Where did that year go?

So much for me making regular updates to my PhD journey, as I have just realised that it is a YEAR since I did my last post. Where did that year go – and what have I learned?

Well, the year went much faster than I anticipated. Once I started collecting the data for my systematic review I found the necessity to organise it all a bit overwhelming. I had just decided to put articles into one category when I decided they fitted another category better. I am sure I’ve spent too much time ‘faffing’ with moving data about.

The second thing I learned is that people are really helpful and I have met some fantastic people in the last twelve months. The only downside is that they all want to help my research by pointing me to other papers and books or by sending me articles. By July last year I felt I was drowning under an increasing pile of data and that I needed to shut myself in a dark room for the next couple of years, just to read it all. At my first annual review, I described my labyrinth – taken from the film, where staircases looked as though they would lead you somewhere, but then didn’t. My research felt the same. I’d feel as though a paper identified a theme – only to find another one that contradicted it.

The third learning point was, at times, to walk away from it all. I had the feeling that if I wasn’t sitting in front of the computer either writing, reading papers on-line or searching for papers, that I wasn’t being productive. Yet, when I am coaching, I deliberately take clients for a walk, for the exact reason of getting them away from their technology and giving them time to think – but I wasn’t doing it!

Finally, talking to people and networking is essential! My supervisory team were really helpful and they put me in touch with fellow students. It is strangely reassuring to know that you are not the only one feeling like this and I have also made friends with a couple of people studying similar areas to me. The three of us bounce ideas about and challenge each others thinking, which I have found helpful in clarifying my thoughts – which has led to understanding these papers better.

Talking to people in organisations that use coaching has also proved really helpful, to understand some of their challenges and to see how the theory relates to their experience of practice. These are two key elements of evidence based decision making.

Now that I am writing about my systematic literature review, I will make time to post more regular updates.

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