Back from the PhD Experience conference in Hull. There were three days of themed sessions with about 100 people in attendance.
It was a pleasant surprise to find so much common ground in the emotional states of people doing their doctoral studies, despite differences in subject matter (though I think most people were researching in the social sciences). The topic of procrastination and of “imposter syndrome” were discussed, but there were plenty of positive messages, too.
Highlights for me:
1. Giving my first conference paper, albeit a short one, was a good experience. It struck me how different this is from the type of work I do at Henley, where there is generally more of a workshop atmosphere, stops and starts and interaction. Here, I was supposed to talk, and they were supposed to listen. I learned that a good (and rehearsed) start is important.
2. Feeling that the central messages of my slot made people think. These were: that we reflect through telling stories, that stories only have meaning when they venture out and bump up against other people’s stories, and that a good model for reflection(or reflective learning in Personal Development) needs somehow to acknowledge the “inward-outward” necessity.
3. Spending time with several fellow travellers, and hearing about their research experiences, helps me in my own.
I also got a lot out of Ann Cunliffe’s session on research perspectives, and thoroughly recommend anyone looking for direction in social research to read some of her stuff.