My first year as a Research Fellow!

It can’t believe it but it was one year ago today that I started my research fellowship at University of Leeds!!! Time has flown but what a year it has been!!

Looking back at my blog and my academic diary, it has clearly been a productive and exciting year and I have made some great progress on my project, “Men, poverty and lifetimes of care”. I have kept a detailed record of this through my Diary of a Research fellow blog series, where I have reflected on my various research activities and academic progress. As well as supporting my own research practice, I really hope this is a useful guide for other researchers. Across the six-part, bi-monthly series, I discuss how I have set up the project: I consider the methodological and practical challenges of conducting qualitative secondary analysis: I describe my shifting attitudes to realist methodology: and describe the process of setting up a stakeholder meeting with members of the third sector in order to coproduce the study to lead to local impact. I will continue to write the series in year two and expect it will focus mainly on my experiences of conducting fieldwork.

On the blog, I have talked less about the struggles I have faced along the way in the last year. Living at such a distance has been tough (I live 100 miles away from Leeds and have been unable to move for a number of reasons) and I have also been learning how to be a part-time academic and a mum at the same time. Sometimes this can be extremely tiring; I find it hard to switch off and I worry that I am not keeping up as well as I should be. I am assured that this is a guilt felt by many but it has certainly taught me to respect the boundaries between my family and work time, as well as the importance of routine!

So what next?

In terms of my project, my plans for the coming year are to continue to present at conferences, national and international, to draft and publish journal articles about the secondary analysis I have undertaken, and to conduct the majority of my fieldwork. I have also agreed to a little bit of teaching here and there as well. There is a lot to do but I have a plan to stick to. My hope is that in reflecting about these plans here, that I am held to account and have to get them done! I also intend to start the analysis of my data and to start to think about innovative ways in which to disseminate the findings.

For personal development, I have signed up to the Springboard programme, which is a four week course for women that focuses on women’s development in the home and workplace. I intend to use this course as an opportunity to reflect on my values and desires for the future and to develop strategies that will enable me to achieve the goals I want to achieve.

Also watch out for a short blog series on the role of mentor/mentee relationships for academics on my project website, as well as other written outputs from the study.


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