PhD Diaries: Research Training Week

Gosh, I am so glad this week is finally over. How are you? If you read Ph.D. Diaries: Induction I told you I had a week-long training in school this week and it was intense. I had classes from 10am all the way till 5pm, with 1-hour breaks in between. Thing is, since I live about 20miles from school, I have to wake up by 6:30am to catch the train at 8am and be in school at 9am. This was a major challenge for me because I am absolutely not a morning person, never have been to be honest. I am alive and functional at night. Well, I am proud to let you know that this time, I was never late. In fact, I was the first person to arrive in class for all 5 days. I feel vindicated. Now to the things that really matter.

The Doctoral Research Training is a new module designed to help first-years PhDs get a head-start on our research. It covered Research Philosophy and Ethics, Research Design, and Process, Writing Skills and Ph.D. Steps, Research Communication: Writing and Presentation, Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods, and a presentation of our research proposal.

What I Liked
A lot of what was taught I learned in September last year during my time in Reading. However, this was a good refresher. I got reacquainted with big words like “epistemology” and “ontology” and I still don’t know what they mean, but we will worry about that later. The faculties were really knowledgeable and took time to explain concepts that I’d otherwise not know or understand. Most of them were actually engaging even though, like any other training some were not as much fun.

Everyone’s favourite

There was no lunch provided but there was ample supply of coffee tea and biscuits. Most of us raced to the biscuit bowl to make sure we got there before the chocolate flavoured ones ran out. I had so many of these, I was sure I’d get sick of it. I made friends with people who understand and are actually interested in my research area. I’ve been alone in this town for a few months and so it was really nice to be among people with similar goals and challenges as myself.

What Could be Improved
The program was too long and so by Wednesday evening, I was at my wit’s end really. The only thing that kept my sanity was coffee, a lot of it. Perhaps subsequent trainings could be spread across 2 weeks, give students time to digest what was provided earlier in the day.

Class management by the lecturers would have been helpful. Let me explain. I, like many of my classmates, was taught to raise my hand when I have questions. This would allow the lecturer to round-up their point before being interrupted by my question. This is not the same training given to everyone else especially one who almost always interrupted the lecturer to provide unsolicited contributions or just to display personal knowledge. Unfortunately, she sat next to me on Day 3 and it was almost unbearable. I had the mind to have a talk with her the following day, but thankfully she didn’t come to class. In a bid to not offend anyone, lecturers do not set firm rules guiding students behaviour in class. This affected our learning experience because many of us were frustrated by the continuous interruptions and flagrant disregard of the direction of the conversation. It almost became one woman’s opportunity to display her personal knowledge

Lessons Learned

  1. To make a meaningful research contribution in a field of study, you need to know almost everything that’s been done in that area. Hence, Literature Review
  2. Meaningful Research Contribution = Something new, not been done before. Find it and do it.
  3. “All models are wrong but some are useful”
  4. Be self-aware when you are in a group. Don’t be that person who is so constantly self-absorb you can’t see when you are grating on other people’s nerves.
  5. Patience is a virtue… I don’t have
  6. Coffee spikes my heart rate up to 115bpm and it is scary

That’s it!

Are you doing a PhD? How are you finding it? Any advice for me?
Let me know in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!

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