Wrong Way

At a certain stage in all/most MPhil/PhD programmes research students go through an upgrade process that, according to the IoE MPhil/PhD student handbook, has the purpose of establishing …

“… whether your research has potential to make a distinct contribution to knowledge in your field (a requirement of a PhD thesis), whether your work shows that you have the potential to complete a successful PhD thesis in the expected timescale, that the research is practicable, and that the arrangements for completion of the research and thesis are satisfactory.”

I submitted my JG_Upgrade_Submission_June_2011 reasonably confident that, along with the constructive discussion anticipated at the July interview with an IoE panel of experts, it would meet the criteria for upgrade. As soon as the submission was in the post to IoE, anticipating being able to proceed into the main fieldwork phase of the research, I started detailed construction of the all-important Survey Monkey questionnaire based on the placeholder theme skeleton presented on Page 36 of the submission.

I saw my submission as satisfying the criteria for upgrade (I still do), but the panel of experts didn’t seem to like anything about it – and they rejected the submission. It may have been right for them to do that, but I don’t think so.

A year’s delay – even if the “last-chance” resubmission option in 6 months managed to satisfy the IoE panel – would, at my stage in the “shelf life” curve (5 years since I worked in FE), make the already challenging plans more difficult to implement. Definitely the wrong way for me to go at this stage. All good things come to an end – my ILT in FE research days are over.

As luck would have it, the first thing I saw yesterday when I finally decided how to respond to the panel’s decision was a link someone published on LinkedIn to How we succeed by failing – reading this reinforced my determination not to give up on research, despite the knock.

The great thing about good things ending is that there often better ones to replace them. The sense of failure that I had following the IoE panel’s rejection has led to valuable re-focussing on what matters most to me. I’ll identify a research theme closer to my immediate interests 5 years into my Third Age, perhaps one prompted by the fascinating future perspectives highlighted in my last post.

I intend to continue to enjoy my research journey, whether following  a university route map, or at my own pace and guided by my own inner signposts.

Right or wrong way?

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