Tag Archives: Academia

The necessity of collegiality?

In order for you to understand where I’m coming from with this post, you need to understand a few things about me:

  • I currently rent in two locations, one with my partner (home) and one is a temporary home (caravan park two-three nights a week);
  • I am easily distracted by people around me;
  • I am usually quite happy to sit alone and work; and
  • I am a perfectionist (and not the good kind) – when I think that I won’t be able to do a good enough job at something, I won’t do it and I will stress about it. This means that I worry about the task, but never get anything done, as I don’t think it will meet the standards expected. This means that when I find a time and a place where I am productive, then I need to make good use of it.

 

For my PhD I am being most productive at the library and at my temporary home. When I am at either home, I will sit and study all day, all of a sudden realising that the day has whizzed by and I need to go do some exercise. I also really enjoy sitting outside and studying, rather than being inside a room and missing daylight. I have also found the university library to be a location where I will sit all day and work. I posit that the library and my temporary home are such a good places to study as I do not know anyone around me or do not have anyone around to distract me. At the library or at home, I pop my noise-cancelling headphones on and read/edit/write without distraction.

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When I am in the PhD study room, I have people around me that I am starting to get to know. I quite like these people, would like to develop a working relationship with them (especially since we will be going into careers in academia together and may work together on projects in the future), and see the benefits of a collegial workplace, however I feel that there is an expectation to bond, to discuss projects, to share experiences, to talk… None of these are ‘bad’, in fact most people would find that sharing experiences and bonding will make the PhD journey better. I am in the first few months of my PhD and have put myself on a tight schedule – I have work, I have travel between homes, I want to have a social life. When I am in the PhD study room, I need to dedicate myself to my studies, otherwise I am losing time in other parts of my life.

Maybe when I am in a different place with my studies I will have a different point of view on this.

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Am I doing the right thing? Choosing my research question

I am one month into my PhD and as a perfectionist I need to remind myself that doing a PhD is a learning process. I often feel like I should know how to do research already, isn’t that why they accepted me into the program? I had to prove that I was capable of doing research to get in …

I had my first meeting with my supervisors recently and discovered that my research goals were too broad. Now I know that this is common to most PhD students, we get into research because we are passionate about a topic and want to change/understand a topic. My first feeling was that of disappointment, I thought I was on the right track, I thought that I was going to impress my supervisors with my plan and show them how amazing I was… I have to say that my supervisors were not negative about what I had done, and most of the meeting was spent discussing what options I had for methodologies and how to whittle down my research topic and I came away with a plan of how to proceed. So my disappointment was mostly that I had had this belief that my research was going to be the answer to what I believe is an issue that needs to be changed (see Does my PhD have to change the world? on the Thesis Whisperer), and post-meeting I realised that I was only going to be able to research one age group, in one sport, in one location, not for all sports around Australia.

The first thing I did was debrief with a friend who has their PhD, so they know what the process is about. This friend told me that I need to relax and remember that if I’ve gone down the wrong path that it is not wasted time, but that I have learned something; they said that if people “did” research the right way every time that there would be nothing left to research – cancer would already be cured, because the researchers would have chosen the “right” research from the first time.

So after debriefing with my friend, which made me feel better, the next thing I did was head to the library and seek out books on these new methodologies that I was not as knowledgeable about. I plan to read up on methodologies and try talking about my research with as many people as I can to see what I’m most passionate about, what I can achieve in the PhD time, and what is interesting to other people.

I know it is common for new PhD students to struggle to find the right research topic and that my issue is not new, but being the person that I am, I wonder how to try make sure that I am going in the right direction.

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Conferences, networking and PhD decisions

Conference presentation

Next Friday I will be doing my very first conference presentation! I am presenting at the Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS) conference in Melbourne.

This is the first time that I will be standing up in front of other academics and presenting my research. As the date draws closer I am starting to feel nervous. I am yet to submit my research as a journal article (although that is pretty close to submission), so this is a big test for how my research is received in the sport management academic community.

I am also looking forward to seeing what a conference is like and networking with people who have been around longer than I in the field. I am sure that I will learn a lot by attending a number of different presentations at the conference.

Networking and PhD decisions

Whilst I am primarily going to Melbourne for the ANZALS conference, I have organised a couple of meetings with industry to try decide on a tighter PhD research topic and see whether what I want to study fits with their research agendas. I have heard both positive and negative information to working with industry for my PhD, and am unsure which way will suit me best.

Negative: I understand that when working with industry I may not have as much flexibility if the topic needs to be altered and I may not have as much control over my research.

Positive: I realise the importance of developing strong bonds with industry, so that my research can have practical applications and real-world impact. Industry-led research can also provide links and introductions to associations who may be more willing to become involved in the research with a well-known name behind the research.

I have a little bit longer to work on my PhD preparation, I don’t need to start until February next year. I am currently working hard on finishing a couple of research projects before Christmas. Before starting I plan to do a bit more reading on the different theories that may be relevant to my studies, as whichever I choose will need to be defended and I will need to justify why I did not choose another theory.

 

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