Learning from the master

On Monday I got my draft paper back from Leo. It’s the second time he’s seen it but it was version six for me. I hadn’t looked at my email but he had texted me. This is unusual. The text was prepping me for a bad situation because he’d said ‘great work’. Leo is one for being kind to be cruel, so I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t open the email until yesterday. His text in the email also prepared me for massive disappointment, and then I opened the document.

Leo had used track changes and every now and then there was a word in black, but not often. Mainly it was all the blue of edits with the boxes of blue on the side for deletions. I was not surprised. My academic writing is still in nappies.

I made a decision to learn, so rather than just accept all of Leo’s changes, I opened draft six, saved it as draft seven, and rekeyed all of Leo’s edits. This was the best idea I’ve ever had. His edits were amazing. His ability to write in academic ease is masterful. Also, I was able to see he had kept the ideas I had expressed, but it had put the ideas into words acceptable in the academic world. It also meant I could make small changes to Leo’s work and mark it up for us to discuss. If I had just accepted all the changes I would have learnt nothing. Instead I have learnt from the master.

I’ve just emailed him version seven. We will have a Skype and then I will move onto draft number eight. I’m hoping to submit before version 12, but we’ll see how quickly I can apply the lessons I been taught.

I was so late and Doug was very kind!

Yesterday there were texts confirming breakfast today and then this morning I forgot regardless. It’s been that sort of week….but Doug was kind and waited while I jumped on the bike and rode out to say hello. And wow, am I glad I did.

Talking with smart people is just inspiring. He shared all the research and work he’s doing and I spoke to my paper I’m trying to do because there are massive links between the two. He spoke about visualisation of the problem through A3 diagrams and this opened the door for my brain to see my accounting accreditation problem as a picture. Through the visual I can represent the complexity. He also spoke of HR accreditation and its voluntary nature which enables me to recognise the power dynamic in accounting accreditation which I hadn’t previously considered. In that, the professions have power over academic institutions in relation to accreditation because without accreditation a Bachelor of Accounting is not a viable product. He also opened my mind to the internal processes of the university when it comes to accreditation. I have only been looking at the profession perspective, but what on earth happens inside the ‘little black box’ that is a university?

Most valuable of all Doug said, “Accreditation is not changing what you have, it’s about justifying what you have.”. This statement captures the difference between intent and practice. Accreditation is about setting and maintaining professional standards but if it is about measuring inputs and not outcomes, then it becomes a process of ticking boxes rather than an opportunity to enhance or amend the education already in place. Why is this the case? Because accreditation is yet another time consuming activity to be undertaken by time poor academics. Without time, there is limitations on reflection and education is improved through reflection.

Of course at the moment this is merely my opinion. Now to do some research and see if I’m right! You never know, maybe my cynicism is too far this time.  But a big thank you to Doug for waiting for me (I was 25 minutes late!) and for his ideas. It’s always a pleasure.

Going my way

After a melt down today (yes another one) I’ve decided to stuff the system and do my proposal how I want to. I no longer wish to conform to the status quo, I don’t care how ‘researchers’ do it, I care that my message is clear, to the point and meets the assessment requirements for a confirmation. So that’s what I’m going to do. Kind of liberating in its own way. Of course, my supervisors probably won’t agree and that’s cool, I’ll have that discussion when I get them the draft, in the mean time, stuff fancy theory that means nothing at all and hello to clarity of why I have to do something a certain way. After all, isn’t that what good research is? Something useful for someone they can understand?

As part of the process I’m including a link to my timetable so feel free to ignore this link, just want one for the proposal Task list.

Oh and for those of you who know him, let’s send happy and encouraging thoughts to the Bear because he’s amazing and deserves a wonderful final seminar on Tuesday!!!

Different world view

I had a meeting with my secondary supervisor on Monday night to establish firmer ground for me in relation to the process for the proposal in the policy space. As with all my meetings with supervisors it was great. I always learn something new and that’s what makes supervisors who are engaged in your work and who you are as a person amazing. Thanks to Linda I have a clear direction I want to take and this will make the next drafting of my proposal much easier.

This Wednesday I’m presenting for 10 minutes to the new HDR students on how to manage supervisors. Joelle asked me because I offered to help out rather than for any particular design, but I think I’m a good choice. I have the good news story to tell about engaged and supportive supervisors. I also have the story to tell about how important the choice is.

My supervisors have very different world views. I need them both. My thesis exists in a complicated landscape and only but constantly testing my ideas and theory and methodology will my thesis actually survive contact with the real world. It’s not always easy to manage different world views, but for me it is vital. On Wednesday I will share this perspective as well as the perspective I have from other HDR students who have less engaged supervisors and how hard that really is. The supervisor role is a trusted role. If you don’t trust one another then the thesis won’t live to see the real world let alone survive it.

Thanks David and Linda for your amazing, incredible, engaging and very different world views. I need and value you both.

Deadline missed…..

I just sent this email:

Dear David

I have been reviewing your notes on my proposal and the notes from our discussion yesterday.
I understand you would like only the addition of five things to the proposal however I can’t get past the rewrite of the description of the research. I know you said it didn’t need a rewrite, but it does in the context of the discussion yesterday and the direction I want my research to take.
As such, I am postponing my confirmation from February as I’m currently booked to April.
I’m really hoping you’re in the country that month!
Delaying is not making me happy as this is the first important deadline I’ve set myself and missed, however, I really am not confident in what I have down on paper, I’m not happy with the standard and it’s my reputation I want to make sure is not marred by me trying to make a deadline rather than making sure I understand what I’m doing.
I really thank you for the feedback as it has forced me to ensure I do know what I’m doing and highlighted the need for me to tighten my writing up. This has been a really constructive and useful learning process.
Thank you.
Please let me know if April will work for you, and Linda – are you available that month too?
Sue – would you mind removing me from February and slotting me into April if there’s space!
Kind regards
So, not ideal I’m missing the deadline, but I’d much rather like what I’ve got than feel like I did something less than my standards. This could mean this is going to be a long thesis……writing perfection has no space in research and I get that (just in you never really finish your thesis you just get to the deadline (not my quote)) but there has to be idea perfection and I just don’t have that squared away. I want to know when I face up for my confirmation I have a great handle on my ideas, my questions and purpose. Today, that’s just not there and it’s going to take time to get it back. I’d rather take the time than not, especially as I currently have time, and won’t at the end.

This isn’t fun anymore

I’m going through, in detail, feedback I received from my supervisor on my draft proposal. I’m really lucky to have a supervisor willing to provide constructive detailed comments. I know lots of students have a challenge of getting their supervisors to engage at all so I’m very thankful, and count myself lucky.

What it has done has highlighted I have no fucking idea. I think that’s the first time I’ve sworn in this blog and for those of you who know me personally understand how unusual that is (I swear in RL a lot). Research is fun when it’s on what I want to research, which is why I spent some time today also trying to get a paper for APIRA to have shape because I like it as an idea and Leo has found really cool data and analysis. That’s exciting research and it’s fun.

What is not fun is post-structural ideas. The more you read, the less you understand. The more you think you have an idea, the more it is apparent you do not. I also object to the expectation I will write like they do. I am not a post-structural philosopher, I am a researcher who needs a framework that enables multiple viewpoints to be considered, operates across disciplines, permits there to be more than one answer to the question and yet still gives sufficient structure the research is credible and valid. Post-structuralism, using discourse theory, does all these things. But apparently I need express my framework in the words and concepts of people who have spent their lives thinking about this concept. I have not.

So, where does this leave me? Well, stronger, because I understand weaknesses in my ideas and better yet know how I can address them. But it leaves me sad too. Sad because I will not make my confirmation deadline. Sad because I have to read yet more post-structural texts with their inaccessible language. Sad because I thought I understood, but I don’t. Lastly though, I feel happy. Happy because knowing I don’t understand is knowing that I’m learning. So while this might not be fun anymore, I’m actually happy because I’m learning. I really wish learning was fun…….

A FB friend (and old school friend – thanks Emma!) sent me this in response to this post. It’s gold.


source: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1734