Getting publication runs on the board

Drum roll please…. our book is published! Titled Teaching Singing in the 21st Century, it is published by Springer. There is a frontispiece. There is a hard cover. There is even an e-book. There are separately published e-chapters available for e-purchase. There are PAGE NUMBERS. This might seem a little odd, but when you have to reference your work with an (in press) in text citation and no page numbers for individual chapters, it feels a little bit fake. But now we have a date, we have page numbers, and we have a ISBN number (actually, we’ve had that for AGES), I can reference it proper, like.

Also, my very first sole-authored journal article for RSME, which was accepted at the end of last year, appears to be headed for imminent publication given that I have just been sent the first pass of the copy edits. I’m excited.

I now have four book chapters to my name, two shared with DH. I have a sole authored journal article. I also have 3 multi-authored journal articles. While this might seem reasonable for an early career researcher, I am painfully aware of the need to publish or perish in the current research climate.

I have heaps of good material from my PhD with which to write an article or two (or ten!). There are many new ways to analyse the material from my project and like all good data it’s the gift that keeps on giving. At the same time I need to be mindful of my research participants and the ethics surrounding the use of their material for analysis. And there will come a time when I will have to let it go.

I am becoming excited by other areas of investigation, including musical theatre. The challenge will be to do this work without the benefit of ongoing employment at my institution (I’m on fixed contract). Just recently I spoke with a colleague about having to prove one’s importance and worth to the university, and so it is with me, for sure! Publishing means one stays viable in the research space, and it is also a good way to have one’s work regularly critiqued. I’ve been SRA (senior research assistant) on a couple of research projects, and DH has been great in ensuring that his SRAs are recognised by adding their names to the articles that are published. So when I’ve created the research design, done most of the research, provided most of the literature, written most of the articles, and done most of the follow-up work, I think my name should go on the publications. It seems only fair, but I know lots of research teams don’t do this and who don’t recognise the work of their SRAs. On the other hand, I’ve seen first-hand when SRAs don’t do the work for which they are employed. So it cuts both ways, I guess.

I am beginning to think about when I will have completed my thesis and what I will do next. Given that DH is keen that I keep developing my research profile, I imagine I will be finishing off a few old projects, writing articles, and developing ideas for others research projects. I’d like to apply for a Churchill Fellowship so I can observe singing teaching in Musical Theatre in both the US and UK. Another project I’ve in mind is to investigate perceptions of opera (in terms of the body and the singer) from both within and without opera culture.

In the meantime, though, I have a little teensy weensy chapter to write. It’s just reporting the findings from my survey but when I looked at how to write about this I came up empty handed. Because I’m reporting basically quantitative data but from a qualitative perspective (don’t beat me over the head for this – I originally wanted to do mixed methods but it’s a minefield and I haven’t been advised on how to do it because supervisor is a purely qualitative researcher, nor do I have the skills to do statistical analysis on my raw findings) I need to be able to include a simple chapter that shows the results and draws some kinds of interpretation from them. Gah.




Using reference system APA 6 is a B***H !!!!

OMG APA 6 is horrible. I thought I knew APA pretty well, but APA 6 just blows it all out of the water. For goodness’ sake, how many different referencing approaches can we fling together in this ghastly system?

*If you didn’t already know, I am a tutor for a few Uni courses at my workplace and I get to mark them as well, oh joy, oh rapture.

So, here I am marking 60-odd annotated bibliographies (marking is not an issue for me unless it exceeds 100 papers), and every new paper I open I have to go and research whether they have followed APA 6 protocols and formatting. EVERY SINGLE PAPER. Because if it’s not a book it’s a journal, and if it’s a video it’s something else, and if it’s online with an ISSN or DOI or URL it’s different AGAIN. And don’t get me started on newspaper articles and online encyclopaedias and MUSIC SCORES. Because music scores aren’t represented in APA 6. At all. WHO THE and WHAT THE?????

I OWN the APA 6 publication manual. Since APA 4 (forget about 5, we all have) protocols have changed for some pp. and not others. For example, you use pp. in an edited volume, but not in a journal. You use pp. in the in text citation but not in a magazine reference. Gah.

And then I need to go check the referencing tools at about 6 universities as one tool is simply not enough. Gah.

Oh, BTW, American Psychological Association, consider yourselves lucky that we in music research use your referencing system and for Pete’s sake give us some musical scores and manuscript options!!!!!!

Rant over. Back to marking.

(ps I’m a little bit ill today – took the day off yesterday and stayed at home, sitting down studying, thought I would be fine today and all was going quite well but got to work and worked with one student for 30 minutes and gave up. Felt all weird and dizzy and faint. So I’m home again, marking and doing PhD work. Because I don’t feel so bad when I’m sitting down.)

School holidays = PhD study bliss

The title is a misnomer. I’m not actually on holidays. But my afternoon teaching has stopped for the school holidays and while I’m still working at Uni, I’m usually home in time to do some afternoon study.

So I’ve started to look once more at a few things. Such as my Methods chapter. And my Conclusion. Both of which are Not Quite Right. I’ve had fun rewriting them over the last couple of days and it’s easy to see how close I am to actually getting this thing submitted, because they are nearly ready for re-reading by my supervisor.

I’m still dodging round the misery that is my Literature Review. As I said to DH, I don’t have a good Big Picture plan, so the lit review remains awfully sparse and horrible. I was reading in Research Design by Creswell (2014) about how to create a concept map, and I did one of those AGES ago, but I might have another go to see if I can’t get this literature under control.

I’ve missed the ease and joy of doing this type of work. My brain has definitely switched onto PhD study mode and I feel eager to get home and write after I’ve finished teaching for the day. Curiously, the relatively mild amount of teaching I do at Uni when my studio is closed for holidays seems to be completely manageable in terms of brain power. That being said, I have completely given up on keeping the house clean. There are others who can do that. I’ve apologised and will get back to housework in August, once I’ve submitted. There are always areas that I have to abandon in order to finish this work! Besides, I have to beat my sister, who only began her PhD 2.5 years ago. I began mine in 2009. Time to pull out the stops and get a wriggle on, and put a Dr next to my name.

At present I’m studying up to 4 hours a day. Feels good. 3 weeks of this and my literature might actually start to look like something.

How NOT to do a PhD.

How NOT to do a PhD. Do full time work, that’s how. Full time work that makes one so tired that most of the weekend is spent lying on the couch feeling rather blah.

I’m exhausted, my literature review needs to be completely rewritten and I’ve not even LOOKED at my discussion chapter since I put it down 10 days ago.

Does this surprise me? Nope. Trying to drag myself to the finish line was always going to be like this. Blergh.

At least my discussion chapter lays out pretty clearly the 5 main areas I now need to reshape in my literature review. But I’m also at the point where I feel like I’m 16 again and procrastinating like crazy not doing homework I hate. I don’t have the luxury of putting off my work any more so I’ll be spending most evenings on the couch with my computer trying to make sense of my literature. I think I’ll just completely rewrite it, brand new pages and everything.

I’m grumpy as hell about doing this thing, mainly because I’m a big picture person and I’m being forced to do small picture stuff – editing, rewriting, REFERENCING. Man, I hate doing references. And don’t get me started on EndNote. It’s crap, ok?


Getting to the heart of it

This blog post reports on my research and getting to the heart of my narratives through a discussion chapter. The last three days have been, if not quite epiphanic or revelatory, at least somewhat of a relief. Because I think I’ve worked out my five main themes from my data and the narratives.

Why so long, you ask? What HAVE you been doing all this time, you ask? Well, when anything by Gary McPherson and Jerome Bruner is click-bait, it’s been hard to nut out exactly what I am trying to illuminate in my thesis without it seeming like I’m just writing stories about singing teachers and their students, without much actual analysis or understanding of my field through the usual quantitative approach.

Now, I know this isn’t really true. I DO know my field and I have carefully analysed my data through narrative inquiry methods. The problem is, the field of my investigation is large and rather unwieldy. Most sensible folk would write either about teachers OR students, not both. And so I’ve been researching motivational theories, pedagogical theories (in singing AND in general), relational theories, theories of community, theories of mind, and theories about singers and musicians. It’s easy to get stumped. And it’s easy to get confused about what I’m actually trying to illuminate.

But over the last few days, with much rewriting of my narratives, I think I’ve done it. I think I have found a way through the minefield. I’ve whittled down all my ideas to one main one – development of artistry through apprenticeship – and there are 5 main themes to emerge from my data that just about covers all the things I’ve revealed in the narratives and found in my survey. Now, I’m not going to tell you what they are, because this thesis is mine – all mine – mwha hahahaha –¬† and you can’t nick my stuff – but suffice to say, the 5 themes are good. I hope.

I have one week to try and write my discussion chapter to a good first draft. Thereafter I need to look at my literature review again and work out what needs to stay and what needs to go. Because it’s a bit scattergun at the moment. Most of it is relevant but it’s still all over the shop. I think the discussion chapter will help cement my literature and provide an important framework for the lit chapter. I want to say all I need to say in the discussion chapter in 5500 words – that, with my conclusion, will reach 10,000 words, which is enough.

I finally have a deadline – it’s April for my talk (20 minutes – 20 minutes?! This is NOTHING.) and thereafter 3 months to prepare my thesis for submission. Which will kill me because I’m teaching full time during semester. But at least now I can see the finish-line!

So where am I? 74,000-odd words down, that’s where.

Ignore this bit below if you hate lists.

Introduction: 3,800 words (not finished)

Literature review: 14,000 words (not finished)

Methodology: 10,000 words (to revise)

Narratives: 41,500 words (final drafts)

Discussion: 1,000 words down (not finished)

Conclusion: 3,100 words down (first draft)

Just wrote my conclusion. How about that?!

The last few days have seen me struggling with my literature review, not because I’m bored witless or anything, no, not that, but because it’s HARRRRDDDD!

So, a couple of days ago, I decided to start my discussion and conclusion chapters because I needed a break from the hard stuff. And 3000 words later, I reckon the conclusion is nearly finished. That was surprisingly easy! I love being able to make motherhood statements about my work.

I’ve followed a basic structure that was recommended by DH, plus the advice in the book I’m reading to help get me over the line: “Completing your qualitative dissertation” by Bloomberg and Volpe, 2012, Sage Publishing.

I’ve started with a simple explanatory statement that seems to be at the beginning of every chapter and restated the research questions. Then under the header Summary of Findings I’ve blocked each of the research questions under teacher findings and student findings.

Then I’ve written a statement about future research directions and recommendations for music institutions.

Finally, I’ve made a big statement about the importance of the master/apprentice tradition but how it is transforming for the twenty-first century and added my own concluding statement about how my study has contributed to my transformation/ education as newbie tertiary singing teacher.

And there it is. My conclusion is kinda done. I just need to fix up the bit about the student and teacher findings because it’s all in my head at present, despite my findings being written down as narratives. Those narratives are LONG, man, and winding.

And my supervisor, years and years ago it seems, suggested that I create poems from my headers in the narrative chapters. This I’ve yet to do, but it seems a nicely creative activity after all the angst of the research components, and I can chuck these poems in for a bit of light relief at the beginning of the conclusion. Or maybe the end. Or maybe not at all.

But anyway, at least the ending’s mostly done. This also has helped me (once again) refine my thinking so that I can better articulate my big idea.

DH commented that one of his research assistants (the one we all hate because she is SO AMAZING at her job and so we slavishly copy all her best approaches) does the same thing prior to writing up the results. Hmm. Who would have thunk that writing the conclusion first would help refine the big picture?!

*And in a final note, who would have thought an uninterrupted few weeks for writing would have produced this much work? Oh, the irony.


My article was accepted!!!

Today, a little happy dance. For my article to an “A” grade music education research journal has been accepted!

I had been hiding from doing the revisions, mainly because I didn’t know where to start. It was when the assistant editor wrote a very polite third email – 6 months after the second – asking whether I was actually going to resubmit that I sat down to make sense of the comments.

In the end, it was a fairly easy revision process. The reviewers were very kind. They weren’t savage. They wanted the article to be published but one reviewer in particular saw that the article lacked structural clarity. So I created a table of revisions. My revised article was much, much better. The writing was clearer, the structure more sound, and even the way I explained and analysed my research was better articulated.

In the end, a blind peer-reviewed process is an excellent way to ensure a quality product. The process has made me much more aware of how I write for these types of journals. Tragically, it’s much easier for me to analyse the work of others than create my own. Damn you, musicology brain. Where’s composing brain when you want it?

And as I was doing the last set of revisions for the editor this morning, I even fixed the references. Not being a fan of EndNote, I keep all my references in a big reference list stored in the cloud (Dropbox, I love you). But they’re not always accurately cited, and sometimes journals want Chicago or something hideous like Harvard or MLA. Still, it’s not hard to fix, and doesn’t take all that long. I think my old fashioned approach is still better than buggy EndNote.

By the time I get my PhD I should have 10 publications to quality journals and publishing houses. A good start. So happy happy dance today!

Getting into the swing of it. Again. And again. Aaaand… again.

Holidays, or PhD? PhD, or holidays? That is the conundrum pendulum for today. It’s a Saturday, after all, and Thursday I actually did 5 solid hours of work, but the rest of my family are on their summer break and the siren wail of long walks by the ocean, chippies and glasses of vino beckon, and it’s hard to get motivated when everyone else is lounging about!

Friday I couldn’t work as I was packing the car, driving the children of step to the beach house, shopping, and cleaning the house. So I have a deficit of 5 hours to make up next week. I am determined to make the time up, because it’s marching on and I’m getting antsy again. And as usual, getting started is ALWAYS the hardest part of the PhD work. Once I’m in, it’s much easier to stay there.

I’m aiming for 5 solid hours of study/ reading / writing per day, during the week, and time off for good behaviour on the weekend. I realistically won’t get any more time than this, because even if I start at 8, there’s lunch and walks to be had, dinner to make and time to be spent with my kids. But next week will be 6 hours a day – nearly full time! Gosh! But this makes up for the hopeless November studying, when I only did the equivalent of one week’s study for the whole month.

On the plus side, no more Facebook means much less procrastination. It’s been super hard to do, and I was trembling as I deactivated it, but already I feel less jumpy and disconnected and I’ve managed to stay on task much longer. If people want to get in contact with me, they can call me. If they don’t have my phone number, it’s readily available on the www. If it’s that important.

I am writing this blog from the relative difficulty of my internet dongle – it only has 2gig per month available to me, so I have to be a little circumspect about how much I use. But this is the moment – when I am away – when it comes most in handy. Most of the time I’m connected through work or home, so the dongle just gathers dust in its case. Just as well I’ve paid for it anyway. Sort of.

So, December will be the month to finish draft one of the literature review, which is currently about 14,000 words along. Then January will be writing my discussion chapter and finishing the introduction. February will be to look through the whole draft once again and put it into one single document – something I’ve not yet attempted. I have yet to make sense of my methods chapter because I’m so far removed from this that I’ve forgotten what I did and how I did it! But it’s getting there, slowly.

One thing I have yet to do is try and find the gaps in my work – what have I missed? One of the areas not really investigated is the current opera and concert stage world – the business of opera and how we perceive it when developing our students for a career in this industry. There is little actual research available – mostly the current work is about transitions OUT of the profession, so I have to glean information from anecdotal information including news articles, opinion pieces, interviews with professional singers and the like. Luckily, some clever folk have published books on the subject (purely journalistic) but I can extrapolate some of the better information which should help me build a case.

So, even though I’ve not done any study today or yesterday, my brain is percolating along. Again.

November is nearly here! And you know what that means: PhD LAND!!!!!!

So, at 8:13am on a Monday morning, at home with the dog and the cat and an unfinished RSME article and the cleaner due today, here I am, ready to reembark on my PhD studies full time. Whoop whoop!

Ok, I AM panicking a little about the lack of funds coming my way through November/December/Jan/Feb, but PhD land is looking SO inviting! And PhD land keeps changing its boundaries so that one minute it is my hot-box studio in Brisbane and the next a lovely beach house in Caloundra. Then it’s a sweet 2 weeks at the beach house in Victoria should I choose to bother my extended family with exhortations for peace and quiet in the busiest time of the year down there on the Great Ocean Road.

Sooooo happy. So, instead of talking about doing it, I’m getting off my sorry blogging arse and just doing it. I may or may not blog regularly about my progress but given that I need to submit my intent to submit documentation in February, it had better be close to completion by then, which means no skiving off and wasting time doing things OTHER than my PhD.

Ciao all!