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Just Do It!

Why is blogging important?  This is the question I’ve found myself asking on many occasion.   While driving home yesterday the question again came up and it hit me.  Blogging is not primarily for the author but for others…  When one looks at the accelerating possibilities of sharing, it becomes obvious – don’t only consume but produce and share in the spirit the technology offers.  The amount of times I’ve checked into #phdchat and consumed useful resources even on a taxi ride home, see these examples:

So what can I share?  Well, it has been a busy first quarter 2012 with my MRes dissertation submission, an advanced quantitative methods class, an interdisciplinary research class,  and knowledge exchange via submitting a paper to BAM2012, and presenting a paper at 6th Making Projects Critical Workshop (MPC6) hosted this year by the Manchester Business School.

My being very new to the university system, I have to say that I’ve found this knowledge exchange phase in the research cycle really interesting.  As @JeffreyKeefer has mentioned in his own research – the doctoral journey can be seen as as set of liminal experiences, as ‘aha’ moments, as identity construction, and sometimes as a rite of passage if you like.  Attending the MPC6 I had exactly these types of moments.

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At the opening of MPC6, after listening to Dr Davide Nicolini (keynote speaker) I felt a sense of unease that my research foundations in narrative might not be as stable as I first thought.  In particular how exploring micro-practices and objects rather than what people say, can highlight some interesting perspectives.  This should not be of a great surprise though as a friend of mine is a Vygotsky and Activity Theory fan – but this was the first time I’d seen it come up elsewhere.  That said, I still believe narrative inquiry is a wonderful resource but perhaps can be strengthened by looking at other objects too.

During the workshop, I got to see the depth and breadth of the attendees and their research; to see what’s hot; and to meet people I had previously read and referenced in my own work.   Notably for me, there was a sense in which I felt experienced scholars/researchers also struggle with the significance of their research, what it might mean in the bigger picture, is it appealing to others, and is it getting support from one’s peers?  This experience is helpful to the novice researchers – me included.

I did experience a scary ‘elephant in the room’ moment when the realization surfaced that when a researcher takes some empirical data, he/she can probably explain what one sees in any multiple of theoretical frames.  So what is science here?  Is the identity frame better or worse than the cultural frame, or the political frame or another frame for describing and explaining our world?  This list can go on and on – and to be honest this insight was a rather troubling moment.  What’s the point – might be asked about here…  A friend, highlighted the process of building social capital and identity construction, in other words building up currency and exchange value in the academic market place.  Something about this is bothering, but will require more thought.

At the closing keynote, I also experienced a ‘reminder’ from Dr Damian O’Doherty whose creative ethnographic study took me back to my own MBA project.  To the fact that I’m drawn to the creative end of academic expression of research through stories…. Absolutely loved his presentation.  Now while I’m mostly content with my own research there was a sense in which I’d somehow compromised my passion for conformance to the ‘acceptable’.  On the plus side, I coined and used the term ‘damaged identity’, and I got a feeling from feedback and nods during the presentation that my research was well received.

In the end I felt totally at home amongst some wonderful people who were researching in the same ‘critical space’ around the project construct.   There were two other presentations in identity (where my research is located) so that was particularly neat.   What I didn’t make use of, and I will at future events – is to listen more carefully for criticism and future ideas.  I noticed other presenters got their notebooks out when their peers were speaking and sharing.  I was told that workshops can be better than conferences as they appear more intimate.  I agree with that.

In sum, there good reasons for you to get your research out there.  From my own experience, thanks to the MPC6 organisers, speakers, and participants – I certainly feel more confident, I have made some new friends, met some top scholars in my field, and I now feel part of something.  Research that just sits out there unread on a shelf somewhere has got to be a real shame.  Don’t be afraid.  Take risks and get your research out there.  I’m already thinking about where to take my PhD research proposal so I can contribute and participate in MPC7 in 18 months!

To tie this back to blogging – my view is that this medium can be another ‘kind of’ community and knowledge share….although the risks are different!!!  A chance to put yourself out there, to not only consume but to contribute, and to participate actively in our academic fields.

PS. The gentleman in the photo opening the conference – Dr Damian Hodgson, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Business School.

MRes Dissertation ready for submission…

It has been two months since my last post.  Blogging becomes a real struggle I find, when one is doing academic writing at the same time.  Good news is that the second major dissertation draft was accepted by my supervisor last week – with only a few minor tweaks.

2011 was a great year for me as a researcher.  From getting started on the first philosophy and research methods classes, later presenting the proposed research at the colloquium, then selecting a case study, collecting data, analyzing data, theorizing and finally writing it all up.  What a year!

Now it’s January 2012, the MRes dissertation is ready to submit and for the first time I feel ‘good’ that at last – I have something to say…. better said my research findings and theorizing has something to say i.e. wants to get ‘out there’ in the world!  Not only has this research progressed, my research skills have improved, along with the sense in which as a human being I have grown too!   As I look more deeply into the realities of the world, and how we can know what we know to any degree of certainty – has had a destabilizing effect, yet it is also quite satisfying to progress and understand better these debates.  Moreover, as this ability to ‘see’ and ‘understand’ the world improves – one’s research effectiveness improves along with it.

During 2012 I hopefully will have 2 or 3 opportunities to share my foundational research.  First at a conference in Abu Dhabi for practitioners at the Project to the Point conference.  Second, hopefully in Manchester I will be accepted to speak as the Making Projects Critical workshop, and perhaps even BAM in collaboration with my supervisors later in the year.

My PhD topic is also evolving quite rapidly and will build on my MRes research that looked into the effects of project life on project manager identities.  A five year roadmap is now on the wall, mapped out, and ready to go.

This is a short blog – but it is about finding the balance between sharing my progress and getting on with the outstanding papers, presentations, and MRes classes complete so I can migrate to PhD student ‘full’ later in 2012.

 

Categories: Reflection