Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ehara i te mea

Feeling quite touched that YL acknowledged my doctorate today, fo rplacing Youthline into a stronger position from which they can move forward.
These lovely people who were so willing to share their stories with me, their openess and honesty in disclosing what they hoped for, feared, and worked to create; while they do the work, i got to tell their story and i get a doctorate off their work...
They asked me if i had a favourite waiata, So i chose ehara i te mea

This love it is not a new thing,
but is a taonga handed down by those who have gone before,
from one generation to the next
Ehara i te mea
Nō nāianei te aroha
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

Te whenua, te whenua
Te oranga o te iwi
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

Whakapono, tumanako
Te aroha te aroha;
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho.
Not the thing
of recent times, is love
but by the ancestors it has been
passed down, passed down.

From the land, the land
comes the wellbeing of the people;
by the ancestors it has been
passed down, passed down.

Faith, hope
and love;
by the ancestors they have been
passed down, passed down.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

#acwrimo (academic writing month) day 5

Today my goal is to work out how to use scrivener. I've known other tweeps rave about it, and popped it on my to do list post phd.
I'd glanced at it before but it had seemed not quite intuitive at the stage i was at in my wriitng, I suspected it was more prepatory oriented than useful most of the way through a big project.

My intention: writing this months journal article and/or for organizing my research wriitng ideas for the coming year

First step started googling scrivener, for a paint by numbers guide on how to write a journal article using it
Found nothing that simplistic in 20 mins.
Have since st myself Scrivener as a series of pomodoro sessions, as i am really feeling avoidant of writing at the moment. Might be why Im investigating the software....but half a day dedicated to this and i assume i will know if it will suit me.

First pomodoro:
Found some descriptive accounts.Skim read them
Posted on #acwrimo my intent to use scrivener for the month, and got guided to the thesis whisperer.
Have now downloaded the free trial for a month.
and posted here.

Five pomodoro later
Ive worked my way through the essentials of the free scrivener download package.
Seems it has an ok template, which i can adapt for writing a paper.
Seems it does not do the scoping that I thought it might do.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Finding voice as a writer

I would never have completed the second journal article in two months had i not finished the month with a writing retreat.
What changed?

Talking with Anne.
I was able to clarify what i hated in the article I was writing.
Hearing myself saying it, I could now follow cj's advice: write an article i would want to read.
The world does not need more dull articles.
Snapped the shackles locking me down.
I dont have to pretend to be a dissociated writer. If painting i would be telling myself dont have to stay inside the lines.
Im still finding my way on this, but there's a bit of a transformation happening.

The other significant change was an absence of internet. I'm really glad for my endnote library in that i have articles there, and reasonable notes about them, taht makes retrieval efficient.
I know also had i had internet available, id waste time searching for who else said something rather than trusting my own thinking things through.
The tiny bits that needed follow up could be asterixed and returned to when i had internet. (These areas i fixed inside of 1 hr)

A further contributing factor was an extremely dodgy generator at the bach we were at. Day 1 was good, but days 2 and 3 and 4 would give short bursts of generator; at most 30 mins at a time...then id write frantically till i ran out of juice...then forced thinking and planning or resting time. Couldnt have planned this. But it felt very pomodoro like.

And the company and the setting were great. There were hills that could be climbed. no. sea to swim in. no. beach walks yes. cafes no shops no.

The article is now finished.

I had thought (since i had not taken it with me, and because i abandoned the plan after the first draft of a "tiny text" that Thomson & Kamler's (2013) book on writing for peer review had not worked for me this time (similarities to a previous article kept blocking me)
I think i had missapplied Thomson and Kamler's work trying to turn it into a paint by numbers style ... (my error, not theirs i hasten to add).
However, what i found on reflection was:
I did attend to voice (the first half of their book
I revisited the overall balance of the article, adjusting the front load so there was room for my argument
And I attended to 'the take home message'.
Hadnt realized at the time how much of their advice I had absorbed.

In the last month Ive had an article sent for a conference, and an article written. Ive read some books on getting ideas known. And Im now going to go back to these, they have a style i find inspiring.
so Im 8.5 weeks into the 3 month writing scholarship, Ive produced 2 articles and a conference paper.
Ive read one book about how to write academic articles for peer review and two popular writing books that present ideas.

My next goal, to move the writing into the future, as Im feeling a bit locked into the past.
I've #acwrimo dedicated for this.

Thomson, P., & Kamler, B. (2013). Writing for peer reviewed journals: Strategies for getting published. London: Routledge.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Academic journal writing and post doc writing angst

Either i, or the article i struggle with are not made for a 7 day plan. Four days later and i have made progress, but not without huge angst.
The article has writhed and refused to settle.

I have undertaken further reading. Usefully.
I now have a better consideration for where this article is going.
It will not replicate the prior one.
It will not be the prior one with a variation on examples either.
Its evolved a little further, and its exploring through examples a little more detail if the therapeutic relationship as experienced by young people.
Retrospectively that is so easy to say. A week after i thought i had it mapped, i now know where it is going,
This is no paint by numbers but an organic process that until i have written, i have very little knowledge oof where it will go.

I suspect to think otherwise is to be quite seriously deluded.

I am now at 2000 words of a max 60000.

They are so much better structured though than when i was last near this point.

Seriously htough, this is a self torturing endeavour and I wonder where the joy of writing has gone.

I know the conference paper was fun. I also now that ifI had not made commitments I would have blown this particular article off.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1 day down; 6 to go. Publishing a paper on a 7 day plan.

That was a productive day; the map got written; the writing flowed.
Biggest hurdles were in finding examples not previously used, and in updating the background to NZ ers and their predilections for texting.
I learned an oddity along the way:
In 2011, the NZ Commerce Commission identified that NZers make phone calls versus sending texts at a ratio of 1:10
Youthline receiving calls actually sits at 12% when compared to the number of text messages they work with.
This suggests young people do actually make contact with YL by phone calls at a higher rate than they might use for their other interactions.

Hurdling is not my preferred past time.
Writing at this rate of knots still feels really time pressured.
I like that Gladwell describes to 10,000 hrs rule for practice to proficiency, it suggests the more I write the better i will become at it.
I live in hope.
Meantime I know that 10,000 hours of me jumping hurdles is never going to make me a hurdler....and that telling a goldfish to spend 10,000 hrs climbing trees will never result in that happening either...There is, of course, critique of Gladwell's assertion.
The difference might be i actually like the art of writing, of being so focussed, and of word-smithing...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In just 7 days: My muse returned and its time for another peer reviewed journal article

At least that's the goal.
However the intent does presuppose prior work; being on a post-doc writing scholarship I have a thesis to draw on.

After a month that needed some time out to graduate, and in which I also produced a conference paper, I'm back ontask.
Yesterday produced an abstract and the first 500 words of the article.
I also rewrote my own table to follow based on Thomson and Kamlers (2013) writing the abstract as a tinytext that provides the mindmap/roadmap for the article. It's here for anyone interested:

Todays goal: write the tiny text by midday.
The alternative would be my prior habit of writing me a river that meanders and has banks put in afterwards (afterwords) that would be really really time consuming and suffer from a plethora of messages as I attempt to address everything for the reader.

Opening those flood gates has me putting on some music...Louisianna 1927, Original by Randy Newman,
I prefer it sung by Marcia to muse by.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Finding my writing mojo; writing through writer's block

Ive tried to enter into this months task: one journal article per month.
Instead I wrote a conference paper. Ok. Then went to my own capping. Ok. And thenwas meant to start writing.
I have looked at the two abstracts i had scoped. they are OK.
And IVe not progressed them.

So whats going on?
Tired of writing? A possibility.
The last conference paper was exceptional fun: bilingual in txtspk and plain speak. And now the pedantic holds so much less interest. A possibility.
The paper to write for an international audience rather than the NZ journbal- written once, writing twice has lost its appeal. Its a formal starchy space.

So what have i done. Ive turned up for work to write. Ive allowed distractions.
Ive turned up to work again, and stared at it, toyed with it like a plate of broadbeans gone cold.
Ive revisited some chapters on writing.
Ive read some articles i could think to emulate.
Ive talked with cj. This was a good option.
I have spent today reading good writing; or at least the type of writing i would rather read.
I still have a niggle that this is procrastinating, however it feels a whole lot better than self flagellation.
I have a suspicion writing from a space of self flagellation is pretty ineffective.
Might as well try the more fun approach.
Today ive completed 6 pomodoros of reading. I finished a Gherardi article

Gherardi, Silvia. (2010). Telemedicine: A practice-based approach to technology. Human Relations, 63(4), 501-524. doi:10.1177/0018726709339096
on telemedicine- it structured an argument around things not totally intuitive and then analysed the data to the structure.

Ive also read some more accessible type of reading:
Cowen, Tyler. (2013). Average Is over: Powering America beyond the age of the great stagnation. New York, NY: Dutton Adult.
some good ideas about artificial intelligence through to Turing test, that could lend itself to fears of technology and working alongside technology, strengths identified in the hybrid relationship similar to Latour and Haraway

And am now reading Gladwell- though I started with a web page on what makes Gladwell such a good writer at
And the one idea thing is strong in this, take one idea and exemplify it through the storytelling. This is something i hope to work with.
Gladwell, M. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants (Kindle ed.): Penguin.
And there is scope for finding the number one idea , theres working with weak ties, the counterinutitive success made possible because of distant-presence, visibility counterpoised alongside visibility, being heard silently...

In between i also signed up fro #acwriMo, a writing commitment for November.
Did housework- fixed the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed.
And put out at least one workplace fire.

Now to keep reading Gladwell's David and Goliath, hoping to get my mojo back.

I just rechecked the writing scholarship and am feeling less troubled. My conference paper was identified on it as an outcome, so this wasnt a distraction after all.
And my goal which was accepted did not specify the dates of completion as per calendar month, hence my fear i wont have one done by months end may be a little premature. Will just settle in with the plan and keep trucking along.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Post Doc writing scholarship:3 articles/3 months

This is a midway point in my writing scholarship from Deakin University.
To recap: the scholarship was based on a propsal of three articles in three months, I had scoped some abstracts and identified appropriate journals for sending these to.
The first month, I rewrote the plan, and included a conference paper (published in proceedings as additional to the plan.
I met the first months deadline, albeit with some angst around (re)finding voice.
In the first week of the second month I wrote the conference paper.
In the second week i took a break for capping; I am now back.
And struggling.
Ive put on my favourite writing music (Norah Jones) hoping to find my muse.
Ive made an online commitment with a study/writing scholarship buddy, to Pomodoro the day away.
And Im following the Barbara Grant advice of writing about whats stopping me writing; also hoping to find my muse.
Wish the damn muse was less ethereal today.
skimming Howard Becker: "reading this book will not solve all your writing problems. It will hardly solve any of them. one can solve your problems. They are yours.

well aren't i the lucky one, eh?

Taking a turn then from ...Steven Brookfield... on academic imposter syndrome, i can at least try faking it till i make it.

I know whats stopping me. The task is like a mountain and i dont want to climb the hill, but there's a deadline.
I know that there's drudgery. Ive done the article i owed my participants and my site of study. And Ive done the conference paper that was fun. Now there's just chopping wood and drawing water to quote a Zen saying. Academic labour to quote Thompson and Kamler (2013)

There's an inkling of hope. I have yet to hand in anything dull. It might start that way, there's some formuleic processes i can work with.
I have a couple of abstracts to work up.
One bite at a time
Turn them into tiny texts, and let them latch on to me (hopefully, my energy will rise more in proximity to one or other of these) So its back to T&K and the tiny text road mapping to build up the abstracts as a road map and ensuring the movements of Swales "CARS" gets addressed in the article. (for more on CARS: )

Todays goal, relates to How to eat an elephant; one bite at a time. Today I need do no more than map the article.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The 7 day wonder; a paper completed

After two exceptionally late nights and also getting up today at 4.00 AM the paper is written.
I have only to print and edit, and then after duplicating it, try out some stylistic layout options.

No i did not stay up all hrs just trying to meet a self imposed deadline of the 7 day wonder of a paper write, the deadline for the conference paper was yesterday. I have an extension till monday but since i am catching a plane tomorrow, I need to send it today.

I am still unclear on the how to write a journal paper form this edition of a conference paper.
T&K's book writing for peer review does mention conference papers but pretty much only as a water test for the journal. They are also very direct in saying if your going to write a paper , write it as a journal article. It being easier to have that specific brief in mind...guess its easier to scale down to an audience than up???)

The conference paper is a bit exegesis, a bit avant-garde.
Next i may also be sourcing journals that are in to radical.
I also suspect the journal version could do with a bit more local contextual stuff about the use of text speak...then again if the stylistic stuff saves me more word count space, i may add some of that.

And I still need to make a decision what article to complete in the 3 weeks post the trip away.

I could live in hope that my having done this one inside the time i set, is that my writing is getting faster- or it could just be the lack of outside eyes on it...or the heavy deadline imposition...

Seems really working at a tinytext is good for me in clarifying where its got to go structurally.

Postscript; a lack of internet at the apartment meant the feedback on the paper from the symposium generated a day of working on it while overseas. Its looking good though, always wanted to do a split page as per Mol. Now i have one. Also the argument moved as i wrote, had an inkling of staying true to form and therefore justifying the txtspk, but during this a more persuasive argument than the aesthetic emerged. Looking forward to the feedback.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Writing a paper in 7 days; day 4

Day 1 instead of starting the writing, had me revisiting an abstract already accepted, writing another abstract for next months paper, and writing a writing plan and sharing it with my supervisor via google docs.

Day 2 seemed to be totally absorbed with recreating the tinytext- whereby an abstract provides the roadmap for an article,
it took 2 days, it took longer than it should have; it was unbalanced.
The structure Thompson and Kamler suggest of "Locate, focus +- anchor, report and argue"
I had a huge front end locating the research; establishing its territory.
Perhaps this shouldn't seem so odd, what i am writing is quite odd and requires significant justifying.
The focus though was almost absent. I was pretty much all over the show:
- was this about the data in my thesis and how it got to on of my many conclusions (young people being maligned because of their use of text)
- was this about the article being written, a performative turn in txt spk
And decided the focus was really about collateral damage; collateral damage whereby 'we' continue to perpetuate discrimination by not allowing other voice (txtspk) to be heard. Hence the new reading required as my thesis had not addressed issues of identity and oppression and language in this way.
The anchor (not always essential unless entering into specific discourse/s) has me address this calling principally on actor-network theory (ANT), (John Law and collateral realities) and 'the performative turn' in ANT, but Ive been having to do more reading (Judith Butler identity formation and excitable speech, and others such as Linda Tuhawai Smith and Kumashiro regarding decolonization and oppression)
But I'm really not feeling strong enough or well enough read in those areas to do more than point to the fields and say this sits alongside.
The reporting has involved pointing to how txt language gets positioned, and how it then positions those who use it. Being performative, the paper then becomes its own report...a demonstration of text speak used to talk of the non trivial.
The argument becomes one of challenging what is 'othered'' and our own 'othering'.

However it also took a while because I was rewriting the abstract , both in English and in text spk.
Oddly i found myself recrafting the language, nuanced to NZ txt spk- yes it appears to be different to what provides :)
And also oddly, while i word craft my english for look,canter, syntax, prose... and i found myself altering the txt spk differently - they are not identical, word by word translations differ! The look on the page makes me choose different words. And txt word choices also differ. No one writes "unnecessary" when texting; the words chosen tend to be simpler- its "not needed".
Then having a minor meltdown of how would i ever achieve the writing goal for the month.
Telling myself intellectually that last month would have been impossible if i had seen what wss coming, so this month- knowing what was coming- must be a bonus!
I then went through my calendar cancelling everything i could.
And set up my email autoreplies so i didnt have to feel bad about turning people down- upfront stating i would be writing october- november so unless a repeat email with urgent in the title line..." . Not being a speaker of foreign languages i never quite understood how word for word translations never really work, nonetheless this surprised me and was probably wasting time.
But for getting the tinytext sorted, the abstract needs to be sorted, and this made for a bit of a time absorbing black hole.

Then there is my artistic concern for what comes first, an English or txt spk version...
Still not totally sure, could be all in one version then the other, but which comes first...or could be an abstract then a txt abstract then article then translated article etc etc... and ideally it would be written in 160 character bites , the size of SMS...but at present I am just staying with paragraphed prose.

It is taking a while because this paper is less about 'reporting' but is a not sure if T&K's writing for peer review journals lends itself to this so readily.Plus i might be trying to do too much- write it for a journal and for a may be that this is something that suits conference (due date is 2 days away for submission) versus the journal article (scholarship condition- end of the month).
How to do both had me twittering with Pat Thompson (a very generous woman) and going back to their book- another section i skimmed but pages 170 is about this - in bold..."Never write a conference paper, always write a draft of the article that will be submitted for publication". Still think more was needed on this regarding how conference papers can be drafted and how they actually are nuanced differently...

Day 3 converting the already large introduction, locating this paper in a literature, finding its niche, posing the issue... into the first couple of pages of the article. This morphed (segued nicely) into the focus of collateral realities...

Day 4 collateral realities and doing difference differently...

So thats the content stuff above; meantime there's process stuff below:
Cant sleep, its 5.00AM, so Im up blogging about my writing, and reading the pages from T&K's book re conference paper vs article...
Am feeling anxious still about the months goal= 1 conference paper and one journal article.
Then having a minor meltdown of how would i ever achieve the writing goal for the month.
Telling myself intellectually that last month would have been impossible if i had seen what ws coming, so this month- knowing what was coming must be a bonus!
I then went through my calendar canceling everything i could.
And set up my email autoreplies so i didn't have to feel bad about turning people down- upfront stating i would be writing october- november so unless a repeat email with urgent in the title line...or unless i want to look, i wont be responding...

At the end of the month though I will be doing a writing retreat with a friend...wondering if beginning of month are better for these as its getting the stuff sorted that would reduce anxiety better.
Then again, last month started with a writing retreat weekend, and a week later a further 4 days of retreat. But it was the end of the month with seriously rewriting the paper that felt frantic.
Really wishing my writing could be efficient hence the intention of 'the plan',
as next week Im off- time to get capped for the phd which means a short sojourn in Melbourne :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Write an academic paper in 7 days; 2nd attempt

i am on a writing scholarship where the committment is 3 papers in 3 months; i am in my second month.

Last month's goal was met; though the 7 day wonder wasnt. I remain, however, hopeful.

The best resource i found last month was Thomson and Kamlers (2013) Writing for peer reviewed journals. The tiny text based on the abstract made it very explicit where i was up to at any one time.

This month my intention is a conference paper that i also hope to submit as a journal article.
I have 4 more days to write the paper.
The abstract is written.

I have based it on Guggenheim's argument that to to write academically may betray the subject.
i have taken this a step further.
To write in academicese about txting betrays not just the form of the subject written of, but also those whose activities i engaged with.

It is therefore being crafted in txt spk.

Today i have not progressed it much; i have instead been foraging in literatures of textuality and identity; and in discourses of conformity, colonization and oppression.

I had naively believed that i would be writing of what was in my thesis, and yet there is more literature i find i am needing to call on.

However: Back to the plan.
The direction is an 8 page document with an abstract of 350-400 words.
Todays, and yesterday's goal: Write the abstract and turn this into a 'tiny text' = a map for the paper.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writing the peer review article in one month

Its all but done.
The critique came back SEND it. it's damn good


So i then mucked about a little further, proofed, expanded some referencing
Looked at how the explaining of the study and its ethics might be incorporated with more discussion or reduced to a footnote. Opted mildly for the first and decided there was another journal article to be had on sensitive ethics.
Updated a couple of references, expanding- and balancing the article.

Then got stuck into the formatting
And discovered that's not a couple of hours type of thing.

Took me a full day, a full 9.00AM to 11.00PM type of day, minus 4 hrs when i was out

And this was already a pretty clean copy.

But the instructions for the journal were not crystal clear.

So there was a little bit of juggling and time wasting in some of the decisions to be made. Beating the thing around a little to fit the constraints of only certain types of headings and subheadings and pagination, and spacing, and font choices, and figures and tables...

But its done (and i found a tiny error in the phd, of a doubled up tiny segment in one of hundreds of my references. Always good to know the human touch is there. I do so like seeing the humanity involved.)

SO its now sent off to the organization to check they are still giving consent to be named

Then it will be off to the journal, with a request for receipt so as to provide evidence justifying the scholarship i had been awarded.

This month felt really tight- am hoping that next months will be easier.

Now that my personal copy of Thomson and Kamler's (2013) book Writing for Peer reviewed Journals has arrived, it might be timely for me to read the sections (beginning and end) that i only skimmed before.

Next immediate goal... #nlc paper- abstract already written. And at least one journal pub.

Consider a further paper for same conference?
Prioritize other potential writing: positioning similar content but for the international scene, different variation focusing on youth empowerment; focus on ANT methodology; sensitive ethics; conference symposium paper and a conference paper?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rewriting the article in the face of feedback

Had to be too good to be true, writing to the plan did not work as well as i had hoped.

In the face of some very constructive feedback, i would say that what i had written was devoid of humanity; odd ofr a paper on counselling. Seemed i had become incredibly starchy in my approach, my own voice dropped.
i had skipped the first half of Thomson and Kamler's (2013)book believing that because i had found my voice in my thesis, lost it in the interim waiting for the thesis too be marked, that since the thesis had passed my voice would be back.
It wasn't.
I'd found this writing tortured. i thought it was because the formality of a journal required the sanitized starchiness of crisp linen.
What i'd produced was less attractive.
And then if I was reading it, would i want the sanitized. washed, clean,pressed version?
Would I rather have an article i could climb into?

So a week of rewriting.
I am happier with it.
Putting it back out there for some more critical review.

Friday, September 13, 2013

writing to the plan

4 days on a writing retreat and the article that i had mapped out last December, and trickled the writing thereof over an exceptionally busy half year, plus a weeken dof writing just before life got in the way, is now done...or at least a fully fledged and fairly sweet first copy.
The image below is the view I have been writing to today.

Taking the tiny text and writing to the plan is done!
Todays task was the fourth movement, presenting the argument that the data supports.
While its shorter than anticipated, its long enough in reiterating the components from the preceding sections.
The section was written by morning tea time! And then editted through to lunch. i think its time to get some external eyes on it...but may also check out some other web site advice on writing in 7 days from Inger Mewburn that i should be able to locate on the thesiswhisperer blog and also the writing a scholarly article stuff that i know is over on the Pat Thompson's patter blog.

All seems a bit easy today, too easy?
The article is currently at 5200 words and will need some trimming, word limit being 5000

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing to the plan

The tiny text plan is working.

I'd colour coded the abstract that provided me with four major moves.
I then started writing to the plan, workied ok in section one, the why of the research. Got a little unsure in section 2 and began to meander as i am want to do. Popped in some headers on each page reminding me of the section i was intending to address. Then colour coded my sections to match the coding in the abstract. Much less straying.
Got into the third section (data and analysis) i started writing, however this was before i established quite how i was going to address the mess inside my head. Once i found a way into the structure that would leave a lot of stuff out and reconfigure some of the other stuff i knew, i was able to provide some subsections. This led to my revisiting the abstract, rewriting my intent to match what i had done, and again I could then write to the plan.
The article is now 3/4s done; pretty tidy if i say so myself.
That section was bigger than intended, but the one before it was smaller.
I feel like the balancing of weighting regarding the four moves has been reasonable, as has the balancing of how I've addressed the data.

Ive never written in such a delineated way before and it really is liberating.
Historically i have written me a river, then put in the banks and dykes when it wandered all over the place.
This way of writing is so much less wasteful of words.
Last section to address is the argument that the data led me to. I now know where to start tomorrow.
And having the plan I know that even if life gets in the way i can stop or start knowing exactly where i am up to and where to launch off from.

Where I'm writing on my writing retreat; the Waiwera tidal estuary. Not where the arrow points (thats pointing to where i had a honeymoon! Its for sale if i suddenly come into money... the pictures borrowed off a real estate company) But just across the road on the waters edge. Probably a space at risk of flooding if global warming raises water levels. In the kitchen are also instructions regarding what to do in the event of a Tsunami warning.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to the plan.... In just (slightly more than 7 non consecutive days) I will have it done.

Life is what happens when your making other plans came home to me this last week.
There will always be things that get in the way of writing, at least Thomson and Kamler's (2013) writing for peer reviewed journals us of 'the tiny text' as a plan sustains me well through the angst of picking up a project (the article) and putting it down. With the tiny text providing guidance I knew exactly where i was up to.
Nonetheless there are still trials and tribulations to be had.
To negotiate these I am now colour coding the draft as i recognize that i have a tendency to meander. Using a highlighting feature, not only is my abstract colour coded, but so too are the sections of the article. In addition, I am also needing more serious constraints to my meandering tendency so I have place d a header on the document so that I stay oriented toward the section that i am currently addressing.

Todays goal: get out of the focus and anchor section and get into the results.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

In just 7 days; the writing plan span

The great thing about Thomson and Kamler's (2013) book on writing peer review articles identified that waiting for blocks of time may well position article completion in never never land. Instead they advocate the abstract as a tiny text through which planning of the whole article might occur. In subdividing sections, blocks of work as academic labour might then be delegated.
So far the plan is working. My next identifiable section relates to Reporting of major findings/description of thematisized findings moving to analysis (2000 words).
Given that the Gods seem to be laughing at me for making plans, I am anticipating this next section may well last into next week. Just as well i have another writing retreat planned- i just need a more settled life in which to apply myself- alternately the plan will span up to a week.

Having sorted the Intro, the Focus, and provided a semblance of an Anchor suggesting how the paper would progress, the next task is to Report on major findings, to provide thematisized descriptions and move to analysis.
In a nutshell to expand the tiny text that stated:

While this question (goodness and badness) not being explicitly addressed, a content analysis of some 6000 text messages is provided where skills commonly associated with counselling are mapped against the artefacts of counselling made visible by texting.
Note to self- tell them in a succinct way about ethics being approved also
Am anticipating a section of 2000 words.

in just 7 days: my journal article committment

Day 2 of writing the 7 day article has had to extend into a few more days.

Life is what happens while we are making plans... dont ask, but know life is always full and stuff always happens.

Meantime, seems there is no paint by numbers approach to article writing. I actually need to decide how much weighting to give sections, and in comparing my intro to the ones in Thomson and Kamler's (2013) book on writing for peer reviewed journals i will need to get more specific. I have a tendency to morph form bare bones to the history of everything. Time as Stephen King says it in his book On Writing:
“kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings”
Time to bite back those words, take a deep breath, and start slashing.
Seems i had a tendency to just ramble on.
My learning edge is #1 not to ramble and # to learn signposting (ie telling the reader at this point what the gap is, the niche for this research, and how it will forwith be filled, persuading the reader to read on.)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

In just seven days, my journal article writing plan post PhD

Day 2 proposed plan:
The tiny text (Thomson and Kamler, 2013) of th abstract becomes the road map for an article total 5000 words

Thomson and Kamler stress the importance of not leaping in to write first but to plan instead so as to address all sections.

Not a "rocky horror": In just seven days I can make you a plan

Reading Thomson And Kamler's (2013) Writing for peer review journals has been a liberating experience.
Or perhaps the invite to join some friends on an unplanned, but much appreciated writing weekend.
Here's the motivational setting.

My guilt in completing a thesis but not finding writing time is placated.
I resurrected the article i had intended for the last ten months. I had already identified its readership, missed two deadlines, and feared being guzzumped on the subject i had spent 8 years studying.

Having applied for, an won, a writing scholarship and renegotiated many of my paid work place commitments at short notice, I embarked on a weekend's writing retreat with two friends.

Instead of throwing myself at the wriitng, i chose to sneak into the writing space, reading about writing as a motivational taster. It worked.

I initially found this book annoying, Chapters 1-3 on identity and voice were not areas I felt i had a need to revisit, so skim read through these. I wrote strongly in my thesis.
I liked what i saw in chapters 3-6. Seemed i could map the work- the abstract as a performance of four moves, and it felt comfortable- resonating with what i felt i already accepted as necessary. It felt affirming.
I resurrected my article, the abstract i had was too long- too long for its intended journal by 100%
Nonetheless I applied the concept of Thomson and Kamler's 4 moves (see Thomson and Kamler, 2013, p. 61)
The following is a synopsis of these moves:

Locate: placing the paper in context of the discourse community. Larger issues and debates being named and potentially problematized. This creates a warrant for the contribution being made and its significance.
Focus: identifies the particular question/s, issues of kinds of problems that the paper will explore, examine and/or investigate.
Report: outlines the research, sample, method of analysis, - assures reader of credibility
Argue: opening up the specific argument through offering analysis. Moves beyond description and may include theorization in order to explain findings. May offer speculations but will always have a point of view and a stance. It returns to the opening locate in order to demonstrate the specific contribution that was promised at the outset. It answers the so what and the now what questions.

So taking my document (abstract and semi-written article), I could easily highlight where I had made these four moves.
I felt affirmed in that my abstract matched these moves perfectly. This in itself alleviated my unexpressed identity and anxiety of not feeling good enough or fear in being judged and potentially being found wanting. (My recovery from PhD submission even in knowledge of passing seems to be taking longer thn i had initially supposed.)

That my abstract was too long was now reasonably easy to address. I would still need each of the areas addressed so it would take pruning in each area; no one move would be deleted. This proved an excellent strategy.

One morning's work and I now have an abstract of required length, and from this tiny text established a road map to work with.

Instead of feeling a rocky horror of despondency, I have a plan, and instead of feeling fraught with knowing this month i dont have uninterrupted writing time I know i can establish workable chunks that are not too big for the times i have available.
This afternoon's plan: Draw up a road map chart (see Thomson and Kamler, 2013, p. 92) and establish the word expenditure section by section.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to read a thesis

This begins my postgrad life, and my hopes of a post doc new identity; it's a letter to myself in preparation of post grad supervision, and is based on the experiences of myself and of other students and what we/they want in an examiner.

Read it for added value - not for the student but for the importance it brings into the world.
Read it for rigour - it does need to be clear, honest, coherent. The substance does need to be argued, the methodology likewise.
Read it for its ethical undertaking - its not ok to use and abuse others. Participation requires respect.
Read it for your profession, your colleagues, your students - the cutting edge of new research and of new topics is here.
Read it for enjoyment - the presentation , the wordsmithing, the empathy invoked for the writer if not for the participants talked of.
But above all, read it.

I am so grateful for my own readers/examiners and for the feedback received that made 'my' thesis better.
What irks the phd student is a read where a marker does not read in a spirited way; when what is provided is a review not of what the writer undertook, but of what the reader would have done had it been their thesis.
There is no point criticizing the omelette for not being pavlova.
read it for its promise fulfillment.
Eat it, hoping for its readiness while knowing it could be otherwise....

How To Eat a Poem
by Eve Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On becoming a PhD: just who is being domesticated in the writing

The PhD as a space for creative writing is sometimes considered risky, however if the coherence is able to be argued then creative writing can be included. This is a page from the thesis, it was written in bradley hand script over an image of a cell phone. The intent being the sense of closeness, the companion species that a mobile phone might be seen as. Studying materiality made the materiality of how work was presented important.

On becoming a hybrid
I got it as a gift, but I had to get it a sim card & establish a contract with a service provider, take it home, plug it in, charge it… Wait…wait…hours of waiting… Read the manual. Personalise it; choose my language (English & predictive test) enter ph. no.s (I’ve outsourced my memory). Send a message to family & friends so they know my no., set the calendar, clock, choose a background, select preferred ring-tone & volume. Try them all out. Reply to half the friends & relations. Set the alarm clock. Put in appointments. Phew. Look at the manual to work the camera, learn how to save & send photos, & bluetooth them to my computer. What is Bluetooth anyway? Read the manual online… Check with service provider about overseas roaming to send or call from Aus to NZ on a NZ ph., (0011649… need 2 check for service provider coverage, remember to keep ph. with me or risk my relationship, check for missed calls, oh & for unread txts. I hate the demands of why didn’t you answer your phone….
I become conscious of costs & having to feed it by prepay, & ensure its power supply is maintained. Learn to clear messages, sent & received otherwise it tells me “memory is full, clear messages from any box”. I continue to transfuse it with money, negotiate the credit card with the service provider, keep clearing messages, plug it in when its flat…
I still don’t know how to use it for email or internet, play games, or as a radio, I could download music to it, pay for parking, check movies … I discovered it can also be a torch by manipulating the camera flash, and it’s a calculator, plus a notepad… I’m loving it. It’s old technology already & I only use it for a fraction of what it makes possible!
Now I wouldn’t be without it; got my keys, my cash my mobile… oh and my charger if going away a few days. I’d be bereft without it, how would I get in touch with people? How would I know their no.s? What if I’m running l8? Or the car breaks down?
I’ve bought it a cute cover; to stop her getting knocked about. Oh, and you noticed the charm? she's just cuter with it on…. Well yes, I’ve had pets that are less demanding. Well at least the Tamagotchi & goldfish were, mmm the cats, well yes, this is about as financially demanding as the cat I suppose… but hey now me and my cell go everywhere together. I even chose my handbag with the outside pocket so she's always at hand while also having her own space…

I’m the one domesticated!

(And as for being domesticated, the computer word doc and pdf doc required so many more accommodations on my part, having to choose a font that would stay stable across both PC and mac was problematic- thanks to Andrew LAvery of Academic consultancy, that particular issue got sorted somewhat.)

Thanks extended to Donna Haraway who described stories of materialised refiguration; stories where metaphor and materiality implode. She provided the provocation to think of how technologies are not so much separated from our existence. In addition she provoked consideration for the realtionships we might have/I might have with companion species.
Thanks as well to Bruno Latour for writing in ways that demonstrate that freedom and creativity need not be excluded from academic writing, a genre he refers to as scientification. He prompts consideration for symmetry in the analysis of our relationships with beings human or otherwise, that they might be interrogated on an equal footing (so to speak).
Thanks also to Karen Barad for her writing of identity and agency reflecting ongoing reconfigurations,
and the sure knowledge that boundaries do not sit still.

Refs of specific interest:
Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801-831. doi:10.1086/345321
Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Latour, B. (1996). Aramis: Or the love of technology (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Made in association

I dont have to be paranoid about the connectivity traces made possible in metadata mining made possible by tracing who connects to who whether on emails or in my google searches or on twitter or my texting.
Today's inability to make the remote control work (probably having been smoted by God for not talking to the door knocking visitors who just wanted to talk about the good news bible...) led to there being no pleasure to be had in ironing, and so i returned to the laptop. This provided me with four bits of twittering that help place my paranoia into perspective: The first from Joss Whedon: "Always be yourself. Unless you suck" allowing me leeway for my alter ego to tweet as some other cool cat...
The second was an admonishment to sext responsibly (not that i sext at all, of course, point one above not withstanding). Remembering also that when you sext with anyone, you’re also sexting with the entire NSA. #SextResponsibly. I guess in NZ that relates to the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)) and they sleep/share secrets with the NSA coz they are desperate to be liked.
The third was a reminder on the use of pseudonyms pp J K Rowling and follows a tradition established by others such as sometimes its a means to be taking more, or less, seriously.
And while such changes were sometimes to disguise gender (eg George Eliott, as well as J K Rowling) a fourth twittering I noted today was of changing one's name to fit in better; to make it easier for others.

So, if you ever meet me at a cafe and i pick up coffee for 'Sue' it's not that I'm stealing someone else's drink, it's just I avoid getting into discussions on 'ailsa' and "how do i spell that", and "where does that come from" ...
It is not only an online world where duplicity occurs with identity being masked at times, the real world is full of such activities also.
Or maybe it is just further evidence of identity being made in association.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Feeling wary of my digital trace; wanting to stay attached to my shadow

The permanence of this came home to me when i was asked by my smart phone to synch contacts with my computer. Suddenly i had thousands and thousands of contacts....every single staff member at my place of work was now on my phone (thousands in a University), but also it managed to do what I could not 9had i wanted to). It managed to data mine every single email address i had connected with for at least the last 8 years, despite my workplace having converted from one platform to another.
Personally i found this unsettling, not least because it meant i now had to scroll through thousands of contacts to find the ones i want on my person, in my pocket, in my smart phone. My choices: delete manually or delete by returning the phone to its preset factory settings (sans all photos and misic). So...I'm up to the letter K...

But its also important because of what else it brings to the fore.

Theres the mining of metadata- apparently its just who contacts who and when...but here it was used to trace the telephone contacts of a journalist who the NZ governement were not happy with in his reporting of how NZ soldiers were treating prisoners.

Here's a programme that maps the connections made of email contacts
And here's a news item pointing to how its more than metadata that is subject to mining

And here's one for twitter

And there's the live stream on particular words tweeted here and a livestream of particular words being mentioned on twitter

For facebook there's the seeming beauty of knowing who, of those I know, talk together, that can be made visually apparent at

And at facebook
Here i found i could find:
Photos of myself and others i care about, out of context and looking pretty suspect... even when the photo was de-tagged.... not difficult if one does a friends of friends photo search.
A search of my workplace and everyone who likes the site "I fucking love science". Seems not too embarrassing, but still...
Then maybe a search of one's workplace, and all the people who are single, of a certain age, and gender, and who like a certain dating site?
All very possible with a very creepy facebook graph search....i know more now than i am pretty sure some of my colleagues would ever want me to know- note this gave me info on people i had never been friended with on fb.

Time to talk to friends about not posting what you dont want up tagged or not! And a reminder to check privacy setting. And to reconsider what you put into what actually ends up more public than you might have ever been aware of!
Here's some more on this

There's also a live stream of everything anyone in the world is searching for by googling it
And an example of how such surveillance can be used for good in public health
and here
Note the search precedes the data that would have been gathered by visits to GPs...
And in searches that happen where the individual might then become traceable such as where cookies keep track on the sites one visits and where this information might then be onsold, not only to provide you with targetted advertising but perhaps also to provide other parties with targeted information. Entering into a world where it's not just my use of a company owned computer that might for my employer want to keep record of where i digitally go, but also where such information might attract a higher bidder. What health insurer would want to insure someone who searches depression through to cancer? The inherent risk is identified here where 13 out of 20 websites contained third-party elements that tracked user data. Original publication at JAMA Intern Med. Published online July 8, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7795 or available here for those without freedom of access....

Given the current furore over the GCSB bill, a bill that attempts to retrospectively make right that the GCSB had been spying on New Zealanders on behalf of other agencies despite legislation that explicitly stated it was not allowed to.... so despite the possibilities for good or for pretty, I am feeling the panoptican Foucault talked of very heavily today.
And conscious also of Latour's admonishment to beware of how one's imagination leaves digital traces.

The Panopticon creates a consciousness of permanent visibility as a form of power, where no bars, chains, and heavy locks are necessary for domination any more...

I'm feeling a little lost in a Peter Pan moment of wanting to stay attached to my shadow, to know where it know what further steps it takes when I'm not with it...
For all of this comes close on the tail of a shadowy moment where my lectures might also be filmed to be shown in my absence or when 'the connections flounder'.

So what's the answer?
Dont leave traces? Or if you leave traces, leave them by the thousands... leader of the opposition on the rally against the GCSB bill suggests CC'ing the PM into every email, now there's an idea...
And a postnote: this post has had so many more reads than others of late, wondering how many of them are by spying agencies ...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flipping teaching in a flipped classroom

Flipping teaching is suggestive of expletives not too dissimilar to flipping the bird, and i am aware that i am writing this having become angry about the 'latest solution' to an under-resourced teaching and learning environment in higher ed.
I want to start by saying i am not adverse to many of the concepts integral to an authentic flipped classroom approach, but what i need to say first is that i am hugely averse to having smoke blown in my face.

I currently teach in higher ed where quality teaching is not sufficient for promotion but multiple journal article production is. Chasing the research dollar has become some form of a holy grail....even though the substantive part of university funding comes from student enrolment and the likelihood of gaining funding for research is very small (like chasing 1% of government funding that comes to universities for humanities research in Aus)
This shapes the pedagogy of learning and teaching that is/isn't supported and can be distilled to teach less and research more; publish or perish.
I do not deny research importance; my problem is when it erodes teaching and learning.
Back to the flipped classroom.
What i have had blown in my face: If the teaching from this semester is filmed in front of a 'live' audience, this can then be shown to classes later in the day, and becomes the resource for using for all venues in 2014 where there is not a 'live' performance.
See the problem? This is not a flipped classroom.
This is education being delivered like pizzas.
And as for the live class or the live lecturer, it actually makes no difference, dead or alive the 'performance' will go on.
Blow the smoke away. Take it out of my face. I am not convinced.
I am flipping angry.
If it is going to be flipped, it needs resourcing, it's not the panacea for having no live bodies for students to engage with.
If we havent got 5 lecturers for 5 venues for a total of 1000 students, each timetabled to a max of 2hrs a week and 6 tutorials a semester, in what universe can we have a model of 1 hr live filmed, watch it here or wherever at your own time and place, and have classes that are engaging with twice as many tutorials instead... where are the smaller class tutorials being resourced from?
Dont waste your smoke filled breath telling me i need a lesson in flipped classrooms. I know how.
See here and here I am already enamored of authentic student centred learning. I'm not resistant. I'm just not convinced. And telling me to be quiet on education just gets me riled.
Pizzas get delivered; babies get born, and education is about engagement.
I am not ready to play dead on this, so dont tell me to be quiet. Talking louder or talking over me will not make this go away. The smoke and mirrors are not working. Take your obfuscation and shove it somewhere else. When you are ready to engage realistically on this, I am more than happy to flip the learning and teaching, meantime i do not want to further enable an already suspect curriculum where students learn from the hidden agenda that faculty staff do not want to engage. Given that 'we' make our realities, 'we' do not have to accept the dark side of flipping classrooms, anymore than the dark side of moocs. There is so much more to aspire to.

Monday, April 29, 2013

the physicality of the e-book and the PhD as a book

I need to be writing; but my procrastination took me to skype instead...where a friend reminded me of my writing... and of her lining up mentors for the post doc stage. I would like a mentor, but i have reservations. Critique i can admire...but really my skin is not that tough.
So i want a mentor softer than ones she suggested. My writing is odd...its apparently more in the genre of Yoda meets Jennifer Turner-Hospital. My phd was 'layered'. definitions evolved rather than being upfront, and findings grew organically, they werent expressed upfront either. I like the story to unfold, a genre unsuited to typical academic was looking for different approaches.
My friend introduced me to: Publishing pedagogies for the doctorate and beyond by Aitchison, Claire; Kamler, Barbara; Lee, Alison

So I go looking for it... I locate it online in my uni library online.
I download the ebook, forgetting i have choices for how long, so am limited to one days reading...
except when i try to open the download ebook i get

So back through the library - I'm told i have it for 23 hours and 5 mins...but i cant use try to download as a pdf, but it tells me "waiting"...not sure who for or why....close it down come back in another browser...nope...still waiting....have a shower come back, and decide to sneak up on the beast differently... A successful capture!
I had not envisaged going on a bear hunt.
I open it to read online, cool... read four pages, looking interesting, seems to have tolerance being expressed for the post doc experience, and perhaps, I hope of different ways to i made a cup of tea, came back and nooooooo
Im back to it being unavailable.

Bring on the physicality of the book.
One I can stub my toe on, hold, know where it is when I put it down...

Nonetheless the promise of immediacy, anywhere anytime without driving to uni...

So back online...and it opened again, now where was I up to ...searching...this sucks...try the download again, this time as pdf..yes download done...
dumb...forgot to change the 24 hr default...still...
and still cant open it. sigh.

And with my PhD submission, a page the library required needed to be included. But in the fear of the Mac to PC and from word to pdf my option seems to be tears or outsourcing. So outsourcing it is.
It stuffs up the TOC, fortunately not the figures as they began after the section break for the first pages in Roman Numerals, but yes, a gremlin in the system does mean the pdf conversion stuffs up all formatting of tables with photos embedded with writing superimposed on the photos.... well worth the time to have the formatting guy fix this....but then another formatting stuff up as inexplicably two other pictures jump out of alignment. I am so over this, but eventually, it is done. Nothing is as easy as the University librarian would have me believe in just inserting a page.

And then just when i thought it was safe to go back into the water, metaphorically...i attempt to download a trashy fiction novel. But then there's the recall of a password that I cannot manage, and the resetting of the digital password, followed by the reset required of the Visa card details, and then the ipad refusing to know it has been associated with until it is powered down and restarted.

Am seriously beginning to appreciate the ease of scrolls and wondering why humankind ever moved away from such functionality!

An hour later, too tired to read, i have my kindle hour please note that i might have spent reading....guess i didnt have to drive to the shop or to the library, so an hour that would nonetheless not have been any more productive had i made my choices otherwise.
At least now i can read it in bed with its backlighting turned up, and its font size on large :)

Friday, April 05, 2013

out of the blue and into the black. Another surreal phd moment

In the life of Pi there is a sadness when the externalized aspect of Pi leaves without so much as a goodbye.
The end of a PhD feels like this. There are so many anticlimactic points that celebrating anyone of them always feels odd, always there is another slightly higher bar to jump over.

A very very long time ago, near the start of this i did an oxfam trailblazer walk....i recall the number of fences that would still need climbing despte seeing an end in sight. These extra effort hurdles feel like killers. None alone would be problematic, the killer is having done what feels like walking through the night for forever to reach such a point.
I did not finish the oxfam 100km walk. i decided the challenge was about completion and knowing when was enough. i am pleased i projected this onto the walk and not the thesis.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What the Phd studied in 50 words; Choosing phewer shades of grey

I cant believe the difficulty i have with this.
A day I will never get back; tangled in words.
I am trying to choose from the many words written into this doctoral thesis (97986) which 50 words might be used to sum it up?
And I am floundering.
How to separate black from white when i have learned to see so many shades of grey?
And how might 50 words/shades of grey/capture an audience?

Bottom line appears to be: What would be the takeaway I would want others to know of?

Having tried the autoword summary and got something ridiculous, I reread my abstract, but it was filled with promise rather than with I looked at my conclusions. Yes conclusions. Multiple. Any one of which performs partially.
So am back to wondering "But which one?"
Unable to resolve this, I then attempt other approaches.I locate key words: what has to be included in there somewhere?

Text-counselling; Youthline (NZ); telephone helpline
so that's at least 5 words, 45 to go.

On twitter I seek help for the equivalence of putting it through a hot wash cycle and then the dryer; I'm given advice: start with why; people need a problem they can relate to.
Through skype, my 100th draft, but first to anyone outside of my own headspace, advises me this is read out at graduation, and big words are lost in an auditorium. So much for those clever long words i had put in there to make it/me seem intelligent.

So, a more punchy 50 words.

Enactments of change: On becoming textually active at Youthline (NZ)

The phones at Youthline (NZ) hardly ring anymore. Young people still have problems, and are still helped, but this happens silently. This thesis addresses how counselling changes when mediated by technology; specifically text messaging. With emphasis on ‘moral purposing’, what it is to do good in contemporary counselling is explored.

phew :) phewer words
Not quite black and white, but its succinct, and is a version I am happy with.
It entices interest, politely seductive, positioning the need for the study, and emphasizes or at least points to, what's important.
*Lets out a huge sigh*
It's an end.

What universities say about this 50 word grad ceremony summary:
Other universities do this in a variety of ways, mine asks me to write my own summary stating only that:
This summary will appear in the Graduation Ceremonies Program. It should focus on the outcomes of the research, be in plain English and contain a maximum of fifty words.

At Melbourne University it is written by the examination's chair attending to the following:
the citation should be restricted to 50 words.
the citation should indicate what the research was about and commence with the words [name of candidate] who investigated.../ who studied.../ who examined.../ who found.../ who argues.../ work will benefit... .
it should contain a brief description about what the research achieved or “found”
it should give an indication about the impact of the research or its potential application
it should be grammatically correct and written in language which can be understood by a lay audience at the conferring ceremony
present or future tense should be used when describing findings, impact or potential application
only those technical or specialised terms which are in general use should be used, otherwise a plain language explanation should be added
it should refer back to the candidate by using "his findings" or "her study" (the candidate's name should not be used within the text of the citation).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Presenting: Disseminating research findings

presenting tip put a QR code on your poster presentations that links back to your blog

Sunday, March 03, 2013

are we there yet? Almost!

In terms of my PhD, it is just around the corner, it is as if the signposts point to it, and i can see it just a little way off.
After 130 days that became increasingly anxiety provoking; despite the reassurance of my supervisor and my friends, I was becoming teary at the thought that
a. the examiners might not have found it an easy or compelling read
b. that the possible reasons for a slow result were less associated with timing, travel or illness, and might signify a poor quality of thesis.

I began to construct origami cranes out of earlier drafts drawing on hope that when i had a thousand what i wished for (a pass) would come true. And at least they looked good. And if worst came to worse letting them fall from some high place might befit a saying goodbye to such hope.

But I am almost there, I do now have results, i have basked in most of what was written, and identified the contradictions between different examiners. I have some 50 typos that i am embarrassed by, i had only noted 10 or so. I placate myself in thinking that is one error for just under every 2000 words written; 1 for every 6 pages or there abouts.

The fears I had were unfounded. Where i had pushed the envelope a bit, noted by one department reader as not being the usual genre for a phd, ("a cross between Yoda and a Turner-Hospital novel") did me no harm, but it was where my anxiety lay. In writing atypically, particularly in my data discussion area, i had written in a style that depicted juxtapositioning, the written policies as pdfs, alongside tiffs of painting and composite photographs, images of data and of quotes. One examiner didn't get it. Not all readers 'get' Aramis by Latour, or Aircraft stories by John Law, or the body multiple by Mol. Nonetheless I am glad i did it. I had not aspired to mediocracy. And yet i had constrained myself to what i saw as a 'typical' structural layout for fear that to do otherwise might lose the thesis marker entirely.

I need to make minor amendments, the typos, and i agree with the advice on early writing still being present where my later writing would have picked up on weaker definitions drawn on. There are then some really good pointers in my comments where integrating some more useful literature alongside a couple of definitions would make for a stronger end product. I also got pulled up on an area i glossed; the exact number of young people in the study. I deserved to be pulled up on this, there had been deliberate obfuscation on my part. An astute examination indeed. There is also a recommendation on structure, again an astute examiner noted the morphing of one section into another. I know why it happened; it had previously sat in the other chapter, my rewrite had always found the shift a little messy. It had been sectioning that i had never really been happy with.
I am very appreciative of the advice given.
And overall, I am very happy with the rigor of reading provided. 8 years of work deserves the very serious attention my writing received.
So now to make the changes.
Just waiting on the post marking tiredness to settle; i had not really allowed myself to relax until i had heard, and my writing voice had become more and more constrained in the anxiety of waiting.
i think i am now ready; i have 4 weeks (now) to resubmit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

More on the phd as a Life of Pi metaphor

Post phd submission and my life of Pi blogpost needed revisiting, apparently we (me and the phd) are not so inseparable. It came back to visit.  What a gif(t) by Alexandre Filipe.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Improving on the blank page. PhD writing

So much of my phd time was spent getting words on the page, and then so much was spent in editing down...improving on the blank page is a struggle. I have looked at fabrics and thought to myself why did they writing a similar refrain might be heard. The blank page might have been, and might still be, an improvement.

Advice to young poets by Niccanor Parra

Write as you will
in whatever style you like
too much blood has run under the bridge
to go on believing one road is right.
In poetry everything is permitted.
With only this condition of course
You have to improve on the blank page.

And so i do,

but i have seen enough fabrics ruined,
to have confidence in whether, or not, what i have done might be valued by others.

Meantime i continue to hope phd examiners do not see my writing as ruination, or that the blank page might have been better.

Informed by actor-network it is not just the words of text that might are matters of concern, each word is itself an amalgamation of processes that got it to this space. The text itself having come from a meaning associated with textiles, of printing and cloth. Then each word required some semblance of a stable meaning, a shared projection from those who read for it to carry a message. That a message sits on ink or cloth, on stone or papyrus or vellum; all bring difference to the message, as does a digital message.
In every rendition the meaning is the message as McLuhan claimed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Staying sane in insane spaces; waiting for a phd to be marked

I'm beginning to suffer post phd submission blues.

Having had serial anticlimatic events involving the submission of the penultimate draft, then the the resubmissions of the same. Then finally the point at which I actually meet a deadline to submit the thesis to be marked, I now have the anxiety associated with it being marked and possibly being found wanting. This is not a hold your breath moment.

The amount of energy i am used to pushing into writing every day comes to a stand still.
I know i should be turning this into academic articles but my academic voice has deserted me.

In the what happens in HDR examination flow charts, is an indication of 6 weeks with external examiners and a round process of approximately 10 weeks.
Meantime, the FAQ section regarding the examination process at my learning institution it tells me that:
the average examination takes between 4 and 5 months (from the time you submit the examination copy of the thesis until you are advised about the final outcome). Please be aware that your examination may take longer than this.
While the University does its best to minimize the length of examinations, the process is not entirely within our control.
Not all examiners start the examination at the same time, and not all complete it at the same time.

They go on to outline reasons for lengthy examinations:

Examiners not nominated at time of submission
Examiners are tardy
Time of year of submission
Examiners travelling or being unwell.
Thesis exceeds word limit (50,000 words for masters; 100,000 for doctoral)
Thesis of poor quality

And having been in contact with the HDR office, i have been told it's a timing, travelling, and illness concern.
I still cant help but assume they did not find it a bodice ripping, never to be put down type of read.
So I'm a bit disappointed.

Today is day 124, and I am still checking my emails with this semi fear of actually having a message their that i both would and would not want to open.
I wonder if they have thought this through.
Maybe a phone call, maybe checking out if you have others around... wonder what the protocol is when the news isnt good?

Meantime i have immersed myself in hobbies, reminiscent of occupational therapy, I've made a quilt...a block a day

And still wondering what to do with myself, today i made a paper crane out of the first page of chapter 6

Unable to write to disseminate my findings, i find myself wishing the pretties might still fly.

Monday, January 28, 2013

the shadow of a mooc

When i started mooching around, a mooc was a novel beast, a massive open online course that could be used for learning purposes that were self set. My experiences in both CCK08 and CCK09 ... was with a collective of people some of whom were interested in what i was, and some not. I got to hang out with people who were questioning and talking about things that i also wanted to question and talk about. Primarily with learning from and through each other.

The mooc of this age was young, and like many youngsters growing up was a bit unsteady and it was still developing its identity.

(MOOCow - - Based on 'la vaca de los sinvaca' by José Bogado)
When it was good it was very very good, but when it was bad it was horrid.

The mooc was the network platform on which one could learn openly, set one's own learning goals and learn in a community where there was mutuality in both the teaching and learning. Or at least that's what i was getting and giving. In addition, connectivism was important pedagogically. Rather than a pedagogy of knowledge being something to consume, there was a sense of constructivism, things could be made better or bigger or applied further.... and more than this also there was potential for the knowledge developed to be created as an open outcome of connectivism, with perhaps a shift in typically individually focussed pedagogy of education evolving into one so much more socially oriented and focussed on collaboration.

What's evolving currently is a thoroughly different kind of beast. This one sets the learning, is massive and online but that's where the similarities stop. Co-opting what was meant by "open" is anyone can still enroll (assuming they can link in) but the learning becomes a predetermined curriculum for which one can, if one pays, be credited and certificated inside of mainstream educational institutions.

The networking gets obfuscated; no longer is networking required, just the network as a medium through which a predetermined course is provided, as indicated here
and here

We are in danger of accepting the shadow of the mooc for what it might have been.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing a phd in plain english.

At up-goer-five there is a challenging little piece of software that challenges a writer to explain things using only the commonest english words.
Actor-network theory has been described as having a propensity for obscure terms if not deliberate obfuscation. So I thought I would try and see if I could explain my actor-network theory study simply. While I think there are some oddities in the language of this methodology, I thought I had a pretty good handle on it and that the language I had used in my thesis was simple enough. So I attempted it.

I tried it for explaining my thesis in simple, commonly used words. The site limits you to writing in the 10,000 words most commonly used in english,
I failed on the first two words I attempted to use!

I can now breathe a sigh of relief that thesis writing for supervisors is easier than writing only in the commonest 10,000 words of english language! Thank goodness i didnt have to write in the format of both common words and rhyme that Dr Seuss accomplished for discerning 4 and 5 year olds. Thank goodness PhD examiners are easier to please!!!

Here's what I managed for my actor-network informed study into telephone counselling when it gets shifted from an oral medium to a text messaging based one.

What happens when we start to use different things in what we do? As much as we think we are in control of what we do and what we use, how much do those things in turn also change us?

I studied how our changing use of phones changed the work of a young people's help-line. The phones at this help-line now ring less and less often; young people still have problems, and still need help, but this happens in silence. This study looks into what happens when talking through problems is done in silence; what happens when young people write about their problems instead of talking; and what happens when that writing is made to fit the very small space of a cell phone window.

Finding out what happens is told as a story of many parts. I tell a story of the people, and things, that grow this new type of work.

What is also shown is a story of power and control; a story of what is weak or strong and it talks of who gets to decide what is good, bad, right or wrong. The story I tell does does not suggest what people should do, it is a story that makes for a way of seeing things which makes it possible to see that things could also be done in other ways.

Meantime for those in the know of actor-network theory and its convolutions, Dr Seuss already has it covered with it being turtles all the way down. Scale of big and little not being as relevant as place and space and connections. Apparently though turtles also falls out of the commonest 10,000 words in the english language, along with 'ant'.

I have written at least the abstract of the thesis in multiple versions on this blog:, a 3MT or three minute thesis, and a thesis by Haiku, a description of the processes of thesis writing in lolcat memes, a youtube clip that enigmatically folds the world... as a form of origami thesis and a Flikr gallery of the phd writing process in pictures.
My procrastination knows few boundaries. I draw the line at a thesis by dance.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The life of Pi: a metaphor of Phd survival?

Is it madness to undertake a PhD?
“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
And so embarking on a PhD is not madness, the madness is already within.

Being all at sea; drowning past relationships and not knowing if the current trip will be survived seems an apt metaphor for the phd journey:
There's an alter ego to be managed: trained if not tamed.
One's tiger needs feeding if it is not to consume the self.
All rules for being lost at sea with a tiger need to be followed...and then abandoned. There are no rules for this scenario.
From the research proposal through to the ethics application and to data collecting...
“Things didn't turn out the way they're supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Be ready to let go.
Madness, or at least anxiety and depression seem, from my observation, to be what occurs when one tries so hard to hold it tight.

On writing of what is studied, there is no one way, no 'one correct way', to do this. There is no objective reality that can be replicated in one's writing; what is written of is the story, what is drawn is the map; do not mistake the story thereof, or the map, for reality.
“The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn't that make life a story?”
“So you want another story?"
Uhh... no. We would like to know what really happened."
Doesn't the telling of something always become a story?"
Uhh... perhaps in English. In Japanese a story would have an element of invention in it. We don't want any invention. We want the 'straight facts,' as you say in English."
Isn't telling about something--using words, English or Japanese--already something of an invention? Isn't just looking upon this world already something of an invention?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
There's the danger of losing oneself in the journey; of not leaving an apparent safe haven that masks potentially fatal entrapment.
“Misery loves company, and madness calls it forth.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Make friends; play nicely; get support- virtual (#phdchat) or otherwise (other students, your supervisor)
“You can get used to anything - haven't I already said that? Isn't that what all survivors say?”
“I was giving up. I would have given up - if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said "I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary.
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
The work gets progressed. it gets enacted not by hope or by wanting, but in action.
“I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and to do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
And having completed this phase of my journey:
“Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart.
I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Flying too close to the sun; the PhD as an Icarus adventure.

I have flown too close to the sun.
For 8 years I've been working flat out on creating a phd that has anti-climaxed and now inhabit a space where i am no longer flying, but i havent hit the ground yet either.

Along the way, I have spent part of my time exhausting myself trying to predict, and then control, what markers as well as imagined other readers would think about my work.
Will they get it?
What does it mean to have a thesis that's not in the usual genre of a thesis?
Is it too avant garde: too "Yoda', too Turner-Hospital? Too ANTish? The partial story line suggest not knowing where its going...
These are criticisms i have already experienced.
Is there only one way to write a book?
I can cripple myself thinking what I have written might not work.

At some level, I also know such thinking can make the colourful beige, the vibrant a still pond. At its worst it can lead to a non submission.

I wanted to go as far as I could, but with fears of being burnt, I hold back, playing it safe, just stretching the comfort zone, mine own and that of markers.

Writing a PhD is to write to be judged. Overtly. This writing is not an act of art for art's sake. It's scary. There is lots of potential for being failed. And of failing oneself. All very self-referential in a thesis of change, of risk and failure as much as it is about innovation and new ways of being. An Icarus adventure then;
of flying closer to the sun.

Seth Godin reports, "trying to control what other people think is a trap".
But that's the trappings of academia: of writing and not being found wanting.
How then to avoid writing with a voice that is stifled by what others might think? Is it possible, or even desirable, to avoid being both audience and writer? As noted by Seth Godin, to attempt both is exhausting and counterproductive. I cannot be second guessing all the time what unknown others might think.

"This might not work" is a curse but reframing allows for flight. I've been reminded I never wanted a perfunctory thesis; I did not aspire to writing it in someone else's voice; I did not want beige or mediocre. A PhD is then also a chance to fly.

Writing at 4.00 AM in the morning, unable to sleep, and with habits of writing in every spare moment, I listen to Seth Godin write of his Icarus adventures, of his newest book and see so many parallels. In his writing (and he is a celebrated successful author) he talks of listening to himself, and of forgetting what he had written, not recognizing his own 'voice'. Of listening to himself and crying. I am very humbled to have this person being so open and honest about his own risks, he writes:

"Hearing myself, months later, reading something I didn't remember writing or reading, I shed a few tears. Yes, this is work worth doing."
And I am reminded also of Patti Lather's an ache of wings in troubling how to write.

And am reminded that Flying close to the sun is exactly where i want to be.