Saturday, 14 September 2013

Organizing a large amount of information?

One of the questions I have now that I'm approaching the start of a PhD is about organization. I've written piddly little papers, a few articles, and a larger dissertation, though only 12,000 words. Compared to this a PhD thesis is a huge undertaking!  I'm wondering how people go about organizing their thoughts and work - both for smaller academic papers, and larger projects as well.

I need to organize my cats.  I mean my work.

My mother-in-law is a fiction writer who also has an academic background, so her advice in this has been really useful.  For her writing she uses Scrivener: "Scrivener is aimed at writers of all kinds—novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights—who need to structure a long piece of text while referring to research documents. Scrivener is a ring-binder, a scrapbook, a corkboard, an outliner and text editor all rolled into one."

Sounds good to me!  So I've downloaded a free trial (, which allows you to use it for 30 different days (they don't have to be consecutive).  Afterwards, it's only $40 to buy which sounds quite worth it if I find it's a useful organizing tool!  We'll see how this goes and if it's a good solution.  I can use all the help I can find.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Talk or Poster? Talk or Poster?

It's done!  It's done and finished, a neat 7 page paper related to my proposed PhD topic, ready to be submitted to Evolang X.  But - I'm torn.  Do I want to be considered for a talk or a poster?

I've done 4 posters at conferences now, and I should really start stepping up and getting experience speaking in front of people (and answering terrifying questions at the end).  However, while I like my paper and where I'm going with it, it doesn't really offer all that much original material or any new findings or research results.  So... I'm not really sure it deserves a 20 minute spcheel.

I'm including this picture simply because it's useful.
If you're presenting a poster - how big is it going to actually look?

But!  It is original in that it says 'hey guys, there's this interesting research material that could totally be applied to these other research questions in new and interesting ways'.  And that is relevant and interesting.  But 20 minute talk interesting?

But I would like to do a talk.  And maybe in 6 months I will have more information to speak about.  And maybe it doesn't matter what I think, because it will be decided by a comittee anyways whether or not it will be selected for a talk.

So maybe I will request to be considered for a talk, and then I will know whether or not there's enough in the paper that deserves people's attention that long, all eyes on me, complete with challenging scary questions at the end.

It will be a learning opportunity, whatever happens.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Back from excavation, nursing archaeology wounds

I woke up with morning with a start - I'm late for site, everyone will have left without me!  But no, I'm back at home in England, no longer smelly and dirty, and with marginally less grit from layer 7 still stuck to my face.

I spent the last 6 weeks at Menez Dregan, hands down the most brilliant and interesting Lower Palaeolithic site in all of Brittany.  Many photos and musing are to follow, as it was inspiring and eventful.  More than anything, I want to return next year.

But on my mind today is finding a bandage or support for my hand - trowelling through concrete-like sediment for so long has left my right thumb prone to dislocating if I so much as tie my shoe.  It's probably something I should see the doctor about.  But maybe it will, you know, just go away...

Another archaeology injury I've acquired is very similar to my bookshelf necklace-making craft pain I will call the 'shoulder blade of fire'.  The muscles used to hold arms extended complain in the evening, as if I've been holding cinder blocks at arms length all day.  It does make typing a bit of a pain.

But all this has been so worth the beauty and the learning I got to experience, with my husband, making new friends, eating delicious food, bumbling along in French.

I promise to share my most favourite of these experiences in later posts.  Along with some yummy recipes.
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