Before I started my enrolment, I spent some time reading ‘around’ what I was about to embark on. Much of the time during my honours year I felt as thought I didn’t know what was going on. Sure, I went to my classes, I knew what and when the assessments were but there were plenty of things that I felt very out-of-touch with and I wanted to try to be fore-warned and fore-armed for this academic adventure.
One of the things I did was start reading a blog called “The Thesis Whisperer” by Dr Inger Mewburn. “5 things to do in your first week” caught my attention so today’s post is a reply, of sorts, to Dr Inger’s post. The subheadings are Inger’s 5 suggestions.
1) Get thee to Facebook (even if you hate it)
I was already all over this one! Yay, big tick. I’m an awesome student. Except for the fact that I’m pretty sure posting pictures of my dogs; checking in when I’m at the Dumpling House; and commenting on photos of friends' babies or their latest love life dilemmas wasn’t exactly what Inger meant. I was initially concerned this time wasting aspect of facebook, might hamper my ability to actually get any study done. I have an ex-student who, during VCE exam time, logged in & had her mother change her facebook password for her so she couldn’t waste time when she should be studying. I was thinking this was a tactic I might need to employ but so far my facebooking time has been kept under control by simply being busy.
What Inger was actually referring to was the opportunity for support to be found on social networking sites so I’ve joined the Deakin HDR group and might get on facebook later and see if I can find any groups dedicated to Creative Practice Research. Inger is also a proponent of Twitter so I’ve re-activated myself in that arena as well in order to follow a number of research- & PhD-related hashtags.
2) Make friends with administrators
Although in recent times (not counting my undergraduate degree which I began more than 20 years ago on campus) I have completed a number of years of study with Deakin, it has all been as an off-campus student. What this means is, although I developed a rapport with my immediate lecturer, I knew very little about who the administrators were or who to contact if I had any problems (blissfully, I had very few).
So, in an effort to follow suggestion number 2, I’ve started a list of appropriate people’s names and roles. Like I said, being off-campus makes it a bit tricky but I plan to go & introduce myself when I go in for induction in a couple of weeks. Maybe I just get half a tick for this one.
I haven’t done this just yet. (Big black cross!) But I am going along to my induction session on the 10th of September and tonight’s homework is to suss out when the library sessions are.
4) Crank up that software.
I think I have all the software that I need but I need to become a bit more au fait with using it, I have my eye on an Endnote session at the library which might help me to wrap my head around this particular software. I learnt about it during honours but I didn’t use it, in fact, I tended to keep my reference information on paper. (Nothing like kickin’ it old school.)
I’ve also checked out a few apps that might come in handy. I’ve downloaded ‘MyBib’ for managing references and reading lists and ‘Mendeley’ for keeping track of PDF versions of articles. Both of which I’ve already found pretty useful.
5) Don’t panic
Ummm. I’ve got panicking so down pat that I haven’t necessarily noticed myself panicking (particularly) this week. However, I have been asked to submit my CV for some tutoring work—the whole thought of which leaves me with fairly high levels of angst. (So, big tick for already panicking so much I didn’t notice any extra?)
The other things I’ve done this week included reading plenty & writing down all sorts of other references to find; writing notes & trying to keep them in a manner that’s not going to become unwieldy later on; making use of my own version of the Pomodoro technique; and going to a couple of relevant sessions at the Melbourne Writers festival, the highlight of which was meeting Stephanie Alexander! Now, that reminds me, we need to have dinner…