. They’ve got a mountain to climb; to come out against you making heterosexuality the default. I tend to say have you got a partner, anyway. But there are other questions which… I now feel more prepared for.

I have managed to work this weekend – as I said – I’ve actually worked my way through 2 papers – they’re all down into 2 pages of notes on what’s good and bad about them. I’ll be converting that into a table as soon as I tackle the last two. That’s 6… there’s one more ‘possible’ paper – which I might use anyway, which extends it from just nursing to midwifery as well, which’d give me 9; more than the recommended minimum 8.

I’m pondering, actually, referencing series 3 episode 6 of the L word; because it actually tackles one of the major issues with glbt healthcare, which I won’t go into (‘cos it’d be a spoiler); but yes. Anyway. That’s progress for you; 2 possible papers to order from the British Library and 2 more papers reviewed ready for me to start writing the actual review. This is goodness.


Kate's a human mostly built out of spite and overcoming transphobia-racism-and-other-bullshit. Although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, it's all good.