I am pleased to say that earlier this week I passed my PhD viva, subject to minor corrections. This means that I will be awarded my PhD in our summer graduation ceremony as long as my corrections get approved by my examiners.
I have not blogged for a while, but this is because I took some time out before starting my viva preparation to give myself a break. When I returned to PhD land, I was confused on how to prepare so I started reading the whole thesis again (all 360 pages of it), making notes on my decisions along the way. This took a fair few weeks (or Saturdays) as I only had good time to work on this for one day per week.
In the weeks following this, I then looking into come viva questions, including those in the Viva cards in my picture. I borrowed these from our Research and Innovation department and returned these on the viva day, but they were ideal to help me prepare for what I might be asked.
As part of the process I also had a mock viva with two Napier staff from another school. I am thankful for the time Dr Pete Robertson and Dr Gavin Maclean took to read my work and question me. They helped me to point out some areas that I needed to work on further and fortunately for me these areas were a focus of my real viva.
In the days leading up my viva I was quite poorly. I got this wonderful cold/flu/sickens thing that was going about and this flawed me for a week. I was concerned that the lack of viva preparation done in this time would impact on my performance but I was clearly mistaken given the outcome.
On the actual day of my viva I was quite nervous. I sat in my supervisor’s office wondering what was to come. However as soon as I stepped into the meeting room with my examiners, my nerves disappeared before I had even sat down. For me this is very normal, and I tend to worry about what is to come and then focus all of that worry into performing as well as I can.
My examiners were Dr Alison Pickard (my external examiner form Northumbria University) and Dr Gemma Webster (my internal examiner from our school). The questions were focused primarily on the definitions of the concept in my work, my philosophical approach and the main contribution to knowledge of my work. I had prepared responses to all of these questions in advance so the conversation was flowed fairly well and I do not think I struggled to answer these at all. I also had my Director of Studies in the room too. Her role was to sit (out of my view) and take notes on the discussions so that we could reflect on these once I receive my corrections. I am grateful to Hazel for being there through the process so did not wind myself up in a mess.
I was quite surprised at the length of my viva, very shot at one hour and fifteen minutes. Within this time, my examiners asked all of the questions that the wanted to and I provided all information they needed to come to a result of my exam, and I was also provided with the opportunity to add any further remarks too. It did not take them very long to make the decision of my viva together and I was soon called back to the meeting room to find out this result.
I am overjoyed with the results of passing my PhD viva with minor corrections. This means that I will be Dr Lyndsey Middleton in the not so distant future!
I am very pleased to say that my PhD thesis was officially submitted for examination today. I am happy that I managed to submit it in August rather than September so that I can take a little break before my viva preparation begins.
The final few days have been a challenge, with difficulties in printing and binding each copy. However, in the end I was rescued by a local business man who helped to get my thesis bound when I needed to.
I am utterly thankful to all of the people who have helped me along the way. My supervisors have been awesome, my colleagues and fellow PhD students have been a great support, and my family have been the best! I have lots of other people to thank and have formally done so in the thesis acknowledgements – I would not have been able to do this without you all.
Obviously I had to take lots of photos to document the process! 🙂
I last blogged on June 19th to say that I had 6 out of 9 thesis chapters drafted to my second draft. I have progressed a lot since then.
In the last few weeks I have managed to redraft all nine chapters which I am very pleased about. The next step of my plan was to submit my thesis to my supervisors by July 12th. I decided that I wanted a fully formatted draft submitted as this will make my editing (and life) easier once my feedback comes back from my Director of Studies. Part of the reason behind this was also so that my Direct of Studies could see how my thesis looks as one document and make any recommendations if something does not look quite right.
As of today (July 10th 2019), I have one fully formatted thesis and this has been submitted to my Director of Studies. This draft included formatted references, acknowledgements and appendices so that this can be assessed as a whole.
My next steps (after a brief trip home next week) will be to edit my thesis to the final draft. Only once this is done can I begin the final checks (e.g. reference checks, formatting etc.) and then send this to my proof readers. This will take longer than normal given that I am still working full time whilst wrapping up my thesis (and so do my proof readers too). However, I am still aiming to submit the monster of a document by end of August/beginning of September at the very latest.
I am now going to go and have a very long nap! Goodbye for now.
On April 21st 2019 I officially finished my first full draft of my thesis. This draft was not to go to my supervisors, but for me to hack away at and chop down. My task was to get the 150,000 word document down to under 80,000 words (a challenge indeed).
As of 19th June 2019 (today), I have managed to do this to 6 out of 9 chapters (as well as take a lovely 2.5 week holiday to the USA, a welcome break). My word count is roughly 82,000 with three chapters to go.
Over the next couple of weeks, in-between work and Jury Service, I will be making my final edits to submit my second draft to my supervisors – hopefully by mid-July.
In the meantime, I will be a little quiet on here. You can probably tell that I am quite busy and my priorities are to focus on my PhD write up and job, and leave all of the other smaller things until later.
Yesterday I hit a milestone in my PhD. I finished the draft of my discussion chapter. For me, this marks the end of the ‘difficult’ writing of my thesis as my tasks now involve the write up of my conclusion and introductions, then beginning the process of editing the whole thing down (this will technically be my full first draft, but not the full draft that will go to my supervisors). We have set a deadline for mid-July to have all of the initial editing done so that my supervisors can then take a look at my (technically second) full draft and give me feedback on the whole thing.
The past few weeks of writing have not been easy. I am juggling part time PhD write up with a full time job. This is not an easy feat given that the stage of writing that I am currently at is one of the toughest (i.e. I am brining everything together to make sense). Now the main overall output of my PhD is the development of a framework to explain how innovative work behaviour can be enhanced within organisations (i.e. including the factors that influence this relationship). Once I have this and my recommendations, my doctoral study will be complete (to me). My write-up, however, will not be. My discussions chapter is leading up to this framework development. I have been able to discuss the themes that have emerged from my qualitative and quantitative data analysis and explore these in terms of comparison with prior literature. However, one thing I have found hard is giving specific details of the contributions of my PhD (although I am able to talk about these quite well). I know that these contributions will be highlighted in my conclusions but I need these to be evident within my discussion so that I (and my examiners) know there has been a point to the last 3.5 years of work.
Since I started my new job in November, the changes to my PhD write up and lifestyle have been significant and you do not realise how much things have to change. For example, Saturday is now part of my working week. I work 6 out of 7 days so that I can get my working week done and my PhD written up. I have an amazing work team who are flexible in allowing me to work all of my hours across four days and take one week day per week as a PhD day. My husband and I now automatically plan things round my weekend PhD day and this is something we never thought we would do (as an early stage PhD student I would always refuse to work weeks as I never felt it was necessary after a full week of PhD work).
For me (and my PhD progression) this change has been vital to allow me to get my much needed writing done. I am utterly grateful that my employer has also allowed me to take some unpaid leave to give my PhD work an extra boost. This unpaid leave is short term (only a few days over the space of three months) but I am finding the time extra valuable for these final stages of my write up and I appreciate all of the things that my employer is helping me to do. Now it’s not at all a requirement that employers have to consider PhD student write up when hiring, but my employer did. This has been considered form day 1 of my role and it is something that I feel has been important to make sure that I manage my employment and PhD time during the week well (I truly appreciate efforts from all involved).
One thing I am finding vital at this stage of my write-up is the support I am receiving (from everywhere). My colleagues at work ask how my PhD is coming along and this shows me that they have some interest in my work. My supervisors ask how my (non-PhD) work is coming along and how I am learning/developing in my role. I suppose this is just so they can make sure that I am not taking on too much but also so they know I am progressing with the writing I am supposed to do. My family and friends could not offer more support. My Nana and Granda ask how ‘my book is coming along’ because they have seen the end product from my sister’s PhD. My Mam, Dad and Sister provide endless FaceTime’s, calls, texts and visits so that I do not go insane. My husband has taken most of the household burden (cooking, cleaning etc) whilst he is working full time too. He keeps joking about his new found full-time working house-husband duties he has acquired whilst I move forward to the final stages of my PhD.
As I move into the very final stages of my PhD write up I reflect upon how far I have come in the last 3.5 years. I will be starting my introduction next week After publishing this blog post I wrote the introduction to my PhD so next week I will be moving onto writing the conclusion chapter. after and once that is all done After this, it is edit edit edit edit (supervisors feedback) edit dit edit edit until I have a ‘book’ that I am proud of.
As part of the studentship you will develop new knowledge and practical methods for evaluating the impact of work-based learning (WBL) on industry performance. This addresses a need for outcome-based measures to assess long-term benefits of WBL.
You will adopt a mixed-methods approach to the empirical work. You will design, develop and shape the exact methods yourself but the aim is that the work will include a nation-wide survey that will be deployed to gather quantitative data on the current provision and perceived impact of WBL in industry. It is proposed that you will then sample 3-5 firms (of different sizes and sectors from the quantitative survey participants) and use qualitative methods such as direct observation, interviews and focus groups to explore these relationships further.
Yesterday I was invited to attend and speak at the SDS PhD Networking Event (the 2018 event information can be found here). These events are held each year and are designed to bring students, academics and practitioners together to hear about the work of the PhD students on the SGSSS–SDS collaborative PhD studentship programme. The 2019 brochure can be found here and you can see that there are an interesting mix of research projects studied on the scheme.
The day itself went well and we heard from a variety of speakers from SGSSS, SDS and also The University of Warwick too (you can see the full programme in the images attached to this blog post). We were welcomed to the event by Gordon McGuinness, Director of Industry & Enterprise Networks at Skills Development Scotland who introduced our first speaker, Eugene Gallanagh, Senior Director of Enabling Services. Eugene explained how the PhD programme was developed to break down silos, encourage collaboration around research on skills. He continued to explain that there are 21 studentships, 3 graduates with 5 nearing completion (that includes me!). Eugene emphasised the long term investment needed in research and the applicability of this research to both academic and practice (something that could not be done without the support of the amazing set of supervisors currently on the SDS programme – including mine Professor Hazel Hall, Dr Laura Muir and Professor Robert Raeside). Eugene also emphasised the wonderful development opportunities that PhD students can undertake, including the internship opportunities offered by SGSSS (see more info on my experiences here).
We then heard from Professor Mhairi Mackenzie, Deputy Director (Studentships) at the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS). Mhairi focused on the benefits of collaboration as part of the studentships and the impact that the students can have across Scotland (e.g. for policy and practice). The focus of conversation here was also of the importance of the relationship with SDS and academics. SDS develop the research ideas (i.e. the general research questions) where they feel more research is needed and the academics step in and support this by creating research projects for PhD students to undertake (just like the ones we have advertised in our department here:https://hazelhall.org/2019/02/12/call-for-applications-two-fully-funded-phd-places-within-the-centre-for-social-informatics-edinburgh-napier-university/). This collaboration is really important as it helps to bridge the gap between academic work and the application to practice by including everyone in the collaborative proves from the start. Mhairi also explained the student-centred approach from SGSSS and the dedicated team it takes to undertake the work they do. She highlighted this with relevance to the success of the collaborative programme due to input of policy and practice into the development of research themes to be addressed in doctoral studies.
Mhairi was followed by Professor Chris Warhurst, Director of the Warwick Institute for Employment Research. Initially, I was not sure whether I would enjoy his talk, until I realised how relevant his work was to mine (and so did my Director of Studies as can be seen in this tweet!). Chris has a current project which focuses on innovation as related to job qualities. Chris spoke about this work (more info on the project here) including the areas in which he and his team have explored on the project, and why. I very much enjoyed this talk, mostly because of the overlap between Chris’s work and my own work. For example, Chris and his team have carried out extensive statistical analysis of the Community Innovation Survey, something which I have done (on a smaller PhD size scale of course, see my poster of the findings here!). Additionally, Chris has focused on qualitative work too to explore some of the factors that influence the job quality and innovation relationship (publications can be found on the tab at the top of this page http://quinne.eu/). Although I am not exploring job quality in my work, some of the things that Chris talked about got agreement from me. For example, Chris spoke about difficulties in getting access to data (like I did!) and the complexity of the term innovation (e.g. much work uses different definitions, types and methods making comparability difficult). I recall that in my first year of my PhD making attempts to define innovation was difficult and there was far too much literature to explore. However, I was pleased to hear that Chris mentioned the definitions by the OECD, the definitions which I have used too to help to set the context to my work. I was pleased that Chris spoke about this work as I can now see the relevance of my work to both SDS work and practice, and the importance of the work academically.
We then heard from two SDS PhD student Alumni, Dr Bozena Wielgoszewska and Dr John Mowbray. Both speakers talked about their PhD journeys, the work they did and also the work they do now. Both currently work in academic (John at the University of Glasgow and Bozena at University College London) so we heard about the current work they are involved in. Both (ex) students gave some advice to students on the current programme and I summarise these below:
· Be persistent (within reason) – it take a lot of time and effort to complete a PhD, persistence is key but also taking a break every now and then is needed;
· It is important to participate in external/additional activities too as this can help when applying for job in the future (e.g. workshops conferences, publishing, presenting, programme committee memberships, teaching);
· Undertaking an internship can help to see how research can be applied to non-academic practice (I believe both students did so as part of their PhD journeys).
This advice is something I would agree with to!
Our final speaker was Sandra Cheyne, CMS Policy & Professional Practice Manager at SDS. Sandra talked about people and the current labour market are changing and we need to ensure that people have skills to manage their careers in this environment. Sandra highlighted the importance of lifelong career management skills and emphasised the importance of good career information advice and guidance research as part of career and careers advice development. As a careers adviser myself (in a past life pre-PhD), I completely agree with Sandra and her comments.
I, unfortunately, did not get to see any of the breakout sessions that followed because I was presenting my work in one session instead. From my slides (here) you can see that I gave an overview of my work (e.g. main concepts, literature and methods) and also talked a little about my case study findings. This was followed by some questions on my work. I was asked about my main focus (i.e. individual or collective innovation), my use of a validated scale to measure workplace learning and innovation activities and also about my use of demographics (i.e. whether I am exploring the relationship between demographics and innovative work behaviour). These were good questions as they got me thinking about my methods and why I am doing what I am doing, and whether I should have done something different. Overall, the presentation was well reived although we were slightly behind time during the day so I did not have as much time to explain things in as much detail as I would have liked. That being said, I think the awareness for my PhD and the engagement process involved in presenting my work was a beneficial process overall.
To end the day, we had lunch (of course) and the PhD student posters were judged. The posters were judged on academic quality, effective and accessible communication of research ideas, and how engaging and thought-provoking the posters are. I am very pleased to say that I won second place prize for my poster (also on the SDS website) which was quite a nice win of the day for our team (we do have a PhD student reputation to maintain in our research group you know!). First prize went to Bozena (I’m sure her poster will be added to the SDS website in due course).
So if you fancy undertaking a PhD like I have done, please do see our two vacancies we have in our research group (details in links below):