Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why a PhD? Why not?

Well, why not? Having just completed an MA in Contemporary Art Research and I am poised to start on a PhD. The MA was an enjoyable experience but it served to emphasise my academic inadequacies. Hardly surprising when you consider that I dropped out of 6th form after 3 months because I believed I was not cut out for academia and found myself a job. As a very practical person with a scientific bent, I had spent most of my time trying to blow my self up or stinking out my bedroom What better career than to become a lab technician? As there were no vacancies in the stink bomb department I joined the Veterinary School at Liverpool University. I realised that if I was to make my fortune it would not be at the University so I moved on to set up a private laboratory for a veterinary practice. A few years later I was head-hunted, with an offer I could not refuse, to run what was one of the first private veterinary labs. The lab was subsequently sold and I was made redundant. So, together with a colleague, we started my own business, a Veterinary Pathology Laboratory.

Forty-four years later I sold my business, retired and became a photographer/artist. I look back on those days and wonder how a guy who failed maths and English O level 4 times ever made it. (I eventually passed maths O level aged 40) I can only attribute my survival to an avid curiosity and appetite for knowledge. In the end, I am, with the help of a couple of strategic mentors, essentially self-taught, an autodidact. As a retirement project I decided to scratch my creative itch by taking a few art lessons before I knew it I had enrolled for a foundation art and design course and then on to a BA in Fine Art degree. Passed out with a 1st and the top student prize! I was on a roll, after some encouragement from my dissertation supervisor, an MA was the next step. I thoroughly enjoyed the MA which whetted my appetite for proper academic research. I could not stop now. After some soul searching and encouragement from my better half, I applied for and was accepted as a PhD candidate at LICA, Lancaster University.

I suddenly have this feeling that I may have bitten off more than I can chew! This is a serious commitment and I have to make sure I do not make a fool of myself. So let us start researching how best to tackle this mountain. If I was in business again, this would start with a SWOT analysis, to determine my Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. On this occasion, I shall confine myself to Weaknesses, which are:-
  • Procrastination in the guise of excessive unfocused research (surfing the net, pulling at threads), I am easily diverted. 
  • Disorganised reading, note taking and collation of information. 
  • Mild dyslexia and a poor grasp of grammar particularly as academic writing, not helped by having a scientific rather than a humanities background.
I have searched the net for inspiration and help and found some interesting and useful stuff. Blogs seem to be some of the richest sources of information. One of the most helpful sources of help is Inger Mewburns blog, an Aladdin cave of inspirational help and advice. So as a starting point I hope Inger will not mind if for my next few posts I plunder her fantastic resource. I shall, of course, respect Inger's copyright and link back to those posts which I have found particularly helpful.

All comments and suggestions welcome.

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