Over the weekend the mild weather finally gave way to winter proper as we had light snow over the weekend, and much heavier snow today. Which on one hand was okay as I was working on my research proposal, but on the other as I had a medical appointment in Nottingham in the afternoon wasn’t making me look forward to the drive much. I did some more work on my methodology and theory, although the lost hours didn’t help me focus much. Small progress better than no progress though.
I do find myself asking questions like “So what is the clear difference between critical discourse analysis and content analysis of a website then?”.
At the hospital I managed not to bore the consultant with my hackneyed explanation of what post-modernism is…but it was a close run thing!
In other news, I’m sure many of you will already have read about the tragic death of Aaron Schwarz – and if not Lawrence Lessig or Cory Doctorow’s pieces are pretty much required reading. I heard about it via twitter and my supervisor over the weekend, and I can’t say that a day or two has lessened the impact of the loss of this brilliant and courageous guy. Sorry to darken the tone of the blog a bit, but it’s pretty much reflective of my mood since I found out.
Mrs Llama is overseas on business for a few days (she set off yesterday afternoon) in Toulouse, so for once I have the house entirely to myself all day. I’d love to say the peace and quiet is wonderful, but the people across the road have a pneumatic drill operating (for the second day in a row) so I’ll be resorting to ear plugs as I work on my methods some more. Hoping that by the end of today I’ll have a second (penultimate?) draft of my research proposal ready to share with my supervisors, and a draft version of the slimmed down version I have to do for the research methods course. I was going to need it for a session tomorrow, but it looks like the tutor’s out sick for the next couple of weeks. Poor thing.
I think that means the sessions are cancelled but it’s not 100% clear. No doubt we’ll get some clarity on the BBS. *checks* Right, looks like there wasn’t a class next week anyway, and the deadline for the coursework’s been moved up a couple of weeks too – so props to the tutor! Course I still have to be on campus to attend a meeting with my fellow departmental PhDs tomorrow, so I’ll end up with a few hours to kill before philosophy, but that’s not the end of the world. Sure I can make good use of some more library time.
Following up on yesterday’s bit about the Aaron Schwarz, I’m trying not to read anything too cynical into the timing of JSTOR announcing their free to read access to some of their journals; especially as the announcement was on the 9th of January a few days before Aaron took his life. Of course there’s free access and there’s free access, in this case as Gary Daught points out in an excellent piece beyond the need to register, there are of course privacy concerns over your reading habits being tracked. When I was developing OpenDOAR‘s initial survey of OA repositories back in 2007, one of the criteria I had for rejecting an alleged OA site was the requirement to register before access. There are many definitions for what makes up OA and I’m sure some might say mine is perhaps too purist a view, but I can’t say I’ve drastically changed it in 5 years (and I think Peter Suber agrees, so I’m in good company!).
On a lighter note – I think the following feels like my motto at the moment for all this studying.
Oh my, a cold, cold day and I had to be on campus. Probably for the best as keeping warm yesterday was a real challenge. Sometimes it’s a real pain not to be able to decamp easily to campus to keep warm, but given the road conditions I didn’t fancy the 30 mile roundtrip. Had a dept PhD meet up this morning, the second one we’d arranged although due to getting the car scraped out of ice I was a bit late…and a bit surprised that there was no one there when I finally arrived (only 15 minutes late!). Had a quick scout around in case they were in another room, to no avail, so removed myself to the library to do some reading. Luckily I did check my email and find that Kornelia had turned up, and we were able to track each other down to have a discussion about theory and method, RPC modules and a general gossip about the PhD experience as a whole. It was really interesting to hear Kornelia articulate a lot of things I’ve been thinking myself, especially the self-doubts and the worry that you always have to be working. I know so far I find it very difficult to even contemplate taking any time off as there’s this niggling worry at the back of my head that says any time wasted is time lost. *sigh* I wasn’t ever this dedicated when I was a student before, what makes the PhD experience more of a driven one? I’ll get back to you on that.
As one of the RPC sessions had been cancelled I spent the next couple of hours doing a bit of paper editing and reading, before heading off to the warmest room on the planet (honestly it was like 30DegsC in there) for Foucault’s philosophy session. Really enjoyable and useful, especially as having done a bit of background reading on Foucault I was able to follow it a lot more easily than normal. Or maybe it’s just that Foucault makes a lot more sense to me; and he better as I think his Discipline and Punish is going to be something I’ll need to track down soon to read.
I also discovered I’ve been pronouncing his name all wrong (Faux-Co, not Fo-cult apparently), so there you go.
A day of editing and writing, getting my research proposal polished enough to send to my supervisors. I swear the more I double check my references the more errors I seem to spot with them. And then when I check back later I seem to have changed some of them the wrong way. Turned out to be a more laborious and lengthy process than I anticipated, not helped by the lack of sleep I’d had the night before. In the end though I did manage to send version 3.0 off, and then turned to the near Sisyphean task of converting my two and half thousand word version into a thousand word version for the RPC coursework. Seems a bit pointless considering where I am in the RD1PA (research proposal) writing process, but I guess any time spent thinking about what I’m doing and trying to clarify it will serve me well in the long run.
Feeling a bit guilty as well as I’ve had no time for reading this week, so must try and spent at least Friday afternoon catching up on some papers.
Spent the morning adding all the references I’d used in my proposal, but had yet to add onto RefWorks. I don’t like adding things there until I actually read then and write a review, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t suddenly want to track a reference down again 6 months from now to discover my records were incomplete. House was pretty cold so typing was actually quite painful (Mrs Llama was at home and she doesn’t let me have the heating on during the day). After lunch I spotted on twitter (thanks to Glyn Moody) that the government have announced an inquiry into the Government’s Open Access policy. Considering the Finch Report and all the response to that were at the end of last year…one can’t help thinking that there’s something going on behind the scenes Has the publisher lobby been hard at work? Considering the government’s current stance is fairly pro-OA (all be it Gold not Green), one is quite curious to know why the need for an inquiry. Or even an enquiry!
Spent the afternoon bitting about with the editing to my cut down research proposal for the RPC course. Sadly watching the snow out of the window was far more interesting, although no one fell over or crashed or anything amusing/terrible like that. The buses did stop running through our village though around 4pm (they run late into the evening normally) so feeling a little bit cut off – especially as we’re now out of milk for tea. A catastrophe Next week hopefully I can jump back into this backlog of reading I’ve got, and with luck meet with my supervisors to discuss finalising my proposal. Stay warm everyone!