Not abandoned, no…

Those who don’t know me in real life may be forgiven for thinking that this blog, like so many others on the internet, has been abandoned. Not the case – although I note I haven’t blogged since March! – more that I’ve just been tremendously busy.  I have been thinking about the blog though, about how I want to take it forward from here, given that I am now moving into the primary source research phase of my PhD.

But before that, I wanted to do a bit of a catch up, fill in the gaps of what has happened in the last three months or so: Continue reading

Post-conference come down

Having had a look around the internet this morning, this doesn’t seem to be discussed anywhere [feel free to correct me if I’m wrong]. But I think it’s an important thing that has to be dealt with – the thing being the post-conference come down, for those who presented a paper at a conference. If you’ve only attended conferences, then this isn’t for you, or if you’re a seasoned conference speaker, then maybe you don’t need to worry about this so much. But for people like me, finding their feet, their speaking style, their research methodology and topics … basically, their confidence in who they are as academics and speakers, this is certainly something that needs to be discussed.

What is post-conference come down? In the period immediately after the conference, there may be some jubiliation, a high, if you feel as though you’ve done well, a sense of relief, perhaps. There may not be, and that’s okay. This isn’t meant to be prescriptive, a “you must feel these things after the conference” list. Everyone feels things differently. But after the high, and perhaps if you didn’t have a high, and certainly if you struggle with imposters syndrome, the doubt and the questioning can start to set in. ‘I only got one question!’ … you might think. ‘I ran over by a few minutes, had to drop a couple of slides’. ‘I didn’t explain that bit very well..’. The exact words & phrases will of course differ, but the underlying emotional tones are the same: self-doubt, questioning, and if you did have a high, that drop from the high to the self-doubt and questioning is horrible. Really, and truly emotionally horrible, and it can be enough to really badly knock you off your path as an academic. It can come out in a number of ways: being grumpy, being teary, lethargic, not wanting to do any work, right through to feeling really low, down, and perhaps even depressed and wanting to quit.

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struggling a bit

Part of the problem with studying like this is the isolation. Perhaps it’s self-imposed to a certain extent. I mean, I could choose to go into the university library and work there but I’ve never liked working in libraries very much. I prefer to get what I need asap and get home again. But at the same time, I do need a certain amount of human interaction – which puts a fair bit of pressure on my partner to be nice when he comes home, and if he comes home all tired and grumpy (as last night) then I can rapidly wind up spiralling into a down mood.

After a weekend off, yesterday was spectacularly non-productive in studying terms (productive elsewhere though). Today has been a tad better; I proofread a really good introductory chapter for a fellow MA student, and then did some reading around the issue of communication support at conferences; this is a particularly hot topic at present given that the International Congress for the Education of Deaf People has, once again, not supplied deaf delegates with interpreters. You would think, 135 years after the 1880 Milan Conference that slammed the door shut on the use of sign language for educating deaf children, that nothing has changed. Well, perhaps it has – changes are afoot and that can only be a good thing, and I watch with interest.

I also signed up for an online discussion on the subject of public participation for researchers, they have a panel which they will ask a range of questions from the audience and which they are filming, all done through google’s hangouts. A sort of combination of TED and AMA. Very cool, all done through I contacted the organiser to ask about deaf access, she offered – at the very least, the transcript (which I was happy enough with) and, prompted by a new awareness, started digging into technological solutions that might help to improve access for deaf people. Makes me feel better about the academic world when I get a response like this – a ‘Can Do!’ rather than a ‘will not’.

I also did some thinking about how to address the question, which almost inevitably will be asked, in response to my PhD proposal, why should we fund this, given that there are already existing studies covering the same subject in different areas? What is different about yours? I realised that I can’t answer that in the sense of “its different because the results will show XYZ” – because, clearly, I can’t do 3 year’s research in several months. But what I can do is to examine the differences between the counties that the existing studies have focused on, and Herefordshire, and try to ascertain if there’s something special, unique about Herefordshire, that may allow me to reasonably argue that the outcome will be different. So. That’s another thing to add to the to-do list – bone up on Herefordshire, everything from the landscape to the underlying geology, economic structures, people, cities/towns…. and so on.

And now to collect my partner from the station and then come home and do dinner. Another day almost gone…!