PhD Idea Mapping

I currently am putting together a research proposal and cannot get this idea out of my mind, mapping it out I am hoping will focus my thinking and help decide what my proposed study might look like. Both proposals include sexuality and gender as the main focus (more below).


I currently have to two research study proposals on my computer and although they share certain features they differ in key ways. I have proposals for both being developed and maybe I can continue with my studies and eventually do both. At this point I am applying for my PhD and theses are my two ideas (with one being put to one side until my post doc work if I get through the PhD).


Idea one

My first idea is to explore ethnographically LGBTQ+ communities in Second Life and virtual reality environments. Observing and participating the everyday experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in virtual environments to understand how kinship, identity and community form.

Idea two

This idea again focuses on sexuality and gender but from a therapist training perspective, this idea began back in my BA (Hons) where I conducted a systematic literature review to identify the ways that therapists are or not prepared for working with LGBTQ+ clients in their practice. This was a few years ago now and part of this study will be to explore the current state of affairs and what therapists are encountering now.


The second part of the study will be to provide a training experience in a virtual environment and use a grounded theory and ethnographic methodology to explore that experience with a range of therapists, trainers and supervisors. As part of my MA (Masters in education in virtual worlds) I built a learning experience that I would use as part of the research.

The use of technology in this proposal requires the use of software which I have decided to use Open source projects and no paid for services. I will be using a content management system (CMS) called Joomla, a virtual world simulator software called Opensimulator than connects with a component called Jopensim (a grid admin component that integrates with Opensimulator). I will also be using a LMS (Learner Management System) called Moodle and a connector to Joomla called Joomdle.


These have been installed on a VPS for a working proof of concept if the stud goes ahead this will be installed on to a dedicated server for the duration of the data collection process. For data storage I will be using a software called Nextcloud and if surveys and questionnaires are used I have installed a software called Limesurvey.


As you can tell the second idea is more detailed and that is because it is the one that I am working on at the moment and the details are fresher in my mind. My thoughts are to develop the second project as it is more grounded in my previous studies and should contribute to the sexuality and gender in therapy practice, training and development literature and the use of  technology in the training of therapists post training.


I will be adding more reflective posts about my PhD process and journey on this blog under the category of PhD Series. You can also subscribe to this blog to get updates as I post more. The currently installed software can be seen here (

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