I knew that a week away with friends at Easter would help to recharge the batteries, but was conscious that I had impending deadlines. I’d also narrowly missed my target deadline of Easter to get the first full draft of my thesis in to my supervisors, but that was my target. Last week then was all hands on deck to get a poster for the follow-up SHU SIPS doctoral poster event handed in for printing. That was followed by a concentrated effort to complete the last few thesis sections, whilst simultaneously gathering the elements I needed to assemble the image I would be handing in for the Doctoral Research Image Competition … which brings me to this week.
Monday was a solid day working from 6:30 through to meet the 17:00 deadline for handing the image in. I’m not usually a ‘last minute’ kind of person, but there I was at 16:50 desperately trying to upload a 14Mb email attachment. Although that’s not big, it was from my home Internet connection rather than at the Uni., so Sod’s Law kicked in and upload speed reduced to a crawl. I made the deadline with quite literally seconds to spare, only to find a couple of days later that the deadline had been extended.
Tuesday was spent bringing together the different sections of the thesis into a single document, but also acting as note-taker for a Sheffield Institute of Education STEM-related CPD research project forum. An interesting day, but somewhat marred when I sustained an injury whilst out running. After almost seven months slowly recovering from a medial head tear in my left calf, t’other side popped today, resulting in a 2k limp back to Uni, just in time to make the forum … after a shower of course!
Wednesday morning was spent prepping for the Poster Event that afternoon. I still wasn’t convinced I’d gone the right way in trying to summarise the whole thesis in such a brief document; I could have chosen any one of a number of interesting aspects and focused more closely on them. In the end it came down to a couple of factors> Firstly I needed practice in summarising my thesis succinctly, so designing this poster to draw out the salient points was a useful exercise and supported the thesis writing process. Secondly, I wanted to offer my notion of ‘flanography’ for public and academic scrutiny, before doing so through the somewhat more crucial thesis examination. Would it hold up? What had I missed? It can’t have been too bad, securing as it did a prize, although in full disclosure, I should point out that the field of contestants was not large.
On Thursday, one of those real milestone’s was passed as I handed in the first full draft of the thesis. As is so often the case, it came with mixed emotions. I know that at this stage the thesis is rather scrappy and not just rough around the edges, but in the middle too. There are parts which I don’t doubt are bloated (it currently stands at 94 000 words), yet there are also sections which feel too lean. But I also recognise that the people best placed to help me move it forward and iron out the difficulties I can see and the ones I can’t, are my supervisory team. Until they see it, they can’t do that, so in it went, warts and all. It’ll take at least a couple of weeks for them to turn it around, but once more I’m ambivalent towards the outcome. I’m keen to hear their feedback, but also concerned that what I’ve produced is just a load of tosh (imposter syndrome?).
Although the thesis is briefly and temporarily set to one side, there are a number of things I need to work on in the next couple of weeks, not least a presentation I’m giving at the British Sociological Association. I had an abstract accepted for a doctoral event entitled “Adaptive Ethnographies for a 21st Century Sociology” and intend to offer “Flanography” up to a more critical audience, before I submit it finally in the thesis. Doubtless I’ll come back to this in a later post.
On Friday I did something I’ve never done before. Ever. I bunked off. It was a gloriously unseasonal spring day, I’d just handed in my first draft and I’d won a prize earlier in the week. I felt I deserved a treat, so took advantage of the sun and pedalled off on a longer bike ride than the winter usually permits. Coffee and cake provided an indulgent lunchtime treat as I basked in the sun. OK, so I did catch up on a couple of research-related podcasts during my journey, and by the time Sunday closed, I’d still clocked up a fifty-hour week, but having that weekday off still felt … naughty.