Emerging from solitary weeks of writing, today I went to the first of three days of our dissertation conference. The thirty-six members of the class are presenting their research to date. Presentations are followed by questions.
I am frightened and inspired at the same time. I’m frightened because of the impressive amount of rigour in other people’s study design. I feel like a fraud in comparison. Somehow, I must persuade others that my results are valid and reliable.
I am also inspired by how interesting and useful people’s research is. For eight hours today, my brain was filled with non-Joan-shaped thoughts and that gave me ideas for my own work. I went home, eager to tweak my presentation, looking forward to my turn to present on Wednesday.
Before I started this course, I knew two things about research: that it often a lonely occupation, and that it is a hard slog. I was warned about this and I have experienced it to be true. I also knew that good research practice includes collaborating with people and sharing ideas to ward off loneliness and stagnation, and that the best way to slog through research is to work nine to five, even in the most uninspired times.
Despite forewarning, I did not follow these two guides and it has been to my detriment. Because I didn’t have the willpower to hack through the lows, I feel the pressure now. Because I am under pressure, I feel like I can’t spend the time to talk to people and socialise. Because I don’t talk to people and socialise, I am unproductive and low.
Maybe this conference, enforced interaction, is what I need to break the cycle.