Hull Doctoral Symposium Day One: Learning points

Last week I attended the Operationalising research: real journeys, real voices, digital worlds symposium at the University of Hull. The symposium was organised for postgraduate, postdoc and established researchers and although I am at the start of my doctoral journey I found it both fascinating and useful. While I could spent hours blogging about this event, I thought it would be more useful to draw out some key ideas and learning points.

The confirmation process – Margaret Korosec,  University of Hull

This was an interesting session for me. While it wasn’t relevant to my own studies as I am an EdD student, professionally I support a lot of PhD students. Hearing Margaret talk of her upgrade process was a fascinating insight into the stress and difficulties of the PhD process. I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to any PhD following Margaret’s session is to remember that it is a supportive process. It may be difficult and stressful – but the advice you gain will be incredibly valuable. Margaret asked if she could audio record her session and that seemed to be a very valuable resource after the session.

Moving beyond ‘surviving’ the Viva – Joseph Hall, University of Hull

I think I spent half of this session trying to pretend I wouldn’t have to face this in the future. Joesph gave a brilliant talk, best summerised by Jacqui

Indeed! It doesn’t have to be this way…

The Learning English in Leeds Website – motives and methodology – Dr James Simpson and Monica Barrionuevo-Flores, University of Leeds with Martin Nickson, University of Hull

This was a very useful session to see the operationalisation of research. I think my biggest take home from this session was the following ethical question (and no – I don’t have answer yet…)

Metaphors for the Postgraduate Research Experience – Professor Malcolm Tight, University of Lancaster

This presentation gripped me from the start to the finish. Prof. Tight discussed metaphors as a communicative technique for the doctoral process. Often the doctoral process is introduced as a journey, implying a lengthy process. This could be a quest, a long, troublesome journey with a prize at the end or it could be a voyage into the abnormal, ending with an escape to normality. Could it be argued the PhD is the quest for a doctorate with the EdD as a voyage – dipping into the abnormality of academia while still working full time.

We all agreed the journey wasn’t particularly effective.

So if not a journey – how can you use metaphor to describe the doctoral student experience?

From the keynote, here are a few suggestions for student metaphors:

  • ‘The Child’ Too young to have responsibility and is therefore treated as children by their professors who have authority over them.
  • ‘The Employer‘ In early universities the students used to employ staff. More recently, students used to pay the lecturer on entry to a lecture. If you were not any good, people wouldn’t show up.
  • The slave’ Doctoral students must do as they are told. This resonates with the sciences as a lot of research is predetermined due to funding. You just go along with the topic as told.
  • The apprentice’ Serve your apprenticeship, then have opportunity to become a master.
  • ‘The disciple‘  Follow your leader, you can succeed them one day.
  • ‘The vampire follower’ One day you hope to be sired and when you are, you can make your own vampires!
  • The co-producer’ A partner – assuming the student wants this!
  • ‘The Family member’ Seeing the supervisor as a father/mother figure to look up. Suggests a close relationship – even friendship.
  • The client‘ A constant need to negotiate – thrash out what you will get and when.
  • The customer’ The idea may be very much linked to UG but it will eventually come to PG.
  • ‘The consumer’ Suggests impassivity. Consume then regurgitate to pass.
  • ‘The pawn’ A small player in a much bigger game. Student has little power and can be sacrificed.
  • The worker’ Write this, have targets and finish it early. Get it done. Research is time consuming.
  • ‘The rebel’ None of the above 🙂

That is it for day 1!

My challenge is to now finishing organising my thoughts for the rest of the symposium…


3 thoughts to “Hull Doctoral Symposium Day One: Learning points”

    1. Thanks Azumah. I am still trying to challenge myself to break away from private notes to openly blogging instead. Certainly would help me find the time! Something to discuss on my day three post perhaps…

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