As I get close to the end of the second funded year of my PhD, I feel the need for reflection (hence this blog). Though I have theoretically been working on my PhD for all of these two years, I haven’t got to where I’d intended to be at this point. In terms of the work I’ve done, I feel that I’m probably at about the 15-month mark – maybe 18 months if I’m being generous.
During the first year of the PhD, my father, who was already ill, was diagnosed with cancer, and he died at the end of June 2010. I spent most of that first year travelling back and forth to be with my family, and my concentration, though not my commitment, was severely affected. In hindsight, I should have taken some time off – spent time completely away from my books and my computer – but at the time I thought it was best to carry on. My supervisor called me ‘stoic’ once, and I think she was partly right; I stiff-upper-lipped my way through, when I should probably have spent a couple of weeks on the sofa with the DVD remote and a 12-pack of Hula Hoops.
It took me quite a long time to get back on my academic feet again, but I think I’m there. I have a second-draft literature chapter, most of a methodology chapter, and my first lot of (mostly quantitative) data. I still have some self-confidence issues, but they’re getting better. I gave a paper in July at a PhD conference about my research. And I plan to start interviewing in a few weeks.
It’s taken a while, but I think my PhD mojo is back, and I’m really looking forward to the next year (and a bit) of hard work.