Returning to research and writing

Over the last year, I’ve been enjoying having a break from the in-depth research and writing that a PhD requires. I’ve been enjoying the immediacy of teaching, of seeing the direct result of my efforts and of having easily achievable and clearly-defined goals. I’ve had time to dabble in other projects and work on developing other skills: learning (and teaching, a little) Greek, unexpectedly becoming part of a guerrilla ukulele band, running workshops with Bluestocking, finding my way as a board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, and starting a tiny, hopefully collaborative, art project. I’ve been following developments in a number of areas that I’m interested in, but in a quite relaxed and unsystematic way.

Now it’s time to get a little more focused and get back to research and writing. Partly, this is because if I want to stay in academia I need to publish. Even if I only cared about teaching and didn’t want to do research, secure teaching positions are hard to get without a good publications record. (I think this is ridiculous, but that’s a matter for a different post).

Mostly, though, it’s because I love doing research as well as teaching, and I think that the areas I’m interested in writing about are important. It matters that we understand how activism is changing, how to build alternatives to the broken systems that we have, how to open spaces for change. It matters that we understand what’s wrong with the world, and the best ways to fix it. I don’t have all the answers, but I think I have some important pieces of the puzzle to share.

Today I finally found some space between marking and answering emails and my other commitments to sit down and start finding my way in research again. I reorganised my RSS feeds, and looked through some journals, and started writing a piece that I hope summarises one of the most important aspects of the argument I made in my dissertation to submit for publication. Research and writing will be both harder and easier now. Harder, because I won’t have the same kind of time to dedicate to it that I did during my PhD. Easier, because I’ve learnt a lot about research and writing, and about the areas I care about.

I realised, as I started to revise my piece for publication, that I love this. I love sharing my ideas, and feeling like I might have something to contribute. I love waiting for people to argue with me, knowing that the arguments will help me develop my ideas. I am looking forward to having more research to share here tremendously.

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