Thursday, 26 May 2011

SocialLearn team

I'm working on a project called SocialLearn and am with a team of people again, not all alone, like the PhD researcher is. I had a few days off aftr my viva, and when I came back, I was sitting at my desk, watching people move around and thinking that perhaps they were all going to a meeting that I didn't know about when they all stopped round and gave me a card and a clap.

It's going to be a good team to work with. I'm looking forward to getting to know them well.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Minor results

My viva yesterday resulted in PhD with minor corrections.

I followed the Ten Tips for getting through your PhD Viva more or less.
  • I had a good piece of work
  • my supervisors choose examiners who liked my work
  • I knew my arguments
One of the amendments is to put in the introduction some alternative ways I could have done the work - that's always awkward because there are a thousand different ways to discard and would make a thesis ten times longer, but I need write only a couple of sentences I understand.

An interesting question they asked was if I'd ever come across such a cyclic model of engagement from a consultancy, being as consultants are renowned for producing their own models, especially two by two matrices. But no, I haven't, and I doubt anyone else has because my model came from thinking about Nahapiet and Ghoshal's model of social capital, and was empirically developed from the case studies. I haven't fully explained it on this blog partly because I wanted to keep the details until I was ready to publish. Soon they will be published in
  1. my thesis in the Open University library
  2. the MCD conference paper.
After it all, we quietly celebrated in the office with fellow students, anyone passing by and a bit of bubbly.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Silver PGs

Vitae has PGs blogging here. A recent blog there on Silver researchers - do they offer a contribution to the postgraduate community? has elicited over a dozen comments from older post graduates. As an older post-grad myself, I appreciate the blog and the discussion since I'd not thought of myself as too old to start the PhD when I applied because it was something I'd always wanted to do, wanting the process, the opportunity to research, and learn how to research better than I had done when I'd had other opportunities. I think I have contributed ot the post graduate community - in the OUBS, in the university and to the wider community through this blog.

However, it came as a surprise to me to receive career development training because I'd never had that before - perhaps why my 'career' has not ever taken off. My school didn't do career training. Girls were going to marry and be mothers, so they could go to university perhaps, or teaching, or if not bright enough for that, then nursing or clerks in the civil service. That was my 'career training'.

It'll be nice if I get a research job after this - I've enjoyed the PhD and would love to do further research. A career position would be a bonus.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Colleague submits

My Chinese chum has submitted. This is special because she has had a baby on the way through her PhD journey, had to move back to China, wait for her baby to be big enough to leave with her relatives and then come back to England to complete her degree. She's rightly proud of her achievement.

Following hard on her heels is my Canadian colleague, who was much delayed in collecting his data, but is now analysing and writing up at speed. He'll be working right up to the last minute of the four year student registration. Go him!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Viva preparation.

Preparing for a viva is a different task from preparing for an exam because you, rather than the examiners have set the syllabus, so you have to anticipate the questions, but it's the examiners who create the questions, and you have to anticipate what questions the examiners will create having read what you wrote. Is that complicated?

Amongst things I've done to prepare are:
  • found generic questions,
  • collected specific questions from my mock viva,
  • imagined the questions,
  • written answers to generic and specific viva questions
  • discussed with my supervisors,
  • reread my thesis,
  • stuck post-it notes in it
  • found and read papers written by the examiners
  • had a mock viva with some horrid questions about how I could possibly have used that theory without citing GuruWhatsisName, and how do I reconcile a philosophical perspective with how I've done the research.
  • identified the weak points in my thesis (I think, I hope)
  • learned answers by heart
  • listed corrections (I heard my examiner say at a speech to PhD students that he expected them to have a list of corrections so I'll have a short list of the typos if he asks )
  • presented to my fellow students
  • prepared a conference paper with my supervisors - a new experience from which I learned much
Help is available on the web at various sites:
As the viva draws closer, I want to revise more, but also I'm fascinated by my new part-time temporary job researching the use of a new web site for social learning, and that work draws me in more each day as I get to know the job and meet people.