Tag Archives: Blogotron Import

R1 Frustration

My mental capabilities aren’t what they were ten years ago when I embarked on my undergraduate studies.  Certainly that’s how it feels a decade later as an unsettled post-grad student.

I’m working on finishing my R1 or at least the first complete draft of it.   The literature review has been a particular struggle in terms of crafting a coherent discussion from a wide-ranging collection of papers.  It’s only 1000 words and so how difficult can it be?

There’s a definite leap between two paragraphs in the literature review.  My supervisor suggests a few papers that I should cover in my review.  These fall into three categories.

  1. Papers I haven’t read before.
  2. Papers I have read before and remember reading.
  3. Papers I have read before and don’t remember reading.

Although I have issues with not having included all three types of paper, it’s the third that particularly troubles me.  I track down a suggested paper and save it on my computer.  “A file with the name you specified already exists”.  Does it?  Apparently I downloaded it six months’ ago.  Oh yes, here are my notes.


The problem was summed up nicely by Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell on a radio programme last night.   A young triathlete was saying how good he felt about his training and what a privilege it was to have sport as a job.  I could identify with this, obviously not as an athlete but as the recipient of a studentship which means I can devote my time to something I enjoy.  Then James Cracknell suggested that he should make the most of it while he has no children.

After another week of disturbed sleep, it’s-too-early-in-the-morning visitors, crying baby, ill little girl, falling asleep at 9 pm and not being able to remember what I’ve read I have to agree.

Technology and the easily-distracted mind

Since I started my PhD adventure I have been finding it hard to focus, with reading academic texts and writing anything meaningful being particular issues.  I am often a little bit tired and struggling to juggle too many thoughts and tasks.  I am hoping my newly acquired piece of late 1990s technology will help rid me of some distractions.

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Modelling the impact of planned interventions

Time for a brain splurge about one thread from a thought provoking meeting with MWJ earlier today.  I’ll sum Mark’s idea up as “what if you could reasonably accurately model the impact of a series of planned interventions on a simulated classroom?” and hope I didn’t miss the plot completely. Continue reading

Choose two charities not to help

I’ve just completed an online voting process.  As a bonus for bothering a 20p donation will be made to charity.

However, this is not the kind of decision I like to make…

Pick a charityA “Please don’t put me in a moral dilemma like this and pick one for me” button would be nice.  Or what if the donation was 21p and not 20p?  That way there could be a “split it three ways” button.

Accessible writing

This afternoon I read through a collection of abstracts for a conference.  It was a very mixed set of abstracts.  For the purposes of this post I’ll split them into “hard science” abstracts and “not hard science” abstracts.

Some of the “hard science” abstracts were talking about immensely technical and specialised subjects and yet I still found them more readable and understandable than some of the “not hard science” abstracts.  It reminded me of my comment on this post.

So why did I find the “hard science” abstracts, on the whole, more approachable?

Maybe I have a “scientific brain” that can’t cope with more complexity than “works or doesn’t work”, “yes or no”, “on or off”.  I won’t rule this out.

Maybe it’s the nature of the subject matter.  With the “hard science” abstracts it didn’t feel like anybody was trying to be clever.  The results of their work would tell the story and provide the mechanism for any ego boosting that the author(s) may or may not be looking for.

Maybe it’s easier to talk about subjects that provide repeatable experiments that deal in certainty.  In <insert conditions> you will always get < insert result>.  When you stray into anything involving the social sciences or anything involving people do things inevitably become less certain?  Does this encourage the application of mindw&nkery?

There could be a model in this.



Just a quick post about incompetence on a very small but very personal level.

It has just taken me three attempts to put the correct URLs in the correct places in a blog post. The problem? There were only two references to get in the right order and yet it still took three attempts.

This must be a similar level of ineptitude as when it takes me more than two attempts to put a USB connector (an A connector if you’re interested) the right way round in the socket.

How hard can it be?

It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.