State of the PhD – or, ‘How’s the thesis going, Nina?’

by ninashiel

I finished the draft of Chapter 5 just before the holidays. The end of it, in particular, is probably somewhat rushed; I’ll have a look at it and do any necessary edits soon before handing it over to my supervisor to read. After that, I have one more chapter to write, followed by the Conclusion, edits and rewrites as necessary, and the compilation of bibliography (to which I am really not looking forward). I am intent on submitting the thesis during 2014. My hope is that I will get it done in the summer, as per the original plan, but as I’m aware that delays can happen, I am also prepared to wait until the end of the year.

I have one paper to write for publication fairly soon, and a couple of others that I would like to find publication avenues for. I recently became acutely aware of the importance of published papers, since I started to view postdoc opportunities in any kind of seriousness. I feel that I could certainly do better than my current state of such things. It has been, and is being, difficult to juggle the thesis, teaching, other duties such as those pertaining to my position in the Comparative Literature Association of Ireland committee, and publications. I suppose that learning to handle that labyrinth is an essential part of the researcher training and I keep assuring myself that I don’t need to be perfect at it.  

The end of the autumn semester also marked the end of the first full module I have taught. I had approximately 20 first years from different programmes, including several exchange students. As a first timer, I don’t think I can really judge how well it went. Attendance varied, but for the final class the vast majority of the students were present, although assessment materials had already been handed out. It was very gratifying to get to know the students during the 12 weeks, and, in particular, to see most of them step out of their shells and become more comfortable about voicing their opinions and suggestions. I think that the best thing about the module was the number of occasions when the students came up with excellent interpretations of the materials under examination that I had not thought of myself. It was exhausting – I had heard of friends and colleagues remark on their tiredness by the end of each semester in the past, but I hadn’t experienced it myself before. I have no doubt that I could have done things better in a lot of ways, but all of those things are the kind that can be adjusted and improved in the future.