I move down to Oxford in two weeks, to start my English DPhil. I’m excited and invigorated, but also apprehensive. Over the next three years, I’ll be trying to place articles in peer-reviewed journals, give talks, teach, help organise conferences or seminars, disseminate my research in more accessible formats and – of course – actually research and write my thesis! That feels like a lot of pressure. I want to lay as much groundwork as possible, to help these three or four years run smoothly.
Perhaps controversially, I’m not spending this time reading frantically. Instead, I’ve been thinking about what one needs to succeed as a researcher beyond the research itself. The perspective to think both long-term and short-term. The discipline to juggle commitments. The networking.
So, over the last week, I have:
– read up on some characteristics of successful researchers. The Vitae Researcher Development Framework has some extremely useful graphics, mapping the different strengths which researchers should aim to develop as they move through their doctorates (and beyond). I’m planning to print one out and pin it on my wall. They also have a planner tool, which should be useful (once I can get Oxford’s subscription details…) Has anyone else used it?
– updated my academia.edu and LinkedIn profiles, adding an up-to-date CV and short accounts of my research. This was fairly easy.
– committed to posting on Twitter daily, to get used to the rhythm of public engagement and presentation.
(There may have been some teething issues with the blog…)
– created a table of funding opportunities, including details about their deadlines. I find the process of seeking and applying for funding very overwhelming, and I’m hoping this will help me stay on top of things!
– started working on my time-management. I tend to get hyperfocused on one project, which isn’t ideal in an academic context which makes multiple demands. There are a number of time-management tools available, but I’ve been enjoying HabitRPG: a tool which rewards you for developing good work habits by ‘gamifying’ your goals. Its presentation is intuitive, allowing you to manage short- and long-term aims, as well as your daily targets. It also allows you to hatch pets and buy armour, for those of you (us) who find that kind of thing rewarding…
– started this blog, to help me post about my research!
How did you spend the weeks before your PhD/DPhil started? What do you wish you’d done?