PhD supervisors

I sometimes wonder what PhD supervisors must think of potential PhD students when they first present with an idea or concept. I wonder if they see these bright eyed, bushy tailed recent converts to research, all fired with passion and a desire to find out about their chosen field, and think – “oh my god, do they even know what they are talking about? Do I have to train up yet another of these naïve people? They don’t even know what research really means!” I wonder if potential supervisors wish that their doctoral students would just GO AWAY until they’ve learnt about research methods, learnt about the vast field they’re entering, read much much more than they first present with; or whether supervisors relish the challenge of enabling a new recruit to become expert in their chosen research field. Because, as I am finding, this journey, exciting and challenging as it is, is one where the reading stretches out never ending over a multitude of subject areas; where research methods becomes inextricably entwined with socio-cultural theory; where my thinking becomes muddled when I am immersed deeply in a particular area and then forced to jump seemingly in a random fashion through another peculiar theoretical hoop. I am finding that learning to research is actually far less about the project I am undertaking than it is about the navigation through ways of doing research. I have discovered, delightfully, that I really enjoy research methods. I really enjoy my data generation. I have discovered, depressingly, that it is impossible to find the time to focus on my research consistently and meaningfully. Sometimes I look at the work I am preparing to read, or the chapter I am preparing to write, and I find I have no time to really immerse myself in it. Yet, often, when I do have the time, I fall down in my resolve to work consistently. I read in fits and spurts. I procrastinate. I dissemble, I fail to meet my expectations, which leads to self-castigation and mini fits of depression.

I nearly wrote this for an essay. Just as well I realised and put it on my blog instead.

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