Preparing for OZCHI doctoral consortium

I love the fact that my PhD is inherently multidisciplinary – exploring technology and health. That said, it is not without it’s challenges – not least reconciling that, it seems, one discipline needs to take prominence over the other for things like the thesis and publications, which generally continue to be mired predominantly focused on the one discipline. Hopefully this is changing.

It’s been particularly interesting to explore and familiarise myself with the the theoretical frameworks, methodologies and practices of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) which is a sub-discipline of Computer Information Systems (i.e the ‘technology’ part of my research). At the encouragement of my HCI-based supervisor, I submitted a proposal to present at the Doctoral Consortium at OZCHI, the national HCI conference – which was subsequently accepted (hooray!).

According to my supervisor, doctoral consortiums are common in the computer sciences. It’s a new experience for me, as it’s not something that seems to be offered in the health field (another reason to be grateful for a multidisciplinary PhD!). I’m not sure why this is – perhaps the standard practice in health is for PhD presentations to be incorporated within the main conference program. Apparently the idea is to provide a forum for PhD students to present their work in progress to other PhD students, as well as leading academics in the field, to get valuable feedback and input into their developing work (in a hopefully supportive environment!).

As with any deadline, it’s provided me with the opportunity spur to flesh out somewhat neglected themes and ideas on my research. Themes of particular interest that I’m exploring are object (technology)-centred sociology and how to evaluate the implementation of technology. As someone who’s been located predominantly in health, I’m a bit nervous (kinda like turning up to a new school in a new country?) but mostly looking forward to new ideas and new conversations!

Visions of grandeur

When I first started this blog, I had visions of it being a place where I would be publishing perfectly formed, lengthy (award winning!) and innovative analytic essays exploring my research field . Oh the visions of grandeur! Given my inexperience as both a researcher and an academic writer, this was massively unrealistic to say the least! Still, it’s hard to let go of this fantasy.

But perhaps this misses the point and potential of this space.

One of the PhD blogs I’ve enjoyed reading is Interactive Music for Design by Samantha Ewart. While hers is a very interesting and relevant research project in itself, which includes technology design, health and working with young people (and, like my research is funded by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre), I very much like how she is transparent about her PhD experience and uses the space to present issues she is grappling with in a balanced, conversational and accessible way, without resorting to whinge or despair (easier said than done sometimes!).

One of the things I have liked about my blog is that it mostly reminds me about how creative, quick and productive I can be when I feel comfortable and without the gaze of the ‘other’ (supervisor, peer, etc). It’s also quite a useful ‘writing warm up’ space that I’m sure would benefit using more regularly.

I don’t necessary want to totally give up the visions of grandeur (where would be the fun of that!?), but adding some ‘work in progress’ type posts would be good too.