It’s been exactly six months since my last post – an awfully long time in the blogosphere, but then I have been painfully busy.
This year has been quite important in terms of trying to position myself and adjust to what is still a transitionary stage in my academic career.
My three-year bursary came to an end at the same time that my part-time PR contract ended, leaving me in no man’s land, financially.
At the same time I went through the painful and time-consuming process of applying for a dozen or so teaching jobs, assuming that five year’s teaching and research experience would count in my favour, despite the fact that I was ‘nearing completion’ of my doctoral thesis, rather than being in the more favourable position of having submitted.
For a few months I focused much of my time and energies on job-hunting and establishing an online community for black academics in the UK. A full-time lecturer role has eluded me this year, but I managed to secure part-time lecturing supervising third-year journalism students, so finally returned to working on my thesis at the beginning of October.
The chapter I endeavoured to complete in time for presentation at the Media and Politics Group Annual Conference at Bournemouth University was a significant one, being the first chapter to present the qualitative findings from my research project on African Caribbean Bloggers in the UK.
I had already decided on how I would present the findings from in-depth interviews as narratives, staying true to Critical Race Theory as praxis. However, I also interwove these rich narratives with theoretical and conceptual observations and rounded off the chapter by explaining the significance of the findings.
I was pleased with my work, because I felt that I had done my utmost to faithfully represent the perspectives of the bloggers who have participated in the research project. But what most amazed me from reading the chapter was how astute, resourceful and innovative these bloggers are!
It was my first time in presenting a full research paper at a conference – in the past I have used PowerPoints, but there is definitely a specific type of expertise involved in discussing the key points of your research, as I learnt from observing well-seasoned academics at the conference.
What most impressed me about the conference was the opportunity to meet people both within my field of media and from other disciplines. The atmosphere was very open and welcoming and the discussions in all sessions I attended were lively but very constructive.
Conferences are a great way to network with other academics in your field and it was great to see a mixture of postgraduates, early career researchers and senior academics all sharing what came across as a very democratic space.
The icing on the cake was of course winning the James Thomas Memorial Prize for the best paper by a postgraduate student. It is a great confidence booster that tells you, you got it right; you have the potential to succeed.
I am now riding on that wave and keeping the momentum going by staying 100% focused on my thesis. I am aiming to complete the last two chapters by the end of January, in the hope that it will be all completed, viva to boot, by next Easter!