The first blog of my PhD journey, or is it to be likened more to a rollercoaster ride- out of my control with spontaneous screaming and stomach curdling… When I submitted my PGR2 (expression of enrolment) on 22nd February, I was really at the point of “I just want to get over the starting line”. It now seems that I have a new starting line, as I prepare for my PGR9 (confirmation of candidature research proposal).
I know that I am not alone as I feel like I am constantly balancing full-time work (lecturer), family (supportive wife and three kids), extra-curricular (which seem to focus on the kids activities), and full-time PhD preparation. Leading up to the time of submission, I acknowledged the value of routine. I am now regularly getting up at 5am to start writing/ researching (not sure what to call it just yet) and get a couple of hours in before the kids get up and the “real day” starts. A month now since my PGR2 was accepted, I have added getting up at 5am on Saturdays and block off eight hours dedicated to PhD time. The family are accommodating of this (so far)- as they know that after 1pm, we can do “family time” (fortunately for now, their sports and extracurricular are during the week, with no weekend sport).
My project will be looking at a few key concepts- the use of extended reality for higher order thinking in healthcare higher education. I wont go into these now, as am sure will expand on as the blogs continue.
As I look over my first month, it is nice to see some shift in my thinking, though also the realisation that I “don’t know, what I don’t know, therefore I want to know it all, though feel am only able to do this on a superficial level” . My primary supervisor (TC) is reassuring that is normal to feel messy at this point- and to acknowledge that is going to be messy for a while yet- hopefully the seemingly thick cloud of doubt will thin out by the time of my PGR9. To try to clarify thought and document my thinking I (1) bullet point key ideas in an Evernote note; (2) use a Mind-map to make links between key concepts; and (3) PowerPoint Slides to draw out some detail of the concepts as they develop. Also helps when looking back over the week (as sometimes go back and find my self asking “What on Earth was I thinking then?”).
I see that at the beginning of the month, I was caught up in thinking about “what’s the end result going to look like?” This question created “noise”- and as my kids know- I don’t do well with noise… I found myself looking at the new, shiny pieces of technology (extended reality) that I might need to consider for this project, which spiralled me away from readings on the other concepts outlined above.
While looks like a productive month of April (developing search strategies with Librarian, outlining PGR9 framework, and attending “Introduction to Qualitative Research” Workshop), it is appreciated how quickly the month has gone.
The aim for May is to be better in saying “No” and protecting my “PhD time”, and to be clearer about the key concepts and theoretical framework for the project ahead. Let’s see how I go in the next blog…