Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Thus Beginneth the Schoolyeare

2013-2014 is not an academic year I thought I'd still be a student, but here I am.

What's happening this year? Well, that's a little too broad. How about "What's happening this term?" Glad you asked.

1. As of about 3 weeks ago, something has come unstuck with my data analysis and I am actually swimming around in my data and working on it nearly every day. I can't tell you how good this feels after nearly a year of staring at a spreadsheet and feeling sick. I'm not necessarily that much closer to having something I feel totally confident about, but I'm getting somewhere. I met with my supervisor today and even though we agreed that I need to undertake what is now by my count my fourth round of (re)coding data for my first research question, it feels right and good to be concentrating on this.  To quote John Stackhouse: "One cannot hope to make progress on a problem, let alone enjoy a dramatic creative breakthrough, with half-hearted, on-the-fly attention. Focus, obsession, monomania: Pay the problem the attention it deserves."

2. So my main goal is obviously to continue with this. I have a pretty ambitious schedule for myself which involves a lot of analysis and writing in September, October, and November. To that end, I am not doing any teaching at all.

3. Having said that, I do have some limited teacher-y appointments at the moment: I am finishing up helping to mark assignments for some MATESOL courses at Trinity Western University -- probably the last work I'll be doing them for a while -- and I'm happy to say I'm also acting as basically a one-man writing center/academic coach for a small group of students in something called the Global Citizenship Program in my department's exchange program with Ritsumeikan University. I'm actually pretty excited about this role -- despite having now upwards of 5+ years of university teaching experience (including teaching graduate students), I have comparatively little formal writing tutor experience. That might sound sort of boring, but to me it's an important part of the kind of work I like to do and want to continue to do in the future.

4. Publication-and-presentation-wise, a few things going on, though again not too much due to #2. I had a methodology paper rejected by a major journal recently, mostly for reasonable reasons, and I have 2 more manuscripts in "in review" limbo (aka "no one has had time to review them yet"). The big thing this fall is the Int'l Association for World Englishes conference at Arizona State, where I'll be presenting stuff on my findings for both my research questions. I've essentially set this up to be the debut of my PhD study, and I haven't proposed it to any other conference (though I proposed something vaguely related for another conference, which I'm not super confident about), so it's a big deal and I'll need to put in a lot of heavy lifting to make it work.

There are also a couple of book proposals that need to get done this fall, too, both of which I'm excited about but which don't warrant much mention because they are very tentative and may not happen, and I won't have much time to think about them until December at the earliest. 

5. Incredibly, I am taking a class, which feels bizarre. It's in the Educational Studies department, where I've taken a course before, but it is a very loose, fluid course that essentially asks you to figure out where you are methodologically weak and work on that. The assignments can be tailored to fit whatever you are working on at the moment, so I'm thinking I will use it to get down into my second research question, which involves interview data, and to figure out what kind of analysis I'm doing for that, and then actually, like, do it. It is a class full of people doing very different kinds of research, though -- in fact, the majority of them are 2nd year students about to start their comps, so it's hard to relate to where they're coming from. I think I'll be able to do some good work if I really put my head down, though.

6. I'm quietly keeping tabs on jobs I might want to apply for for 2014-15. Nothing amazing is popping up yet, which is good, because I don't really want to start applying until I've already written a gazillion pages for my diss, which definitely hasn't happened yet.

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