Tag Archives: conference

Productivity

Today I am pretty pleased with what I have managed to do – not least because I didn’t actually get up till 1pm, bliss! I have marked a couple of essays and did a little bit of work with my OU students (nothing too taxing), I have applied for another job online, I have written and submitted a proposal for a conference paper, and I have read an article ready for a twitter discussion this evening (like an online journal club). I have also managed within this to faff about and eat biscuits, so it’s all good.

The job interview on Friday was OK, but I am not holding my breath. They have another candidate to interview at some point next week, so I won’t hear either way for probably another week, but given my horrible week I wasn’t well enough to spend a lot of time preparing, and on the day I really didn’t feel in the mood for an interview and even contemplated not going. I’m glad I did though; it’s all good practice and actually spending a bit of time thinking about something other than myself and feeling sorry for myself was helpful and got me feeling a bit perkier and more motivated to get on with life. I’m actually looking forward to going back to work tomorrow (though I’m also looking forward to leaving work the week after!).

I can’t believe though, having been up less than 7 hours today, that I am already feeling tired and ready for a night’s sleep! What a lightweight.

Stockholm

IMG_2659I’ve now put up some of my photos from Stockholm last week on flickr, the set is here for anyone who wants a look. As I said, a lovely city, a bit pricey but I managed to be reasonably low-budget about it (for example booking accommodation through this place rather than using any of the hotels recommended by the conference organisers). I had won some funding to attend the conference, but it didn’t cover all my costs (plus I had to take a week’s annual leave from work), so to be honest I felt fine about taking a bit of time out rather than spending all day every day in the conference. My main sightseeing was on Monday morning before the conference started (when I explored Gamla Stan, the old town – mostly just wandering round, though I did take a look inside the Cathedral), and then on Wednesday morning as there weren’t too many sessions interesting or relevant for me. That was when I took a short boat trip out to the nearby island of Djurgarden and mostly wandered about and sat and watched the world go by, and mused about academia, clinical practice, PhD, my poor aching blistered throbbing foot and other random sundry topics. It was good to sit and chill.

The conference was also good to catch up with people I’ve met before and make new links. I think conferences are a bit weird, to be honest. It’s part of academic culture to go there and get yourself and your research “out there” in order to make potential links with other people working in the same or related IMG_2609fields, and also to discover what other people are doing. It feels different to reading stuff in journals, as through the questions at the end of the presentations you can engage with as well as challenge people who are doing research and making claims about their particular interests. But I also often feel rather an outsider at these things. Partly because I don’t have an academic job right now, partly because I am researching countries which are less well researched than others (the majority of participants at this and pretty much every conference in my field are Russianists), and partly because I don’t think I’m quite earnest enough! I think that’s one of the reasons why, if I go into academia at all, I want it to be related to clinical practice – I do like the research side of things, and think I’m good at it, but want to keep my feet on the ground as well. Sometimes some of the conversations I was listening to (and participating in) felt a bit Pseud’s Corner. At one point in the opening ceremony, having listened to a lecture on Gorbachev and then (surreally) listened to a choir of Swedish uni students dressed up as the Red Army singing Soviet army songs (which made several of us wonder if we’d wandered into a Eurovision convention by mistake, not to mention wondering how the participants from former Soviet countries felt about it all), I found myself imagining my colleagues at work next week asking me what it was like, and wondering what I could tell them about it that wouldn’t make them think I’m a freak!

I think the session that has engaged me most was the final one I attended, which was a panel discussion. The actual discussion was really disappointing, I wasn’t actually very impressed at all (3 of the 6 panellists were big-name researchers, very well known in their field), but a few of the questions afterwards really hit the spot and has got me thinking more about the ethics of research, the issues around me as a foreigner researching foreigners and foreign systems and the whole cultural imperialism thing, and where I want to place myself in this whole academic planet (it really does feel like another planet sometimes). The thing about being a nurse is that people understand what you do, by and large think it’s an admirable thing to do and feel it’s a worthy and justifiable use of public money (which it is!). But for me anyway it’s not enough – I don’t want to lose it, but I want more opportunities to use my research and get it out there so that it didn’t just end up being 4 years of self-indulgence.

Speaking of which, I’m starting to get self-indulgent now, so I shall stop. All I know is the next couple of months I need to keep my head down and finish the thesis, and we’ll just have to see what happens.

Back

I got back today from my few days in lovely Stockholm. It’s a fantastic city, really laid back and relaxed, and easy on the eye too, as well as really friendly and helpful people, I liked it there a lot. The conference was good too – well, it had its good bits and not so good bits, but it’s given me lots to think about which I may blog about at some point in the next few days. Tractor Girl’s comments about working in academia a few paragraphs down in this post, as well as the comment which inspired them, dovetailed nicely in to thoughts I was having during the conference, so I might add my 2p on that as well at some point. Though not now as I have been up since silly o’clock this morning and am not currently at my most coherent.

I’ll put some Stockholm photos up on flickr at some point too. Probably not till next week though, as I still have some more adventuring to do this weekend to celebrate HD’s birthday.

Pottering about

Today is HD’s birthday (and yes it does have a 0 on the end!). We are being gentle and middle-aged and pottering about (and trying out our shiny new washing machine, delivered this morning), and having a curry with friends this evening. The birthday adventure is next weekend (I expect photos will be taken, it’s going to be fantastic, but I will leave you in suspense at that).

It is so nice that the entire flat isn’t shuddering (accompanied by random crashings and bangings) during a spin cycle.

Between now and next weekend’s adventure, I am going on another adventure as the conference I have mentioned occasionally over the last few months is nearly upon us and I am off to Sweden tomorrow. I give my talk first thing (I mean really 1st thing, 8.30am!) on Tuesday, which is the first full day of the conference. It has such a big programme, there are 22 other panels going on the same time as mine, so I am really not sure anyone will come to ours! But it will be more good experience, and I’m planning on taking a bit of time to explore the city while I’m there (note to Ian: I don’t think this *quite* counts as a jolly as it’s not all expenses paid (I won some funding for part of the costs but not all of them), but it will be good to get away and I do intend to do some playing as well as working so it is jolly-like I guess!).

I have been preparing for this, my first trip to Sweden, thanks to the power of the interwebz.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu9A0LlLyvo[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1KSaUEu_T4[/youtube]

Bork bork bork!

Where has the weekend gone?

I have managed to get to the end of the weekend without achieving very much other than honing my procrastination skills! (and having a couple of naps). I am going to do some ironing in a minute, I know it’s still procrastinating but at least there will be something to show for it at the end!

I finally managed to send off the evil chapter to my supervisors. It is loads better than the previous attempts, but I’m still not really very happy with it. It occurred to me that I could usefully chop out the good bits and put them in other chapters, and have suggested this to my supervisors. They are very good at considering my brainwaves and then coming up with really obvious reasons why they’re bad ideas, but I’m really hoping that they agree with me on this. This is meant to be my final chapter before the conclusion, and I just think it’s a really weak way of ending the thesis. The chapter before this one is much much better, and I would feel much better arriving at my conclusion from that one! At the moment I just don’t feel at all confident about submitting a thesis with this particular chapter in it – I think I would be laying myself open to major corrections. There is good stuff there, but I just can’t get it to work in a format with which I’m satisfied or confident.

I’m taking a wee break from the chapter to try to write my talk for the conference which is coming up in a few weeks in Sweden. I had originally banked on pretty much writing it on the plane, but we have a discussant who needs to see the papers in advance, so that’s the current job. It’s a pain that conference papers always take longer than I think they will (so it’s probably just as well I’m not writing it on the plane!), but I think taking this time out to write something else might be a good thing in the end – if I am able to chop up and redistribute the Chapter of Doom then it will make some chapters quite a bit longer than others, but if this talk is any good then I can include some of the material in the good chapter which will even up the chapters and also means that I can incorporate more of my data in the thesis. One of the really frustrating things I’ve found about writing a thesis is that there just isn’t the space to include large parts of the collected data, and whilst plenty of things can wait till afterwards and I can try to write some shorter pieces based on the bits that didn’t make the thesis, still it will be gratifying to get more material into the thesis. That would also make me feel much more confident come the viva.

Mind you, actually getting off my fat backside and doing some more writing would also make me feel much more confident come the viva. And with that, time to do the ironing …..

Phew

I have just had notification that I have received the funding to help me get to Sweden later in the year for a conference (if I hadn’t got that I would have had to pay my own way entirely – this won’t cover everything but it will be a big help). Very happy about that.

I just need that volcano to stop erupting and to behave itself at the end of July. Not much to ask.

But anyway. Hooray 😀

Nonsensical

So I have to write a summary of a conference paper to include in an application for financial support to enable me to attend the conference to present said paper. The conference is not till the end of July. We all know that this means the paper will not be written till mid-July at the earliest. The summary has to be written tonight.

Logically (I think HD’s influence is starting to show) a summary of a non-existent paper would be pretty short. Somehow I don’t think that is quite what the funders are looking for, however. Sigh.

In other news, my supervisor has said some very nice things about the chapter I submitted (at the last minute, unsurprisingly) just before we went on holiday, and which had stressed me out because I’d felt my revisions were so superficial. Though apparently there are still lots of very long sentences in it. As if I’d do a thing like that.

Forum

Yesterday and today my department hosted a research forum, with various partners from UK and overseas universities – in effect an informal conference. I gave a paper yesterday, and it was a really positive experience. My paper was way too long, but as there were only two of us on the panel and we had an hour and a half, we could both talk for longer than the allotted 20 minutes, and still had plenty of time for a really good discussion (even though there were only a handful of people in the audience). It left me feeling like actually I’m not so bad at this, I have got things to say, and I know that people who were there told people who weren’t that it was really good. So I’m feeling happy about that. I’m hoping to expand the paper I gave into a journal article, and will take a couple of weeks to do that in a week or so’s time (once I’ve finished the chapter that needs to be in next week, we’ll see if that happens).

Unfortunately though for both days I’ve had the headache from hell, that the tablets aren’t touching. I sent HD out on a mercy mission earlier for something stronger, so hopefully that will knock it on the head (pardon the pun).

In other news, I’m really really looking forward to the Eurovision final tomorrow. I was watching the semi-final yesterday on my laptop, and HD was minding his own business reading, but once I uttered the immortal words “Oh my word they’ve got dancing polar bears!” he was sucked into the cheese-fest as well. Everyone’s saying Norway are the favourites, and I’ve no doubt they’ll be there or thereabouts, but my own personal favourites for tomorrow are Germany, Moldova and Turkey. I’m a bit disappointed Holland didn’t get through, but there’s plenty more to laugh at so I’m sure it will be a good evening. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how Graham Norton gets on too as commentator – I know he can be a bit OTT, but I reckon he could be perfect for this. We’ll see.

Other people’s theses

I realise I haven’t said anything about my thesis for a while – this is mainly because what with being away for Easter, marking essays and trying to have some semblance of a normal (haha) life I don’t seem to have done anything much with it for ages. If anyone wants to remind me what it’s about that would be useful.

I’ve started reading a friend’s thesis (she passed a few months ago with just minor corrections, and her topic is sort-of related to (parts of) mine, as well as using similar methods to me). I think now is a very good time to be reading other theses – too early in the process it would just be scary (“I’ll never be able to do that” sort of thing), plus early on when you’re not that confident it might make you think “so *that’s* what I’m meant to do”, and do what the thesis-writer did regardless of whether it’s relevant to your research or not. At least, I’m pretty sure those are the two reactions I would have had, if I’d read this thesis in my first year or two.

It might be worth reading a not-so-good thesis earlier on. Or maybe one that’s not so related to yours. I remember the first one I read was while I was in Romania on fieldwork, and being able to see the flaws in it actually did give me some confidence that I was capable of producing something better. The only problem is that I guess you have no way of knowing until you start it whether or not it’s going to scare or inspire you.

Reading this particular thesis at the moment is being very good for me. I haven’t started the complex background/theory/literature mish-mash yet, but for some time have been not entirely convinced by my proposed plan. My friend has done hers in such a way that makes a lot of sense, and I could see that working for mine too. So that’s good.

I have another chapter to be in in just under 3 weeks. So I might be internet-lite for a while (if I’m not procrastinating that is, not that I ever do that). During that 3 weeks I’m also attending some nursing lectures for my PREP requirements to reregister. I’ll probably be social-life-lite too, unfortunately. Once the chapter is in I have a conference paper to revise (it’s too long so I need to shorten it, but I also want to submit it for a journal special edition so I need to lengthen it too, just to complicate matters!). It’s all go.

In other news, Happy Orthodox Easter! 🙂

Down to the wire

The conference paper I’ve been writing for the last week (that I originally thought wouldn’t take that long) has been submitted to my supervisors for their comments, at 1 minute to 5 this evening! I was pleased with this – normally I’m a day or 3 over my deadline (my supervisors seem fine with that), but tomorrow one of my supervisors goes to Russia for a month, and only has email access for the first week, so she wanted the paper to print out to read on the plane so she could send me comments next week. I wish I wasn’t like this, working right to the very edge of deadlines – it would be much less stressful if I wasn’t. But then maybe it wouldn’t be – I’d keep going over and rewriting and agonising over whether I could rewrite even more – at least this way it’s out of the way and I can forget about it till I get the comments.

Except that I won’t, of course! It’s too long, needs an extra section that I wasn’t able to do as I think my main sources are somewhere in storage (so I’ll find them when we eventually move, whenever that is!) so I need to think of a way round that, and I hate the conclusion and need to rewrite that. But for all intents and purposes it’s done, and I don’t intend to work over the weekend. That’s good anyway.

And this weekend there are exciting things on the horizon, so maybe I’ll be able to blog something of interest to more people than just me.
😀