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Climbing out

May 2, 2013

It’s been a while, but I am climbing out a morass of data. I’ve been toiling down the mines, working working working. No field work. My daily walk through the park to the office is virtually the only fresh air I’ve got of late. Mind you, I would’ve been having kittens (not that the birds would approve!) if I’d been doing fieldwork this spring, the season has been so long in coming.


The long winter has matched the gruelling labour of my analysis. Despite regular yoga, a biweekly swim, my upper back, shoulders, neck, ache constantly from the leaning into my work. My wrist is playing up a little, which is does when I use a mouse too much. At times, it’s felt like touch and go whether I’d get through it or not. I know I’m tired. But I’ve kept going, chunks at a time, not looking too much forward. Now, I’m beginning to get to the top, to get some perspective, to see the broader picture.


I’ve had to come to terms, however, with the fact that I’m going to run over. I won’t get this done for when my funding runs out; it’s going to take me longer than three years. Hopefully, not by much. I’ll certainly be completed all my analysis, but I really have to start seriously writing very soon. I’m always stuck in this perennial dilemma: trying to balance the requirement to get my analysis finished – and that analysis has taken so much longer than originally anticipated – versus writing up. I’ve also been somewhat disadvantaged in that my research has essentially comprised of a single massive experiment, rather than separate discrete ones. So it has been difficult to consider and discuss that in the absence of all the information being collated. However, my upcoming third year talk, next Tuesday, has somewhat forced the issue. It has driven me to distil my data for six of my nine species (omitting the blackbird – acoustic analysis complete, statistical analysis not yet completed; chiffchaff and robin – neither acoustic nor statistical analyses completed; aiming for all that to be done for the end of June), and while the patterns are not wholly consistent across species, there’s both enough consistency and enough variation to allow a decent argument to be posited. I have diagrams, graphs, pasted up in the kitchen of my flat, and I stare at them, waiting for their message to become clear. It’s starting to come into focus. As ever in biology, the truth is more complex than the original hypothesis allowed for, but the hypothesis is a sound starting point. Meantime, I’m enjoying the preparation for the talk. I’m not even that nervous and I’m looking forward to the feedback. After all this time down the mines, it’ll be good to be in the light.


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  1. The work you’re doing is so complex in scope! Can you get someone to help with the editing when you begin writing? I don’t have a Ph.D., but in my Master’s work I hired someone to help with all the editing on my thesis (I gave him credit.) I am a strong writer and good editor, but it was the time! i don’t know if this is helpful or even relevant, but I am feeling the stress you must be under! I’m so pleased that you have another talk coming up. I think it’s important to get that feedback and to enjoy the consideration of other scientists, to remind you of the importance of your own research. I hope someday you’ll have something published you can share with me! 🙂

    • That’s a really good idea! And thanks for the reminder that my work is complex, it’s only having brought it all together for my talk that I see myself how complex it really is! I do have a couple of people who can help with the editing. And yes, the stress is there, but I seem to be coping. But thanks, as always, for your support and interest x

  2. soulriser permalink

    Dawnriser, you just need time to process all that you have borne witness too. Yes, it will take more time, but that time and that effort will be worth the clarity and direction it brings…trust the pauses between the songs!


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