Today’s challenges

The challenge that I intended to complete for today was as follows:

  • to insert all my prepared text for the 9R registration document
  • come up with a list of gaps in the 9R and start to fill them
  • to select which research database software I’d use to organise my research (Google docs is dandy, but not quite cutting it)
  • to organise all my papers into a cohesive database

Unfortunately, as is usually the case, life gets in the way………..

So far I have been fighting with WordPress, Firefox, Google (in particular Google docs and Google calendar) and not least of all my beloved laptop, the display of which has taken to flashing to black every few seconds, leaving this researcher with the impression that they are experiencing some kind of fit.  This flashing is frequent enough for the researcher to gather their thoughts sufficiently enough to lose them all again with the next returned flashing which never ceases to take them by surprise.  Highly frustrating.

However, victories so far today include

  • selecting Mendeley as the suppository for storing all my papers
  • electing to have a proper look at Nvivo in terms of managing all my data
  • doing a couple of fruitful literature searches in Mendeley and thus beginning to populate the Mendeley library
  • booking the wretched laptop into the repair centre so that I can stop fantasising about the ways in which I’d like to punish it for abusing me.

I hope to check back in later with updates on the days research related battles, so laptop willing, I’ll see you soon!

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Asking rather than answering questions

I am a problem solver, there, I’ve admitted it. This notion that research is to ask questions rather than find answers sits uncomfortably with me. Not that this is a bad thing, growth comes from being stretched.

I’m currently staring down the barrel of a 9R and some self imposed deadlines with the intention of having a Christmas break. This gives me 10 000 words to kick out by December 16th

So here goes……………………

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Operating systems and caffeine

After yesterdays victory in the construction of a working database to collate my research I returned to the office this morning overtired, but optimistic. Unfortunately, this was not to last for long. The reason being; technology is evil. I am aware that there are many of you out there who will argue to the contrary, but she truly is a fickle mistress. My assertions for this come primarily from first hand experience of technology working perfectly until it is actually required to work for a deadline, a performance, whatever really. When this happens you can rely on it to have a fit, reset proxies, demand passwords repeatedly and then crash.

In addition to this fickle behaviour it would appear that all the software that I am being advised to use for my research requires a more recent operating system to the one I’m currently using; the upshot of this is that I need to talk my supervisor into investing in another operating system, something he hates to do.

On top of this I am required to present my lit search and critical evaluation thereof to the rest of my PG Cert course this afternoon and the printer has decided to join the revolt and is refusing to play ball.

At this stage in time, the only rational response would appear to be to retreat, find caffeine, fresh air and pray that when I return everything will feel like playing nicely again.

Wish me luck.

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Key word searches and database strategy

It has swiftly become apparent that conducting a coherent working literature search is not entirely unlike wrestling a giant squid; as soon as you think you’ve got a grip of one bit, another tentacle has snared you and you soon realise you will continue in this manner until it has completely devoured you.

I refuse to be devoured.

With a little poking around on the internet I have concluded that what I need to defeat my giant squid is another giant squid, a friendly tame one hand reared by myself. Therefore I have elected to create a database to track my searches, recording my results, progress and flagging anything requiring follow up in a systematic fashion.

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Literature searches; second attempt

Yesterday was my first proper attempt at wrestling with a literature search; I cannot claim it to be an outright success. This is largely down to their intrinsically vague qualities. I struggled greatly with the fact that I seemed to be doing a glorified Google search; poring through endless lists of databases, trying to find information that could be in any number of research fields.

My primary search for the day was seeking information around the topic of art or arts practice as a strategy for Change Management. This seemed to fit into Psychology, Sociology, Education, Business, Arts, Humanities and Health. Unfortunately my searches on Google seemed to pull up more potentially viable sources than my hours spent fruitlessly foraging around in Athens.

Today I am faced with the challenge of doing it all over again, with the added pressure of needing to present my findings to a group of ‘peers’ who are far more established in their field than I tomorrow.

I have elected to spend a little time coming up with more strategic search terms and starting a database of my own to track search terms and any fruit that they yield. This should hopefully leave me with some more tangible results than yesterdays.

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Beginnings and background

First posts seem ridiculously demanding, blank canvasses with which you expect yourself to coherently and cogently tell the world who you are and what you do. This seems somewhat redundant in the case of research where you are determinedly setting off from the location of not knowing. However, in the interest of disclosure and academic transparency here are the known variables:

I’m Iona Makiola, a new PHD student in Design at BIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design) in BCU (Birmingham City University)

I’ve been awarded an AHRC Scholarship for Design to study ‘The Modern Hospital: the integration of niche communities through the Arts’ (more to follow on that)

Alongside the PHD I am required to complete a PG Cert in Research Practice (this is essentially where I am to learn the skills necessary to do a PHD) and to date, the PG Cert has taught me that a Fine Art background, even an academic one, is not designed to equip you with conventional research skills.

This blog is designed to track my developments and emerging thought processes so that I am better able to articulate how I reach paradigms and conventions about research and arts practice.

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