Research update: optimism and pessimism

With about nine months to go until I am due to hand in my thesis, I am periodically cycling between optimism and pessimism as to how I am progressing. I know that I have managed to pull together a reasonably solid body of work, which my supervisors assure me will be sufficient to complete my doctorate. There is still the small matter of finishing this off, and writing it up in a coherent manner, which I know will take time and effort, but I do still have a few months for this.

That said, there is a nagging concern that I’ve not done enough. I have often heard it said that after a Ph.D., one knows everything there is to know about a tiny specialised area of knowledge, having pushed the boundary of human knowledge in a small but measurable way. This feels like the opposite to my research — I have looked at quite a broad range of topics, but covered none of them in that much detail, or so it seems.

As I am working towards an Engineering Doctorate (Eng.D.) it needs to be focused on the requirements of the sponsoring company, and as such producing a portfolio of work is quite normal, as far as I understand. I am also lucky to be based at a new and unique facility, working in a relatively little studied area of marine energy. Therefore it is perhaps easier in some respects to do novel research, as fewer people have already published on similar topics. Conversely, my research doesn’t fit into a well defined gap in existing knowledge, so setting limits on what is and isn’t important becomes more critical in order to produce a coherent piece of work. In the words of Steve Jobs, there’s always “one more thing”.

The insomnia isn’t helping though…

Overdue update on research progress

I realise that I’m very much overdue an update on my research progress, having posted very little so far and nothing in the last year.

Things are generally going well, although I still feel there is a lot to do and only a limited amount of time to do it in. This feeling of pressure is probably due to my colleague Sam, who is a year ahead of me in the IDCORE programme, frantically trying to get his thesis finished off this week. I know that I don’t need to be at the same stage as him — that I have 12 months of funding left — and that I am fairly well advanced with my research. But that doesn’t stop the nagging feeling of not having enough time left.

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