Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fighting for PhD progress...

This is getting a little familiar, but I'm talking (again) about my progress stalling in these early stages of my PhD process. Actually, I need to get set for the long haul, so I won't put it in those terms, but I have been ganged up and (badly) beaten by workload of the non study kind. So, it's meant a couple of weeks doing nearly nothing on my PhD to make way for writing two new modules for the new year and marking assignments. Just two weeks of non momentum is a killer. This is ironic, as I'd just submitted a rather extended formal proposal which really helped pull together my thinking. Included was a month by month timetable for the next four years!

 I'm now getting nearer the point when I develop a set of rather more detailed plans - for my literature review, for the ethical approval paperwork (briefing and consent material, and so on). I feel as if I'm entering into a new 'phase' of my PhD and (when I recover from work exhaustion) I'll be really excited.

I love how there's so much learning on so many levels - technical, methodological, organisationally (and so on), but especially philosophically. I think this occurs as I engage with the material on a reflexive basis - positioning myself and other perspectives in relation to what I read. I am learning to 'hold ideas' loosely so I can establish tentative relationships only to be refined and re shaped. 

Plans for Christmas are to recover, read (I'm reading "Making Identity Matter" by Robin Williams on advice of my supervisor, good but a little dense and self important in parts) and scribble plans for pulling together the literature review after a chat with the library information specialist. That and eat *far* too much chocolate.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

loving #phdchat

Ok, I'm tired out - and that's saying something for the master of being busy. I've just been taking part in the weekly #phdchat on twitter and it's been a revelation. Twitter, I've found, is an important part of my Phd process as it gives me my own research community of diverse individuals. Tonight we discussed doing a literature review and I've loved the suggestions, links, connections and - well, sense of genuine community. Of course 99% of my work is isolated, but that other 1% is much needed. The more I go on the more I realise I just need to be confident in ploughing my path, as no one is doing the exact same thing (he says hoping). 

 One of the functions of conversations on twitter is they give you an informal reference point. You get to check if your understandings stand up (they did, but then the group is kind) and you get to push out the boundaries of your understanding. Following a rapid online conversation helps get your mind into creative mode: you need to make multiple connections and follow multiple threads, so your brain is helped to that state. I'd like to think that will pay dividends over the next few days thinking wise. 

 Sorry about the short post. Work is very busy and I'm paddling hard to stay on top! Thanks for visiting: it's so encouraging.