Messy method: the secrets of the doctorate

THE SECRETS OF THE DOCTORATE : An introduction to messy method as a means of creating knowledge: A primer for researchers.

(This is in the attachment "secrets of the doctorate2015 version" below.)


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My technical skills are very limited but we have fixed all but one of the problems we found up to November 2010, however if any others crop up, please let me know.

Printing may be very slow - but it is much nicer in colour!

Secretsofthedoctorate (2015 version)


The three pages of Faraday's diary mentioned in the book (p.49,50,51) taken from the 1932 edition, are also attached below.



  • Tina Cook (from Northumbria University) worked from the earliest stages on developing the notion of messy method and her excellent thesis (a PhD by published work) is included as two attachments to this webpage. This describes her thinking behind a number of articles published between 1998 and 2006. You will need to access the articles yourself, they are not posted on this website.

  • Aisha Walker's creative thesis (in an attachment below) also explores many aspects of messy method: Walker, S.A. (2003) The Contribution of Computer-Mediated Communication in Developing Argument Skills and Writing-Related Self-Esteem. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

  • Máirín Glenn’s (2006) thesis draws on several aspects of the article “Notes from a method”. See: “Working with collaborative projects: my living theory of a holistic educational practice” PhD thesis, University of Limerick , September 2006 This is available on

  • Ruth Deery’s (2003) thesis draws on the “notes from a method" 1998 article and my 1999 PhD thesis and Cook (1998) See: “Engaging with clinical supervision in a community midwifery setting: an action research study” PhD thesis, University of Sheffield. This is available on (copy and paste this address, it will not link for some odd reason )


To add further to the strength / validity of the "messy method" approach:

Researchers may like to see where other colleagues have used the messy method ideas or simply cited an article (or a thesis). A simple way to do this is to search, for example, for articles by myself or Tina Cook through GOOGLE scholar. Then look at "cited by" (or some such option) which usually appears below the article's listing By 2016 over 200 citations had been noted.