26 Nov: PhD Work Update

Following the helpful advice given to me in the Supervisors’ Meeting, I have been attending several Research Development Programme sessions which have been most helpful generally.  It has helped me to focus on areas that I personally feel need to be improved, such as my academic writing.  The problem comes when we are told not to be too ‘academic’, and for our written work to be able to be read by a diverse audience.  By the end of my undergraduate studies I felt as if I had established my own style of writing, and am sure that with some guidance I will reach the required standard – hopefully.

I have spent time since the meeting writing up the notes I had previously prepared for the initial PhD proposal and putting them on OneNote, which has been helpful as it also focussed on different related areas of investigation and in turn possible chapters for the final thesis; such as memory and gender.

Specific items Andrew suggested I addressed were the ‘timeline’ and ‘keywords’.  So using a Word template and adding the expected dates to be taken into account, I was able to plot a potential timeline for the future.  Once I have my next meeting with Karen and I can discuss this further I am sure there will be many adjustments made as time progresses.  However at this stage it will be a good starting point.  Andrew also suggested looking at my ‘Keywords’, so following on from this and a useful library RDP session, I set up RefWorks on the PC,  and to also receive automatic prompts so that when a new article is published in my subject area I am notified; so that hopefully I will stay up to date with current thinking.  During several visits to the library I also downloaded many articles which relate to my work which can now be filed into subject areas for close investigation at a later date.

I have also ordered several new books from Amazon covering such topics as Yasha Bacharova of the Women’s Death Battalion as this directly relates to my area of research and may throw up possible leads to be further investigated.  I also decided to reread ‘Nurse at the Russian Front‘ again and more closely with the Literature Review and my Final Proposal Approval in mind.  I also need to establish a regular working timetable at home, so that all books and articles can be read and notes made for future reference.

The RDP sessions have also been an opportunity to make some contacts with other members of the group, and fully engage with all the opportunities that the university has to offer. I did offer my services to help at one of the Open Days, but felt that this was something more for younger student representatives.  I was in turn contacted by Kate from the Alumni Department, and asked if I would be prepared to give them an interview as they were interested in knowing how I had arrived at doing a PhD at my stage in life. The worst aspect was having a photograph taken, which as a photographer is not easy being on the other side of the lens.  Hopefully the outcome will encourage older people to see the value of study in later life.

 

25 Oct: PhD Supervisors’ Meeting 1

My first Supervisors’ Meeting was held with Karen and Andrew and set the foundations for our future working relationship.

They agreed to my recording the meeting which I found immensely helpful, as I was able to concentrate solely on the proceedings at the time; and by replaying later able to pick up and digest the main points of interest.  It will also enable me to prepare minutes of the meeting as a record of the events to be forwarded to all members of the Supervisory Team.

It gave me the opportunity to give Karen and Andrew a progress report on the steps I have taken to date as regards organising initial items of interest for my research.  We also discussed aspects of the Research Development Programme and was advised that I need to allow time to digest everything so far, and the fact that as I am a part-time student have five years to complete my work!

Andrew had also obviously thought further about my proposal and suggested several related articles I may not have already seen which was most helpful.  We agreed on the date of the next meeting (1:1 with Karen) 7 December and we agreed on a couple of issues for me to address in time for that meeting.

I feel most fortunate to have the team that I had been allotted and also the fact that they feel that my research area is of value and worth pursuing.  I know this will be at times a bumpy ride, but things do not bother me the same at this in my stage life as perhaps they would have when I was younger.  I feel grateful that his opportunity has been given to me and hope that I will do their faith in me justice!!

 

24 Oct: CCCU PhD Research Development Programme

It was suggested that students sign up for the five recommended sessions as a starting point, and in addition I went through and chose another six to attend between now and the end of the year. These have covered a wide variety of topics amongst the following:

  • Literature search and review
  • What is expected of disciplined researchers
  • Developing good habits around your academic writing
  • Introduction to critical thinking and argument
  • The periodic reviews for research students

I would add that my initial impression of what help and assistance is available to new PhD students at the university is extremely impressive, although the undertaking is a little daunting and slightly overwhelming at the outset.

I envisage looking at the RDP sessions again later on as my studies progress to see which would be most beneficial but at the moment to let ‘the dust settle’.

 

1 Aug – 3 Oct PhD Preparation

STEPS TAKEN SO FAR:


Research

  1. My initial readings have shown up links with events in history at the time e.g. The Suffragette Movement.  In turn I requested copies of papers held in the Archives & Local History Department at Manchester Central Library.  The Fawcett Papers contains articles by Millicent Garrett Fawcett (President of The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies)  including one entitled ‘Women’s Work at the front’ (10.03.1915).  They also suggested that The Women’s Library at LSE could provide access to copy microfilms, so this will be investigated.   Through this I also discovered that her daughter Phillippa had made a great contribution to education at that time, and had given her name to the College of Education I attended from 1966-69.
  2. I have read and taken notes on all books produced by Florence Farmbrough and obtained copies of the original documents held by the Royal Geographical Society, following her being invited to become a member.  These also provided a family address which is a valuable contact for further in-depth information.

Preparatory Skills

  • I began by looking at various study guides which were helpful as background to what is involved and steps that will need to be taken from start to finish.
  • I reread ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ as I realised that I especially needed to improve my note-taking, so as to work more efficiently and effectively.
  • I obtained and read two self-help books in connection with public speaking as this is one area I also need to improve.

Next Steps

  • I now need to introduce an efficient filing system for information both physically and online, to enable ease of retrieval.  The study guides suggested various referencing systems which will now be investigated.
  • Once these have been instigated I need to take out membership of the Imperial War Museum and investigate (with visits) relevant information which is held in their archives.
  • Contact Florence Farmborough‘s family for background information particularly in connection with her photography work.
  • Renew contact with Dawn Cole in connection with Clarice Spratling to arrange, if possible to see the diary and find out about any photography connections.
  • Once all the initial induction sessions have taken place at Christ Church University I will be better placed to start my work as I will know who to see or contact for what and where to go.  The library (and the main campus)  I envisage to be extremely useful particularly as it is close to home, so I can make good use of all available facilities.