Submission & Viva

Submission (redux)

Yes, I know, shocking.  I’m writing about my PhD again, something I’ve not done for a long time.  Why?  Well, because essentially all of 2016 was writing, editing, revising, rewriting and then more editing.  Oh and panicking, there was a quite a bit of that when I realised I wasn’t going to make my official deadline (thanks to family deaths, illness, general life events etc).  Thankfully, and despite the usual scaling of Mount Administration, I got an extension through to Jan 2017.  I was ready to submit before Christmas, but gave myself the first couple of weeks of the new year for a final proof-read and tidy before submitting on 18th Jan 2017.

 

Setting the Date

I kinda expected the viva would take place within about three months post-submission, since THAT’s what the university’s own regulations stipulate.  And given I’ve had to keep to their administration rigid timetables myself, you’d expect the same to be true for their own efforts.

Yeah, I know.  Anyone who’s spoken to me or read my earlier posts, knows that my professional opinion of the university’s administration layer is low, and my personal one is probably not repeatable in public.  Hence, consider how much foul language I’ve used when finally I got the viva date set for 15th June 2017: 5 months post submission.  This really wasn’t ideally, especially for applying for jobs where having had the viva could have made all the difference between securing paid employment and not even getting an interview.  I really feel the university has damaged my potential future earnings and career by their poor speed of turnaround.  Glad I had the opportunity to feedback on this in the recent PGR student survey, but this couldn’t make the viva happen faster.

 

I’ve been trying (and failing) to read 10 pages a day of the thesis in the build up to the 15th June.  Certainly, once I hit May (the month, not the PM) I made a redoubled effort to try and get through the chapters again.  I’ve probably eventually re-read it about three times fully, with one final skim through in the last couple of pre-viva days.  It struck me as being not too bad at all, although I kept finding the odd niggling grammatical error.  I know far worse theses have passed muster, as I’ve flicked through them over the years, so I wasn’t letting this stress me out.  All the same it’s frustrating to realise that despite all the careful proofreading by me and Mrs Llama, these things still slipped through.

The Day Arrives

I was pretty calm, and relaxed about the approaching date, although my sleeping patterned had gone to hell.  I partially attribute that to the light June mornings – I do not do well here, and Mrs Llama insists on leaving the bedroom door open to let more light flood in.  Given a free hand for my own room arrangements, I’d be sleeping in a dark, dark hole all summer long!

2017-06-15 12.07.34
Campus was dead quiet

On the day, I packed some water, a hat and my thesis and headed off into campus bright and early.  I planned to hideout in the library for the morning, having a last skim of vital parts (research rationale, claim to knowledge, theory, results, conclusions).  The viva was set for a 13.15-13.30 kickoff, so I had some time to collect myself and my ragged thoughts.  The library was (mostly) nice and quiet, until 11am when schoolkids on an open day came tearing through excitedly looking for “The horror section”.  I think they were disappointed by what they found!  Meanwhile, I was struggling more and more to keep myself calm.  I indulged in a few BJ Blazkowicz-style breathing exercises, chatted to the Wife and tried to dissuade myself of the notion that the last page I just skipped over would be THE bit I should have read more closely.

2017-06-15 10.42.39
Trying to study. Trying not to panic.

Shortly afternoon me, and my rising nerves, headed over to see my supervisor for a chat and lunch.  Or in my case, some camomile tea – I do not like eating ahead of interviews or other stressful events as my stomach tends to throw a fit.  ‘Lunch’ was just what I needed, in that in our talk about future papers we’re aiming to write I was nicely distracted.  Then it was time to head to CELS101 (yes, Room 101, thank you NTU for that Orwellian additional fear factor!) and face my panel.  Well, it was time, but the Independent Chair was a very much ‘by the rules’ kinda guy, and hence I had a loooong wait (20 minutes, it SEEMED long) before I came in and things began.

Your Starter for 10

Superlab, 300412
I entered a boy, and left a man…possibly

The viva itself was actually as I had hoped.  A conversation between relative peers, focussed on my research, approaches, thoughts, conclusions etc.  I didn’t feel stressed, I was able to talk (mostly) clearly about what I’d done, why and how it was important.  All credit to the External and Internal Examiners for that.  There was a very interesting debate over my conceptualisation of activists and indeed my whole ethnographic-framing, and that was probably the nearest I came to having to make it a viva-defence.  Did my best to take their points on board, while at the same time making my own thinking and perceptions clear.  Eventually, we ran out of questions, followed by a chance for me to ask them if there was anything they should have asked.  Yeah, like I’m going to say “Hey, you should REALLY have asked about this bit, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing“.  I suggested they could have asked ‘What’s your perfect Sunday?’, but that was about it.  I was excused while the examiners took a comfort break and then deliberated their decision.  I glanced at my phone – the viva had only taken 65 minutes.

Congratulations, Dr Llama

I didn’t have long to wait.  2 minutes.  And was greeted by the Chair almost immediately saying “Congratulations, Dr Johnson, we’ve recommended that the thesis be passed with no corrections“.

Despite THIS moment being what I’ve been working towards, hoping for, for over 4 years…to finally hear it was beyond a shock to the system.  I remember muttering some thanks, shaking everyone’s hand and trying not to beam like a loony.  I kept thinking “No corrections…not even Mrs Llama’s PhD got passed with that!“.  No thesis is perfect, and there was a lot of really useful feedback and suggestions from the examiners on how to improve it for publication as a book, or preparing it for journal articles (I’m not quite sure which yet).  They also wanted to tweak a single word in the title to “Better represent the depth and breath of your research“…wow.

A New Dawn

Writing this two days later…I’m still not quite sure it all happened, there’s still that slight doubt that I dreamed it all and I’m still waiting for the viva.  But I’m not.  Sure, I need the official letter to arrive and there’s (hopefully) an amusing hat-wearing related ceremony to attend next month to get the certificate.  Nevertheless, to all intents and purposes I am now a Doctor.

There was time for a quick drink and a chat with the examiners and my supervisor, which was a great wind down.  Nevertheless, I was bursting to go home and see Mrs Llama to share the moment with her.  Needless to say, she was quite excited too and we went out to dinner to celebrate.

2017-06-15 19.23.23
Three kinds of dip.  My kind of dinner!

All that remains now, is I just need to find a paying job that’ll make all the struggle, effort and learning really feel like it was worthwhile!  Stay tuned for that one…

Advertisements

It Was The Blurst of Times

And here we are once more at the two week catch up – and what an eventful couple of weeks it’s been.

Mercian Collaboration

Sorta-Kinda My Office (for now)
Sorta-Kinda My Office (for now)

Started my p/t job this week with the Mercian Libraries Collaboration.  I was excited before I started…which was unusual for a new job, normally I’m quite nervous and full of apprehension the first day, but I was just champing at the bit to get stuck into this one.  Lovely first day, meeting with various people at Leicester who I used to work with (and most of whom didn’t realise it’d been 3.25 years since they’d seen me).  Lots of very familiar faces, and a handful of new ones.  Felt very welcomed, and that’s not even going to be my office home for the long term*.  Lots to get into, read about and bring myself up to date on, and even have the use of the Project Room as my office – well, when no one else’s booked it!  But I rather like the nomadic existence, which is just as well as a lot of this job is going to be about being on the road certainly for the early days.  Now I just need to find out where my tech and work mobile are coming from and I’ll be totally good to go.  All in all, a very positive commencement – I almost regret I’ve only the 1 working day a week to give to this!

Now if I can just stop myself saying Meridian or Mercenary when people ask me whom I’m working for, I’ll be happy.  Mrs Llama just keeps shouting “MERCIAN!” at me, as though she’s just escaped off the set of The Last Kingdom.

Campus

Went into campus at the crack of dawn one morning, to pick up the new software key for Nvivo.  During the 30 minutes I was on site I met an academic friend, printed off dozens of pages and admired the new central building (The Pavillion).  Not bad.  And then was home before 9am!

Coding

The big job of the past couple of weeks has been finishing off the second of the two coding frameworks I’ve been building.  So the code books are all written, and the definitions are all in place.  Now in the process of creating then in NVivo (and reteaching myself NVivo as I’ve forgotten bits of it).  Which means next week – all is go for the full coding phase!!!  Much excitement and celebration at this point.

Linked.In

Linked.In Skills
Linked.In Skills

Following a discussion on FriendFace and Chitter this week about where Linked.In harvests the rather random suggested contact names from (seems it’s largely from the app which sneakily scans your GMail unless you remember to block it), went on to explore the wonders of endorsements.  Which thanks to a number of chums means I now have some VERY interesting skills on my profile.  There’s a lot of interesting debate too around the dissonance between what your connections perceive as your skill base vs what you know are your actual skills.  I’ve done some rearrangement on my skills, to try and highlight a bit more the things I’m rather better at professionally…still not 100% sure what the Hades the skill Library is anyway!

Mrs Llama tells me she likes to randomly endorse people for skills in the hope they might return the favour, so I’ve been doing that as well.  Feels rather akin to FriendFace’s poking of old mind you me.  Anyway, feel free to endorse me for something…or should I say something that’s not Activated Sludge (you know who you are!).

Miscellany

Other odds and sods

  • Filled in an AHRC survey about changes to PhD funding.  Delighted to see they want to move to a 4 year standard…wish they’d done that with me.
  • Tried filling in another survey about gaming/gambling research from some local scholars.  Gave up on about question 746.  Not the best example of questionnaire design I’ve come across, and a strong argument for using a different methodology IMHO.
  • Been following the argument over Elsevier and the journal Lingua with some interest this week.  Storm in a tea cup or the pebbles before the avalanche?
  • Project Pizza took a dramatic step forward

*Probably, still up for discussion – but that’s all part of the fun of this job 🙂

Code 358

It’s been another couple of weeks, and frankly I’ve spent most of the time engaged in creating, consolidating and refining my qualitative concept coding framework for my field work data.  From those of you who know what it’s like, you’ll understand why I’m starting to see patterns forming in everyday life.  Woke up in the middle of the night yesterday having suddenly analysed the plot of You, Me and the Apocalypse and worked out the ending*.  Just about avoided waking the Wife up to tell her my revelations!

Hopefully next week once I’ve finished this process, and writing my concept code book, I’ll be able to start running through my final test coding phases, make the final modifications and then break out NVivo all over again.  Just about at the point where my yearly licence runs out and I’ll need to pop to campus to get the new software key!  Gah.

Employment

Had a very useful conversation with my new line manager (at least for the first 6 months) mid-week, and it looks like all being well I’ll be starting off in the new role at the beginning of November.  That is of course assuming HR can get their respective ducks in a row by then, and I’ve never known HR to roll at any realistic speed, so I’m currently taking that all with a pinch of salt.  Not had written contracts through yet either, which means I don’t really want to start talking too much about what I’m doing publicly until I’ve signed on the dotted line!  Suffice to say I’m really actually very excited about starting in the job, and I think there’s a great deal to do in/with it!  So roll on November.

Meanwhile, finally heard back from the last of the other 4 jobs I’d applied for around the same time as this one.  Not too bad all in all, a 40% application:interview ratio.  A little surprised one of them (a media librarian post) I didn’t ever get an interview for, as I was a damned good match and wrote a storming application.  Ah well, guess it wasn’t to be…and anyway, I’d already accepted this (exciting) job!

Meetings

Met with my supervisor last week to discuss a joint conference paper proposal for next year.  Really animated (and long) meeting where we discussed my research findings to date, looked a bit into the analysis and dealt with some of my concerns over word limits.  I think I’m going to have to do some pruning as I’m close to the university’s limits, but I’ve yet to really establish how absolute they are.  Graduate Office tells me one thing, supervisor another.  So for now, I’ll keep on writing, but it does look like I get to chop one of my proposed chapters – just wouldn’t fit!

Also looks like I’m going to have too many results for the thesis (!), so potentially already thinking how/where to publish these in the new year.  Once the thesis is closer to its final shape of course.

Interviews

Oh yes, I also carried out one bonus research interview – one of my actors who I thought had dropped out of contact, got back in touch.  And a very useful set of insights it was too, glad I went ahead with it.  But that’s it, final line really drawn under it all.  Short of someone from my UK government approaches reappearing, I can’t foresee doing any more.  Kinda going to miss this element of talking to people, finding out what they’re doing…but then it looks like that’s going to be part of the new job.  So one door closes…

And that’s it…other than dealing with an unreliable tradesman in between all this, and a still fairly sickly Mrs Llama.  And now…back to the coding framework.

*In case I’m very wrong (we’re only on ep4 of 10), and to avoid spoiling it for anyone else…I’m keeping quiet on this!

Job Hunting: Ready, Willing & Able

I may need to wear a wig
I may need to wear a wig it seems

So.  As discussed in earlier posts I find myself this September sans employment thanks to my university’s rather half-baked policy that doesn’t let it employ final year students, despite the fact that it acknowledges that I need to find work to support myself.  And with my AHRC funding at an end it’s more crucial than ever that I find some thing part-time that lets me complete my studies, but still brings in a few pounds.

Thus I’m now looking for some part-time work that won’t interfere with my studies too much, might give me some additional useful real-world experience and which at the same time won’t be too soul destroying.  Frankly, the latter two options are negotiable though.  I have applied for two posts in recent months that I never heard back from (which was a bit soul destroying, as for one of them I met/exceeded all the criteria), but now I’m really going to be looking long and hard and getting a few/low more applications off.

Thankfully my CV is up to date, and I’m able to rejig it for various jobs.  Slightly worried with my years of experience that I might end up on the over-qualified pile for some applications.  But that’s not going to stop me.  I’ve set up a load of alerts on Indeed for job-key words that might be right up my street, and now I just need to get back into the saddle of writing applications.  I hate writing them (I doubt anyone actually enjoys it), but I can generally crank one out in an evening (although two evenings sees a more polished production).  Of course I am left with the quandary that should I blitz applications and send out dozens to every job I’m even slightly willing to consider, or should I be much more selective?

Sir! Sir! I think I saw a .2FTE research role over there in the long grass
Sir! Sir! I think I saw a .2FTE research role over there in the long grass

Then there’s the sectors – do I only look at jobs in HE/FE or do I cast my net wider?  Should I go back and work in retail once more (fun fact: one of the single most enjoyable jobs I ever did was as an assistant floor manager at a popular DIY store).  Of course Mrs Llama thought it’d be amusing to suggest I go work for Apple – which given my love of OS and issues over the walled-garden of Apple led to following hypothetical interview discussion appearing in my head:

Interviewer “So tell me what you think about Apple and our wonderful products?”
Mr Llama “Well for a start they’re over priced, you seem to have adopted the classic capitalist strategy of achieving maximum valorisation of product along the lines described by Edward de Bernese in his classic work embracing Freud’s methods of psychoanalytical manipulation.  Secondly, you have a corporate ethos that is resplendent in protectionism and increasing enclosure of materials that should ideally be progressing towards the public domain.  Thirdly your O/S looks slick and clean, but in the same way appears to be designed for children who are happy for you to lock down the maximum level of functionality away from the users themselves.  Fourthly…why am I in the street outside the shop now?”
Apple-sucks-right-nowSo…maybe not Apple then.  May have to swallow my green-socialist values if I’m to keep the Wife in shoes and food I suspect at some point, but there’s only so far my ethics will bend, and there are going to be some orgaisations I just won’t be able to even consider working for.  Although I say that now at the start of the hunt, how long my ethics will stand up to being very, very broke…well there’s the rub.
In the meantime I’ll keep looking, and hopefully something will turn up.  Suggestions of where to look and what to apply for are always welcomed in the comments

Masque of the Red Death

Title seems appropriate in the light of the recent UK election results.  Wow, so much of that was unexpected (thanks pollsters, you useless lot), and rather moderately depressing.  Not to mention the number of people voting UKIP.  Ah well, onwards, upwards etc.  So, what have I been up to in the past few of weeks.

Teaching – Face to Face to Facebook

The last two seminars of the year are always very sparsely attended, although for Seminar 23 I had one session with only 1 student (out of 28) showing up.  Didn’t exactly make for the most dynamic of sessions as they weren’t that interested in the topic.  Anyway the focus has been on migrants media consumption and transnational media as a whole, which is a pretty meaty topic – but one that I still think sits a bit ill at ease with the rest of the course.  Not to mention the students made their traditional comments about not really following the lecture – hopefully I made a bit more sense of it for those who did turn up.  But that’s pretty much it for this module… Oh no, wait, I suspect I’ve got to mark exam papers in a months time.  For no extra cash.  Joy. There was actually more of a turnout for the last seminars of the year, although there were only 2 in one of my groups – the others managed around 6 a-piece.  Looking at media usage by migrants, which while far from being my favoruite topic (nor one I’m well versed in) felt it had some really good resonances with other aspects of media and culture.  Always good to discuss how we perceive ourselves, and then to flip that around to consider how others might perceive us – and how the media represents/misrepresents this.  Less of a seminar and more of a lecture as I could see in the student’s eyes they were pretty world weary by this stage in the career. Since then I’ve been fending off daily emails for advice on revision and exams.  Honestly feel I could have happily run a seminar this week as a special potted version of the course and gotten a pretty high attendance rate.  But obviously the uni’s not going to pay me to do that, and frankly given how busy I am with my own work now in the wake of my supervisor meetings…probably couldn’t have fitted it in!  Have had some really nice feedback from various students (including some from last year) on my lecturing and seminar support.  Won’t repeat it here (blogs are rather too self-aggrandising as it is), but makes me wish I could sit them all in front of future employers and say “Look, here are the real references on my academic teaching ability!”.

Teaching – Intro to Media Comms

The remaining four* groups of students performed their PR presentations for me (or in one case didn’t), and they were a mix of good ideas, interesting concepts and at times slightly oddly presented stats.  But I’m not kidding when I say I will really, really miss teaching this module; and this group in particular.  It’s been a wonderful journey and some great interactions have come out of it.  Students for the most part certainly seemed to have got a lot out of it, as more than a few of them have thanked me for my teaching on the course.  If only NTU had thought to retain me for next year’s module, eh. I also worked with one of my fellow tutors on moderating the marks.  She sat in on my sessions (we seemed pretty much of a mind on the marking, which was good), and I returned the favour for some of her groups.  Although I managed to turn up at the wrong room initially.  Really liked this collaborative marking for this aspect of the module, as it took away the self-doubt I had about where I was placing my grades.  Now all I have to do is wait for the grades to be normalised by the module leader, to see if we’re all being consist ant, and then return them to the students and I’m really done with this module. I’ll miss it; even while I won’t miss the 6.30am starts I have to make for the lectures.  Actually the last three lectures on the course have been a really interesting examination of the advertising industry, along with it’s broader impact on society.  Simon Cross, the lecturer has been doing sterling work; which considering fully less than 6 students have been in attendance for the last couple of sessions is a testament to his professionalism.  The final lecture had three UGs, me and a random visiting lecturer sitting at the back.  Boy that makes for a difficult audience.  Not sure where the remaining 157 students were; one can only assume none of them are planning a career in advertising…  But pretty piss poor engagement from the students, I’ve never seen this degree of apathy before…and this is after paying £9k a year for these services. *Yeah, I said four groups…but one of them…no one showed up.  I was only half surprised by this, and it certainly made it very very easy to mark.  But I was surprised by the lack of engagement by some of the students all year with the seminars, you kinda wonder if they think they can get decent careers where they never turn up too!

Supervisor meetings

Finally met with both my supervisors, although across two different days as my 2nd supervisor was snowed under.  Bless him though he insisted on still meeting this week as he didn’t want to short change me.  Dedication there, and his input was valuable.  My meeting with my Director of Studies was also very informative the week before.  We were focussing on the 3rd version of my theory chapter, which I’ve been working on for the past 5-6 months.  To say going into the meeting I was nervous would be an understatement.  And then he opened the meeting with the following dialogue.

I’m going to do my X-Factor review of your work. Has this revised version of your theory chapter improved on the prior version…yes.

Is it good enough…no.

(long pause as I feel the blood run out of my feet)

Why not? Because it is excellent, really exceptionally good.

Okay, two things.  1) The bastard, teasing me like that. 2) Thank the stars, I’m not sure I could have coped with having to totally rework it.  We did then spend an hour considering improvements that could be made to it, but more along the lines of tightening it up, polishing it and preparing it to be ready for monograph publication (!)  This means I’m now onto planning the next (final) bit of empirical research and my next chapter (IP related).  Drafting a document for review by my team’s comments before I can push forward on this bit in the next week or so.  More news about that (and probably a call for participation) once I’m sure in my head what I’m planning to do. Meeting with the second supervisor was a week later, and only a brief one as he was still pushed for time.  Similar laudatory comments, along with a range of suggestions for polishing it.  So full steam ahead with the next bit of research it is then.  After I finish the planning document.

Leicester – Media Conference

Heard back on the 1st of May that my paper had been accepted for the Leicester PhD media & comms conference.  Huzzah.  Only downside is I need to draft a paper by the 15th…that’ll be a big focus early next week then I think.  Should be able to adapt material from my thesis, along with some original stuff in a day or so.  Should be fun to talk about neoliberalism and HE, and to see if sparks any useful conversations/collaborations beyond the day.  Not to mention being able to write about “in the wake of the Conservative 2015 victory it seems that neoliberal driven policy will not be diminishing in the UK“, although you know, I’d prefer to have something more optimistic to say. Might also get a publication out of it too, which won’t do me any harm at all. Spent the best part of this week drafting and rewriting this.  Started looking easy, and like all these things once I dig into the topic I find I’ve got a lot to write – but adding any coherence to it is a challenge.  I know, I know.  Trying to write a coherent academic paper when so many aren’t as clear.  But one tries!  Finally submitted it on Friday right at the deadline.  Hopefully I can forget about that now until early June when I’ll need to write the talk that goes with it.  Hope it doesn’t need too much revision as I’ve slaved over it.  Can’t claim it’ll set the academic world on fire, but it was a good exercise in revising and updating my knowledge in a few areas.

Vienna – ISIS/ICT&S Conference

Try not to giggle everytime I write ISIS in my notes…no, not that lot.  Information Society for Information Studies.  Booked my hotel, booked my flights, and discovered that I’m presenting towards the end of the conference on the Saturday.  Great, this means I’ll have three people and a cow in the audience I suspect (and the cow may have plans).  I get a massive 15 minutes to speak,a and joy of joys my supervisor is the panel chair.  Ah well, at least he’s a known quantity – although he might try and take my talk apart…argh!  Think I prefer lecturing to strangers or bored looking undergraduates!  Decided to commit to attending the whole conference, after all I am sponsored so I really ought to.  This means I get to enjoy a “boat summit and conference dinner”.  Well that at least sounds different, and may I’ll get somewhere on finding a post-PhD employment position. Still need to sort out travel insurance as the Graduate Office were…what’s a polite way to say “utterly useless”…on the matter.  Not that it’ll cost me a fortune, but it might be nice if I can just use the university one.  Need to also find my E111 card…which is around somewhere!

Reference Reviews

Cranked off…sorry, skillfully wrote, my outstanding reference review of this book.  It’s not a bad media studies book, but think it fails rather at being a reference text.  Certainly be holding onto my own copy, rather than off to the charity bazaar with it!

Career Progress

So, with my job at NTU all but done it’s time to start job hunting for something p/t to keep me going for the next year.  Spent a good chunk of one day re-writing my academic CV, as the prevuious effort was somewhere between “not very good” and “a bit crap”.  Looks better now, although the difficulty is I’ve got a lot to put on it.  Must be easier for people who’ve stayed with one employer for decades!  Sent it off to another uni that I saw was looking for p/t media & comms lecturers in the hope they might give me a go.  Literally no idea if I’ll be what they’re looking for, but at least it’s the start of doing something positive.  In the meantime I remain open to any and all offers of employment!

Surprise Fuching

One of the days I was in to see my supervisors, I discovered to my delght that Prof Christian Fuchs was visiting to give a seminar.  Not quite sure how I missed this as I normally check out the visiting seminars in my area online every week.  I’ve used some of Fuchs’ work in my thesis, and a chance to hear him speak live was not to be missed.  He’s certainly a high energy lectuerer and we had an excellent debate afterwards (managed to pretty much have 20 minutes of back and forth with him in the time after the lecturer – which was an especial treat.)  I realised to a small degree I’m a bit of a fan of his work, and really need to read his latest book too.  Probably one for Amazon or ILL I think.  Good stuff even if he’s not quite coming from the same autonomous Marxism direction that I am, there’s a whole lot of resonance between what he’s done and my interests.  Also think an interview with him would be a useful artifact for the thesis, and oh yeah, he’s the chair of the Vienna conference too – so very handy to have touched base with him.

Election

Yeah.  I stayed up half the night watching it (night before my last seminars – I was there…but where were the students eh?) but Mrs Llama made me stop around 2.30am and come to bed.  It had gotten a bit depressing then already.  Still, at least the Greens in my area more or less tripled their vote this time.  Still last placed in a increased Tory majority ward.  Sigh.

Library Brain Picking

Had a brief meeting with the lovely Sharon Potter fro the NTU Library to talk about the Graduate Research Room, and the fact so few PhDs are using it.  Had to confess I think it’s largely down to a lack of awareness.  I only started going there when Kornelia told me about it!

[Edit] No idea why this claims to have been posted 8th May…my PC says it’s the 15th.  Never knew there was a TARDIS in my home office…

Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Spin

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post – kinda keep meaning to get around to blogging and then having life (funerals, house renovations, mouse hunting etc) getting in the way. So here’s a speed through some of things I’ve been up to.

  • Thesis Theory Chapter
    • Still writing it.  Beginning to think I might be done with it this week with a good tail wind.  Of course this is the moment my supervisor is “super busy” of course so this’ll doubtless mean some delays once I submit it for review.  It is a lot better than previously and I can now talk about Foucault, Marx, Gramsci and the autonomists with a lot more ease.   So my education is benefiting.
  • QAA Review
    • Was approached (volunteered) to be a student mouth-piece for NTU’s QAA Higher Education Review panel for post-graduate researchers.  An interesting experience all round, and despite Mrs Llama’s skepticism over it as a good use of my time I’ve enjoyed being able to get my oar in.  As with all these sort of things at NTU it seemed some elements were happening a bit under a just in time approach to management – in that the first I heard about being involved was the Wednesday prior to the Tuesday evaluation via email.  That I’d been volunteered by my supervisor(s) or the university was interesting, I suspect it’s my role as former student rep that saw my name popping out of the hat a likely willing voice…but I never did find out just who it was whom put me forward.  Ah well, I can’t do research about activism and higher education without showing a willingness to be involved in shaping the sector when the opportunity arises now can I?  Interesting experience, although the one thing I took away is that the provision of support, facilities and resources for PGRs at NTU varies massively- I think AAH folks on on the poorer side of the dividing line too.  However, I seemed to be doing more academic work in terms of teaching and assessment than most, so there you go.  At least I got a chance to voice how awful the research training module had been…
  • Teaching
    • As of last week I’ve taken on two more classes for my digital/human communications module seminars – both of which seem fuller of students than my regular one.  Just keeping the one class for the media communications sessions though.  Nice to run the seminars more than once, as what doesn’t work with some groups of students works really well with others.  of course this does mean I’ve just taken on more marking commitments…sigh…wish the uni paid me for that time!  Speaking of which spent two days marking the student’s profile essays, which were a good read on the whole – they’d all pretty much grasped the ideas behind the assessment which was great.  Wonder how they’ll do in the oral presentation they’ve got coming up next?
  • Book chapter
    • Working on a propopals for a book chapter with my supervisory around issues of IPR and (c) in a post-physical/digital age.  Not sure we’ll get it accepted by the editors but worth a try.  Could always reuse it elsewhere.
  • Conference proposals
    • In the middle of writing two of these for conferences this summer.  Not 100% sure either will get in, but it’s worth a try I think.  One’s about general communications effectiveness and the other’s more about my research; which is the harder one to write – as in just picking one area to write about it a challenge!
  • Leicester Media Seminar
    • Went over to the University of Leicester to attend one of their research seminars about authentic ethnography and the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Very interesting session, although the Q&A did rather drag on.  Why do some people insist in asking questions that are in effect 5 minute statements about “How brilliant my research is”?  Doesn’t make for a lively back and forth frankly.  But worth my time, and hopefully I might see if any of their future sessions are worth attending.
  • Careers and employment
    • Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a bit and trying to set a timetable of when I need to start really job hunting.  Pretty sure I can’t rely on something falling into my lap, but also pretty sure that I need to make sure I only take on something that allows me enough time to finish writing the thesis.  Balancing the need for income with the need to work, fun fun fun.  However, will continue my whispering campaign to get NTU to keep paying me to lecture at least!  Mrs Llama sent me the following “helpful” cartoon.  Thanks dear…
Post Doc Descent cartoon
Post Doc Descent