Does outside research get in the way of the PhD?

You betcha! Although, in my case, my outside research is directly relevant to my studies. I am co-editing a book on singing teaching, which should be published in July 2013. I have to co-write the first and last chapters and also write my own. This, while directly relating to my studies, reduces by a month the time to work on my own thesis.

I am also doing a study on assessment practices, for which I am the project manager. I am also the main analyst – through a grounded study – so I’m the one who has to sit with the data and analyse all the interviews. And we’re presenting the findings in October, so I have to get cracking with that. This is about 5 hours a week of work, for which I only get about $40 an hour, but because my stipend runs out at the end of June, I have to do the work to stay fed.

And of course, now that I have no stipend, I have no visible means of support. I have to make the hard decision about whether to stay full time or to go part time on the PhD. Either way I hope to submit at the end of the year, so it’s no skin off my nose, but it will allow me to justify why I’m going full time with work commitments.

I have a few small commitments that, while only lasting a few hours, still take up precious time. Such as doing a critical reading for someone’s PhD; singing workshops and vocal health lectures. That sort of thing. Should I be employed full time at a university? I’m not sure. I’ve seen how hard my husband works, and I don’t think I want that. On the other hand, I’d love a few more teaching hours and then if you chuck in some lecturing and research – well, it all adds up. One can only hope. Anyway, I will certainly be applying for any gig that comes up at Uni over the next 12 months in research and project management, 2 things I thought I’d never do.

But do all these things impact on my study? Yes, they do. The learning from each of these endeavours enriches my knowledge about singing, about how to do research, about what is needed in a decent PhD, and about how to make the most out of my time. These activities might get in the way, but only in a good sense.

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