So as expected my dad passed away early on Saturday morning. And I’ve no end of lovely messages from my friends, to whom I’m deeply grateful.
Another day working on chapter editing, though I’m now 3/5th of the way through. My target for the week is to have a copy to pass to my supervisors for criticism by the week’s end.
In other news spent the best part of an hour this afternoon sorting out some administration details for this lecturing job. Despite my high hopes I’m not on the course VLE yet, and it turns out I’m going to have to go into campus tomorrow to sort out the IT side of things. Thankfully though the module tutor has sent me some clear guidance for what to do in the first session I’m running. Confess more than a little nervous about this as I want to give the students a good session. Think it looks like Wednesday for the module lecture (which I’ll be in the audience for trying to soak up as much as possible) and Thursday for the seminars. Other than that I have not a great deal more info! Wonder if I can charge the uni for time spent sorting out this kerfuffle?
In the middle of the night (when I do a lot of web browsing when insomnia takes hole) I spotted this paper on the Guardian Hundreds of open access journals accept fake science paper. My gut reaction is that this is something from the academic publishing lobby, looking to strengthen their ideological position that “open access is intrinsically quality flawed”. And I’m glad someone in the comments has taken up the issue of why these papers weren’t sent to both OA an non-OA journals to see the results. One doesn’t like to remind people of basic double/blind sampling techniques… To read a good counter argument it’s well worth reading the article in tandem with this one Flawed sting operation singles out open access journals. One can’t help thinking that this sting will only really widen the divide in the whole OA discourse. Kinda surprised my mailing lists haven’t exploded on the subject either!
A day spent engaged in battle with the chapter. Now so close to a half-decent first draft that I can smell the victory. And then off to my supervisors!
Oh bugger. Had an impromptu meeting with my supervisor to discuss tomorrow’s teaching sessions (about which he has every confidence in me) and he wants my chapter to be a)shorter though not by much and b)more or less finished before he sees it. I guess I should have seen this coming with everything I’ve been writing about “overworked academics” but bugger it, I was hoping for a second opinion somewhat earlier in the writing process. I much prefer the collaborative writing process where pointers are given, but I guess I’ll have to spend another week or two really polishing it now. Damn. Was hoping to say “goodbye” to it for a few days so I could do some research reading, I have a great pile of books and papers just waiting for me to find the time. At this rate they’re going to have to become bedtime reading.
On the other hand he does want to bring my internal supervisor into the discussions as well, so I can get his insight. Now that does sound useful, and makes it worth me producing a more quality product I guess for their assessment. However, he told me to go away and write my annual report first which is due at the end of the month. Confess I’ve been putting this off what with one thing and another, so I’ll knuckle down and write this over the next couple of days. Irritating thing though it is, it needs to be done or I’ll get into bother with the university admin. And I don’t really want that now. I’m saving that for when I want to generate some real mischief!
The other main event of the day was attending the first lecture (the 2nd in the course) of the module I’m teaching seminar sessions on. Face-to-Face to Facebook it’s called for the record, looking at understanding communications in a new media age. Today’s lecture (and tomorrow’s session) are all about non-verbal communication (NVC or NVB if you prefer), something I’ve studied a bit in the past so thankfully I wasn’t quite all at sea as I feared I might be. Most importantly I learned how to pronounce proxemics which had been bugging me. The session also gave me a few more ideas about the exercises and examples I could use at Library Camp in late November in my theatrics and communication workshop. Moreover, looking at the course overview I can see down the line the sessions will start to really run into areas I’m very familiar with (unsurprisingly the one’s taught by my supervisor), and even…shock…some bits where my decades* of librarian experience will come in handy. One of the lectures and seminars is entitled “Digital Literacy: Finding info on the net”. Yes, I think I’ll be able to teach that one without a problem. Be very interesting to see a take on this from the academic side of the fence!
Came home and went through the notes for the tutorial and wrote a few more bits on them to help me through it. 24 students in my group, let’s hope for a good turnout of chattey students! Or perhaps more importantly, let’s hope I just don’t fall back into pantomime for the whole session. I mean it is about non verbal exchanges!
The big day. The return of me to lecturing after what I think is about 16 months off. Came into campus just after 8.30am, so it was an early start from Leicestershire to beat the traffic. Attended one of the other seminar groups, run by my supervisor who just made it look effortless. Damn, but I wish I could be that suave and relaxed in the classroom setting. Sadly nervous energy tends to drive my performances so I’ll just have to live with it. Glad I went to this as it gave me a few more ideas about how to structure my session. Went back into the PC classrooms and spent the next few hours doing the background reading for this week and next on the module. As I won’t be able to run next week’s seminar (funeral duties) I still want to make sure that I keep up on the stuff being covered. At least I’ll get to go to the lecture on Wednesday, which I’m really looking forward to as it’s conversational analysis.
There was a fire drill mid-morning, which took a whole ten minutes to clear the whole George Elliott Building. Consider me very impressed – normally took about 20-30 to clear the DWL back in Leicester (not mention the students I more or less had to chase off the floors at times!).
So my teaching session was fun. The group, like most 1st years were a bit quiet to begin with – but I put that down partly to the lecture room layout, rows are not conducive to free flowing discussion. I can also remember how I was as a first year, wishing the ground would swallow me up rather than get picked on my the lecturer to speak. Only took me about 4 years to get over that… I also think as I was a totally new face for them that they were not quite sure how to take me (or my foot hoping style), although I was wondering at the back of my mind if any of them were taking note of my non verbal communication signals. Some of which I think clearly said “oh go on, please talk, I’m here to help you!” All that said and done once we did get going, analysing a clip from Eastenders, there was a good feel to the room. I hope they all got something out of it, and I’ll do my best next time to make it more chatty and relaxed; but scholarly. Will think on that one.
Once outcome – as a result of watching the same clip about 20 times, I now have a new appreciation for the nuanced acting of Patsy Palmer. And THAT is not something I ever expected to write!
Had a debrief with Kornelia, and then quickly with Andreas too, and then headed home. Sorted out a bit of admin (the register of attendance for one) and then sort of ran out of steam like a deflated hot air balloon. Never mind, first lectures always take the most out of you.
Had some very good news first thing. Part of the normal PhD process is you enroll to study, you go through project approval after about 6 months and then 18-24 months after you start you have to do the MPhil to PhD transfer. It’s another great big fat document like the RD1PA that goes by the catchy name of the RD2TD. When I heard back in June from my RD1PA and oral examination I was told I’d passed project approval (huzzah) and had until Oct 1st 2014 to do the transfer to PhD. I won’t kid you, it’s a lot of work. Indeed a lot of the core module for the level two research training focuses on this. At the time of submission of my project approval, I’d put in for what’s called the Direct to PhD route, which skips the transfer stage. When I didn’t get it, I jsut assumed “Ah well, never mind. Pretty much everyone has to go through the transfer stage so why worry”. When I saw my supervisor on Wednesday and we were discussing my annual report he brought up the whole approval/transfer matter and asked why I didn’t get it. As I didn’t know I asked the very nice Graduate School to let me have some feedback, to know where I was lacking.
Heard back today that they’d not realised I’d put in for the direct route (*ahem* it is on page one of the RD1PA) and after a further meeting they’ve approved my direct to PhD transfer. W00t. It’s one more step along what is still a very long and difficult scholarly road, but it does mean I don’t need to waste time this coming year on writing the RD2TD. Instead I need to knuckle down and deepen my understanding of my field, do my field work, and work, work, work, work. Hang on, shouldn’t lists be threes? No, it’s just that MUCH work!
Spent the morning through to early afternoon writing my annual monitoring report. I had to do a 6 month one that was more of a light touch, where this is more of a “What have you done, what does it mean and where are you going?” It’s a whole lot more serious, although technically as it’s my first year report it’s not quite as critical as it’ll be in a year’s time. So I actually wrote about what research I’ve done to date, the aims from chapter and my plans. Actually very slightly happy with it – which probably means my supervisor’ll take issue with some bits of it (or is that just my normal paranoia? Yeah, paranoia!). Included a few pretty pictures, a pie chart (mmmmmn, pie) and some stats. Then remembered I’m an Arts and Humanities student and should run away from stats screaming. But since I like stats actually thank you very much,
Sent that off to the supervisory team and internal assessor for their comments, and then after a spot of lunch did a bit of work on a couple of conference abstracts for next year. By then I should have some results to present and hopefully publish too, but you need to get your oar into these conferences with about a 6-9 month lead time. So even though I know there’s a lot of analysis still to do, I’m putting myself forward for these conferences now. Will work out how the heck I can afford to go to them later (being a penniless arts student with no institutional funding for conference attendance sucks). Maybe I should start a kickstarter and sell parts of myself off? Hopefully might even find a nice international conference to go to abroad next year…but not sure what or indeed where!
But as it is I’ve reached the point in my days when I’m going to call it quits, and go clamber through the mud and clean the chickens out.