I’ve spent much of today working on my PhD. I am currently working with my supervisor as we prepare a paper for a major international conference on strategic communication. It is a tangible and helpful outcome to be working towards – a milestone on the long road to complete my research, my thesis and my journey to join my wife as the second doctor Jones in our house.
I find the PhD work invigorating on a number of fronts but it is undoubtably assisted by the access to information, reports, media coverage, papers, opinions and the rest that can be mined from the internet. I know it was not like this for Dr J when she finished her PhD in Belfast in 2001 and it was certainly not like this when I did my undergraduate studies a stone’s throw from where I spend time on the Liverpool University campus now. I remember sitting on the floor of the Sydney Jones Library for hours on end thumbing through hardback editions of Hansard to find the relevant debate, speech or intervention. There was something hugely rewarding when the discovery was made but something futile about all that time spent just turning pages.
My experience now is a far cry from that and I am able – much to my joy given my commitment to my work life balance – to do most of my work from home. This includes being able to access the university’s superb library online and most of the articles, papers and journals I need through Google Scholar. Alongside this, the ability at the click of a mouse to neatly and consistently complete citations and develop a bibliography using the latest software has transformed studying.
I am grateful for all the help I can get as I have been rediscovering the art of reading, thinking and understanding without the immediate need to send an email or bill a client. It has been a massively enjoyable experience so far and I am only just getting started. The next few months promises to be equally exciting as I start to move in some deep analysis of the materials I have gathered on the cases I wish to include in my thesis – I am looking at how the third sector – health charities in particular- use arguments to influence government policy. I would say this, it feels like such an important topic at this time; perhaps as important as ever. With the technology helping and the support I am getting from the university and my amazing wife, I know I will keep enjoying this brilliant journey; the journey that completes when someone can say “are there two doctors in the house?”.