Diary of a Research Fellow Part One: Starting out

Agnew and Pyke (1969)

Agnew and Pyke (1969)

Welcome to Part One of my new Research Fellow Journey Blog! Being the Managing Editor for PhD2Published taught me a lot about using writing and critical reflection on personal practice as a way of developing my abilities as a researcher and enhancing my career journey. Blogging is also a way of being open and accountable and I hope that as well as tracking my journey as a Research Fellow, that each post provides some insight into the life of a researcher as well as useful resources for others!

It’s been nearly two weeks now since I started as a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. It has been a really great couple of weeks and I feel like I have already accomplished a great deal! Getting established in a new job role is always exciting and terrifying all at once. The combination of meeting new colleagues, getting oriented to a new research environment, anticipating the future and re-negotiating work-life balance and so on, are all demanding tasks but with them come the promise of new possibilities. This post is Part One of what I hope will be a series of posts (or ‘journey blog‘) that documents my next three and a half years as an Early Career Research Fellow, funded by Leverhulme Trust.  I hope to produce these posts every couple of weeks or so. I see this not just as a record or diary of my activities, but as an important part of my ongoing scholarship. Through these posts I aim to do any number of things; to ‘think out loud’, to provide insights into my world as a social researcher, to become a stronger researcher through reflection and ultimately, to share my research and the knowledge that it produces with the public.

Todays post then is just a brief discussion of what I have been doing and how I have gone about embarking on my new research project.

I have completed a few key tasks in the past few weeks but predominantly I have been planning and preparing. As well as developing my online presence at he university (as a new member of the FlaG research group), these activities have been about hitting the ground running in order to get my new research project (outlined here) off to the best start. As well as planning how the project should be conducted in the next three and a half years (in Gantt chart form), I have;

  • Spent lots of time in conversation with my project mentor Dr Kahryn Hughes who has a great deal of experience of conducting social research and shared interests in exploring the experiences of grandparents. We have also been discussing the best way to approach the mentor/mentee relationship, which we conclude functions differently to a Research Fellow on a project led by a Principle Investigator,
  • Started to develop annotated bibliographies of existing literatures relevant to my project focus (Feminist ethics of care, men and masculinities, sociology of parenting and fatherhood),
  • Have started to develop and refine my methodological approach to the research with a particular focus on the first part of the methodological strategy (to conduct Qualitative Secondary Analysis on projects in the Timescapes archive),
  • Had conversations with the researchers of the studies that I plan to conduct secondary analysis on.

Each of these activities has been keeping me very busy so far but each are instrumental to ensuring that the project is conducted in way that is carefully considered and done in a timely and effective way. My task over the next few weeks is to do more reading about qualitative secondary analysis, the first stage of my methodological strategy (and that you can read more about here) and to consider both the benefits and challenges of using this method for exploring new sociological ideas and theoretical possibilities using existing data. I also intend to have further conversations with some of the original Timescapes project researchers in order to get a clear idea of the academic work that these projects are/were doing. From these conversations and the subsequent re-analysis of their data, I hope to develop new research questions and insights into men’s care in low-income localities.

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2 thoughts on “Diary of a Research Fellow Part One: Starting out

  1. Pingback: ‘Getting out of the swamp’: Recording the intellectual work at the start of the qualitative research process | Dr Anna Tarrant

  2. Pingback: My first year as a Research Fellow! | Dr Anna Tarrant

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