Category: PhD project and life (Page 2 of 2)

How much should we conform to an existing academic system? 

It is a question which I’ve asked, since I confronted a nowadays academic reality with my idealistic expectations…

Should I start from expectations or from the reality? 

 What was my vision of being a PhD student? Very traditional one – that I would have a supervisor who would be “My Professor” in the same time, that I would be a part of an institute/ department, that I would take a part in their research, that I could learn based on a master-apprentice model. 

I was also thinking that all people in an academia have similar idealistic approach to their work, that this work is for something, that we should do research useful for society…

And the reality…

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Importance of a mental support 

I will not pretend that PhD studies/ project/ writing is a bed of roses… Be prepared for ups and downs. Sometimes you can face “systemic difficulties”… sometimes can come lack of motivation… Sometimes you can feel don’t good enough… Sometimes you can feel discouraged working with people who don’t share your values… Sometimes you can be overwhelmed with responsibilities and tired… Sometimes you can feel lonely with your struggles…

My advice – don’t stay alone! Take care about your mental support 🙂 

Who can support us in our 3-5 years PhD journey? 

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Everyone should find his/her RSA – about academic associations 

Last week I attended the PhD students & Early Career Conference organised by the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and I had very interesting conversations with Michael Taster – he is on the second year of study on a “collaborative award PhD entitled The Production and Reproduction of Policy Relevant Spatial Knowledge and New Publication Techniques: A Case Study of Regional Studies. A project which brings together funding and collaboration from the Regional Studies Association, Taylor & Francis, the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Sheffield in order to investigate the ways in which academics are responding to changes in scholarly communications” – It is what he said in the beginning of his presentation. By the way – it needs to be very nice feeling to have so many funding and collaboration institutions to mention 😉

During the conference dinner he asked me – “How did you find out about the RSA?” 

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Conferences – what for do we participate in them?

I have two different pictures of the reasons what for people go for the conferences – Polish one and let’s call it “international” one. 

Bellow the photo from the international conference which I attended this week (of course I blurred it because I didn’t asked people if I can publish their faces)

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Secret notebook – about research project development 

After my first year of the PhD studies I was with my Friend on a Summer School. One day we went to a museum and he had bought as a souvenir little, green notebook with an eye (if I good remember). He told me that he would note there his brilliant ideas 🙂 

Few months later we were together on a conference. He had his little, green notebook and he made some notes there, when speakers told something interesting, inspiring, important… 

Few months later I come up with an idea of my PhD project (version 3.0). I thought that if I had wanted to treat this project seriously and I had wanted to develop it I should have a notebook where I could write my ideas and notes and comments of people with whom I talked about my research project. Below the first page of that “secret notebook” – “PhD thesis. Concept 3.0”:

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When enough is enough? – about a literature review

It is a question which I still don’t know how to answer….
I have this tendency, and I am not sure if it is because curiosity or perfectionism, that I want to include in my writing (no matter if it is a thesis or a paper) almost all literature which exists in a particular topic. I am totally crazy with “original sources” (my students from Bremen know something about that ;)), that is why I always try to go to this very old books, and papers, and read them by myself than “cite someone who cite someone”, and rely on what other people wrote about this or that work. In the end I spend hours going from one book to another, from a reference list in one article to dozens of new pdf. downloaded, and it is like a ”never-ending story”….

And I always ask myself the question – when enough is enough?

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How is your writing going?

-the most often heard question, when you are PhD student. Nobody likes it, and everybody asks it, even me 😉

Last Tuesday I passed my very last exam in my 3 years PhD program. I had 38 courses in total, half of them finished with exams, half with essays or presentations. There was not too much time for writing, especially that I spent half of this 3 years on scholarships abroad. Now I still have one year of studies, free of courses, and finally I can focus on my PhD thesis writing.

In Poland, in my field, at my University we still write a monography (not cumulative disseration), at least 150 pages with proper theoretical introduction, methodological explanation, and empirical part. My plan is to finish the thesis in August 2017. 11 months it is not too much, not too little. For now I have just my PhD research proposal written (still not read by my supervisor), collected literature (but not read yet), and I am waiting to access to micordata. So most of a work is still to do.

I’ve thought that writing about my writing process will help me to motivate myself and to monitor my progress, to share my doubts and successes. And in the same place I can answer “How is your writing going?” question 😉

I feel like I am preparing myself for a 11-months battle. I need good plan, I need to be well-organised, I need to be focused. I also have prepared armament:

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