Reflections on Year 1 Residential


I’m on the train on the way back home so figured it would be a good use of my time to make some notes about my experience up at Lancaster this week.


Firstly, it was great to meet the rest of the cohort and the tutors in person. I definitely felt a sense of bonding and feel more connected to the course and to the group as a whole. I wish I had been able to go the pub in the evenings with them but being a lightweight just got the better of me and I ended up collapsed in a heap back in my very grim room in the halls of residence with toast and bananas for company. This did allow me however to try and keep up with the goings on in OER17 which I had to miss in order to come to the residential ( I did still help out with the committee but had to actually miss the main event which was a but annoying ). I also managed to take part in the #sketch5O challenge and I was until yesterday up to date so I might need to catch up with that over the weekend ! I also managed to make a start on my Open story for #101openstories


I am pretty exhausted truth be told, Day One we had our group presentations to do, we only had three people in our group and although we worked really well together this meant that we were at a disadvantage from the start really. We did however manage to pull off a reasonable stab at a group proposal and proposed that we replicated a previous study into online social presence. I’m quite proud of what we did as we were so small in number, I think we could have improved by starting work on the presentation earlier rather than leaving it until we were at the residential.


We had our cohort dinner on a Monday evening at the Wagon and Horses and that was lovely to chat with both the group and the tutors on an informal level. On Tuesday we got to meet up with Cohort 9 , and it was great of course to meet up with my study buddy Fiona Harvey as I felt I had insider knowledge ! We had a hectic start to the day with a session on phenomenography , learning styles and an outline of the next two modules , this was followed by the key note speaker , drinks and dinner. I found the module outlines really helpful but I couldn’t help my inner voice screaming ‘but why’ when we were looking at the phenomenography stuff so I’m guessing that’s one approach I could possible rule out as apparently you don’t look at why only at what … Wednesday was a look at academic writing and literature reviews. I think I got a lot from these sessions and particularly like the fact that it is ok to use the first person tense when writing for these modules


We also had a visit to the library and .I found the library session really helpful and it’s really good to know that we can request articles that Lancaster don’t have in their Databases. I still haven’t worked out the best way to go about getting the book chapters onto my iPad though so that is something that I hope to rectify. Lastly Thursday was a change to hear from someone that has been through the process and as come out the other side. That came in the form of Dr Debbie Simpson. I really enjoyed her session and immediately warmed to my name sake !


 I guess that I came away with more confidence in the fact that a PHD just might be achievable and that I “am PHD material” as reinforced by Dr Debbie . Hearing Debbie talk definitely helped me I really related to some of the things she mentioned in relation to Imposter Syndrome. I also really liked the way that she explained about coming to the realisation that she was a Critical Realist and that this emerged during the course of her studies. This was a source of great inspiration and hope for me as I really don’t know what perspective I am coming from at all. My head is shot from all the Theoretical Framework stuff that we looked at so I’m hoping that my frame of reference will emerge in a similar way (eventually !) all I’ve got to work with at the moment is that I’m interested in the WHY and the HOW, perhaps not necessarily the WHAT so maybe Phenomenography is not for me ! I hope that whatever I eventually realise is my personal standpoint is something that I can spell and pronounce !


Dr Debbie also suggested that when we delete things from our drafts we might want to not delete them but just cut and paste them somewhere else in case we ever wanted to go back to them. She had a file called death row … I think that sounds like a plan … she also recommended some books too as well as some tips and tricks which are on this photo. I think she will also be sharing her slides with us.


I had a bit of an Aha moment when our tutor Kungmee showed us how she uses a spreadsheet to do her literature review, I will be definitely thinking about using a spreadsheet to record my analysis although I will still use the reference Manager approach I think as this does seem to work for me. One of the other tips that I have heard previously, is to try and write every day, even if it’s only a little but just to get you in to the habit of writing. I find blogging really difficult to do regularly so this will remain to be seen ! I liked Debbie’s tip about setting up a separate word document for each chapter and populating this as she went along and also having a rough word count for each chapter, I guess that is only possible when you have an idea of your structure though.


I think all in all it definitely seems more attainable but I fully recognise that it will not be easy at all and will take such a lot of work and sacrifice from both my perspective and also for that of my family. I’m so appreciative of the support that I get from them but I still feel sooo guilty about spending family time on study stuff. I definitely want to try and work out some sort of approach that will mean that I will still have a family life… anyone who has any tips about this please do let me know !




  1. Use spreadsheet to analyse articles for literature review
  2. Set up a research diary
  3. Start thinking about area of research now and start recording ideas now
  4. Work out how to extract from menderly into excel
  5. Sort out chapter readings for iPad


So What …?

The key message coming out to me this week from our tutors video is to keep asking the ‘ So What ?’ Question as we go along with our research proposal.

So in terms of engaging with this, what is the value of my study for others in the field? What else is there beyond my own practice and curiosity ? But what will it mean from other perspectives ?

I also need to remember to define all of my terms for key words and explain what I mean by it as there may be lots of different interpretations and understandings….

Mmmmm …