On Beginnings & Endings

As my thesis suffers in its death throes I am drawn back to thinking about its conception, gestation and birth.

I don’t remember the moment the idea of my topic came to me. Somewhere near the very beginning of my Masters dissertation I knew that an MA would never do the ideas justice. I don’t remember choosing the topic of that dissertation or even writing it (what can I say I was working a 40+ hr week and not really rocking the sanity).
But I knew.. I knew it was a PhD and I knew I was the only person to write it.

What I didn’t know was whether I could get a PhD, whether I was good enough. I got a 2.i in my BA, failed to get funding for my MA (hence the full-time job). I didn’t apply for a PhD until after I got the results of my masters, I only applied to one university and I didn’t applying for funding.
It was take the hard route or don’t do it all. In the absence of guidance from my previous department, I knew of no funding opportunities except AHRC or my proposed university. I didn’t have the confidence (or in my mind the grades) for the AHRC and most funding support appeared to be tied to departmental teaching, something I had no experience of and knew I couldn’t commit to because I wanted to stay living with W.

It was surprisingly easy.
I sent an email with a general overview of my research proposal to my potential supervisors; one of whom offered me a few suggestions. I filled in the application form and three months later I was accepted. No grilling, no debate.
I went down met my primary supervisor ran a chapter plan passed him and then fell of the face of the world for a few years..
Methodology classes were attended, Research was done and writing begun, I even jumped through the annual monitoring review hoops and passed my upgrade requirements but I mostly I pootled into the world of my own devising. I haven’t even really changed my research topic – though it is of course more tightly defined and didn’t extend to some of the areas I had originally wanted to explore.

Now, post-interruption and with 2 different supervisors to those I started with, 5 years later the beast is nearly complete and I look back and wonder whether I was lucky that the initial process was so straightforward or whether I would have been more ambitious if I had fought for it. Mostly this has been quite an expensive way of reading a lot of books and journals in order to write my own. Though I am aware that my tone and style has tightened through the years and that my supervisors have pushed me to become better at summarising and putting myself forward I have no clear notion of ways that I am a better scholar or researcher…

Only time will tell what the legacy is.

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