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During the week ending 4 December I worked more or less full time on the research and writeup.

I met with another part-time distance student on Thursday, which was a great help in terms of sharing experience and some of the frustrations. In particular, just wanting to ‘get on with it’ when admin or life just seem to be in the way.

My targets for the week were to produce a draft methodology chapter, revise my literature review and write a substantial draft of the necessary second year report. I also wanted to pilot the sampling for the content analysis and the categories I had developed for this analysis. To a large extent, I met these objectives.

I’d more or less lost Saturday after the arrival of the iPhone, that put paid to any serious concentration but I did plan for the week ahead. By thinking about my other commitments and shifting work so that the content analysis was the first thing I tackled and the reading came later, I avoided what could have been a demoralising disaster when my internet access was knocked out for all of Tuesday afternoon and evening. I had done the internet-intensive work on Sunday and Monday and mostly had reading and writing to do, neither of which require the internet connected. In fact, removing online distractions was a bonus. If Refworks wasn’t online I should go and lock myself into an offline room every time I needed to hit a deadline!

I have struggled with spending time on admin and planning in the past. It doesn’t feel like real work; I want to be getting results, not taking time to re-write project plans. That feels a lot like colouring in revision timetables. And the admin is a faff; Lboro graduate school processes run at snail’s pace; forms are never quite where I remember them to be and writing up reflective practice for the PGR can feel somewhat pointless. However, I will concede that planning the week’s work into manageable chunks and keeping a record in my research journal was A Good Thing To Do. The difficulty of working part-time is maintaining momentum; I’ve been immersed in the research for a week, yet the next week I will be lucky if I can spent commuting time reading or revising.

So, this is where I am so far. I have a supervision call planned for 15 December to talk about the work I’ve submitted so far. I suggested when I emailed it that this could be considered Draft 0, as I was aware of many technical shortcomings. I found it frustrating in previous meetings when I sent work in ahead of time – cautioning that it constituted a draft, but then spending a whole session discussing presentation and paragraph structure rather than the ideas and the substantive content. I’ve sent a draft report, in which I have updated my introduction and revised my aims and objectives, and outlined the key milestones for year 3. I’ve updated and revised my literature review; a couple of relevant articles have been published in the last year which have given me new avenues to pursue. I have a whole section in the review from last year looking at the health website literature, much as it pains me to delete, I don’t think this will make the final cut. I’ve piloted my content analysis sampling – it’s going to work – and I have revised my categories. On a practical level after a couple of websites I realised I needed to change the order in which they appeared, to stop endless scrolling up and down a spreadsheet. And I’ve written a draft methods chapter. Of course discovering three papers about content analysis that I had forgotten to include means that sections need re-writing already, but that’s the way it goes I suppose!

When not getting stuck in London because of trees on the line (NXEA not satisfied with the usual Autumnal leaves, oh no, they’re going for the whole tree), I have been attending to some of the admin tasks.

I’ve just discovered -eek- that a USB memory stick with a fair number of PDFs of articles may be corrupt, so I am hoping that the backup I made to CD is still OK. I am far as ‘H’ in terms of organising my personal library, making sure that I have a record of my printed articles on Refworks, uploading attachments and generally attempting to add some librarian-like method to the mess I had created.

Don’t know why I didn’t think of it last year, but I am also reading some examples of second year reports, so I know more about what I need to have ready shortly after Christmas. Last year was a nightmare; I would complete one aspect only to be told about another hurdle to jump. I did wonder at what point I had missed the memo that set out what I was trying to achieve. I am not suggesting that I needed to be told *what* to write, but I had no guidance at all about the format the report should take and it was incredibly frustrating to have successive drafts rejected for not meeting this unspecified standard.

Oh, and I renewed my library books just before they were due back. A minor triumph!