Presentations & Pancake Rolls

So wow, it’s July….only four months since I wrote that post about the Nutribullet and surprise, surprise, it’s not seen the light of day for at least a month.  I started off really well too but in fairness, life has been pretty busy of late.

May was crazy with transcribing the last of my interviews.  Seriously, don’t ever under-estimate how long it takes to transcribe the audio of an interview.  My interviews (of which there are 32) generally last abot an hour, cue 10 hours of transcription per interview.  And it’s a process that only I could do.  As appealing as transcription services are (honestly, £1 per minute of interview seems VERY attractive when you’re onto interview number four, never mind number twenty-four!), but you really need to know your data inside out and I think the only way to do this is to undertake the transcription yourself.  Big applause to any researcher who can field this part out and still know their data, I know you are out there!  I am a skim reader and am just too worried that I’d miss out critical parts when only reading the transcription, not typing it up.  So, lets just say I was a very happy researcher when the interview transcriptions were finally complete.  Matched by my family, who had watched me with my headphones in constantly for the last few months and put up with my extremely loud WHAT? whenever they asked me a question, oops!
At the end of the month I had two presentations to make (typically in the same week).  The first, I was not prepared for.  Not that I didn’t know about it months in advance but it was one of those things that I didn’t get round to doing until the last minute.  It was an internal seminar, mostly with colleagues and peers but some external guests too and aimed to showcase our research.  Only 20 minutes long, shouldn’t really have been an issue but I came home moaning about my lack of prep and shoddy delivery.  Thankfully I was subjected to only around 10 versions of “well, I’ve told you not to leave it so late but you don’t listen to me” courtesy of the husband.  Yes, yes, I know.  Cue my usual response “I work best under pressure, blah, blah, blah….” But this time I was actually disappointed in myself.  The presentation itself was ok, I delivered what I wanted but I just know I could’ve been better if I’d put the time and effort into it.  Big lesson learned.

The second presentation was at the end of the week, a PhD symposium where I presented a paper with some of my research findings.  I’ll post separately about that as I think it’s a pretty interesting topic (ha, ha, don’t all researchers??!!).  But this presentation I was slightly more prepared for.  As a general rule, I don’t mind getting up in front of people and presenting.  I enjoy the buzz and have some strong ideas about what makes a good presentation (cue another post title….to be written one day!).  Aside from a fire alarm (thankfully not during my presentation!), the day went well.  I heard some really interesting research from across the university, it’s always great to see what other people are looking into and to top it all off my presentation won the best paper award 🙂 Yay!  So it wasn’t such a bad week after all!

June saw me up to my eyes in academic writing.  It’s so true when you hear people speak of a PhD journey.  Three years seems like such a long time (and yes, I’ll admit that I was one of those skeptics who thought ‘PhD thesis, pah, I could write that in two years, no bother’).  Well, I will eat my words (infact, lets throw them into the bullet along with the bags of flaxseed also sitting redundant in my kitchen drawers!).  Writing takes an really long time.  And before you get to that point, you need to spend an even longer time really getting to grips with your field of research.  The literature.  Then collect the data.  Transcribe the data (interviews in my case, lots of them).  Do the analysis.  Then write it all up.  Arrrrrggh, written down it seems like an easy enough process but writing is hard!

I did have a couple of academic papers and presentations to prepare though, which broke up the thesis writing and also made me feel better about the whole publish or perish dilemma.  More about that in another post too!


I rounded off June by attending the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities Summer School in Glasgow.  This four-day event consisted of a range of lectures, workshops and seminar tailored to meet the needs of phd students and early career researchers.  Aside from meeting some great people and listening to some exciting research projects, many of the workshops delivered practical skills and I picked lots of useful tips and techniques.  There are a few of these type of events about and I know people are often wary about giving up their time to attend but this was a worthwhile one so if you get the opportunity, go!  There was an entry fee (only £50 for the week) but travel and accommodation (in student halls) was covered.  Gray’s hosted a day focused on collaboration, where I also presented some of my findings, but the highlight of the day for sure was an interactive lunch provided by the Open Jar Collective.  If you’ve not heard of these guys then look them up for sure!  Clem and her colleague laid out a fantastic mix of vegetables, fish and meats alongside mats for us to roll our own pancake rolls.  It was amazing and great to hear about their innovative combination of food, engagement and art while we ate.  Chat + food = always good!


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