Is academia really worth it?

A really interesting and thought provoking article.

The Thesis Whisperer

This post was written Dr Kathy McKay,a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New England. Her work revolves around listening to stories of suicide, healing and resilience within communities and within literature. It’s a sobering reflection on this academic life – but I thought it articulated views and feelings that need an airing in the current climate of government cuts to higher education and research.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 9.37.10 amIn January this year, Rachel L. Swarns wrote a piece for The New York Times that scared me so much, it’s taken until now to write about it.

‘Crowded Out of Ivory Tower, Adjuncts See a Life Less Lofty’ follows the employment trajectory of an early-career academic in America, James D. Hoff. Since being awarded his PhD, he’s had no fixed or full-time employment, rather relying on subject-by-subject contracts at more than one institution. There’s no certainty or security as subjects can be…

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My life in a gant chart

Lately I have been worried that time will run away with me so this morning, whilst Ellie partook in her 3 hour morning nap, I sat down and planned out my PhD from now until submission.

I found this to be a scary task. Since beginning my PhD last year, I have had 2018 (my proposed date for submission) in my head, and it has always felt so far away and unreal. Seeing the next 4 years in a colourful (couldn’t help myself, I’m a creative person!) gant chart, made 2018 seem not so far after all. Even scarier was the fact that it dawned on me that we will probably have our second child before I submit my work. This then factored into the gant chart, and I soon found myself planning the date of conception to ensure I wouldn’t be preparing for my viva with a newborn.

This is when I realised that perhaps the planning had gone too far! I suddenly felt like my life was being organised into these thin lines, and I must admit I panicked. Work wise I need clear goals and I need to know where my career is heading. But I have to remind myself to also live my life to its fullest. One thing I have learned from working with people with dementia is to value living in the moment.

With regards to my PhD I have now planned out my work for each month for the next 4 years, this is obviously a working document subject to change, but for me it is a security blanket.

Whereas who knows where my life in general will take me, and maybe I need to see the adventure in this. If I can learn one thing since the arrival of our daughter, it should be to treasure those precious moments spent with friends and family. Years from now I don’t want to look back on these days regretting the times I spent planning our future and missing out on living in the here and now. Maybe there’s a New Years resolution in there.

Rosie x

Crowdfunding

I’ve just submitted my research project on Hubub. I thought it best to breakdown my research into chunks for crowdfunding, so this project is for the project planning and meeting of focus groups (£2,000 max).

I am still sceptical about crowdfunding, but I am willing to try anything and it didn’t take too long to set up (mainly copying and pasting from previous funding bids). Has anyone used crowdfuding to fund their research, project or business? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.

Ellie has been asleep from 06:30-10:00 today which has been the perfect time for me to crack on with work (I swear sleep is overrated!) so I’m finished for the day. Off to the clinic to see how our chunky monkey is getting along and then we have an afternoon filled with snuggling on the sofa, reading, watching Christmas films and eating yummy treats 🙂

Have a good day!

Rosie x

Banging my head against a brick wall

Since I began my PhD I have been trying to get funding with no luck. I have been self funded for the past 18 months, which is doable (thanks to my lovely husband), but it has meant in the past that I have taken on paid work and had to put my PhD to once side purely because money wins.

Over the past few months I have submitted more funding applications and letters to charitable trusts. Before I used to get a flutter when I received a letter in the post from the funder, now my heart sinks as I can guess what it will say ‘thank you for your application but unfortunately…’ This doesn’t stop me, I think I am addicted to writing funding applications!

However, since Ellie’s arrival, my time is now precious and gone are the days of dedicating 8 solid hours to writing funding bids. Therefore I am conscious that the more time I spend on writing applications (that will probably be unsuccessful) the less time I have to actually work on my PhD.

Someone suggested the other day that I should consider crowd funding, and they showed eve a platform for crowd funding education. But this makes me think it would be an even bigger time waster with very little reward (please tell me if I’m wrong!)

Now that Ellie is here it is even more important that I receive funding as I will not be working as much. So it is a real big catch 22 at the moment, do I spend time trying to get funding for the next few years or do I crack on and hope an opportunity will arise? I’ve contacted all of my contacts in this field, so there is a chance that they may contact me if they hear of any suitable funding out there. But I feel I shouldn’t rely on this…

Sorry to sound so pessimistic. I love working on my PhD, but I think I can’t think of it as a job until I have funding. At the moment it just seems like a nice hobby.

I would love to hear about other peoples experiences of funding their PhD.

Rosie x

 

Must haves for a new mum

I’m sat here with baby Eleanor on my lap, thinking about the items which have been essential over the part month. If you are currently pregnant or thinking of what to buy a new mum, these should be on your shopping list.

In no particular order:

Spare phone charger
Annoyingly 2 days before I was due, my phone charger gave up the ghost, luckily I asked a friend for one in case I went into labour before a new one arrived, and low and behold I did! So I was very glad to have this spare.

Travel Mug
After countless times of making a cup of tea only to leave it to go cold as I was called off to various motherly duties (it seems babies don’t like being kept waiting, who knew?!) hubby suggested I used my travel mug to keep my tea warm. What a great idea! I haven’t drunk from a cup since. Plus my travel mug looks like a pint of Guinness, practical and makes me smile!

Lanolin
For the first few days this was a god send while my breasts adjusted to having a little person attached to them all day!

Heated breast pads
These were great for relieving any pain (plus they kept me warm on chilly days!) Just popped them in the microwave for 20 seconds, voila!

Amazon Prime
Amazon prime has got me through some sleepless nights and lazy days, I have worked my way through the entire series of the OC, am now starting on West Wing and Grey’s Anatomy, and I have watched copious amounts of films! For the £75 annual fee (including all films, TV shows, free postage on items ordered from Amazon, and one free kindle book per month) I think it is well worth it.

Infacol
Eleanor gets quite bad wind, and after a couple of nights where she screamed for hours, we decided we needed to do something! Infacol is brilliant, it doesn’t get rid of her wind completely but she does seem more settled. Unsure when to stop using it in case we have another stressful night!

Sleepyhead
We’ve had this from day 1 (on the recommendation of a cousin who found it a life saver) so we don’t have a comparison, but Eleanor does sleep very well in the sleepyhead in her crib. It does look very cosy and I’m sure Eleanor likes being cocooned.

Sling
We have a travel system (second hand for £100 bargain!) which we use for Eleanor to sleep in during the day (away from nosey spaniels). But we have realised that going on dog walks across the countryside it is much easier to take Eleanor in a sling. We bought an ergo baby carrier (second hand) and a newborn insert. Its great, really sturdy. The only problem is Eleanor has a tendency to faceplant my chest so I am forever having to move her head! Great to take her out and about in, and it even has a hood, should we be out in the rain (let’s face it we are in England!)

Magazine subscription
Last year my hubby bought me a subscription to woman and home. I kept the last 4 months magazines and decided I would read them while I was bored at home (little did I know then that having a baby is anything but boring!) However, when I have had some time to myself it’s been great to flick through the magazine even if I end up just looking at the pictures!

Chocolate

Now this one is very important, when I have been feeling run down, tired and covered in sick, a square (or 3) of green and black’s chocolate is certain to cheer me up!

What would your essential items be for new mums? Let me know!

PhD time management rules: why life balance is a myth

Interesting read, makes me realise I made the right decision undertaking my PhD part-time, however I probably still don’t dedicate enough time as I should to my research!

100 days to the doctorate & beyond

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Want to finish your PhD on time? Wondering how you can juggle a creative life with work demands? Do you think you’ll never write that book unless you are given a grant or a fairy godmother taps you on the shoulder and turns that pumpkin into a quiet retreat where you can spend months thinking and perfecting your craft?

I can tell you how to achieve your goals, but you aren’t going to like it. Because you have to be focused, have tunnel vision and be obsessed. You have to concentrate on ‘A’s – higher order priorities – only.

You cannot waste your time trying to have balance in your life. I speak from experience. Anyone who completes their doctorate on time while doing what I did – juggling another full time job and children – does so at the expense of a balanced life. What you need is focus…

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