Tag Archives: Research

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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Getting a PhD with a scholarship..

how-to-applyAs those of you who have started reading my blog know, I plan on beginning a PhD next year. As scholarships and PhD positions seem to be quite competitive, I am spending a bit of time trying to make my application stand out from others.

To aid my application for PhD I am taking the second half of 2013 to work as a research consultant and research assistant. This semester I am doing work that will help my skills as a researcher, which will aid my application for PhD and hopefully to get a scholarship, and help me to be successful at doing my PhD.

I have given myself a few things to do this semester and I’ll hopefully be able to write about those experiences too. I have decided that there are three things that I need to work on to develop my application – research experience, publishing and industry engagement

1. RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

It was important that I got some paid work, and I was lucky enough that the ECU School of Business required some research assistant help. I am working approximately two days a week as a Project Manager/Research Assistant on a major combined food experience project. This research project is a combination of seven sub-projects, which will culminate in a survey covering food shopping, food choice, preparation and consumption of food. This project is giving me the opportunity to work with a number of academic staff, in fields from recreation through to economics, and allows me insight into a wide range of project types.

Another research project that I am working on is looking at gaining an understanding of sport participation and recreation. This project is with David Russell and the “Rippa Sports” Consultancy Company, working with the Department of Sport and Recreation and five state sporting associations in Western Australia to understand how sports can create an environment where recreational participants are welcomed. So far the project has had a focus group with association representatives to understand how they can engage ‘sport recreators’ and what the benefits would be to the sport and to the individual. The second stage is a survey of current sport association members and a similar survey of sport recreators who are not engaged with the associations. Reports will be completed for the Department of Sport and Recreation and for each of the state sporting associations.

2. PUBLISHING

Having work published is key to academia, and having some work published will show my desire to conduct research and my ability to write for academic journals and that I can conduct research that withstands peer review.

I am working on getting my Honours project published. This is currently at the stage where my supervisors get to do their, hopefully final, work with me as an Honours student.

The first Phase of the Sport recreators project, the workshop, has been completed and results written. I have started the journal write-up of this piece of work.

3. INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT

The plan is for the sport recreators work to be finished and all reports submitted by the end of this year. This work will show my ability to work with industry businesses and that I can write reports that have ‘real-world’ meaning.

I hope that with the three above areas covered I will be able to move into my PhD smoothly (and hopefully with a scholarship), with proven ability to work at the required level and with some small measure of success to start me on my way.

Hello to the beginning of my academic career!

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Research to start research – The confusion of finding a PhD Supervisor

slider-search-for-a-supervisorRecently I have started getting organised to start my PhD in 2014. I have decided that there are a few things that require my attention in order to start off positively.

The supervisor-student relationship is very important to the success of a PhD, so firstly, I need to find supervisors who I ‘click’ with; supervisors who will be around to support me when I need it, who challenge me to keep going when I feel like an impostor, who are knowledgeable in my field, and who will direct (teach) me. Added to this, I want to attend a university that is supportive of PhD students, where I have the opportunity to lecture and tutor; where I can advance my experience in teaching, the other part of being an academic. Finally, I am debating how important the location is. I want to be around friends, and that begins limiting the locations that I am willing to move, as I have only lived in three states of Australia.

My research of potential supervisors has begun with a check through of the people I referenced in my Honours thesis. There are not that many in Australia. I then looked further and researched on the internet which Australian universities offer Sport Management degrees and therefore may have academics who research and teach in my field.

I am talking to academics, in particular my Honours supervisors, who can recommend particular people who they have met at conferences. This gives me some direct feedback on personalities, which relates directly to how I might interact with them. My Honours supervisors know me and can tell me what potential supervisors might be like as supervisors.

The next step is actually contacting potential supervisors. I have been reading blogs and information online about what to do and what not to do. This is quite a scary step for me, as I am extremely concerned about my choice. I am choosing people who I will be working with for the next three years. I am stressed about making the right decision and making the right impression.

I would love advice from people about what to look for, what their experiences have been like and, from current academics, what you are looking for – what would impress you.

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my research!

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