Milestone achieved – perhaps

Well, that’s the confirmation done. And it was bad. It was about as bad as you can get without it being a disaster. I believe I am confirmed but I haven’t seen anything in writing and I think there is going to be provisions made. Yes, despite thinking I was prepared, and having delayed to make sure I was prepared I still wasn’t good enough. No surprises there I suppose.

I realise success in a thesis is just being stubborn, that I understand. And I am stubborn. So now I wait for the report, read the comments and provisions, think about how to address them and move onwards. Some of the comments were really useful and I was able to enter into discussion of the ideas. This was very useful. Other comments were basically highlighting my ignorance of theory, my lack of academic understanding and what a general waste my thesis is.

I guess on the upside I now know what it is to be panned badly. I also know I have to be better than what I have been. All things are possible I suppose.

In sharp contrast my paper with Leo has been accepted at HERDSA. So, if we aren’t in at APIRA, I guess I use some research money to go to Fremantle! If we get APIRA Leo and I will share as he can’t make APIRA and they are on at similar times. Hooray!

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!!!

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.

Commodification, is it the key?

I’ve missed a deadline for the first time and it’s a biggie. David asked for theory and lit review sections and I’ve completely failed to deliver. I’ve learnt today that I may not have what it takes to pull this off. I’m not a writer. I can’t write well. I can drivel (the blog case in point!) but as for a coherent argument I’ve got nothing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as I’ve always been bad at writing essays so why would this be different? Well, I’m passionate about it, I think it’s important and I really see a positive end. Essays, well, they are just essays.

Question is, can I cut it?

Well, I’ve got a plan now,and it involves commodification becoming central to my literature review. I didn’t really have a narrative for my review but if I focus on commodification I think I’ve got something. But of course, I might not and only the writing of more words will tell me. Of course as I write I learn I need to read more *sigh*. This really is never ending.

I wrote some words for Leo today and I hate those too. I hate them less so that’s a bonus and I’m hoping when I revisit tomorrow I will actually be able to craft something that makes sense and send it to him. It’s funny, if I didn’t have this side project I would be really giving up on my thesis. Working with someone on something different makes me believe in my own work. Also, I really love our project and see how it can be really good. That helps.

Oh my, how it hurts

Long time, no post. It’s been a time of darkness. Theory is the worst. It’s just a bunch of people deciding to make life inaccessible to everyone else because they think they are smarter than the average bear. Well, they are not.

Today I managed to draw together almost 3 000 words as required by my supervisor to introduce my theory chapter. It has taken me two horrible weeks to get a measly, not very good, not even 3 000 words. The small breakthrough came when I realised it’s all about the code. I went to PAX last weekend and took my lap top to work and I did, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I realised there that everything has its code. It’s right of passage. Each game I played and talked about has its own set of rules and lexicon. I can engage with others about the game because I share the knowledge they do about the rules and lexicon. People who don’t know, can’t engage.

Theory is the same. People who don’t know about post-structuralism and discourse theory won’t be able to read my thesis. And to be honest that’s a little bit bullshit. So, I’ve spent some difficult time trying to work out how to make what is quite simply inaccessible, accessible. I’ll be honest, I still don’t get it. I still don’t know what all the fancy terms mean. I am trying hard and reading lots. But it all seems a bit silly. I’m going to review the words I’ve written over the weekend and then send onto David and Linda and see what they think. I really am getting close to “this bucket of prawns needs to go” in attitude. Maybe it’s time to do something else. *grin*

Oh and if anyone knows what I mean regarding the bucket of prawns – let me know, it just felt like the right thing to write….

Oh, well, that helps…..

Theory. My Achilles heel. My nemesis. My sword of Damocles (hmmm not sure about that one). Seriously. How hard can it be?

On the upside, I emailed my David in panic and he was prompted in letting me know I had completely missed a point. Now while that sounds bad, it actually helped. I was trying to understand a square peg in a round context. David basically pointed out I can let the round context go. Once I did that, things started to make more sense. Not total sense and I still feel at see, but, at least I’m not feeling stupid. Today was also the acceptance I needed to go old school:mapping by hand

Yes – that’s a window with big sticky notes scribbled all over in whiteboard marker while I try and understand Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.  I did get some good realisations today but it really did take me doing the post it notes and sitting on my chair looking at them. The most important lesson of the day is I need new markers.

Today also included more work with Leo Bayerlein to see if we can get a paper for APIRA. We’re using some of his existing work and the reason why we’re teaming up is he is already working in my research space with this great paper which complements my work really well. It’s really nice to have a different head space in research. I’m finding having a a research project aligning with my thesis but slightly different is helping my head generally. Although clearly not with theory. Stupid theory.

I know nothing…..(thanks Shultz)

I’m trying to write up a section on commodification of HE. I’ve been reading for six months, thinking, making notes, compiling ideas, talking to people and turns out I know nothing. Nothing at all. The only thing I’ve learnt today is that I have not idea…..

So, how to go about turning this frown upside down? Wine. That will help. But so will actually targeting my research. I have been going about this all wrong. I know that you read and the topic comes to you but I’ve wasted six months reading and have nothing. Still no solid topic and actually no notes that are useful for writing. None. I’ve got all this information in my head that I’ve read, but at the time I thought it was cool but not important enough to put in Scrivener (which is an awesome product!). Now I’m left with the shadows of those ideas that I read that I want to reference and no where to go.

I thought doing an annotated bibliography would help but then all I was doing was cutting and pasting from Scrivener which is a waste of time. Fundamentally I need to re-read everything I’ve read for the references I need not the references I have….well great. Maybe I can write a shell and then add the references later…..hmmm….well, may as well try something (although I think the wine thing is still a better idea).

Brain power

Sitting in a presentation right now by Craig McDonald and John Raynor on Conceptual Modelling. They are doing some great research in this space. The problem is that I’m really not smart enough to even understand what they are talking about despite supposed to be in this space.

My post before last was what I learnt from the drafting process of my last assignment. Turns out I’ve learnt that I suck. I need to resubmit because I’ve so badly missed the mark.

That experience, combined with this presentation, lead me to believe I really should pull the pin on this whole thing before I embarrass myself further. It’s become clearer and clearer I just don’t have the brain power to do a PhD. But then it’s just one more thing I’ve not stuck at. So, the question is, how stubborn can I be? Am I more stubborn than I am stupid? If so, I’ll finish the PhD. If I’m mroe stupid than stubborn, I get to add one more failure to my long list. Ah, such cheery choices!