I always like reading about PhD students’ experiences and like to contribute to the work of the staff who work in De Montfort University’s Centre for Learning and Study Support who have really helped me find my feet after returning to academic study after 20+ years… A lot has changed in that time, from advances in technology, to support for study. This week the centre asked me to answer three questions in order to create materials to help new research students due to start at the university in September. I thought I’d blog my answers (as it’s merely a copy and paste):
I. What three research-related words would you have liked to have defined for you when you first started your PhD?
1) Paradigm – heard this a lot. I’d much rather they’d said theories, patterns or concepts! (more…)
The search for a research question for my future PhD thesis is a lot harder than I imagined. However, the more I speak to colleagues and fellow research students, the more reassured I am that I am heading in the right direction. My supervisor told me finding your research topic is a little like dating. He said you hold hands with a lot of ideas until you find one you want to marry. My good friend, another professor, said it was like creating a sculpture. He said it was like taking a block of marble and chiseling away until something significant was created. I wrote my initial PhD proposal twice, in which he remarked that I’d already passed through the marble twice. (more…)
As I dig away at the ideas that my make my research, I do tend to come across ideas that fascinate me or put things in a context I hadn’t considered. This week’s reading was around the origins of university-community engagement. I had been aware of the public good, or benefit, of a university being borne out of the foundations of places like the University of Bologna or Humbolt, Berlin, but never actually considered what our oldest Higher Education institutions in the UK were up to. (more…)
The great social commentator Paul Weller (cough) once said “the more I know, the less I understand” in his three minute masterpiece that was The Changingman. I always thought it was about him, and his experiences of going through divorce and becoming a new person. Just lately I have been thinking about the phrase as my attempts to settle in to life as a PhD student. In October I gave a talk at the University of Leicester, brimming with confidence that what I was saying, as a practitioner, was correct. Now I’m trying to study the theory about what I think makes my ideas correct. The result is that my confidence is suddenly not as wilful, and my ideas are changing. My knowledge is growing – so I should be even more confident surely? But that is not the case. The more views and opinions I read, the more my doubts grow. I saw a graphic of a PhD researcher’s journey earlier this week. (more…)