Giving a ‘big’ presentation on my research

So I’m in the process of sorting out my filing system on my computer and I came across some text that I had written for a previous blog that I was co-author on.As it still seems to be relevant I’ll post it here.Bear in mind that this was written approximately 18 months ago.It’s also makes a change to be posting about  something other than apps (but new post on this soon).


Not a strategy I employed to ease nervesGiven that I’m now approaching the end of my third year of my PhD research in the area of speech and language therapy, I’ve reached the point where I actually have interesting and somewhat conclusive things to tell people. That’s why I was very excited when I had an abstract for a presentation accepted for a therapy symposium organised by the British Aphasiology Society which coincidentally was being held this year at Newcastle University.

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Mission accomplished

Mission accomplishedDirectly following from my last post I’ve now had my PhD viva and come out the other side with a pass. This is of course good news, if for no other reason I can legitimately call myself (or insist other people call me) Doctor Plant.

I have mixed feelings about my viva.Naturally there is a sense of relief that another part of the PhD process is finally over.Then there are the positive feelings of satisfaction that I’ve actually managed to successfully reach this stage (no mean feat in itself) and come through the other side (relatively) unscathed.Then there are the other feelings of anticlimax and some dissatisfaction with my performance in the actual viva itself.

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Something for the weekend sir?

Viva is coming next week. Not so worried about it but still making a to-do list to ensure preparation is under control

  1. Re-read Vigliocco, Vinson, Lewis & Garrett (2004). Representing the meanings of object and action words: The featural and unitary semantic space hypothesis. Cognitive Psychology, 48, 422-488., as this paper puts forward one of the main propositions that my thesis investigates, i.e. that words for objects (nouns) and actions (verbs) can be stored in the same processing system using similar principles of representation within the mental lexicon.
  2. Re-read PhD thesis to remember what’s been done and also to highlight any interesting bits that may be useful to drawn on during the viva (post-it notes aplent probably).
  3. Write a short summary of PhD as a whole and bullet point main themes and  findings of individual chapters.
  4. Prepare some answers to standard questions (e.g. what’s interesting about your work?) that can be predicted and some more specific ones suggested by supervisors.
  5. Think of own questions to ask which will demonstrate enthusiasm for the topic area and desire to continue in this or related areas of research
  6. Try not to develop full blown cold which appears to be in its infancy with possible associated loss or croaky voice

Hopefully this is all achievable in the 97 hours remaining

I'll love it if this plan comes together

Revisiting my PhD (part 1) – My chance to find the findings other people hadn’t found

When I started my PhD this is what I thought I'd feel like by the end of itIt’s been too long since I did a proper blog post for a few reasons, but probably mostly to do with procrastination. But here I am again and I’ve decided to give a brief introduction to my PhD  and current research interests, or as I like to say, what I have been doing with the last four years of my life. In the interests of keeping posts reasonably short I’ll probably cover this in a series of posts but my reasons for writing about my PhD are twofold: (1) to give me a chance to reflect on the whole process from inception to completion which will be useful for me as I’ll be having my PhD viva reasonably soon (i.e. a meeting where I will need to orally defend my work in front of two examiners); and (2) so readers will have a better understanding of my interests so they (you) will be better informed to make a decision on whether what I write is likely to appeal to your interests.

So, the last four years I’ve been working on a PhD which has recently been completed and given the snappy title of “Semantic representations of English verbs and their influence on psycholinguistic performance in healthy and language-impaired speakers“. So what does this actually mean and why did I decide to do this?

I’ll first start by explaining the why

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If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

By this time I was hoping to have a post ready to go something along the lines of “woo I finally submitted my PhD and now I can have a life again” (although whether I had one before starting a PhD may be subject to debate). Sad to say that post is a bit premature but I will definitely be submitting my PhD (first submission before viva) within the next 7 days as I really have no choice unless I want to pay Newcastle University another bundle of tuition fees and plead with my funder (the wonderful Economic and Social Research Council; ESRC) for just a little more time. In reality though there will be no problem whatsoever in submitting before I absolutely need to as it only really needs a bit if tidying up and making sure all the dots and the crosses are present and correct.

If you allow it to, it will keep you running foreverHowever, if there was no such deadline in place it may be another matter; It has become evident that it is very difficult to ‘let go’ of my PhD. No doubt this is down to it being a big part of my life for the last four years and it’s more or less defined who I am: ‘Hi I’m Chris, I’m studying/researching for a PhD in speech and language sciences’ or something to that effect has become a fairly well worn introduction. Read more of this post