Posts Tagged PhD

Tell me why (I don’t like writing)

Obviously this is not an ideal situation for an academic to find themselves in.

However, I suspect it might be true.

I think it was my PhD thesis that killed it for me…I think…I don’t like writing.

I tried to rejoin my Daily Writing Group but this time it didn’t help.  I did co-write an Editorial for a journal = big success story!  (Editing other people’s writing was much easier than writing my own work.)

*le sigh

Luckily it is teaching time now, less expectation to write.  Brief, brief reprieve.

Definitely time to make good friends with my blog again.  I like it here best.  And people tell me they read it! (I hope people will be glad to know that they are not the only ones who don’t like writing.)

Other things I have been doing instead of writing:

  • reading fiction
  • organising multiple conference papers
  • answering emails
  • playing MW3

All worthy occupations!

Maybe I’m just in thesis ‘recovery’.  I mean, surely.

Just have to find the right motivation…

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Ah, the sweet sound of completion…

You are now reading the blog of someone who has completed their PhD thesis – as well as someone who has waited for examiner’s results, completed the required emendations, and had those emendations accepted!

Next stop: GRADUATION!

Because it’s not polite to ask someone how long they have taken to complete, it’s not something that gets talked about a lot.  I started mine in 2003, which means that despite many deferred and part-time enrolled semesters, I’ve essentially been a research student for just over eight years.

Yes, you’re supposed to complete within four years.  And everyone who signs up for one of these damned things thinks they’ll be able to make it…but not everyone does.  In fact, only about 40% of students really reach that goal.  There are a lot of factors that influence this: the nature of the candidate, candidature, discipline and institution all come into play.  My story was one of running out of money after a few years and not having had enough done by then to carry me through the tough times that followed.

TIP: Full time teaching is NOT conducive to timely completion of a research degree.  Well, it wasn’t for me, anyway!

So, in the end, was it worth it?

If it really was such a slog, and the research indicates that my experience is not that unique, would I do it again?

Yes.  Yes, I would.

In the end, it is really clear that writing a thesis (a PhD dissertation is generally 80,000 –  100,000 words long) is the ultimate ‘research apprenticeship’.  You learn (sometimes the hard way) to manage your time, to overcome writer’s block, to situate yourself within a field of expertise, and to write for an academic audience.  You learn to be rigorous in your chosen research methods, and you learn how to discern the quality of others’ work.  You learn to cast off doubt about using your own voice, for better or worse.

You also end up with a major piece of research that you can stand by, and put forward as your own – this becomes part of your currency in the academic world.

There were times when I thought I wouldn’t last the distance…without the support of my friends and family, I’m not sure if I would have.  There were times when I was so far in ‘the cave’ that I was sure everyone I knew had given up on me ever coming out again!  But they were very nice about that, and patient, and kind, and that made all the difference.

So, THANK YOU! Especially to people who read this blog and keep in contact with me online through Twitter and Facebook and the rest.  The process of public reflection, knowing that people would notice if I gave up, was something that always helped to keep me motivated.  That, and the idea of writing this very post to tell you all that I am FINALLY DONE.

x Kelli


Finished: A (mini) Photo Essay

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Thesis complete!

Today I took my finished PhD thesis to the printer to get bound for examination 😀

This is an awesome, wonderful, terrific day!

Big hugs and love to everyone who supported me in finishing the beast.  I could never have done it alone xo



Thesis-ing (final days)

I just want to put it out there, for anyone who was wondering:

Writing a PhD thesis is hard.

(like, seriously, fcuking hard.)

I have just 2 days left until I have to take this puppy to get printed and bound for examination.

I feel like my brain is going to explode.

Far out, I’d better turn out to be seriously smart after this!

See you on the dark side of the moon, people xx



Returning and some thoughts on the canon

Hello all; apologies for my patchy appearances in the bloggosphere and twittersphere lately.  After a short trip to San Francisco over the holidays (which I would like to return to with some thoughts on at a later date) I am home, back at school, and about to get stuck into the hardest two months ever, probably, in my life – finishing my PhD thesis.

I was working on this today, adding to my ‘Background’ chapter with some more thoughts on the influence of the canon in English curriculum.  In doing so I came across an article by Anne Waldron Neumann, “Should You Read Shakespeare?” (in Meanjin v.56, no.1, 1997: 17-25).  It was an enjoyable read, covering all of the arguments for and against bothering to read Shakespeare.  In particular I enjoyed the opening lines:

‘Should I read Shakespeare?’ So you probably ask yourself each morning as you stare at the mirror, toothbrush in hand.  Or, if you do not, many older and possibly wiser heads are asking for you: ‘Should you read Shakespeare?’

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Back in the Saddle

Visitors to the blog may have noticed a new page addition – one for my PhD thesis.

When I created this blog, in an attempt to pin down the broad areas that I expected to post on, I added the subheading ‘teaching, research, and the rest’.  I was inspired by Darcy’s blog, which proclaimed it would be about ‘education, technology, life’, to also make my blog a place where the professional and personal, the public and the private worlds could happily overlap.  But, unsure I could commit to (the pressure of) saying anything much about ‘life’, I thought I would be better to clump anything that wasn’t related to teaching or research into a vague, and perhaps unpromising, ‘the rest’.

The teaching part was far more obvious – I’m an English teacher and I love sharing resources and reflecting on my practice.  The ‘research’ category however, has been sorely neglected.  In fact, it’s barely made a peep.  And even though I have added plenty to the blog about the Gifted and Talented education action research I was involved in at school, even this is really more about teaching than research.  The real research that I should be focussing on is my PhD thesis, which draws to a long awaited conclusion next March.

Well, after a semester away from uni I am indeed back in the saddle, and am hoping to add more to the blog about my PhD in the coming months.  For now, I’ve dusted the shelves, bought a new bottle of multi-vitamins and paid off my library fines.  Work is progressing…though not without a little procrastination, including a return to my favourite grad student comic strip, Piled Higher and Deeper:




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