A Draft Too Far

Monday

Work on editing down the empirical research chapter and a brief discussion about marking issues with a couple of colleagues online.  Aaaaaaaaaaand that was my day.  Thrilling.

Tuesday

Pretty much the same, sans the marking discussion and with a bonus trip to the dentist.  This week is shaping up to be a thriller in terms of blog entries.  Found myself ranting on about my editing plans to Mrs Llama at one stage in the day (she’d returned to work from home having discovered that her uni network had collapsed)…and I think she looked even more bored than I did.

Mind you, about 30 minutes away from having a full 1st draft of this chapter, and maybe a day or so away from being able to put it to bed for good.  Well at least until I get feedback on it.

Dental team asked what my PhD was about. I think they wished they hadn’t once I’d explained for a few minutes.  Stifled a giggle when they suggested a thesis was “about 20,000 words”.  No…I call that a first draft of a chapter.

Wednesday

Editing. Go away.  However I did have a chance to watch John Oliver on net neutrality in the evening.  Should be compulsory viewing for everyone!

Thursday

And thank Zod, I’ve finished the editing and polishing.  Chapter down to a most reasonable 14.5k words too (from an initial 20k).  Given that 1/3 of it is made up of quotes from the interviews I think that stands at about the right length.  I am actually reasonably happy with it, and while I suspect once I share it with my supervisors I’ll have a bit of rewriting to do, it’s actually a visible output for once.  It also allows me to write a paper and two conference presentations which are based on this thing now.

Chased my supervisors up about my annual report, and think I should be able to sort that out next Tue/Wednesday.  And had a conversation about referencing with Kornelia, which passed a few minutes.

Oh and I was amused to read about some academics back at Leicester getting into a bit of a punch up with a publisher over the publication of research into the true costs of publications.  Nice own goal there from Taylor and Francis it seems.

Finally, I also discovered that something I’d been worrying about (my trip to Sheffield and paper for it) are actually due in June not July.  Suddenly this month looks slightly less like a work-gasm (although I do have an awful lot to do still).  Tomorrow…I’m going to start on the marking.  Wish me luck.

 Friday

And welcome to another marking marathon – the last of the year; although that said I suspect I won’t get through all of the essays I’m marking today.  And remember kids, I don’t get paid to mark – it’s just expected (cheapskate university GTA contract!).

  • 9.00 am: Consider starting work.  Consider cup of tea harder.
  • 9.30 am: Check email, follow up queries on annual monitoring forms (getting them signed remaining the single biggest bugbear of any PhD student if you ask me).  Check staff email to see if student with a two week extension has submitted yet – nope, and today’s her deadline.
  • 9.35 am: Review submissions from 46 students.  2 no-submissions, so they’re easy to mark El Zilcho rides again.  One extension pending, three late submissions which may well get marked down for that.  I’ve subdivided all the marking into the 10 questions that were set, so I can at least group together my grading of the same sort of question.  Not a lot of love for Habermas and the public sphere and also persuasion , but no love at all for the question on transnational media.  Secretly pleased as it was the subject on the whole course I was least excited or engaged by.
  • 9.40 am: Conclude I’ll need a strong cup of Assam to get going on this lot.  Boil kettle, check chickens, print off marking criteria.
  • 9.50 am: Boot my copy of Evernote so I can refresh my memory on some of the lecture topics that the essays cover.
  • 10.10 am: Started with the essays on Max Atkinson’s work on claptrap.  Aside from a not brilliantly formatted set of references not a bad first essay at all.  Hopeful for the remaining ones.
  • 10:35 am: 2 down and ARG…wireless trackball power outtage.  Fiddle around with batteries for a few minutes and power (and marking is resumed).
  • 11:24 am: 4 down. And yes, the trend continues.  These are the best bits of work I’ve seen all year from my students.
  • 11:36 am: Gah, spoke too soon.  That one was like wading through brain mud.
  • 12:06 pm: Enjoyable one on globablisation and media. Honestly wished I could call the student up to discuss their views more.  Genuine pleasure to read, and while there are errors aplenty they’re well on their way.
  • 1.07 pm: Time to stop for a lunch break.  9 marked, so it’s not high speed.  Can see this is going to stretch into Monday; but then I rather suspected it would.  Just given my highest mark yet for a truly excellent piece of work!  Be interesting to see if my moderator partner agrees with me.
  • 1.55 pm: Okay, enough lazing around (and playing Injustice: Gods Among Us), back to it I go.
  • 2.41 pm: Oh my, just used hax0rs in a piece of feedback.
  • 3.26 pm: That was hard, disagreed with a lot the student had concluded.  Not losing marks for that, as I love an argument – but it wasn’t well argued and failed to present a bipartisan POV. Shame.  Time to go boil the kettle I think.
  • 3.55 pm: Tea was postponed as I had one more essay in the same question to cover.  And what a good one it was too, grinning from ear to ear.  Have topped on tea though now and even a KitKat. I need the caffeine!
  • 4.07 pm: REFERENCING!  FOR THE LOVE OF ZUUL, CAN SOMEONE NOT GET SOME OF THESE STUDENTS TO REFERENCE CORRECTLY?!?
  • 4.40 pm: Sentence in an essay I feared would never end.  Nearly 100 words…even I write shorter sentences than this. Sometimes.
  • 4.45 pm: It’s beginning to make my eyes bleed trying to read this one.  Please, please let there be some coherent sentences in here.  There’s some good ideas fighting to get out from behind the text.
  • 5.16 pm: Flagging a bit now it’s true to say, 17 marked which means there’s still more than half to do.  Think I will have to call it a day around 6pm because I suspect my brain won’t take much more.
  • 5.38 pm: Gah. My (at best) four hours of sleep last night are beginning to make this harder than ever. No more caffeine is going to help now.  Bloody insomnia.
  • 5.52 pm: No, going to have to stop marking this one now – as I’m utterly struggling to read it.  Don’t want to give the student an unfair mark, so I’ll either pick this up on Monday, or perhaps mark a few over the weekend if I get a quiet/bored moment.  Think I may need to start off extra early on Monday to do the rest of these.  Still, on the other hand on the whole these have been the best bits of work all year; even if the odd one has caused me to nearly throw the monitor out the nearest window and scream with rage!
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