So I may not be a knowledge ninja quite yet (more on this later) but I have been spending a lot of time reading academic papers as well as policy around heritage strategies and ‘creative places’ and various e-books and websites related to this. Today I attended my formal PhD student induction with lots of others from around the University which included lots of useful information on the practical ‘need to knows’ for student life here as part of the UWS research community.
Like most universities, UWS has a graduate researcher training programme – we had an interesting overview of the courses available and a ‘student eye view’ of how they can help. Here is a copy of the older programme, but it shows the kind of events put on. Many people also stressed that networking was one of the key things they got out of the events, it was fun to meet other PhD students today from places as far away and as close as Glasgow, Ayr, Bangladesh and Algeria.
It is good to think about CPD.. I already do this as a member of professional institutes but academically there are transferable and academic specific skills which I would like to develop more. I signed up for a conference in June organised by the SGSSS which covers various topics of direct relevant to my PhD (and has networking and other social events). There is an upcoming UWS research conference including poster presentations given by 2nd and 3rd year students from around the university, which will be good to see how it all works before I do it next year. I am also going to sign up for events bulletins from UWS careers and the library (Moodle has a lot on it too).
Today I learnt I can access any library! I applied for Sconul access which would allow me to borrow books from other academic libraries. I presume it also allows me to sit in their libraries to work (my brain likes a change of scenery, I used to enjoy sitting in Glasgow School of Art library when doing my evening graphic design class research.. they have fantastic creative research books, and when I used to teach at GCU and City of Glasgow College I used the GCU library occasionally to do TQFE work as their learning pods were a fun and colourful environment to spend time in). I love libraries.. might even make a little trip back to where I used to sit in the Andersonian as a creature of habit in my undergraduate planning days. UWS library in Paisley has some great quiet study areas, as well as ‘coffee break’ areas where you can sit, and the Ayr Campus is very light and airy with group study rooms and quiet study as well as a great selection of journals and periodicals to browse. Have Eduroam and library ticket, will travel!
Vitae, Academia.edu and Mendeley
I had been meaning to explore these further; today Vitae was mentioned as being particularly useful for developing skills at different stages of research and I have been completing my profiles on Academia.edu (and set up a group in Mendeley as an experiment to see how it works).
Knowledge ninjas and mind mapping
As I mentioned before, I love mind mapping, so when I was browsing my local charity shop books I was utterly delighted to find a Tony Buzan mind mapping book. I had read it years ago, but not only was this a lovely book it was actually signed… and supported charity too. Must buy, a good £3.99 there I thought. I have been flicking through this and its lovely diagrams, reminding myself of some additional techniques for memory recall and creative association. I also got ‘how to be a Knowledge Ninja’ from my local Glasgow library, a new book which includes mind mapping but also goes into the practicalities of sorting out ‘stuff’ to be able to achieve more from your day.
The Cornell note taking system was new to me (see pdf for info); although I feel I have an adapted version of this which involves using one page for notes from whatever I am reading at the time, and the opposite page for reflective notes and action points. I later review these in a mind map and save into Evernote. One of the things which first taught me how to revise was an article in Cosmopolitan magazine on how to pass exams.. a rather unlikely source one would possibly think but I remember it being stuck to my bookcase and trying out some of the tips and I have used them ever since! Knowledge Ninja has given me a further 20 points to reflect on and try out (some I do, some I knew, others which are new or are helpful to be reminded of). I enjoyed the style and presentation, a ‘quick read’ or something to dip in and out of. The Knowledge Ninja also has amusing little cartoons and summary points which make it a useful starting point for studying any topic at pretty much any level. Follow @thinkproductive and author @grahamallcott on Twitter for more.
Reflecting on reading
Weirdly, reading is helping me do more reading! Whilst on holiday not too long ago I got back into fiction reading, and used my iPad as a Kindle reader for the first time in any sort of concentrated manner. Sitting in the sun sipping cocktails is not the usual way I spend my day and it felt very luxurious but it reminded me I always used to love novel reading, so I devoured lots of holiday reading (mainly the escapist kind which often has pink sparkly writing on the spine in print books, but also some classics and one or two business books). Since I came back and have been PhD reading I have been doing more evening reading- I found a fun travel book and started using ‘Goodreads’ which recommends books which you might like based on ones you have already read. I did not expect that reading for my PhD would lead me to want to read more for leisure, I now have a list of ‘to read’ novels and some forthcoming AyeWrite events to attend (including a writing workshop.. using Day One has made me write more and explore creative writing). Has anyone else felt this reading = more reading and more writing effect?