Which I find odd when the 'new academic year' starts in September.
But this month seems to have been the month of reviewing, summarising and setting new targets; which has its benefits and disadvantages.
Benefit - if I'd had much time off over Christmas I'd have probably forgotten what I was doing, and sitting down for a rethink would have been a good idea.
Downsides - if you didn't take any time off you feel like you've lost a month getting everyone else up to speed and creating summaries when you should be ploughing on.
I didn't really take any time off - I'm taking a February holiday instead; when my partner can also get some time off his job. I did find however, that everything was starting to get a bit messy over December and it was harder to get data / chat to people / get things moving.
Now, despite the feeling of spending time off project, I've unravelled most of the data issues I had, and have a (rough) strategic plan. All this stopping and reviewing has helped me realise that the learning/unravelling process was, in itself, really important and part of the whole 'gaining experience and learning new skills' aspect of the PhD. My 'getting everyone else up to speed' is also due to the fact that I've done a hell of a lot of work over the past 2 months.
Being an interdisciplinary project I've shifted from a social science to physical science approach whilst still maintaining links with catchment and the shifting, ongoing world that messy social science inhabits. Explaining what I'm doing to different parties will always involve a little 'getting up to speed' as I'm never working entirely in anyones area of expertise.
The real benefit to all this summarising is that I have two really key conferences at the end of this month, one catchment based and one is the annual meeting of our institute BIFoR. I'm excited about both: the BIFoR meeting is about networking and getting an overview of current research at the Institute - so I'm just Poster presenting and will be excitedly reading everyone else's. The second conference is an NFM seminar local to the catchment I'm working in, the guest list is a whole bunch of people I want to talk to and I'm doing a 15min presentation... so... yes all this summarising has been rather useful.
To give you the super short version of where I am:
Last year we completed the logistics and foundations of the research:
- Literature review
- Ethics review
And started stage one of the research itself:
- Exploring landmanagers preferences, perceptions and expertise
- Case study data collection of the catchment itself, both physical, remote sensed and archive data (for example; historical records of landuse, key GPS location of important features, aerial photographs)
From November and for the next six months I'm taking all of this data and preparing the inputs to run a computer model of the hydrological behaviour (how the water moves).
Or in picture form - here's this years poster... enjoy!
p.s. the link in the sidebar takes you to a larger, more readable version...