The PhD away day is, I hope, becoming a fixed event in the academic calendar for PhD students in Sociology at the University of York. The first event took place last year, where a department professor, Paul Johnson, gave a talk on the different CVs that PhD students will be expected to produce for their first academic appointments. After this, there was an event planning discussion which ended in me organising a series of lectures for PhD students in Sociology and Women’s Studies (you can see the great selection of speakers across 2014/15 here and here).
This year’s away day took much the same form but with one notable difference – the presence of Women’s Studies PhD students in addition to those of us from Sociology which added to the numbers and diversity of research. The day started with a fairly informal first hour in the morning. We spoke about our research in small groups for ten minutes at a time, which each person sharing a little information before we were all hurried along to a different group to speak again. A useful first exercise to warm us all up for a day of talking, particularly given the helpful presence of some early career researchers who interjected with their own experiences. It was also a nice way to meet some of the Centre for Women’s Studies students.
|"so what's your research on?" - photo from UoY Sociology blog|
Other segments included a talk from Andrew Webster about writing a thesis and making it pack a punch (ie. having some kind of impact). His talk, inimitable in style, was quite compelling (particularly since he gave a way a trick of the trade – as an external thesis examiner, he reads the abstract and the bibliography before he reads any other part of the thesis).
Another small group session in the afternoon on the topics of teaching/research balance, writing up, and data collection gave some of the junior PhD students a chance to hear from the advice of those further along the path to completion, though I think the ‘writing up’ session would have benefited from a day to itself given the amount of questions and discussion points that us finalist PhDs also had. Given the breadth of relevance for the topic, it is certainly something to consider in some more depth for the future.
A big thank you to Dr Wes Lin and Alison Taylor for organising the event. You can read the official account of events on the UoY Sociology blog, which the photo also came from, here.