The Surge

When I said I would be moving to London and focussing on nothing but the PhD, It meant I would leave my wife and kids behind (and all of what that means!), delay and risk loosing a dream-job offer I had received (for a December start) and spend more money on tickets (yes again) and a temporary move… With all of this, I was genuinely worried I would do all of it and come back with nothing. On many levels, that would be worse than not going at all and quitting.

The good news is today I am able to breathe the sigh of relief and report that what will from today be known as ‘The Surge’ has worked! There is no doubt that since I started this PhD back in 2012, I have changed the wiring of my brain from a business man to an academic researcher. There is also no doubt that from knowing very VERY little about how motivation works, I have become an expert in the area and familiar with all the major theories and thinkers in the field. I’ve also learned how to read and understand a paper without reading the acknowledgements twice and wondering what font they’re using. However all of this is (and wasn’t) enough to show progress in a PhD. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was on my way out of the programme, if I did not submit a confirmation (called transfer or upgrade in other universities) report plustwo chapters by mid January.

BEFORE
I had written (and very poorly) about 9,000 words on motivation describing it very generally and textbook-like. This and the learning above was all I had to show for my time on the PhD. When I started working in the first week during The Surge, I had already deleted 5,000 of those words at the very least.

AFTER
Today I have completed a literature review on the topic of motivation which is a lot more critical than the first attempt back in summer 2014. Another literature review of organisational support, and another on previous studies in Kuwait as well as Kuwait’s culture. This, together with a methodology, brings my current word count to 40,000 words in four chapters. The thesis is effectively half-written if I can pass my confirmation at the end of February.

All in all this is great news – because I will not be kicked off the course and my lifeline continues until my February meeting when I hope to get the nod for the next steps… I believe I have now caught up to where I should be at this stage… and all it took was 7 weeks of 16 hour days with only four days off (did some reading and editing on those). This really hasn’t been easy – but like I said before: it was never meant to be.

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Research Methodology

The literature review and methodology seem to be milestones within the journey of PhD research without any clear reason why they’re there.  I say this of course with my old hat of industry and business on my head.  I have since learned (and am still learning) the what, how and where these fit in; and more importantly why they need to be there.  I am adjusting my literature review to reflect my main research question, and will need to work on writing a clear methodology that sets out the plan on how I intend to answer it.

In my quest to learn what my literature review and methodology should look like, I came across many articles, helpful pages on different university websites, and of course some books, videos and online classes.  Personally I found the style of Amgad Badewi to be perfectly pitched.  It’s simple enough for a non-academic to understand and follow; and is in depth enough to make it worth the time invested to watch. This LINK is a playlist of eight videos which take you from zero knowledge to basic knowledge, in 2.5 hours.

Thank you, Amgad, and best of luck with your research.

It’s 2015

I just spent five wonderful days catching up with my wife and kids, my family and my friends.  I even found time to think, plan and do nothing.  Cycling, meals out and zero reading and writing for almost a week.  I flew back to London on the first day of the year, and today I make a start on my final two weeks of the big push that I started early November.  It will not feel like I’ve achieved anything until I’ve passed the confirmation (or transfer) which will most likely be sometime in February/March.  However, I will not be where I am today had I stayed in Kuwait and just hoped for things to get better with the hour here and there that I was spending on my PhD.

First meeting of the new year with my supervisor(s) is this week – hope we all come back on the same page as that’s one frustration I could really do without.  Two more weeks before I submit my report.  It’s half ready at present and will be complete by then if I put in all the hours God has given me in the next fortnight.