You can never have enough

Topics. You can never have enough. Enough thinking, enough practice, enough articulation and well, enough. Although interestingly I was recently told eventually I’ll need to settle on something. Sure, but not just yet!

Anyway, the point of this post is to reflect on a session I attended on 9 June with Craig Applegate. I should have posted that night but due to life getting in the way I’m doing it two weeks later. In this session we shared in pairs what our topic was and then we have to share with everyone in the room and field questions. It was a fantastic experience. I learnt so much about my topic and about where I am in my research. Questions were asked in relation to my literature review and I was actually able to answer them. It was fantastic! It was a chance to look back and think, you know something, I am getting stronger in this field, I have learnt a lot and I am stringing really coherent, defensible ideas together.

Having done this session, and seeing others present as well, I am going to enter into the three minute thesis competition. After all I don’t think I can enough practice talking to others about my topic!

I also recently attended two HDR seminars. One was a confirmation and the other was a work in progress. Another thing I can’t have enough of is watching other people present. I learn so much. I learn what to do and what not to do. It’s also an insight into how other candidates are engaging with their supervisors. It really comes through. From the confirmation seminar I learnt the importance of putting the problem and my contribution to knowledge front and centre of the seminar. The candidate didn’t on this occasion. While it unfolded during questions where he was going with the problem, he would have been able to more fully address his position in the seminar itself. His topic is amazing and I think there will be cool insights at the end. The second seminar was great. Because it was a work in progress, the candidate was able to outline initial findings and how she was progressing and where she was going as well as where she had been. She had some really nice tables to present some information in relation to her questions and literature links (that I might just have to ‘borrow’).

Lastly, on 24 June I met with supervisor David. This was, as always, a good session to make me think. The most valuable aspect of the session for me was the concept of having literature questions and then research questions. It had never occurred to me to have them separate. I’ve now put some thought into this and for the first time I’ve actually looked at EndNote and had an idea of how to start managing my references. Every other time I’ve tried, I’ve not been able to move forward as I didn’t know how to group them up. Now, it’s like the dam has opened. And by grouping the readings, I am bringing concepts together and building a narrative. Instead of a literature broken into themes (policy versus business versus student and so on) I have an idea of how to build a concept on a concept weaving the themes as I go. I said to my dad recently, my thesis will be written in such a way he will be able to read and understand it every step of the way. My literature review is now in that place (well, in my head……let’s not get too carried away!)

Other matters coming from the meeting were some accounting articles to read (Matthew Gill, Ruth Hines), contributions I’m likely to be making (commodification, policy, accounting, discourse theory) and how I’m doing this. What I mean here is I need to consider how my research will add to the literature in these spaces. Also the acceptance by me of the literature review as a living document. I have come to terms with process as the outcome rather than the finished, packaged chapter. Lastly we discussed the Champion Chicken in my methodology. Yes, Champion Chicken. I won’t spoil the surprise……

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