Back to Reality

Monday

No, it's a lot lower than thatNot the greatest night’s sleep, although better than the night before.  I appear to have done something to my lower back that’s making it painful to sit or bend over, so finding comfortable positions to work today wasn’t easy.  Anyway after a handful of painkillers and a medical appointment that took up the morning (not for the back mind you) I did my best to read a report after lunch.  Hard work as at one point I fell asleep in a sitting position – thanks to cumulative lack of sleep, and not the paper which I was reading (on benefits of the open commons to business and enterprise) which was quite rich in info.  Hoping for a more productive day tomorrow.

Tuesday

I see youToday I’m back on editing my RD1PA after another semi-not fun sleep.  Thankfully though I have a new friend to watch over me while I work (thank you Think Geek, and maybe next time a student discount?).  I’d love to say I made great leaps and bounds in the process.  I didn’t, thought I thought of a great new opening line!

Also went to see the nurse at my local health centre and am on pain killers aplenty for the next few days for my back.

Seem to be doing the trick.

 

Wednesday

A great new opening line that is, that I wrote on a post-it note and subsequently put down somewhere in the house and lost. Argh, damn it, and curse my inefficient filing system.  Not helped by having my working space still being decorated around me (and as I’m doing the decorating over the weekends it’s not going that fast!).  Remember kids, make sure your work space isn’t a dining table in the middle of a house undergoing renovations  as it’ll really help your thinking and work practices).  Ah well, one day soon this will be all done 🙂  And elsewhere Mrs Llama’s been making some big decisions too that I’ll be talking about in the near future too (I was consulted, don’t you worry!).

Today after a quick scamper over the RD1PA again (almost there…soooooo close), and realising now the context is almost too short…I headed into campus for a longish day.

First off was a two hour session with my fellow departmental PhDs talking about methods and theory.  This was really good, especially hearing from Kornelia and Lidia who are much further along in the process and have a much firmer grasps on their work.  I scribbled down some notes during the sessions as there were a few thoughts that struck me as especially relevant to my own research proposal.

  • Riddle me this, I'm at your disposal, to suggest what goes into, your research proposal! *cue manic laughter* How many methods are too many?
    • After all the “Got to make it worthy of a PhD” talks we keep getting from various academics, having listened to those further along and wiser than I in the process, it seems that less methods are more.  Do I really need interviews and focus groups in my phase two, or should I just include interviews as part of my case study steps?  A question for discussion with Andreas I think.
  • Time spans for analysis – just how far back should any content analysis go?
    • I’m was thinking roughly to 2001…but that’s a heckish long period to cover in any depth.  Though if I take a broad brush approach it might make a bit more sense, as I know I’ll need to context in one of my early chapters to set up the rest of the research.  Given that Kornelia’s looking at 300 sources over a 6 year period as a serious chunk of her work, I might have to reconsider my span though.
  • Is there one theory (or more) that I can use to explain/explore academic culture?
    • I still don’t think so, and that I’ll be using a blend of theories and approaches.  But maybe there will be something once I start some more serious literature searching, or indeed get deeper into reading Focault.
  • Are students influence actors?
    • This was a question to me…and I think the answer is yes.  They’re certainly in my outline list.
  • Just what is the triangulation methodological approach?
    • Actually answered this in a book of Mohamad’s that I was browsing later in the day.  An interesting thought (and perhaps reflects on the “how many methods” questions again); and perhaps something to find out more about.

One lesson I took away is to remember to pack a white board pen with me, as the one the library loaned us was frankly rubbish!  That said, this was a good session and well worth coming in for – even though I had to dash out at the end to go straight into today’s RPC lectures.  First up was discourse analysis and ethnomethodology.  Useful session as yes, these are methods which I’m going to use.  Getting a flavour of the different kinds of analysis was especially useful, given that most of the text books I’ve read on the subject haven’t gone into that depth.  Foucaultian discourse analysis certainly sounds right up my street.

Tutor looked nothing like thisThis was followed by the freeform jazz session…sorry, lecture on the Frankfurt School.  I say freeform, as the lecture just spoke to us for 90 minutes sans script and powerpoints.  I can’t honestly remember I’ve last witnessed that, and was a refreshing change of pace.  There are resonances with the FS and my work, so I’ll be off to do the background reading on them tomorrow and see if they’re worth exploring a bit more.

After that it was simply a matter of surviving a long snowy drive home – spring can’t come soon enough.  Finished off the day chatting to Lidia on Facebook, who amazed me by going off to do some more research reading around 9.30pm – I went off and had a bath!

Thursday

Plumb usefulI have company today as we have Johann the South African plumber in working on various things around the house.  Nice bloke, and excellent plumber so I’m just letting him get on with things.  He does keep apologising for interrupting me, which he only does about once every couple of hours so it’s not exactly a problem.  Thankfully he hasn’t asked what my research is about, which is a first for the visiting tradesmen we’ve had in – I’m a bit bored with rehashing the simple explanation version.  Not to mention employing the fake smile in response to the “Ha, lay about students, why don’t you get a proper job, eh?” jibe.

As for me though, well the day is to be spent cracking on with a quick hour or two polishing the RD1PA and then getting it off to my supervisors.  They said two weeks for the next revision and that’ll be tomorrow, so it’ll be nice if I can actually get one day ahead!  And then of course there’s the prolonged pause while I wait for them to get back to me!  In other news I got feedback from my second philosophical PDP entry, which was very positive.  Shame it doesn’t count for any marks or anything!

Friday

Yes. It's the same image as LAST Friday. It seems to be a recurring theme.I did get it off to them mid afternoon, although while spending today reading some papers I came across a claim that runs contrary to one of my core arguments.  So I’m sat here now wracked with self doubt over the proposal again.  I’m sure in the clear light of day I’ll just need to tweak a few words around, to make sure I take account of the contrasting views.  But right now I could have done without it!  I’d have been happier to have stumbled over this paper in the literature review, given that as I progress though my research and develop my knowledge I’m sure there will be many other assumptions or conclusions that I’ve currently drawn that may well need to be modified or counterpointed.  But right now I just want to get this proposal done and done, so I can move on to the more serious span of my research.  I can see I’ll be spending some time on Monday going back over my reading to see if I can still substantiate my claim, and perhaps point to this paper as a lone dissenting voice.  Or not.

So not the greatest of ends to a week where there have been a few too many distractions in my life during the days to really get in a solid week’s studying.  I know the world of work is like that too, but with this PhD I really get frustrated with every lost day or half day.  Perhaps there’s some hermitage I could lock myself away in, far from distractions?  Hmn, that said with the behind the scenes developments this week, I think from April onwards I might just be getting the wish for more isolation in spades; and it’ll probably be something I won’t be too keen on rapidly.

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