Annual Review Take 2


Suffered a case of the post-weekend loss of motivation today, but eventually kicked into gear to polish and reformat my oral report to the review panel for tomorrow.  Now makes more sense, comes in under time and hopefully will kick off a useful discussion.  Have decided that I’m not so much treating tomorrow as a defense of my work, but rather a dialectical engagement in which I can see what insight my assessment team can bring to bear.  May or may not bear fruit, but I think it will hopefully be an interesting discussion at least.

Took an early lunch break and then sorted through my chapter papers, although I couldn’t face sitting and writing. Tomorrow is preying on my mind a little.  Instead I sat down and read a short book on critical theory.  Like all method books it was a swine to get into, and a lot of it passed over my head.  But there were some very interesting bits related to Hegel and Gramsci that really resonated with my topic.  I’m a little clearer about what CT is now, which should make my use of critical management studies slightly easier.  Or at least I hope it will!

Also had an email following up on something I’d been discussing briefly a few months ago, only to have it go very quiet.  So quiet that I was beginning to wonder if I hadn’t dreamed the whole exchange.  But no, looks like there’s been some slow movement at the other end that’s holding things up.  Looking forward to being able to talk about this one openly (it’s not that exciting, but it is a very interesting opportunity none the less).


Talk, damn you! Spill the beans about the applicability of critical management theory in a post-Marxist analysis of HE...
Talk, damn you! Spill the beans about the applicability of critical management theory in a post-Marxist analysis of HE…

Today’s the big day” (to quote Bruce).  Annual review meeting in the morning with both my supervisors (and internal assessor) in the same room for the first time with me in 9 months.  It was hard not to look at this as another mock version of the viva…which while down the line a few years, will probably be upon me before I know it.  I can confess no small amount of terror running through me this morning.  Not sure why, as my supervisors and assessors are helpful and generally quite nice people.  By the time I hit campus I could actually feel my flight or fight reactions kicking in (which for me means my stomach turns upside down and I get hit by chronic belching as well – gee thanks bizzaro-belly).  Half a tonne of chalk later it calmed down enough for me to go into the meeting.

It was actually very constructive, and for the first half I took them through my research findings – which to be honest I’ve not had a chance to present internally yet!  They seemed genuinely interested and in places excited by them.  That’s good, I’ve been working with them so long that right now they seem to have lost a little bit of a shine.

The rest of the meeting while far from the grilling I perhaps feared, did address some of the concerns I’ve got about the theoretical bits of my research (aka the bit that keeps me awake with worry about in the small hours of the night).  Looks like I need to basically finish my current chapters and then work on developing this before I do any more field work.  Bit of a pain as I was looking forward to more interaction with people, but I confess I totally agree with their assessment.  I need to break the back of this one, and while now I’m feeling a bit clueless – hopefully in the next couple of months I’ll really develop it.  I think I might approach it by writing a chapter about the search for theory…if nothing else than to codify my own understanding and give us something to talk through.  Whether that makes it to the thesis or not, well that’s another matter.

Might even get another conference paper out of maybe!  Speaking of which, looks like my submission to iFutures conference has been accepted and I’ll be off to Sheffield in July.  Excited about that as it looks like it could be a great event.  Think I also get to have my paper published too, which will be a nice little bonus.  Not been back to Sheffield in a devil’s age, so this will be nice.  Although…gah, that means another deadline for me to hit!

The afternoon was spent writing up the notes from the meeting in long form (for me and my supervisors to use) and pointless short form (to satisfy the institution’s managerialised bureaucratic requirements).  Useful to go through this right now while the grilling…sorry…discussions are still fresh in my mind.  Also had to update my academic CV, and was astonished I’d got about 6 new conference papers to add to it.   A requirement for yesterday’s super-secret-engagement (which it looks like I’m all but confirmed for from Sept 2014 onwards).

Elsewhere it was the PG Research Festival, where I see that my chum Ania won the 3minute thesis comp. Way to go Ania!  Wish I had time to attend these things…but looks like I’m nose to the grindstone til…oh about late 2016 right now…


I said Mr Motivation...not Mr Motivator!
I said Mr Motivation…not Mr Motivator!

Feeling wiped out today, despite having a long night’s sleep.  Begrudgingly finished off my notes write up from the day before and modified my report, but other than that pretty much a #Fail of a day for me. Plan to get up tomorrow and relocate Mr Motivation.  It’s one of those days where the total lack of anyone else’s office to wander around to for a long chat and exchange of ideas really sucks.

Most thrilling thing that happened all day was an email exchange with one of my fellow PhDs who’s waiting on her panel review at the moment.  We ended up trading motivational music videos.  Go team Culture & Media PhD support network!  I suppose this is as near as I’ll get to that little chat today.

At least I’ve my students’ essay marking to look forward to next week, that should be somewhat more stimulating!


Let’s start the day as I did, with a spot of astrophysics.

Love this series of weekly videos, if only someone did these for social theory!

Day spent adding in content to my analysis chapter, aside from 30 minutes or so when I read through a preview of one of my student’s essays.  They’d asked me to cast a critical eye over it to see if they were on the right tracks.  Wasn’t bad, although I did spot a few issues (lack of any reference list, sigh).  Did wonder with the deadline for submissions being tomorrow if I will get a flood of emails asking for help.  Right, time to pack up work and go and vote in the EU elections…if I can find someone I can intellectually/ethically/morally vote for, in-between the “Anti-EU” bigoted candidates.


Today I’ve been doing more editing on my analysis chapter.  This sounds straight forward enough, except what I’ve actually been doing is going back through my data analysis and pulling out representative quotes from the various themes to illustrate my narrative.  Along the way I also realised I really needed to improve the standardisation of my anonymisation.  In part so readers of my thesis (all 4 of them) can see what kind of university I’m pulling the quote from, but also to ensure that I can go back directly from a quote some time in the future and work out which of my interviews I pulled it from.  I’ve developed a simple spreadsheet to hold all this cross referencing data, and I’m much happier with the tagging than I was with my original approach.  Of course I did then have to go back into the earlier parts of the chapter and retro-actively fix the references there as well.

I’m close to finishing an initial draft of this chapter, which is great as I’m hoping by next Friday to have something I can leave for a week or two and focus on my other two chapters in progress instead.  Fingers crossed 4 days next week will be enough editing time!

Gee, thanks UKIP
Gee, thanks UKIP

I also tried to book onto an AHRC course that popped up in my inbox yesterday – only to discover that registration closed at the end of April.  Gee thanks AHRC for the advance notice on that one!  On the reserve list so we’ll see if anything comes of that.  And having stared at a screen for far too long this week, I’m off outside to enjoy the long Bank Holiday weekend.

Oh, thankfully no flood of emails.  Huzzah.


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