September Arrives


Academic capitalism
Academic capitalism

Bright, but showery today – and a lot cooler than of late, so today marked the return of wearing socks and a hoodie to work.  Mrs Llama was working from home today which is a bit distracting as I’m not used to someone coming and going while I’m trying to think.  I used to have no problem working in a busy (if moribund) office with a lot of people around, but I guess I’ve gotten out of the habit.  Not helped today by a lack of enthusiasm and mojo, with doubts over-riding for a large part of the day my ability to concentrate on work.  Did start reading the last book in my academic marketisation sequence though.

One thing worthy of note, I’ve pretty much moved over to Evernote for my reading notes.  Now I’ve got my tablet and keyboard I can work pretty much anywhere, and run off copies on either the main PC’s printer or when I’m at uni.  Sort of wish I’d started using it earlier, but then I’ve only had the tablet for just over a month so it’s taken me this long to get comfortable using it.  It’s a little shift, but I think it’ll increase the effectiveness of my reading and researching.


September arrived with a vengeance today as I woke up to the sound of the central heating just ticking over.  Wasn’t aware that Mrs Llama had left it on.  Our heating only comes on when it drops below 17DegsC so working in the conservatoffice today was a bit chilly.  Mrs Llama is off at a conference now for the next three days so I won’t be interrupted.  Or indeed probably see anyone unless I go out to the shops, which isn’t high on my priorities.  Really got into the Slaughter and Rhodes book today, perhaps the lower temperatures help my brain work better.  Hope so as there’s lots of work to do and plenty of cold weather ahead.  Found myself debating, philosophically, at one point if we have cold/wet weather in-between the warm weather or vice versa.  Nothing to do with my studies, but was something to mull over for a few minutes.

Beginning to wonder if I’ll hear any details for my year 2 research training before it begins – then again last year it was a bit of a last-minute announcement so perhaps it’s still a bit early for that.  Of course I’m also aware that the Graduate School has reworked all the research student training, so I’ll be very interested to know what I can/have to do.

I see that the UK Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee have published another OA report – something to add to my reading list for a quiet (ha!) moment.  Honestly, I’d like to finish reading the heap of books I’ve got on social theory someday too!  Might have to try to allocate at least one day a week while I’m writing this chapter to ongoing background reading.  Too much? Not enough?  Who knows, but can’t let myself fall behind – and it would be nice to be able to return some of these library books one day!


Finished off the book which has been a cracking read, and arranged to go and speak with one of the authors I’ve recently been reading (since they’re on staff at NTU) on Friday.  Then spent a few hours trying to get my thoughts together on this chapter.  As this is the first thesis chapter I’ve tried writing I want to spend a good chunk of time thinking through what I want to say and how I’m going to say it.  Although, that said I do suspect my supervisors will have me doing more than a few rewrites.  But essentially from here on out this probably my focus for the rest of September.

At the moment I’m torn stylistically between writing a glorified literature review or trying to develop the themes of what I’ve read and tying it into what I’m researching.  I guess the truth will probably lie between the two.  Also wondering just how much academic language to cram in there – I’m not personally a fan of impenetrable scholarship; and some of the books I’ve read in the past year have been written in what feels like a foreign language.  At the same time I’m wary of dumbing anything down, given this is part of a serious scholarly work, so I guess I better use the right words in the right place.

If only I can find a place for my favourite word of recent months – synecdoche.  Yes it’s replaced quotidian.


Working on the HE marketisation chapter today.

So let’s talk about conferences.  One of the things I’ve yet to get my head around is how people in my school find out about the right conferences to attend.  The other PhDs seem to find and attend some very interesting looking conferences to go to, and I feel I’m currently missing a bit of a trick.  I really want to get out into the academic landscape and start meeting some other researchers beyond the confines of my institution.  Not so much to tell them about my work (but that would be great) but to hear how they’re approaching things, methodologically, theoretically, analytically etc.  I really think it would help shed some light on the areas I’m worrying about (data analysis and interpretation especially).  If anyone has any good tips about how to find out about conferences that would be great – since most of the ones on the mailing lists I’m on seem to be in the states – and I just can’t afford to attend them!

I used to hear about conferences in my professional field a lot on twitter and mailing lists, but now as I’m not really on twitter most of the day (too distracting I fear while I’m trying to understand things), I guess maybe I need to be on some new mailing lists.  But which ones…there’s a good question.


Off into campus this morning – probably my last pre the influx  of the walking dead…sorry, freshers, all over the place making it look untidy and using all the computers to instagram pictures of their crazy life or the like when some of us have serious Facebooking to do!  I mean, reports to print out.  Ahem.  Yes, that’s what I mean.

A Dictionary of Genetics
A Dictionary of Genetics

[Later] Well that was just brilliant – wonderful insight and chat with my academic colleague, and plenty for me to think on over the next few weeks.  She was not only really helpful, but really got my enthusiasm for the research going.  I just love meetings like that that leave you just feeling energised about the whole process.  Now I know it won’t last and next week I’ll be screaming at a paragraph that I just can’t get to make any sense, but it’s a wonderful feeling while it lasts.  Came back and did some thinking, and then wrote my slightly overdue book review for my journal editor, who I suspect will be chasing me next week.  Or rather would have been chasing me if I hadn’t written it.  Excellent book, so it was much easier to write than some I’ve reviewed in recent years.  Trying to explain why a book sucks dispassionately is actually much harder than saying when a book is fab.  This one is fab, and if you have an interest in genetics go buy a copy.  Oh wait, I don’t get any royalties – forget I sad that!


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