I had my RD6 review meeting last week, and am very pleased to say that it went very well. The RD6 review is a six-month review as part of Edinburgh Napier University’s research degree framework. It is part of the larger progress review process and is something that I tend to get very nervous about.
I will admit that I went into last week’s meeting filled with apprehension. And this is why:
I had a rather unhappy first year of review meetings due to (now resolved) conflicts with my (now former) panel chair. (I won’t go into the details here, but please know that my university and my supervisors were aces in helping me resolve the conflicts*.) That first year left me with such poor self-esteem that I had actually spent the better part of three months wondering if I should leave my PhD programme.
That first year also left me so very unsure of myself that I am still finding it difficult to be productive. I am still worried that everything I do will be unfairly criticised. (I’m OK-ish with constructive criticism, it’s the non-constructive stuff I struggle with most.) Frustratingly, that uncertainty and fear mean that I sit in front of my computer unable to put my thoughts into a tangible form.
But moving on …
I spent most of July and August working on a small pilot study and the report for that made up the bulk of my review materials. I stressed and stressed about how it would be received. And, to be honest, I was preparing myself to be told there was no way I would be allowed to continue my PhD. (See? Low self-esteem!)
Anyhow, I got into the meeting expecting the worst. And when my (new) panel chair said, “So, tell me about your pilot study” I was waiting for it to be ripped to shreds. Instead, I was met with several great follow-up questions that all led to a wonderful conversation about the next steps of my study.
It was all so very positive that I was on Cloud 9 for the next couple of days. And it’s really helped to boost my confidence – and my excitement about my research. (Although it would have been fair to have got my hand slapped for my slow progress.)
I am still struggling a bit with my self-confidence and uncertainty, but I can really feel that I’m happier now. And that’s really helping to boost my overall productivity.
As for my research blog, I am hoping that the return of my confidence will also signal a return of my blogging abilities… because there’s a lot of great stuff that I want to share about my fabulous PhD life!
* If any fellow PhD students are experiencing conflicts, I am happy to share my experiences in private along with the lessons I learned along the way. The biggest lesson is that you need to advocate for yourself early. This is really hard when you’re floundering in the deep end of the PhD student pond!!