I feel as if I have made the most of these uncertain times in 2020, first by writing my PhD Proposal in the first lockdown, making applications and then preparing myself with intensive reading. I focused on increasing my knowledge and understanding of philosophy and some of the key players I anticipated forming the basis for my academic work. Then, after starting my PhD, away from Dundee, I have made the most of intensive time for reading and searching literature, building my basis skills through a number of OPD courses and starting to build networks with other research students. After a period away from the Isle of Skye, I returned and worked intensively for three weeks on my photographic practice before starting to bring together my thinking about the integration of practice and research.
So, what have I achieved? I could, and will say, that I have written forty-four blogs, had seven supervisor meetings, attended ten OPD courses, eight Zoom meetings with fellow researchers in Duncan of Jordanstone (DJCAD) and attended my first Doctoral Academy Writing Retreat. In addition, I have ninety-five entries in EndNote reflecting the reading and research I have done this Semester.
But this is describing what I have done rather than what I have learned so here are the key learning points:
- I have improved and feel more confident in the way I talk about my research
- I have written a large amount, improving my academic style, referencing and building a resource on which to start writing my thesis
- I have an evidence base of writing about the development of my photographic practice
- I am now using my photographic practice as the driver for my academic research, the basis for decisions about research methods, and the focus for my wide-ranging contemporary creative arts research
- I am now seeing the literature review as a much wider body of work than reading books and journals
- I now see philosophy as the starting point for my research and limited but focused guidance and direction to my practice
- I am more open about the structure of my thesis and am happy to leave my practice to drive decisions in due course
- I have developed a strong working relationship with my two supervisors
- I have made progress in developing at-a-distance networks with other PhD students
- I have learned some of the skills of being an academic researcher in terms of producing plans, spreadsheets, databases and other tools to record work and activities
- I have learned to be more experimental and fluid in my photographic practice
Action Points for Semester 2
I am so excited by what I have learnt and how my photographic practice is developing that I barely want to take a break over the festive season. However, I feel that I should do so in preparation for a challenging Semester 2 affected by the continuing Covid restrictions. This list is general and not exhaustive and is really indicative and an aide memoire for my return to studies in January 2021:
- Adopt a two-week practice, two-week academic reading and research model
- Produce new plan of work until the end of Year 1
- Review upgrade regulations
- Produce reading list
- Produce practice plan
Wishing all my readers a very peaceful festive season!