Article number two – complete

Well it took a while due to life getting in the way for both Leo and I, but it’s done!

I have my second academic journal article published, the first on which I am lead author.

I feel so lucky to have someone like Leo with whom to work. He is kind in his feedback and constructive. He also has a great mind full of curiosity and a drive to make improvement, nit just talk about it.

In line with my cross disciplinary thesis – which is across disciplines not truly cross disciplinary (although not sure what the difference is) – I’ve published in an education journal and now in an accounting journal. Now to find a policy and a management journal and I’ve covered my thesis off!

The thesis moves slowly. Work gets in the way more than it should, but I do need to eat. Thinking is hard and words don’t come easily. I write, re-write, and then re-write again. It’s the process and it’s slow but I’m now proud of the words I have and I think I have a thesis that makes more sense than it did before so I’m counting that as progress.

I’ve also not done the ethics for Steph as I have promised I would. Hopefully today! (Researching is hard!)

Step by step

Today the world is COVID 19 mad. There is impulse buying (for no reason), rudeness beyond measure, scare mongering on a massive scale, and not one piece of good news reported ever, because bad news sells. People ask me how I’m going (which is lovely) but I have to answer, ‘no different’. I’m a PhD student who teaches. So I work at home like 80 percent of the time and have done so for four years. My life has no changes except my Dad now lives at his farm and requires food drops.

Based on this, you’d think my thesis was ripping along. But it isn’t and I’ve been thinking about this.

People, as a species, focus on the negatives. We are hard wired to worry about negative things because this is what kept us alive during cave days and beyond. In a world where we are (on the whole) safer, more well fed, more literate, and have greater access to information, we are still focused on the negatives. So I worry about money as I’m facing a massive shortfall in income. I also worry about the stupid. I also worry that people are behaving poorly. I worry about things I can’t control. And that makes me stupid.

So today I will do my marking, my thesis, and edit my paper with Leo (for the second time). I will stop sulking and stressing about things I cannot control and will rely on the kindness of my Dad and husband to ride out the financial difficulties. I am lucky to have these people to help me. Not everyone does, including the students I teach. And most of all I will focus on the positives as much as I can, otherwise this thesis will haunt me forever! And besides, Linda gave me some really helpful feedback on my draft so I owe it to her to get my shit together.


Here’s what was missed

It’s been too long, I know. I say often enough how valuable I find this site to go back and remember aspects of my thinking at various times but that only works if I post…anyway, this is sort of a catch up post in the vague hope I’ll be here more regularly. I’m not optimistic.

On 25 November last year, I had a meeting with my supervisors. I didn’t post at the time because I had been given a lot to think about. While positive and constructive with their feedback the basic take away message for me, intended or not, was that my thesis is too confusing and they can’t really remember what I’m doing so the analysis makes no sense. At the time I was a bit hurt but then I realised they were right. I still didn’t know what my thesis was, so how on earth could they?

This coincided with CPA Australia starting to help me out with data. In early October I had begun the reach out process with the help of my supervisor and on 21 January I was in the Melbourne offices of CPA going through archive material. It was wonderful. I really do love old documents. The history they tell you, the surprises they contain, the story they create.

Throughout December I had been busy pulling together the thesis in total on the request of my supervisors. They wanted a full draft in order to work out what the hell I was doing – fair call I think. This meant finalising the data analysis for the submissions and continuing the analysis of the Hansard. It is so boring to read Hansard. I have no words. Politicians are repetitive and stupid. 1988 was more interesting than 2014 simply because the party rhetoric wasn’t quite as prolific, however, boring is boring.

All of this work came to a head on a train back from Melbourne on 23 January when I realised the thesis I started in December, based on what I’ve been working on for five years, was flawed. It wasn’t my thesis. It was the product expected by the establishment and it didn’t work for my data. It didn’t work for my question. My problem is complex, murky, full of pluralities. The stock standard structure of a thesis doesn’t fit.

So I have a new structure. It uses literature and data in sections throughout the thesis. The story is the story and I use all the evidence I have to support the story as it unfolds rather than segmenting the actions of research by chapter. In adopting this approach writing is easy. I am finding it simple to pull together materials previously written with new content based on my analysis of my new data, and old, to tell the story of the problem in my research and then offer solutions. Even my theory has come together in a useful way because I combined it with my model of university education as a process, providing a clear link (for the first time) between my theory and problem. It’s like a switch has flicked. Finally I know what my thesis is.

Last note: My second paper with Leo was submitted to a journal and they have asked for revisions which we are working on now. Looks like we might have win here, but too early to count chickens.

How do the professionals do it?

Hats off to every academic out there. You are incredible. How you sustain any mental health normality on the roller coaster that is publishing is beyond my understanding. Today it is official. Leo and I made it. From an initial chat in September 2015 we are now a paper in January 2017. I mean I thought the APS was slow, but this has been a mind blowing experience and a roller coaster of emotions.

First the research doesn’t do what you expect (took us three different approaches to the data to get it to work) then there is the writing, editing, clarification, editing, rewriting (and that’s just Leo and I). Then comes the rejection, then the acceptance with edits, then the extra edits and then the publication. I’m tired just writing this.

So, kudos to you academics. You are awe inspiring (awesome).

On a different note, I had a thought last night about my title. I know I get hung up on it (see here and here and here and here and others…..) but for some reason having a title is really important. Anyway, I realised yesterday while doing my literature review for what feels like the 100th time, accounting is about giving an account. An account is like a story, which is a narrative, which is a discourse. This led to a title of:

A critique using accounts of Australian university education from those involved in a Bachelor of Accounting

This won’t be my last title, but I like it. It has a simplicity I’ve been missing and basically says what I’m doing. I want to bring simplicity back, I lost it a bit last year, but it’s mine if I want it. Comments on the title more than welcome! Writing is a lonely business and I’m an extroverted thinker.