A Crazy Couple of Weeks

Got a little behind with the blog thanks to my PC having exploded (well sort of) and waiting on the parts to build the new one.   It’s all up and running (and about 1,000% faster – running Win7 off an SSD drive means boot times are now laughable).  So what have been up to in the world of PhD:

  • Open Access: Slowly reading papers and reports on open access and the UK for my next chapter. Suggestions welcomed for any recent papers or reports on the topic that are a must read. Sorta approaching it as an historical overview to begin with.
  • Teaching: Had my last seminar of the year in the first week of December, and gave my class their marked coursework exam back.  No one lynched me on the spot which was good, and I hope that my feedback came in useful.  Seminar was on the impact of consumerism on society and the media.  Not sure it really hit home (and coming before Christmas, perhaps this one was always going to be a bit of a lead balloon moment).  In an effort to bring the message home I showed them a couple of videos.  The first is an extract from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe, looking at how the G20 protests a few years ago were spun by the media.  The second, a bit more of wake up call for activism and how to take a personal response to the consumer society.  Sadly the sound on the PC was a bit flakey so I couldn’t run the first vid (damn!) but here they both are for those of you whom might be interested.
  • Birthday: Had my birthday.  Took the day off to go walking.  Very pleasant.
  • Rep: Did a few student rep things, all by emails and started planning for the next committee meeting I need to attend by asking awkward questions of the other reps.
  • Elsevier: I’ve been following with interest the story this week around Elsevier’s take-downs sent out to academics mounting their PDFs on Academia.edu.  Back in the day when I was a repository manager at UoLeic, the ethos was always for extreme caution – let some other repository or site be the one to take the fall.  It was perhaps a little overtly conservative for my own taste, but one wasn’t really in a position to effect a change in institutional ethos.  On the other hand I did do my best to alert my academics to the dangers of just posting whatever they like.  I suspect this story is going to grow over the coming weeks, and I can’t help thinking Elsevier’s waited until the run up to Xmas in the hope it might get buried over the festive season.
  • Impostor syndrome:  Having a fair chunk of this lately, with associated feelings of not feeling any smarter/wiser/more learn’d than I did this time last year.  It’s hit my studying motivation hard, and there have been days when I’ve more less had to slap myself around to keep focusing on the text I’m reading.  I’m sure it will pass once I have a proper break (planning to have a good couple of weeks off study – first break of a more than a couple of days since…erm, last Christmas).  Really hope I can find my enthusiasm and drive again, in the new year.
  • Student numbers: Having spent a few months looking at the HE’s sector expansion and neoliberal incursion, I’m not surprised to see that academics are not impressed by the UK Government’s latest suggestion to move yet further towards a mass education system.  More does not make for quality, and just further degrades the value of the degree whilst diminishing the value of those who choose not to come to university but actually gain real world skills.  Dare I suggest, much needed skills (tried to find a good plumber lately?),

And that’s been about it.  I will endeavour to write something a bit more fulsome next week for the last working week of the year for me, before I take 2 lovely weeks holiday and do something other than read and worry about not reading enough.

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Welcome to Level 2

And so I slide into the second (of potentially four) years working on my PhD.  It’s been a bit of a choppy week for me workwise as I’ve had some family issues to deal with, which have taken out a few days from my schedule.  As such I’m not going to belabor the epistolary formula this week and just give you the short report for once.  I’m sure there may be some of my (semi) regular readers who’ll be glad of that!

Library camp: Despite no longer being a librarian, I owe a lot of what I am and my outlook to that glorious becardiganed set. As such I’ve signed up to attend the Library Camp 2013 unconference in Birmingham in November.  And offered to run the odd session or two too.

Editing: I’m still working on the chapter. Go away.  I don’t want to talk about it right now. (Gah!)

Research Training: Despite horrid train issues I made it to the briefing for the RPC (or the Professional Research Practice Course I think it’s called now) briefing on Tuesday.  Turns out you can opt to do the whole module 2 in a three-day intensive burst or every couple of weeks.  I’ve opted for the burst mode.  I’ll miss seeing some of the old gang, but as they’ve relocated it out to City Campus it really is a pain and a half to get there for me.  That’ll all be in November.

PhD Chat: As a consequence of the briefing for the course I did catch up with some of the old gang, and had a very intensive conversation with a few of them.  Thanks folks, that really helped cheer me up (and I am NOT going to finish this PhD as quick as some of you seemed to think!).

New year, new job: Yes, I was interviewed (or rather had an informal chat to my department head and a module leader) on Thursday.  As a result I am now a university lecturer of sorts – I’ll be leading seminar groups from next week on a core media module.  More on that…once I know what it is I’ve got myself in to!  Excited as this is just what I wanted to do as part of my PhD experience, and mildly terrified as to what I’ve taken on!

My dad: Thanks for asking…he’s likely to pass in the next few days.

Next week: Looks like a busy one.  I’m deadlining myself to edit the last half of the chapter so I can wave it past my supervisors, I need to sort out this research training course and of course find out just what I’m teaching in these 23 seminars I’ve got lined up!