Here are some scattered thoughts on the first week of 2014 that I hope will be better shaped in the months to come. Starting with new year’s anticipations, followed by my writing obligations and ending with the major problem of archiving. Maybe some of you have already been there and some will be. In any case I am open to suggestions and free advices! 2014 Is it just me or does this year seems a bit futuristic when written down? It looks like a film from the future, but I still don’t know whether it’s a comedy, drama, thriller, adventure or a strange combination. Hopefully, it will look more like a romantic comedy and a bit of adventure and less like a horror film, even though I am still haunted by an old graffiti in down town Athens wishing us all “a merry crisis and happy new fear”. Not very optimistic, I know, but yet it is there on a wall and inevitable to think about. For me, any new year is a combination of hope but also anxiety. Aims that are written down as a compass to guide me, along with the fear of any anticipation. As I was saying, it’s one thing to have a script and another to start shooting.
Writing Back to reality now, after endless dinner parties and glasses of wine, I have to work as everyone else I guess. Over the last month I have been trying to finish some kind of application where I need to explain in plain words the topic of my research, my main questions and hypothesis as well as my methodology and time schedule. Even though it seemed quite manageable at first, I realized once more that there is a distance between thinking of something and then writing about it. Something like “Mind the gap between thinking and writing” or you can easily get lost. This application is a process requested from my University and I am still working on it but what I really would like to share is the fact that these seemingly trivial and time-wasting procedures do have an importance and helped me delineate my research, but also to track down weaknesses and gaps in my thought. It is scary sometimes but it is the only way to move on. I still struggle with my difficulty in methodological issues which in turn generates even greater doubts for my own research and its validity, but I try to think about it on one hand as part of the process and on the other as doubt being a motivation. What I mean to say, is that even though I find it hard to remain concentrated on my PhD and to imagine how it will evolve, I appreciate these difficulties as internal to a larger process that keeps me close to my own interests. The key word here being “my own”, since there is no PhD without personal interest to get you going.
Archiving Having been stuck with this application for now and trying to summarize what I have already done, I encountered one more major issue: that would be archiving my research. I wasted tones of energy and time to find my notes, especially those that were hand written and placed somewhere in my library. It is really frustrating to know that you have notes from a book or an article but not being able to find them. It means that you have to re-read the article and keep new notes all over again. I am trying to find a way of organizing everything but it seems that it only gets more complicated as time goes by and books as well as notes are being piled up. Until now I have tried Refworks but it only works out for bibliography, then I tried keeping an account through excel but it s not very handy. I have created folders in my notebook but then I don’t really remember which folder has what..So, what I really need to do is re-arrange my entire archive in a way that will be helpful in the long run but I don’t know yet how to. Any ideas are well accepted or I can always just look at my library waiting for a response.
Well, 8 days and counting 357 to go. I hope that by then I will have an archiving solution, I will move on from methodology inquiries to some writing and hopefully will manage to balance doubt and determination so as to keep going. Once more, I wish you a happy new year full of joy, dreams, good spirits and close friends.