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Noelene Callaghan

My Blog

My Blog

What is it like? Doing a PhD?

Posted on 27 January, 2013 at 7:40

I officially started my PhD last October, and although I have completed quite a lot of work thus far (in 3 months), I still feel as though time is against me and that I have made little progress.


As you can tell by my Blog entries, I am not a full time student, nor am I a full time teacher. I am someone whom wears many, many hats and likes to do quite a lot ALL OF THE TIME. But, please dont get me wrong. I am not one to complain about the huge volume of work that I need to complete. On the contrary, I quite enjoy it.


I completed a Masters in Education in 2011 and thought that I would take a year off and relax and 'enjoy' life. Instead, I attended every professional learning session, workshop and industry open day that was available to every NSW Teacher. I learned so much last year and met so many amazing educators, that when it came to writing my application for my PhD, I knew exactly what I wanted to study and felt that had the know-how to do it. Meeting teachers from other schools, regardless if they are from a DEC or Non DEC school, rural or city school, single sex or co-ed school, we all have the same goal...and that is to help our students be excited about their learning journey. 


My learning journey is no where near complete. As I stated, I begin my PhD in October and step 1 was to organise all of the adminstrative tasks to be a member of the university. Macquarie University is a fantastic institution as much of it could be completed online and within a few keystrokes, I had access to the university's library and the most sophisticated databases around the world. I then began familiarising myself with the latest literature in social networking. As this has been a very passionate area for me and something that I can continuously immerse my students in within the classroom, this was a relatively easy task. Although my collection of readings were a couple of years old, updating it seemed relatively simple. In November, I began writing my research proposal. I am one to work in 'stints'. I will be able to do quite a lot of work for a day or two and then stop for a week and then repeat my habit. Im also very lucky that I am a nightowl and that I dont require much sleep as this is when I am able to complete a lot of work without disturbance. I have now submitted 2 drafts and although I am 'liking' the direction my research proposal is heading, I am realistic to understand that it could and probably, will change. Like the actual research, flexibility is the key...times change and so must we.


The next things that I must do is find schools who would like to participate in my study, create my research instruments and start writing my ethics applications (I have 3 to complete).


Friends and colleagues have begun asking me what the workload of a PhD is like and how I am finding the experience. Well, so far, its ok. I dont feel overwhelmed (I only feel overwhelmed at report time). I have time to research and to read and I always have time for my family and friends. So far, my personal life has not been impacted by my studies.


I believe that having a supervisor that you can trust and that is genuinly interested in assisting you makes a difference. I communicate with my supervisor mainly by email and his response time is so fast, that it allows me to maintain my momentum. He is also extremely motivating and always knows how to keep me excited about my research. If you are thinking about completing a postgraduate degree with a research component, interview the lecturers at your university first - believe me, it will make a huge difference to your own personal outcomes and goals.


Having a great support network is key to success - regardless of what you do!



Categories: 2013, Research, Social Networking Sites