PhD: Lessons Learned From Research Not Yet Finished

I work a lot of things out on whiteboards or large sketchbooks, because the ideas are visual and ever-changing.

For the last decade or so, I’ve been engaged in graduate research, mostly in pursuit of a PhD. This was my choice, although the exact weight and scope of that choice wasn’t really apparent to me at the time I decided it and, arguably, still isn’t entirely grasped.

One of the things I wish I had realized sooner was that research isn’t a solitary game. Sure, I have a list of articles from other researchers as long as my arm (or several arms), but the real thing that I have come to realize has been missing is not yet another reference, but people.

I’ve worked on this stuff, largely alone and with only my own direction, for several years. Coming close to the end, I now regret not having told more people about the research. For the most part, I doubt there are that many people that I know who would really understand what I’m working on.

To be honest, many days I’m not sure I understand it either…

But without others to express my work to, I have neither been forced to explain it to others, nor have I benefited from the insights of others. I’ve questioned the papers I’ve read — many of which are poorly written and either too terse to explain things or too complicated to — but the papers don’t respond. They just sit there, glowing pixels or dead ink, not giving me any feedback on the many brilliant or utterly insane ideas I’ve just thrown at it.

So, firstly, a piece of advice to those who are going to do research: find colleagues.   Continue reading

A Dressing Up, A Dressing Down: RIP My NaNoWriMo 2011, Long Live Movember!

First: let me admit that there really wasn’t much hope for me to do NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, it was really a doomed proposition, given that I’ve felt that I’ve had no free time lately, and really need to make the homestretch push on getting my Phd finished, done, over with. It’s really what I’ve been needing to do, and perhaps part of me has been avoiding it for a while.

Writing a PhD is a complex task. Continue reading

Oh, and then there’s that *other* voice work.. and that *other* other work.

So, I forgot a few things that are still in production or are in a very early stage in my list of voice work.. I was chatting with my buddy Waldo the other day — a rather smart kid, and I use the term “kid” literally, as he’s in high school — and he reminded me that I’d also provided a voice for him as well, for a project named Of Kings.

He also seems to have convinced me that I would be a good candidate for the position of Production Manager for the new audio group he’s heading, Giant Gnome Productions…

That should be an interesting experience… I still have to get the local audio drama group in order here, but I’m not really keen to do that while the weather is so crappy.. It’s funny, because I don’t mind working in a group which is spread out all over the continent — potentially spanning more than one continent, as I’ve interviewed people in England and Australia — but I have some reservations in managing a local group because the weather prevents my mobility and prevents a face-to-face meeting..

On an unrelated note (because this seems to be a more general blog), I’ve gotten a paper accepted for publication. Its a version of a paper I did for my older work, the one based on my Master’s thesis, rather than my current work (which remains too loose to publish yet). Nonetheless, it will be nice to have a publication again — it’s been a couple of years. I haven’t been focussed on publication, rather trying just to find my research topic more solidly.

And now, to madly get back to work on my research project (not my PhD — that comes tomorrow)..