PhD: 5 weeks in

Inter-library loans also make a handy display stand for Easter decorations—courtesy of my daughter!

Inter-library loans also make a handy display stand for Easter decorations—courtesy of my daughter!

I’ve officially been a PhD student for five weeks now and frankly, I don’t feel as though I’ve got a lot to show for it! Sure, I have a lovely fresh blue Moleskine notebook, a new (v.big) computer screen for my home office, and a growing pile of books on my desk and on my kindle. I also have a spreadsheet with a detailed three-year plan (let’s see how that evolves over time!) and a Scrivener project entitled ‘PhD’. That reminds me, I did spend about an hour a day of Week 1 in an online Scrivener course.* Oh, and I sat through almost a day of ‘induction’ for newbie PhD students.  On a more inspiring note, I made it to a wonderful presentation by Prof Simon Newman from Glasgow about 18hC Jamaica (thanks Sydney Uni US Studies Centre for being so welcoming), and two excellent in-house Macquarie history seminars. And my first conference abstract has been accepted, so I’ll be presenting some of my MRes findings at the NewMac postgrad conference in July!** This in addition to supervision meetings, having my parents over to visit from the other side of Australia, then nursing a sick daughter at home for the past week…I guess I have been rather busy!  But given that my first goal was to nail down some primary sources for a chapter of my thesis—which I’ve not yet done—I don’t feel a great sense of achievement.

I’m starting on primary sources rather than a literature review because the work I did in my Masters of Research last year gave me a head-start on the Irish historiography. My PhD will investigate links between Ireland and the British Atlantic around the turn of the nineteenth century…so my first research efforts will build upon the stellar work of Nini Rodgers, as well as the fantastic resource that is the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership database. It’s a slow process though. More than once already I’ve wished I was back in our Islington flat, so I could just pop down to the British Library or Kew and have a nosy around. I’m sure that will be a recurrent thought, but perhaps (?) my distance from the archives will force me to be thorough and focused in my prep so that when I do get to the archives, I’ll know exactly what I’m looking for.

* I highly recommend this: Scrivener Courses: Gwen Hernandez

** NewMac 2015!

2 thoughts on “PhD: 5 weeks in

  1. My head has been so into my research and moving countries that I missed this news. Great news about you launching into a PhD! I hope you find it a rewarding experience.

    I started using Scrivener but found it did not work for me, so I am in the midst of starting a custom-built database for my WWI soldiers. Part of the reason is that a lot of the entries in my database will be programmatically extracted from the digitised diaries I am working with using some digital tools so it will be easier to work with a custom-built database.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Yvonne. At the moment I must admit to feeling a little lost in my big research idea, but I hear that this is the norm so am not too stressed. My focus at the moment is on preparing for a research trip to Ireland, and presenting at the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies postgrad/ECR conference there in July. Exciting, but nerve-wracking too!!

      All the best with your research – it sounds as though you are deep in the process, which is a great place to be.

      Like

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