As this study will be a dissertation, I will want to orient the case study audience to an academic audience, and particularly to my committee members who will be approving the study. I don’t mean to offer that cheaply or superficially, but rather to share that I want this work to stand as a piece of academic research that may be useful to future scholarly practitioners and that also accomplishes my aim of graduating by meeting the rigorous requirements for doctoral study.
But in a larger sense, I want to orient this case to meet the needs of my team and my organization, which will use the insights and outcomes of my research to direct their future actions. After all, this is an action research study! In this way, I want to write coherently and clearly, and I want to make the outcomes and directions for future (action) research accessible to my team.
As this is a dissertation, I am likely to default to a linear-analytic reporting structure. I often have fantasies of writing a different kind of dissertation, or perhaps of using a different format, but in this case I think the linear-analytic approach makes the most sense. That’s because I do need to layout the chapters in a way that establishes the need for the study, articulates the problem of practice and research questions, and then proceeds to share the theory and research that lead to the research design and subsequent findings. In this way, the linear-analytic approach seems to make the most sense.
I could see using the results of the dissertation to use a theory building approach for subsequent writings on the topic of educational leadership and/or imagination in educational leadership, but I’m not sure that the other approaches would make much sense. Likewise, the theory-building approach seems like it might only make sense once the linear-analytic work has been done.
In order to make a powerful, exemplary report, I recognize that the elements that Yin (2018) describes will be essential. First, I absolutely need to articulate and demonstrate the significance of the study — not necessarily in terms of the data itself, but in terms of the significance of the issue. I believe that I can accomplish this, particularly in the narrative power that I offer in Chapters 1 and 5. Second, I definitely want to author a complete study, which is to say one that clearly bounds the case and exhaustively collects, documents, and analyzes the evidence. Furthermore, I will definitely need to report alternative perspectives and/or hypotheses.
Finally, I will need to write the hell out the dissertation! I know that so many of the pieces that I worry about, and have worried about throughout this process, have been technical. And I suppose that makes sense, as I am still learning to be an action researcher and scholarly practitioner. But I believe that I am a capable writer, and I believe that I can articulate my thoughts and insights in a compelling fashion. For whatever else the study may be, I will absolutely have to make it compelling. I think I’ll be up to the task, but like all the rest of this, it’s going to be a grind!