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So close you can taste it

Today I sent to my supervisors and a willing friend my thesis. Complete (minus conclusion). Once I get their feedback I’ll make changes, fix up my references including update the literature and then write the conclusion. Then a final look by the supervisors and the baby is done.

Of course that’s the dream. When I get my feedback I might be looking at a revisit of the data and all sorts of crap. Who can say?

I should feel good, relieved even. I don’t. The first version I sent had formatting issues so I feel like an idiot. I checked it yesterday, put page breaks in for each chapter and then every field updated to incorporate the page break. So random page breaks every time I’ve cross referenced a chapter title. Fixed now, but seriously. Feel like an idiot.

Let’s see how bad I feel in four weeks or so when I get the feedback. Maybe this is just the beginning of the disaster that is my thesis submission process! (Ah, so cheery)

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!)

It’s never too late to change

I am so thankful to all the people who have helped me on me journey. I think of it as serendipity, but honestly, the planets align too often for it to be chance.

Doug and Bruce – you are amazing. You don’t realise but the little nudges you both give me from time to time have helped me to remain open to content I would never have used.

Michael – your gentle post-structural mocking has paid off. I think I’m changing my mind. As a result I’ve just bought more books from Amazon (Weber, Habermas and Piaget) to see what I can think through, and I’m returning to my research on discourse theory for options other than post-structuralism.

As many of you know who have been with this blog since the start (my apologies) I’ve never really been able to problematise my problem other than “it feels wrong”. Thanks to the session by Ben and Doug I’ve been thinking a lot about it. Last week in response to David and I not agreeing again, I did up a model. It didn’t feel right. So, today I returned to the big sticky note on the wall and I think I worked it out. The product of education, defined by industry and government is being delivered by universities through their interpretation of the defined product which then produces graduates who are interpreted by industry based on how they defined the product. And no one is happy.

Problem is, the doesn’t need post-structuralism to analyse. Yes, I’m still looking at language and how it constructs the ideas and how there is a disconnect between what is said and what is happening, but that’s not about questioning of structures, it’s a questioning of how we are interpreting. It’s a translation issue, not a neo-liberal issue. If my thesis is about explaining what the problem is and pointing out it exists, I can’t do it in a way that turns people off. Going down post-structuralism is turning people off. It’s too angry for what the issue is.

The literature tells me  universities, government and industry do want ‘good’ education. And while it tells me globalisation is tearing university education, it’s by accident rather than design. We are here by chance, or perhaps incompetence, not because of intent. Did people really intend university education to become what it is? I need to write a thesis to answer this question, and perhaps depending on the answer, provide hope for how university education might just become what people want, rather than what it is.

Feeding the ideas and how to stop

Reworked the ‘change’ chapter today and am wondering for a topic as big as mine, when is it enough literature? I mean, I’ve got to the point where I’m finding literature quoting literature and there’s nothing really new, however, this is a big topic and I’m not convinced I have enough. So I think my step might be an EndNote and Scrivener audit to work out what I have from Australia on the topic versus other countries, then do a cross check on what I think, and then I might call it quits – for the moment, maybe.

The issue I have is I did a scholar search using a different approach and am finding some really cool stuff. It’s the application of post-structural thought into accounting and/or education. That’s cool. And then I’m finding topics in those that I would like to follow but then I’m in the proverbial rabbit hole. It’s time to get this chapter done so I can have my basis on which to move forward for data collection and analysis (which I’ve had to redo for the third time on my first collection as I keep rethinking about how to ‘let the story tell itself’. Of course, if the story is telling itself I shouldn’t have to ‘do’ anything, however I need the stories to tell me something vaguely thematic so apparently I have to think…) because the literature for me is an active player in my collection and analysis. This has been an interesting experience with the data collection while working up the literature. It’s been great to see how one idea feeds another, but at some point I have stop feeding the ideas and just get something done.

Had a great discussion with Michael this morning. It’s nice to have people around me to test my ideas and thinking, and not just on my thesis! Although we did talk about post-structural thinking this morning and agreed there was probably a bit of ‘get your hand off it’ in their process. However, the more time I spend with the post-structural concepts and ideas, the more I see how I need it in the thesis to explain my critique of the discourses. It’s nice to understand the limitations of my framework while gaining insights into their applicability. I do enjoy learning.

Additionally Amazon got more money from me today…..damn you Bruce.

And so it begins….again…..

Today I’ve prepared my final draft, draft. Yes, that’s right, a draft of my draft and it’s final. Tomorrow I begin my re-write. I’m actually excited. I would have thought all the months I’ve spent writing this stupid proposal I would be sick of it. But I’m not. I’m excited. For the first time in about two months I have a message I want to send. I get it. I know what I want to say, how I want to say it and my draft has all the bits I need. I’ve incorporated the comments I want from the feedback I’ve received, cut a lot out the crap and done a full restructure. And I’m excited.

Tomorrow morning I will get up, make some hot water, and have the draft, draft open and a blank document and I will write. I know this is slightly insane, why not just edit the draft, draft. Well, because my brain doesn’t work that way. It works with the blank supported by the prepared. By tomorrow night I will have a proposal I am confident in, that I would be happy to give to my dad to read, and clearly explains my research, how I will do it, and then what it will do. Yes that’s right, not what I hope to do. What it will do. That’s how confident I am in my draft, draft.

This has been a long journey so god knows how the thesis will be……for those of you who are lovely and support me on FB, thank you, but don’t feel obliged…..I know this is painful! It’s a long seven years, if you need to save your strength feel free. I know I’m not submitted, or even finished on this proposal, but I feel close.

Talking of submitting, a very dear friend of mine, Bilal, submitted his thesis this week. He sent me a photo to prove it (I’m not posting here as I’m technologically challenged across devices and with WordPress on the iPad…). I also saw a Bear deliver an inspiring final seminar. It’s these wonderful people who inspire me. Thanks to you both.

Oh, and the paper I thought my collaborator and I had bailed on appeared for final edit so we are submitting! And he is amazing. He has made a silk purse beyond my wildest dreams. It will have my name on the front but I feel slightly like a fraud….he did most of the work. However, for our next paper (I hope there will be one because our data rocks) I will do more (but maybe that’s what we all say!).

Trusting to accept

In my life I trust people very easily in that I believe they aren’t lying and I believe they want don’t want to harm others. I’m very bad at trusting others to help me. In fact I have a very dear friend trying to help me to learn to not just accept help when it’s offered but to actively seek help when I need it. He’s trying but it’s a long road and I’m very entrenched in my habits.

My last post was very hopeless, this week my post is hopeful. I was offered help and I’ve taken it.

David came up with a bright idea of how to write. Instead of writing a thesis, write 1000 word essays on set topics. At the time I felt so sad because I’d been reduced to him having to pat me on the head and offer a ‘dumbing down’ of the process. However, instead of ignoring his advice as I really wanted to do because I’m like that, I trusted him. Not only do I have one completed essay of which I’m reasonably satisfied, I’m writing my next one on theory and it turns out I know stuff!

Writing in little grabs that are complete in and of themselves is making feel like I understand rather than getting lost in all the ideas trying to come out at once. It’s nice not to feel stupid.

I would like to thank everyone who posted happy thoughts on FB after my last post, but in particular Bruce. He is an amazing person I trust regularly as I read everything he lends me! (well skim read some and heavily notate others). You are all amazing people and I will try to trust more and ask for help.

Critiquing and being critically reviewed

Today has been a big day and as I worked my way through my list I realised a lot has happened that I haven’t blogged and I should. If only to make sure I don’t forget how amazing people are.

So since my last post I’ve had a few meetings.

The first was a catch up with Doug the coach. Really great ideas and conversation about how to build narrative for the thesis and what the actual message is I’ve got to convey. Also interesting conversations in relation to literature reviews as this is constantly my bug bear. Interestingly he asked if I’d mapped out my Introductory Seminar in a mind map. Unlike me I hadn’t. I’d just written it. Based on this excellent advice I have been able to map not just the seminar but also how I plan to do the thesis. Doug critically reviewing my work made me work harder to articulate what I’m doing and where I’m going. This has turned into an amazing leap forward in my own understanding of my thesis.

Then it was a supervisor meeting – actually it was a master class on the ‘posts’ – modernism and structuralism. This was a fantastic meeting. It clarified the reading I had done in this space and gave me a stronger grounding in how post-structuralism is applicable for me. Today I’ve done some more reading and I’m not sure I’m post-structuralism just because I’m exploring how meaning is constructed and then constrains. I’m not sure I’m fully in this space so more thinking and reading to be done. We also talked about how research changes you. This was a valuable insight as the day I was having needed a tether. By that I mean I often feel like I’m at sea in this thesis and people around me are drifting away. The conversation highlighted it’s me that drifts, not them, so I can choose to not drift and actually re-engage.

I shared this view with Sarah – about research changing you – and she agreed. We then discussed how it is a privilege to undertake a PhD and how humbling it is to be in the world of research. Sarah is an amazing academic. She researches across disciplines in really imaginative ways and chatting to her was just wonderful.

I also met with my second supervisor to go through my Introductory Seminar plan. After some frank and fearless discussions we got to a path of clarity. It was amazing. We were talking, exchanging ideas and then all of a sudden my brain switched gears and today I’ve been able to write about the literature in a critical way. I’ve been thinking about it differently and my thesis too and this in turn has led me to the most positive I’ve been about my literature review ever.

I’ve also been to two sessions on the three minute thesis. While these have been interesting I’m not sure there’s been sufficient value for me personally. It comes from having a major in drama I suppose. I’m also concerned about having to put my research into a box that is familiar for everyone just to be heard. But then if you want to be heard, you have to sell the message a way people understand. This is making me think hard. I have decided to do the three minute thesis every year I study. It’s an excellent process of critically reviewing where I am and what I’m thinking about my thesis.

Reading these paragraphs you can see why I have the title for this post I do. I’ve finally moved my head into the space of critiquing others and am learning so much from people critically reviewing me. These meetings all led to an amazing research day today. I’ve got what I think is close to my final content for my Seminar and I’ve also been able to consider weaknesses in the literature I’ve found. Weaknesses my research can help address. Today has been a landmark day. My brain is starting to get it. A long road to go, I know, but it’s comforting to know I’m now strong enough to walk it.



Seriously, who knew??

Today I have a whole day by myself working on my PhD. It’s amazing. This is the first time this has happened. Yes I’ve had weekends and basically spent whole days researching but there was always that hang up that it was a weekend and I really wanted to be doing something else.

Today is different. Today is a work day and I’m working – hard. But it’s my work, not working for the man! Although I have to thank ‘the man’ for giving me research time – so, thanks, man! (You know who you are)

The other amazing thing today is I’m opening old Scrivener files as I’m moving from literature review which is my main file, into other spaces. When I first got Scrivener I set up various files for my thesis as I though I was ready. I was arrogant. I was not. But you know something? It’s amazing seeing where I was and where I am today. It’s exhilarating. Seriously, who knew I would actually have come so far?

Doing a PhD is isolating. You do it alone – really. You have no regular assessment telling you how you’re going, you have no cohort for comparison (and if you do, it’s a slippery slope as each thesis is different so each experience is different and then you’re comparing apple with oranges) and so the only comparison you have is you. Wonderful people have been telling me lately to be confident. Well, you know what, after seeing what I was writing and thinking eight months ago compared to today, I am confident. I am confident in another eight months I will have moved forward again. And this gives me confidence I am doing the right thing at the right time. Yes I’m a bit slower than others, but the nature of my thesis is one of a lot of thought. And who knew? I’ve been thinking! *excited dance*

Now, back to work.

The sun is shining if I listen to others

I’ve been lucky to get a lot of feedback over the last couple of weeks. It’s been good for me. Feedback has been direct, indirect and through provision of yet more awesome material (thanks Dalma, Dianne and Bruce). Why it’s been good is because it reminds me how wonderful this experience is when shared with others. For example, catching up with Marion on Friday was great as we talked about how the personal impacts on the research. We shared stories of how work and personal matters impact on our research and alters our head space making research considerations less important. We also discussed how time gets away.

From this discussion I became more motivated and focussed. Sharing the concerns with someone else in the same boat made me realise it’s actually all okay. I’m not alone, it’s the same for everyone and we can all do this, so let’s just do it. Interestingly, this perspective combined with the feedback and input I’ve received has given me a bit of a confidence boost. I also start my one day a week off work to do research this week coming which makes me very excited. Ten months into the PhD and I’m still excited! The sun is most definitely shining.

With a little help from my friends

I have a study group. Like the people of Greendale Community College I have a group of people in the same unit and we have a support network. Unlike Geoff and friends, we actually focus on our work. The unit we share is 9311 and we are working out how to move forward on this. Here are the minutes of our first official get together.Notes from PLC meeting on 29 March 2015 (Yes there are minutes because I’m like that – and yes, I think that makes me Annie, sigh.)