Krysten Blackstone |
Nothing in academia ever really goes as planned, does it? As I am sure many of you saw, our 5th anniversary month of postings was interrupted by the strikes across the U.K. In our support of the strike action, the committee agreed to put a posting hiatus in place on strike days. But that means we still have some great content to share with you guys, including today’s post. Where we asked some of our former committee members ‘How did Pubs and Pubs contribute to your academic experience?’ The answers we got back are all very different but a few things seemed to stick out:
- Writing for us and being on our committee is really great for your CV.
- The committee is always filled with wonderfully supportive, and all around great people.
- Reflecting on aspects of your PhD is helpful in a number of ways – no matter what stage of the process you are currently in.
Writing for Pubs and Pubs gave me a chance to reflect on my PhD journey at regular intervals, so looking back at my posts gives me a nice snapshot of the first 18 months of my PhD! It’s also been a nice thing to have on my CV when I’ve gone for interviews, and I’ve already brought it up in an interview when asked if I had experience of blogging or social media.
In truth, I started writing for Pubs and Publications in the first year of my doctoral studies partly because I wanted to add a line about outreach and impact to my CV, and partly because I’m a mouthy opinionated git who thought the wisdom I’d gained in the first four months of study was worth sharing with the world.
I suppose I hit both objectives to some extent, in the sense that I got some fabulous opportunities to share my ideas and my work with a wider body of people from across different disciplines. It taught me a lot about what works and what interests people; in short, that if you can apply your research in a fun and innovative way to current events, people respond well. More importantly, from reading some of the wonderful blogs written by my colleagues and our guest contributors, I saw that a genuine enthusiasm for your subject is most of the battle.
On the subject of wonderful people, it’s only as I write this that I realise I still haven’t met most of them! I was based in Oxford for my doctorate, while most of those I worked with were in Edinburgh or London or other institutions, and with a couple of exceptions I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting them in person. Skype, Facebook and e-mail kept us at the forefront of institutional collaboration and I benefited enormously from that experience. When I came to organise a conference and contribute to edited volumes and journals in the same way, it all felt very natural.
For me, Pubs & Publications was a really important part of finishing my PhD – I started contributing just after I submitted, at a point when I was fairly exhausted and anxious about what the future held. P&P offered me a chance to step back and reflect on what the past years had meant to me and what I had learnt along the way. It allowed me to see what I’d gained beyond my CV, most especially a community of peers and friends, and to rediscover a joy in writing and to have a sense of humour about it all
What I loved most about Pubs and pubs was I got to experience how others undertook a PhD. With all the guest contributions, I got to view the many ways people approach their thesis and compare it to what I was doing. Sometimes you can feel alone in a bubble with your research, so this was refreshing.
Moving to a new city for my PhD felt very intimidating -becoming a committee member of Pubs and Pubs meant that I had an additional layer of support there for the transition. Having other students who were ahead of me in the PhD, as well as having people who were at the same stage as me at different universities, meant that I was able to see where I might be heading next. Writing for Pubs and Pubs also allowed me to develop confidence in my own voice – something which has been beneficial as I have submitted abstracts to conferences and journals.
I would be remiss if I didn’t end this post with what Pubs and Pubs has contributed to my PhD. Especially as this is officially my last post as part of the Pubs and Pubs committee. I will inevitably be back with guest posts and musings in the future, but for now editing that full draft of the thesis has to get my full attention.
I was approached by a Pubs and Pubs committee member in the first year of my PhD asking if I would consider putting in an application (paragraph) to be part of the committee. Admittedly, I probably wouldn’t have considered joining the committee had she not asked me to. Writing is not really my forte. As I think I’ve mentioned many times over the years, I don’t find writing easy or particularly enjoyable. (Research I love, editing I find weirdly enjoyable – the middle stage leaves something to be desired). But I’m a sucker who is awful at saying no, and pushing myself a little bit out of my comfort zone seemed to be a good idea at the start of my PhD. That was four years ago, and I can honestly say joining the Pubs and Pubs committee was a great decision.
Writing regularly about my PhD has helped a lot with my writing style and succinctness (kind of). Having to consistently write a post every few weeks has made me a lot more comfortable with writing than I was before, which is huge for me. I also, unexpectedly, found the consistent self-reflection really useful. And as everyone else has said, I have gotten to work with a bunch of extremely talented PhD’s in various capacities over the last few years, but of course you all know that – you’ve read what they write. The Pubs and Pubs community is one that I have come to love, and greatly appreciate. And after being a part of the committee for almost my entire PhD, I am very sad to say goodbye. Thanks for reading my many ramblings over the past 4 years – hopefully they were half as useful for you to read as they were for me to write.
I would like to say this post is going up a day late because I just couldn’t bring myself to post it yesterday, when it was meant to go up. I am sad to leave the committee, but really it was a mix of an unfortunate train delay, unexpected meetings surrounding current uncertainties, and job application deadlines that combined meant I just didn’t have time to post it yesterday. Not the greatest note to leave the committee on, but hey, nothing in academia ever really goes as planned, does it?
Krysten Blackstone is at this point in the post a former committee member, and Chair of Pubs and Publications. She used her position to avoid writing/editing the thesis. Her research looks at morale in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War from 1775-1783. You can find adamantly refusing to accept she is in her 4th year and procrastinating further on twitter.