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
— Jacqueline Bartram (@jaxbartram) June 3, 2015
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…)
— woman-in-flight (@azumahcarol) June 3, 2015
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…