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As part of my drive to get as much PhD thinking and planning done before The Return of Teaching in September I had a couple of really rewarding and interesting meetings with colleagues this week.  The general topic was how could I set up a PhD at Edinburgh Napier, who would be involved, how would it be structured and so on.

First off was a trip down the road to see the School of Computing.  Within the myriad different areas that they work in are some which approach many of the topics I'm interested in, but they're coming at it from the technology perspective, rather than the events.  The themes of human-technology interaction, creativity and innovation run through much of this work, such as in the 'Companions' project which works to...

'develop a personalized conversational interface, one that knows and understands its owner, and can act as an alternative access point to resources on the Internet, all the while nurturing an emotional involvement from it???s owner/user to invoke the shift from interaction to relationship'.

This was a really motivating conversation, held on the street-side terrace of a windswept cafe in busy Morningside.  I learnt a lot about some of the wider work being done at my own institution, and have quickly moved on from thinking that few people seem to be working on the themes I've been discussing on this blog.  Potential supervisors were mentioned, or at least people to talk to (when I think I've got something worth talking about!): Prof David BenyonDr Hazel HallProf Jessie KennedyHannah Rudman.  The CVs behind those links are very impressive.

There were two conversations of note this week, as flagged above.  On Friday I met up with a colleague within my own School, someone with a great deal of experience relating to how people have approached and undertaken their PhDs and DBAs within our subject area.  The intention here was to find out what my next steps should be and the get an understanding of the environment I'd be proposing it in: what's possible given the funds available (or not) and if I were to study at Napier how would a supervisory team be put together?  In bullet point form here are some resulting thoughts:
  • It's highly likely that only an Edinburgh Napier based PhD would be possible, given funding constraints.  Entry could be in September of January.
  • Whether this means it would have to be primarily within my School, or could be housed within the School of Computing I don't know.  This is important because another School might not be interested in supporting something they're not receiving funding for, yet the requirements they would set down for anyone researching through them might not be feasible given my existing commitments.
  • PhD supervision would be structured around a Director of Studies, accompanied by two other supervisors, between them they would need to have at least two 'completions' of other doctorates. So perhaps a DoS from within my School, then a supervisor from computing and another closer to home...?  Ultimately it's not me who would be putting the team together though.
  • It is definitely worth me investigating the Business School's DBA.  This is delivered centrally and I can talk to Lois Farquharson for more information about fees, start dates and so on.  On having a look at the details about the DBA behind that link I'm still inclined to pursue the PhD route, but a more structured approach might well suit me better to actually get the work done!

Much to feel good about.  Much encouraging news.  Perhaps not the prospect of being able to 'leave work behind' by using a different institution as a base, but definitely ways of distinguishing between research, teaching and management.

I also conducted a self-guided tour of parts of Glasgow Caledonian University this week, which has much to commend it in terms of student resources, proximity to the city and so on.  I'm very glad I made the trip through for that (and even managed to walk away from Glasgow with a brand new battery for the MacBook Pro courtesy of my extended warranty - w00t!).

As a side note, apparently Mendeley is very popular among parts of the School of Computing, so maybe I can find someone to show me how to use it.  This news prompted me to try it out again with some real success - at least I now understand what bits of it are designed to do.  I'm yet to find out how to include page numbers with in-text citations - this has traditionally been pretty important in academic work, yes?

Travelogue 11: 'green 01.10.02'

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