Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Tiny Output

There's an enthusiastic comment in a video about my paper from a young man who attended a conference I did last autumn at the Horniman Museum (wrong surname, but I know who he means). He did a great summary of the discussion at the end as well and his comments are very nice. I'm sure he will go far in whatever he chooses to do in life. We had to give a copy of our papers to groups of young people at the museum to read beforehand, then do discussion sessions with them a few weeks later at the conference. Mine wasn't recorded because we had a last minute room change. It's an interesting format for an event for anyone working in Higher Education, especially as there is a preoccupation with audience engagement (amongst other things) in relation to research at the moment. It's useful to think about how, or indeed whether, your own subject is relevant to anyone outside academia's so-called ivory towers, even for embryonic 'early-career' researchers such as myself. It's a good thing to have to write for different audiences too, avoiding as much jargon as possible.

I know it's an 'output' (as they are called in research jargon) albeit a modest one, but I wish I had done it better. It was not one of my best conferences unfortunately as I had a stomach bug and felt really sick. Queasy, like I wanted to vomit. Spew. (But I didn't). Swigging large quantities of water throughout the event got me through it, but it's a shame I didn't manage to attend more of the events planned as they looked really varied and interesting.  Aah well, ifs and wishes and buts are pointless and I suppose it's all part of the lengthy learning experience of trying to be a researcher in academia. Maybe seasoned conference-presenters have a spectrum of techniques to draw on in these situations to save the day.

One naively thinks some significant conclusion has been reached with the completion of one's PhD, but then the realisation dawns that it's just the beginning  [a slightly sinister and knowing post-doctoral laugh would finish this sentence off nicely].  I don't know if I have the energy or the motivation to think about all this right now, but I am very tired of working seven days a week for what seems like little money or reward. Perhaps after a better night's sleep, things will seem better too....or maybe it's an expected part of the ongoing malaise affecting HE. I don't know. Back soon in a hopefully cheerier mood.


Helen McCookerybook said...

I love the idea of a post-doctoral laugh! I've been doing that for about seven years and not known what it was!

Claire said...

I think it might be identified by its cynical tone as well, hopefully temporary, though if you're 7 years in then who knows!!