Although I talk about my academic work on this blog I wouldn’t categorise this as a research blog and because I talk about my personal life in quite a lot of detail I am not necessarily keen for people searching for me on a professional level to find this before they get to know me – Although a detailed search for some of the topics of my research will probably bring you here eventually.
[I am also not necessarily hugely keen for the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis and my in-laws/family to be find this easily]
However, as the modern digital world becomes more a part of my(possible) professional life it becomes increasingly clear that I should build myself a website/blog to showcase myself on an academic level. I need my name to be visible and associated with my work and I need to enthuse other people on my subject if I want to have even the vaguest of hopes of landing a job.
Also I really really need to publish something!
Which is why not only am I going to email people with the notes for my conference paper but as soon as my thesis page refs are done and my next paper is outlined I am going to turn it into a real journal article. I am also going to start writing a book proposal for my thesis.
So.. I had a Viva and I didn’t die.
To be entirely honest whilst it wasn’t my dream best-case scenario it was my realistic best hope – I passed with minor corrections. [Dream best case? Immediate pass & simultaneous publication/fellowship offer hahaha]
However, at this stage I am trying to get my head round what that really means.
I have a list of typos, grammatical quirks and stylistic points to correct. Its not a short list (this isn’t a surprise) but some of its features are unexpected – for example my practice of giving a full reference in the footnote the first time I used a work and author-date-page thereafter was dismissed as not obvious and messy so I will be changing it to author-date-page throughout.
What is harder to get my head round are the general comments on things they would liked more/less of vs. the comments about what would need doing before publication was a sensible option. I am trying to work out how to include the information that my examiners deem important without pushing the word count into ridiculosity.
Naturally, given the multi-disciplinary nature of the thesis, they do not entirely agree on which areas should be given precedence/offer sufficient information and the weird synthesis of being too obvious/not obvious enough is brutally clear to me. Despite some vague why haven’t you talked about this/ clarified that etc comments there is a lot of really detailed feedback which I am really grateful for – goodness only knows I’d do it differently next time!
Anyway, I don’t have my formal report yet and nor do I have a clear idea of what my satisfying these comments and resubmitting/getting approved will look like.
This is definitely a portion of the PhD process I don’t know how to approach.
Anyone else have this problem?
Just living that moment where you look at the examiner’s report and it suggests organising the material in a way you rejected at your supervisor’s suggestion 18months ago.
Edited to clarify – the way my examiner suggested was the way my thesis had been structured *mumble mumble* years ago but was eventually fully re-assembled to fit some suggestions from supervisors.Chronological vs. thematic? A matter of taste?
I am not facing the impending interview with the zen-like calm I would like.
I am, it would be fair to say, lurching between being as sensible as I can in order to maintain accept the possible outcomes and to stop rampant speculation about what happens next and moments of abject terror characterised by mind-numbing panic attacks that don’t even seem to involve thoughts about the viva at all.
I am not prepared. I haven’t finished re-reading the beast. I don’t feel up-to-date on new scholarship and I haven’t even decided what to wear (yes its ridiculously small but weirdly important to my self-esteem – I swear knee-high boots got me through Uni interviews at 17).
Ah well. What could possibly go wrong?
Its not like I’ve spent the last ten years of academic life building up to these moments or anything. Its not like I have no concept of how to face failure gracefully or what to do with success. right?hahaha….
So a little under 2 months after submission I have a date for my viva – Valentine’s Day.
At the moment it feels nothing but terrifying. As B reminded me -it is a combination of the sense of my own inadequacy and a fear of the unknown. So my plan is to spend a bit of time re-reading the thesis, looking for the bits I am actually pleased with and reminding myself what my key new points are.
In entirely different news, I have a new project. I am starting volunteering at the museum I worked at between my undergraduate and masters degrees and am going to start by designing a display on a topic I currently know very little about. This is quite exciting.
A lot of things have happened since I last really sat down and wrote an update.. Not least of course finishing my footnotes, binding and submitting my thesis.
But in addition I took a much needed break with B which involved the luxury of a hot-tub, realised that the festive madness had very much snuck up on me and I started some more serious contemplation of the future.
At the moment this forward-looking has 2 phases – firstly the adaption of my thesis for publication and secondly looking into the purchase of a pub.
With regard to publication – although ultimately I feel that it would make a good monograph I want some more guidance on suitable publishers and of course it seems pointless to move too far down that line whilst waiting for my examiners’ comments. On the other hand I want to improve my publication profile so journal articles are an absolute requirement. At this stage my plan is to rewrite some of the conclusions/key ideas into papers for each of the 2 disciplines that I was working with. Cornish Studies is easy enough to plan an article for and pick a journal but Classics… not so much; since it was the discipline I did my initial studies in I am more nervous of getting it wrong and it it is tricky to find the right journal for the topic.
With regard to the pub – well thats a more complex beasty all round.
I have now been a barmaid for nearly a decade (Gods save us all) and a pub has come in the local area. Its not a particularly successful pub but I believe it could be and I think I could make it work. Trouble is: a) money [I’d need to borrow a fair bit] b) the in-laws [tee-total and inclined to make W a little nervous] and c) time [I worry that I wouldn’t be fairly considering W & B if I made this move]. However, just as boldly as I move into the realms of academic publish I must also look for a real job and so I am drawing up a business plan even as I type.
Wish me luck
I can almost see the end.. and yet its not quite there.
I could scream.
I think I have the number of footnotes I need to sort don to single figures… I think I am at the stage of very seriously sorting my internal page refs… I think I could consider having this bound next week…
But I am waiting on refs from small independent libraries for obscure archival holdings, I trust my own ability to footnote and cross reference like I trust a salmon to swim across the sahara and I don’t know if I have the guts to let it go.
Dear Baby PhD Students,
Learn from my mistakes: No matter how tempting it is to just write down the book or authors, no matter how rigorous you are about creating your bibliography or putting references in EndNote (or whatever equivalent system you have) – Do Not forget to put page nos. with any specific ideas.
I am currently checking pages for literally hundreds of references. Now don’t get me wrong I was (I thought) meticulous in my note-taking and most of my key texts are easy to find and neatly organised but all of those little assertions I threw in to flesh the argument out with ideas from years of research – aaargh!!
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.