Wow, it’s December which means everything will just slow down in this last week of term. *Hollow laughter* Actually if anything this looks like being my busiest work week yet, as I’ve a crunch meeting with my supervisors this Thursday (I think, still waiting on a confirmation) to go through my project approval document. Which means today and tomorrow are set aside to little else except work on this and read up more on research methodology and theory. Beyond the meeting I expect to probably have to rewrite a fair bit of the proposal (not sure if that’s self doubt or just a realistic expectation , which will take me through the next week. Beyond that I want to catch up on my reading as I’ve a stack of papers I’ve just not had time to read yet.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’d best get on.
(Later) Hit a bit of a low point this evening, nothing a good night’s sleep won’t cure. Feeling a bit creatively burned out, so hope no one’s expecting any Christmas cheer from me any time soon!
As per yesterday, editing, writing, rewriting – with a plan to send off the draft to my supervisors by the end of the day. As I’m in classes all day tomorrow there’s not really going to be much of a chance to do any more work on it in advance of Thursday; and I want to make sure they get a chance to at least read through it a bit beforehand.
Horrid, wet and cold outside. Which is fine by me as I’m not going anywhere except between the dining table and the computer room today. Finished off the day by sending off my draft proposal to my supervisors, and submitting my first (all be it unassessed, uncredit bearing) bit of coursework. All 150 words of it – a reflection on philosophy.
Another full on campus day, and a very icy start which saw me skid on the drive in (low speed, all is fine) and pass another car that had gone into a ditch only a few minutes beforehand. Didn’t relish the drive home after that! Attended a plagiarism and third party copyright training session in the morning. While I’m fairly clear on both (since I used to teach the latter at Leicester), it was useful to bone up on Turnitin from the student’s perspective. I think it’s interesting as a tool, not so much for spotting plagiarism for me but for spotting where I’ve forgotten to attribute something in my work. However, since I only get three goes at it each year I won’t be playing about with it too soon I suspect. Was fun to talk about copyright issues in theses though, and nice to be reminded I know something. Some days it feels like there’s so much to learn and so little I know – so a tiny boost to the ego every now and again is always appreciated.
After lunch (hah! I spent it in the library printing things rather than eating) it was RPC time, the last session of the year. First up, despite what myself and some of the other students were expecting we didn’t have a session to review our aims. Instead we had a very useful session going through the paperwork and procedures around the project approval and transfer to PhD points in our studies. Considering I’d been working on the former for the past few days this couldn’t have been better timed. The head of the Graduate School gave it, and I was once more in awe watching a master of the spoken and pedagogical arts in flow. It takes a lot for a speaker to impress me, but consider me impressed. Although I think on some levels it put the fear of Grud into me again about some of the aspects. I’m sure it’ll all be fine and doable, but at times it felt more stick than carrot. This was followed by a session on Derrida and deconstruction given by the delightful Patrick. I think I took away something, but I’m going to have to think about it some more!
High spot of the day was the good conversations I had with my various PhD fellows about our research proposals and interesting hearing from those who are further along the track with theirs (given their longer lead time in some cases) as I know I can learn from their experiences. Just hope in return I’ve been able to help them a little too.
On campus again and an even colder (-4 overnight) start. Today I went to see my two supervisors to get their feedback on my research proposal. Ever since I’ve sent it in I’ve started to feel the fear – thinking they’d tell me it was total rubbish and I was wasting their time. Well okay, maybe not that bad but there’s always that feeling that at some point someone’s going to call you out as a total fraud and say “How DARE such as you even consider they’re worthy to do a PhD!!!“. I know, I know, paranoid much. However, it’s that little niggling doubt that won’t go away.
As it was we had a very productive idea, and while as I expected we pretty much dismantled it they had some splendid suggestions for polishing it. Yes I’ll need to rewrite and restructure it a fair bit (writing is rewriting as it is said), but I’ve come away with a really good idea how I can just flesh out the bits I know were weak; and enhance other bits as well. Fair bit of reading to do over the next week or so before I want to put pen to paper again, but hopefully early in January I’ll be closing in on a good penultimate version.
Went home via my second home (the library, honestly spending more time there than I did when I worked in one it feels like!) for more books and articles printed off, and then home via the shops. Just sat here typing up the meeting notes so I’ve got a good record of what we discussed while it’s still fresh in my mind. For light relief this evening, while Mrs Llama is out at her metal detector’s beard and rusty nail social (don’t ask) I’ll be writing a long overdue book review for a journal I write for! Yes, that pretty much sums up my social life right now!
Oh okay, I might squeeze in some Star Wars: The Old Republic gaming – so if anyone else is playing that and reading this come say hi…
Reading. Lots of reading on theory and method; which is going to be a bit of a theme over the next couple of weeks I suspect. That and waiting for a man to deliver and install a washing machine (who didn’t appear until after 7pm). Just as well I wasn’t going anywhere. Had a few moments of the collywobbles mid afternoon after a few more suggestions came in an email from my supervisors, good ones but all the same I had 10 minutes of anxiety as in my head the research proposal started to morph into an uncontrollable gelatinous entity which I’ll never lick into shapes. Calmed myself down shortly afterwards, reminding myself it’s a long process and I’ve plenty of time. I just need to keep at it, do the research reading, rewrite it a few more times, pass it on for feedback as I gradually home in on the final version. All the same I will be glad when it’s done, even I totally understand the importance of having a firm foundation for my research work proper.
It’s my birthday over the weekend so I’m taking half a day on Monday to relax. But other than that it’s going to be a long couple of weeks working right up to Christmas. Only question I have now is “How much time will I spend working over the Christmas break?” – don’t want to walk away from the proposal until the new year, but suspect Mrs Llama is going to be… difficult to work around once she finishes work for her couple of weeks off. Hmn, will have to play this one by ear I suspect.