A kitten in the garden! My 1st Doctoral Symposium

Having had a very stimulating three days attending University of Hull’s Doctoral Symposium “Operationalising Postgraduate Research:real journeys, real voices,digital worlds” #DSHull I slept late this morning.

Sitting at the kitchen window eating a leisurely breakfast I saw a cat walking down the garden path, behind her were 5 very small, and very cute, kittens.  It was obviously their first trip into the outside world, from, what we later discovered ,was their nest under our shed . They looked too small and too fragile to be out at all, but they were having a wonderful time, playing and falling over each other, each taking care of the next and the mother protecting them all.


That was most of the rest of the day gone, kittens being irresistible.

I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with a Doctoral  Symposium?

I’ve been reflecting on the experiences I have had over the last three days.  On my arrival on Day 1 I felt very unsure of what the next three days would be like, very out of my depth and wondering how I would fit in.  Nevertheless I was looking forward to the experience and ready to try whatever was on offer. Just like the kittens in my garden were this morning.

The whole experience of the symposium was fantastic!. I felt welcome and was soon feeling confident to ask questions.  All the contributors were fantastic and offered so many helpful insights, it will take a while to absorb all of this.


There were tips for the whole doctoral process, some like Joe Hall’s wonderful presentation on the viva, which I know I will come back to in the future.

Professor Malcolm Tight’s keynote on Metaphors for the Postgraduate Research Experience made me realise that the way you name what you are experiencing probably has an effect on your attitude to the experience.

Sadly I couldn’t attend the early part of day 2 but arrived in time to hear Sylvie Lomer @SE_Lomer introduce Bacchi’s framework and the use of Nvivo. Completely new to me , but I am inspired to explore further. TIMG_0285he next presentation from Tricia Shaw really brought home the challenges of fieldwork with young children.

Then it was time for the #HullEdD to see one of our own in action.                                                                                                                                                                                        Mike ParIMG_0289ker @mrpost_it_note presented his poster , giving us a real insight into the world of clinical exams.  The whole Hull Ed D team were very proud of him, reflecting the close, supportive group we have become in a relatively short period of time.

Day 2 also treated us to two further keynote speakers, Professor Peter Gilroy on Research students as writers and Professor Mike Bottery  on Bomb Proofing your thesis.  Both these presentations were highly practical, coming from their wealth of experience and I felt privileged to have access to this high quality guidance.

We were soon into the final day with Dr Mark Carrigan sharing his thoughts on blogging, Should academics blog about their research? . This presentation was inspirational and gave a clear picture of how sharing by blogging helps the researcher clarify ideas, do something with those homeless pieces of writing and be a living archive of your work. @Mark_Carrigan.


Nkechi Emenike led us through her fascinating work anaylsing the websites of International Schools and evidencing how colonialism is definitely not dead.

Paul Hopkins presentation Does academic writing have to be crushed beetles on dead trees encouraged us all to consider whether writing is always the best way to present our thoughts and evidence.

CGzuyTOVAAAlF17 None of us will forget his research journey as emoji in a long time! @hopkinsmmi.

For me, Paul’s question was fully answered by the next presentation. John Nicholls, Darkwave GDR: the emergence, culture,impact and repression of the Gohic anti-movement in the final years of German Democratic Republic (1981-1989), included lighting, music and wonderful photography in a moving and shocking presentation about Europe’s not so distant past leaving everyone a little lost for words.

The symposium ended with a wonderful keynote from Professor John Field, @John__Field , the learning professor on enhancing your academic profile with social media. A wonderful overview on how social media , this was practical and highly informative.  A fitting end to a great three days.  A three days in which I felt I had been nurtured to a point at which I felt I could take an active role.

And what about the kittens?

They have been with us a day now, they and mum are exploring a little further, eating well and allowing a little stroking . Most of all they look content and at home.



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