Inch by inch..!

I wanted to write a brief introduction ‘introducing silence’ before focusing on the more familiar territory of silence and psychotherapy. When considering silence as a general concept, I have been feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information, and the sheer diversity of the topic.  Unable to get out if the rut of the writer’s fog I went back to a tried and tested method of writing inch by inch, line by line, as opposed to a paragraph by paragraph. It is a laborious method, but at the end of a hard week, inches become sentences, and sentences become paragraphs and just a little bit more progress is made. This is much more preferable to no progress!

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It’s gone to committee..!!!

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It is hard to put into words how excited I am today. Finally received the thumbs up to submit the now famous improved proposal pack to the University’s’ Ethics Committee.  Feels like a major milestone in a long hike.  Feel that I have learnt so much already, in part thanks to the brilliant support from my DoS, supervisor and the support staff at Northampton. Now I have just a million articles and books (ok 100+) to read and digest…

I love it when a plan comes together..!

Ok so the gap between blog posts has not been because of a lack of activity, on the contrary, it has been a hive of busyness. As of today the improved proposal, bibliography, participant information sheet, consent form, Gantt chart, risk assessment, and data management plan, have been completed. Just waiting on some feedback on the risk assessment and then I think I am ready to submit to the ethics committee.  Given the preparation, it feels like a significant milestone, home is so far back that I can’t really see it, but nor can I see the destination just yet, but the map is getting much clearer. Wow, how many mixed metaphors can one get in a sentence!?

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So much to do..!

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Ok, so I had a face-to-face on campus with my DoS.  Very productive but so many things to do.  Has a very tangible feeling of ‘in it’ rather than looking ‘at it’.  Got some great input from DoS, academic librarian, research information specialist, and GT group.  So much to do now to implement and process everything that came out of these meetings. Working towards a PhD is a kick-ass, hardcore, focused graft – not for the faint of heart.  One of my mottos moving forward is: ‘Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well’ John W. Gardner

Down the rabbit hole..!

Excitingly I have now gone down my first rabbit hole – I am sure there will be many!

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This first one concerns the literature review in health-related research. I realise that the standard is high and that there is a range of tools and methods to select and appraise the literature. It’s slightly paradoxical given the original Glaserian view of not doing the literature review. More time has been spent in the GT annuals debating and deciding on when to do it with little consideration as to how. So as Crotty receommends the resrach methodology will be tailored to the needs of the study and the research question. I like the idea of being very methodical in terms of say a systematic review but am also very drawn to meta-ethnography due to its interpretivist and constructivist underpinnings. Lots of reading and reflecting to do, in order to develop a defendable and credible argument for the way forward…

It’s alive..!

Finally starting to feel that the project is coming alive! Feels like a momentum is beginning to take place with DoS, supervisor and myself and the chemistry seems to be conducive to lots of fascinating exchanges, reflection and ultimately output. I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel on the first hurdle – the improved proposal. Feels very much like taking time to ensure the foundations of a house or possible skyscraper are in solid shape before starting the build in earnest. I have learned so much in such a short space of time, feeling like I am going much deeper in every aspect of what it takes to be a relevant effective researcher. After much slog, I am happy to report I feel very excited about the long journey ahead.

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To NVivo or not NVivo…

So, it has been a few months since registering for the research degree. It’s been a busy time, coupled with the challenges of raising a young family and moving home yet again. However, I found a surge of excitement and energy around the project. To date, I have submitted a revised ‘improved proposal’, timetable, and appendices for approval. Things are moving quickly with formal registration of the project being submitted in January 2018.

I have also taught myself how to use Mendeley citation software. Despite initial resistance I have found it breathtaking in how efficiently it is able to support the organization of pdf files, and references. At the click of a switch, I can reformat the file names of all my saved documents. Wow. It is good training for what might be a significant learning investment into NVivo as I am not convinced that I will win the ‘pens and paper’ methods debate with my DoS.

Christmas holidays – bah humbug!

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Raising the Bar!

So I have had my first few supervision meetings including with my DoS (Director of Studies). Both my DoS and supervisor shoot from the hip, such a relief. Northampton are extremely focused, structured and disciplined in what they expect and require from the student. It feels refreshing and liberating as it leaves me to focus on the graft of what I need to deliver. Their online systems, information and support, are smooth, easily accessible and give the impression of a high level of professionalism. I am immediately getting a sense of the bar. No not the location of a good pint of cold Guinness but rather the level between Master’s and PhD.

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The first thing that I have learned is the necessity of being much more clear when it comes to the methodological approach to conducting the literature review. The area of systematic reviews has been suggested. I had agreed to submit my first year’s timetable in 7 days. Off to balance expectations with reality.

Grounded Thunderbirds are go..!

Today (20th October 2017)  is the official start date of my PhD by research via Northampton University / Regent’s University London. Truth be told, it has been 11 years in the making, having first seriously dreamed of attempting doctoral study in 2006. See the now premature attempts at PhD blogging and evidence of my very long application journey . My first proposal, after my undergraduate degree, was 10,000 glorious words long, and more of a statement on mental health provision in London, than a credible application. After 2 Masters and 5 full proposals on different topics, and living in, 4 different countries and 5 different cities, the winning topic ironically found me.

Having identified that due to the increase in audit culture and regulation in the UK, therapists were prepared to take less risk in clinical practice, I reflected on what other aspects of practice might be impacted. Then the area of ‘silence’ screamed at me, as an area where a therapist might feel under pressure to do something, rather than nothing – was silence in fact deemed as doing nothing and less welcomed in today’s milieu?!

After the topic crystallized I finally followed the single best piece of information, that I had up until now, only paid tertiary attention: find a supervisor first. This is much harder said than done, there are a lot of Muppets out there.

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I returned to the door of someone wonderful I met 11 years ago, who I was aware shared an interest in grounded theory, but didn’t even know if their university offered research degrees. The rest is now history. So, the proposal has been accepted – now to start the real graft. The purpose of this blog is really to serve as a broad overview of what I am doing and why.  A detailed and more technical research journal will also be maintained. This blog is to reduce the chance of me mumbling completely to myself, to actualize on paper my thoughts, reflections, considerations, goals, and vulnerabilities, when attempting the impossible. If you are reading this and are not my supervisor or my Da (aka. the old goat), or close friend, then I would be very surprised. (Status is set to: Hidden – Your site is visible to everyone, but we ask search engines to not index your site). If you are it’s meant to be raw; any tipos or grammar bad is my usual un-proofed stylie.

Someone once profoundly said ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step‘, and mine is to quickly refresh my memory on best practice for literature review…I will read a few previously ‘how to guides’ and a new one. Then I will begin the research search strategy, building on my initial efforts contained in the research proposal. With a new online library to explore, there maybe some gold still out there…