The EdD experience: minding my Qs & Ps

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Blogged by Raona Williams @REFITClass 

I am returning from a fabulous few days of being stimulated and stimulating a great network of doctoral researchers, supervisors and lecturers. Being firmly established now onto my Doctorate journey, I have prepared a manifesto of seven ‘magical number’ points around the topic ‘Why and how to persevere through the journey of being an Educational Doctorate (EdD) researcher?’ …who says manifesto’s should only be linked to Politicians?

Not P’s and Q’s ….Q’s and P’s

In being a doctoral EdD researcher, many researchers and different ideas/views will set your minds wandering…this is an important opening manifesto point.

NO, not being polite and minding your ‘Please and Thank-you’s’.

Q’s and P’s refer to QUESTIONS in your research that must be underpinned by 3 over arching POSITIONS: PERSONALITY, PROFESSIONALISM, PRACTICALITY.

As an EdD researcher, a vital component of what you choose to research is that ‘You must love what you do in life’. Concurrently, being professional within the critique of your personal passion is equally important. Reflecting the professional views of your personal positions should then enable you to discover practical and current relevance pertaining to your work.

So as a doctoral researcher gain an understanding of your personal focus, provide your theoretic underpinning/positionality and the practical value that you will be adding to the society around you.. as you develop your thoughts and ideas and mind your Q’s and P’s in every step – this should keep you grounded.

  • Enjoy Complex Simplicity
    Questioning and critiquing almost everything you do when you begin doctoral research is liberating and pretty simple really….enjoy it. Find the light hearted elements in the heavily worded documents….there are definitely ‘no sh*$ Sherlock’ moments through what you read and discover, celebrate them and find how to laugh through the complex simplicity.
  • Uncover your obvious
    You will most likely be facilitated on your doctoral programme through tasks and questions that are posed to you by different individuals. As you answer them, put yourself in the world of an alien from another dimension. What may seem obvious to you may be totally unknown to those around you. The aim of your doctoral research is to contribute NEW theoretical knowledge so unless they are telopathic they will never be able to read your mind of the new knowledge you plan to uncover. The more you reveal and unfold the easier you will gain clarity yourself through the questions that may be answered along the way.
  • Everything is research so…Contextually critique
    There is critique; then there is contextual critique. As a doctoral researcher you will evaluate at a higher level. You will find that you will be enlightened when reviewing books, journal articles, any selection of words, people, colours, history, shapes, places, smells, sounds, influencers, naysayers, technologies, economies, politics…pretty much ANY element related to your research. Depending on what your context is (the ‘circumstances and reasons’ behind your research) will determine your critical view and how you will review it. Consider the less obvious in your critical evaluation, this will add to you being able to contextually critique.

Find positivity amidst your muddy walk. Pace yourself with tenacity and collaboration
You will hit some severe ‘tough mudder’ days that would give any elite athlete or special forces soldier a mental challenge. Some days you will feel like it’s an impossible slug amidst a range of obstacles. As an EdD researcher you will have your mental potential tested. Keep your physical health up through exercise and keep your mental health in check by developing personal strategies for positivity and tenacity. Work with others going through similar paths – a colleague in your doctoral group, link with a group forum online, network through conferences.

I believe that the fusion of physical fitness goes hand in hand with mental fitness. I am proud of the comments that colleagues have given me regarding my own positive outlook and never seeming to give up. My immediate response is a smiling and assuring gesture of thanks. I do it as a strategy to convey ‘If I can do it..so can you!’ Everyone welcomes a smiling face and negative thoughts are a state of mind! So I advocate: Dedicate acts that are positive to you as you structure your EdD time management timetable networking with others where possible ….and keep mentally and physically fit, you will definitely find it helps.

  • Act on the impulse-make a memory record of it

Don’t put off anything by saying or thinking: I will do it later. Start it there and then! Allow your research to become innate in your life and noting a working memory of it becoming automatic. Document on paper, by smartphone, by digital device, by computer, by dictaphone….by any means possible.. Even if it’s for a few seconds! You will find that in one way or another your ‘record’ will help in your doctoral research road. No matter how hard you try to fully complete your record you will never ‘finish’ – and that is OK because in reality there will always be amendments to make! You will constantly evolve through the process of your ‘acting on impulse’ and the fact of providing a memory of it will enable the next stage to be developed one step closer to your idea of perfection.

  • 7 R.E.S.T – Relax, Enjoy, Share/Shape (the)Topical

I started my manifesto with minding your Q’s and P’s. I moved onto transparency with critical, positive action and paced discoveries and I end this manifesto with REST. Your doctorate research road is your new life chapter. Relax and let it become your life not take over your life. Enjoy your discoveries like a tourist encountering new landscapes. Enjoy the development of skills for how they help you and others around you to grow and shape aspects of life. Share your doctoral research world with others through talking, illustrating, drawing, making, writing, tweeting, blogging, videos any verbal or non verbal communication media you feel comfortable with. Topical interests will emerge and keep you motivated to discover more ….So REST will invigorate you and keep you on the Educational Doctorate research cycle – which from what I hear…is just the beginning of a wider professional post doctoral expedition.

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