Not very good

This is not a content post.  Because I have no content to write about.  It is a excuses post.  A life post.

Just over two weeks ago, though it feels like an age, I was asked to step in an take over teaching a Masters course for a colleague and friend who is unwell.  It is a subject I’m very familiar with, and I wanted to help, so I agreed.  I was left with 6 lectures to prepare and a semester of marking to catch up on.  Plus the conclusion of my original class. On Thursday I teach 6 hours back to back.

It’s been really hard work.

Then, just to add chaos into the mix, I went to Shanghai for a week to celebrate/avoid my 40th birthday. This as a long standing plan, decided before I knew I was teaching ANY classes.  Turned out to be at the least opportune time possible. (But was fantastic.)

It means, as of today, I have completely avoided by PhD work for nearly three weeks.  And I’m horrified/terrified.  I have so much to catch up on a can’t think straight.  I’m at the point where I don’t even know where to start. It’s like starting from scratch again.

In addition, the night before I left for Shanghai I had dinner with a friend, who is my kind of academic mentor.  A lecturer and PhD from UniSyd he has provided me guidance and advice and has been instrumental in me getting to this point.

He chose this night to get stuck into me over publication, or lack there of.  I have justified all the reasons why I don’t want to focus on publication (lack of primary material, need to focus on my core goal) and he basically called it all bullshit and said I was just avoiding the hard work.

I claim I don’t know how to write an academic article. Which is largely true, but I don’t know how to do a PhD either and I’m working that out.

I argue that I am unlikely to ever get an academic job in this market. Which also is likely true, but if I never publish I’m guaranteed of that fact.

I say I don’t want to spend a year working on something that goes nowhere, gets rejected.  But how will I know unless I try?

It’s done my head in and I was really angry for him pushing me. And publicly, in front of his wife and my husband.

But he’s probably right.

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4 thoughts on “Not very good

  1. It’s a shame you had this conversation in public. Feeling shamed about work is not particularly useful. Publishing is important in taking your writing to the next level but it will only serve your career if you are interested in being an academic. If you want to end up in an applied field other outcomes will matter more such as public speaking, organising events, practical (hands on) community work and so on.

    A better way to start this route is to submit a conference paper. This way you get academic feedback on your writing but more importantly you will present your work and get even more feedback face to face and perhaps best of all you will grow your network of support and meet your future colleagues. The best way to go about this is to take a chapter from your thesis especially from your lit review or even from your methods chapter. You can then develop this into a peer reviewed publication.

    This was my strategy as a postgrad. Writing about an existing chapter of your thesis won’t take you on a detour that detracts time away from your thesis and it will strengthen your thesis as a result. But don’t put to much pressure on yourself to publish right now. Your health comes first. I saw you wrote elsewhere about some of the nightmare stories about doing a PhD. Yes it can impact relationships and your health but only if you let it. One way to avoid these stresses is to focus only on the essentials. Do what you have to to get your PhD written first and worry about the rest later. Publications are nice but not the most important thing for a healthy PhD

    • Thanks for this – but of course the challenge is I have no real data from my PhD to write on yet, and wont do for another 6-10 months. So I feel stuck (especially given I can’t get a scholarship under these circumstances.)

      It’s frustrating, but I still love the experience I’m going through. (Most of the time.)

  2. Heya! I am in the throes of final stages phd writing and am currently also trying to pump out a journal article. I really found the thesis whisperer ‘How to write a journal article in 7 days’ slideshow interesting – link below. Perhaps usefully for you, it discusses different types of journal articles (highlighting that you don’t always need data) – perhaps a working paper series or conference, as suggested above, would work without data?
    Your friend-who-was-pushing-you-to-publish also should perhaps have mentioned that publishing isn’t just about the career advantages… you are putting yourself and your ideas out there. And doing that too early, or before you really know what you want to say could be jumping the gun a bit, too… At least, that is my opinion!
    Best of luck and hope the research goes smoothly…

    http://www.slideshare.net/ingermewburn/write-that-journal-article-in-7-days-12742195

    • Not sure how this missed my attention, I apologise. I love Thesis whisperer. This is a great presentation. And I agree with the jumping the gun comments, I haven’t got the data yet. Hoping for ethics approval within 2 weeks so I can start with some pilot interviews… then we will see how we go.

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