I have supervision at the end of this week and, as much as supervision can be daunting, and sometimes a little bit soul destroying, it is one of the most helpful experiences we get as part of the PhD process. I have come out of previous supervisions feeling elated, deflated, relieved, disappointed, determined and undecided, among other things. Rarely do I come out feeling all of those emotions at once, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. As a teacher myself, I know that every time my supervisors point out to me that I could have done a bit more reading, I’m not making myself clear, or that perhaps I’ve given myself a few too many days off, they’re only trying to help.
As a part-time student, my supervision meetings are the only chance I have to speak to my supervisors. I don’t randomly bump into them around the university as many full-time students do, and I can’t just give them a call and ask if they have five minutes to look over my work or to help me with whatever I’m struggling. So, I need to make my supervisions count. This usually means that I spend the weeks or months between our meetings trying to generate as much writing as I can so I have something to ‘show’ for the weeks or months since we last met.
Usually, this means a flurry of activity as the meeting approaches, to make up for weeks of doing very little. This time, however, I seem to be a little bit more ‘ready’. Before some previous supervisions, I have tried to shoe-horn extra reading in so I can write more. This time, however, I started to read a group of articles I had previously downloaded only to realise that, not only had I already read them and taken notes, but I had also done a big chunk of the writing I needed to do about them. Should I be concerned that I have no recollection of doing this? Am I sleep-studying?
Sometimes, supervision comes just at the right time. I am at the stage now where I feel as though I need to see my supervisors – not for anything in particular, just to check-in with them. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of work to do, and I could keep reading and writing for another few weeks, but I am at the point where I need a bit of reassurance and encouragement. I need to know I’m making progress. I can see this for myself when I look over my work, but sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes.
I think I have done what I set out to do since my last meeting, and I think I can see the light at the end of the literature review. I am even beginning to think that I could be finished this first draft of the literature review chapter by the time I stated on my schedule. Having looked over the minutes of my last meeting I now realise there’s a bunch of other stuff I have failed to do, but I think I can forgive myself for this – here’s hoping my supervisors feel the same way…
For the remainder of this week, I am not planning to write any more, as last time I did that in the run-up to supervision, I managed to confuse myself. For the remainder of this week, my plan is to focus on tying up loose ends. I need to finish off my poster for the conferences I’m attending, I need to clean up my reference list, and I need to re-read everything I have written so far. With any luck, I’ll come out of my meeting feeling only elated, relieved and determined.