My first book review is published

My first book review is published. Bicycles Create Change.com. 17th Jan, 2018.
Source: Springer

Taking a quick side-step from our usual posts of all things bikey into the straighty-one-eighty world of academia, I was delighted this week to be notified that my first book review has been published!

Woohoo!

I found this book review a little nerve-racking to do, for two main reasons.

  1. The book I reviewed was written by two leading scholars in the field, so it was comprehensive,  clearly organised, informative, interesting and very well written.
  2.  It was the first time I have collaborated with my PhD supervisor Prof. Singh on a writing project.

Overall it was a very positive experience.

I enjoyed reading the book, learning some new skills (like how to use Routledge’s online proofreading software system) and having to opportunity to develop different academic writing skills and genres

Most of all, I am so grateful to Prof Singh, who invited me to work on the project with her so I could extend my academic skills, networks and exposure.

She is a wonderful role model and a very positive and inspiring PhD supervisor.

I was previously advised that while undertaking a PhD, it is important to recognise and celebrate the smaller stages of the whole research process  – which this first most certainly qualifies!

So here it is!


Ginsberg, N., & Singh, P. (2018). Consultants and consultancy: the case of Education. Journal of Education Policy, 1-2. doi:10.1080/02680939.2017.1420310

Consultants and consultancy: the case of Education

In their book titled Consultants and consultancy: the case of Education, Gunter and Mills explore how the growth of a consultant class, (a faction of the middle class and comprised of knowledge actors) is working to accelerate the privatization of public education in the United Kingdom. This class faction of the new middle class is redefining what the authors call ‘knowledges, knowings, knowledgeabilities and knowers’ (p 12). The authors have considerable experience and expertise in the research area and this is put to good use in the selection of content and theoretical approaches.

The book focuses on the role and implications on the UK public education service of ‘The 4Cs’ (Consultants, Consulting, Consultation and Consultancy). Each of these 4Cs are defined in detail and refer to actors, practices, exchange relationships and power relations. In doing so, this book provides a valuable exposition of the increasing commodification of knowledge and its implications for how educational policy is being designed and enacted.

The authors are unsettled by the ubiquitous and increasing privatization of the UK education process. In recognizing that ‘the 4Cs are generated by privatization, they create and develop it, and are beneficiaries of it’ (p 95), the book seeks to warn there is ‘no alternative to the privatization of public education’ (p 93) and the ‘creeping commercialization within schooling’ (p 93) will continue, as will the ‘setting up and development of a branded and billable education’ p (129).

The central premise of the book is to raise greater awareness and critical analysis for how the 4Cs are impacting educational management and provision. To highlight this, the authors present their arguments in a clearly structured way, with the book being divided into two main parts. After defining key terms and setting the scene in the introductory chapter, the first part of the book consists of three chapters, where the role and contributions of ‘educational experts’ in the form of corporate consultants, university researchers and industry professionals, are succinctly clarified and unpacked. Part two of the book consists of five chapters. In each of the chapters empirical data generated from three large scale studies is presented with the aid of concepts derived from key sociologists of education (Bernstein and Bourdieu) to think about the processes and issues involved in the generation and management of knowledge within education policy and practice. This section describes the ways in which policies and practices of the ‘consultocracy’ are shaping educational dynamics, tactics and reform.

The book has implications for education researchers working not only in the UK, but also Australia and elsewhere that have witnessed the rise of new middle class factions of consultants. Specifically, the book explores the notion of ‘knowledge regimes’ and ‘knowledge politics’ by drawing on theoretical concepts from Bourdieu and Bernstein as thinking tools to explore the ways in which new knowledge forms produced by the consultancy class (consultocracy) are reaching into schools, classrooms and homes. From Bernstein (2000) the authors draw on the concepts of boundary, pedagogic device, pedagogic fields and recontextualisation. From Bourdieu (1992; 2000 ) the authors draw on concepts of misrecognition, logic of practice, codified knowledge as doxa of self-evident truths, habitus, capital and the illusio of the game.

A limitation of the book, however, is that the work of these theorists is not systematically used to present new insights about the marketization of public education. For example, Bernstein has written about the emergence of new middle class factions engaged in processes of symbolic control (see Robertson & Sorenson, 2017; Singh 2015; Singh, 2017). The book needed to provide more detail about the ways in which factions within the middle class positioned in the fields of symbolic control and economic production are struggling over the pedagogic device of knowledge about public education. The authors provide a deterministic account around the production of new knowledge regimes, and what is thinkable, doable within these regimes. However, as Bernstein (2000) clearly indicated the pedagogic device is a site of ongoing struggle because the stakes are high. Ultimately the pedagogic device governs modes of consciousness and conscience – what is knowable, doable, and thinkable in terms of public education.

This book constitutes one of the sites of struggle over the pedagogic device of public education. Consequently, the book and this review are actors in ongoing struggles over ideas about the re/form of public education.

References

Bernstein, B. 2000. Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. Revised Edition. 2nd ed. Lanham: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Bourdieu, P. 1992. The Logic of Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Bourdieu, P. 2000. Pascalian Meditations. Oxford: Polity Press.

Robertson, S. L., and T. Sorenson. 2017. “Global Transformations of the State, Governance and Teachers’ Labour: Putting Bernstein’s Conceptual Grammar to Work.” European Educational Research Journal, 1, 19.

Singh, P. 2015. “Performativity and Pedagogising Knowledge: Globalising Educational Policy Formation, Dissemination and Enactment.” Journal of Education Policy 30 (3): 363384. doi:10.1080/02680939.2014.961968.

Singh, P. 2017. “Pedagogic Governance: Theorising with/after Bernstein.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 38 (2): 144163. doi:10.1080/01425692.2015.1081052.

Vycle – Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th

 

There are some super creative professionals out there producing innovative solutions to urban issues using bicycles as the foundation for inspiration and design.

One example I have previously posted, is the incredible and now readily available Invisible Bike Helmet which is the brainchild of two Swedish Industrial Designers, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin.

Another is the Vycle, which was first designed by Elena Larriba.

Vycle is touted as being a human-powered vertical transport solution to address increasing urbanisation.

What is Vycle– Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower?

Elena Larriba is a qualified architect (MArch) and an Imperial College and the Royal College of Art (MSc & MA) alumni.

Her work is concerned with responding to increasing urbanisation and migration.

Most densely populated urban environments and cities utilise vertical spaces. Therefore innovate methods for vertical transportation are being investigated – and harnessing the functionality of cycling is Elena’s answer!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

Elena’s website explains that her design is inspired by bicycles, in that “Vycle is a system powered by continuous cyclical movement. Its benefits are twofold: firstly, it will give stakeholders a more efficient and sustainable option to ascend, and secondly, variable energy selection will be able to cater to people of varied ages and abilities, whilst creating a personalised experience”.

The two choices of moving about between building levels: elevators or stairs – and both have some serious drawbacks. Elevators require a lot of energy and encourage laziness, whereas stairs encourage physical activity, but that for some, this can be onerous or too strenuous.

In a nutshell, Elena believes “that stairs require a lot of effort for a person to go up whereas lifts are 100% powered and that this carves out an area of opportunity that sits between the two.”

Comparatively, using Vylce appears to alleviate these concerns by being compact and space efficient, easy to physically propel, as well as removing any reliance or use of precious energy and thus is incredibly environmentally sound – go bicycles!

Concept Development

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

The Vylce is currently only a working prototype. Further testing is required to take this product to market and comply with regulation level safety measures for implementation.

How does it work?

The Vycle team explain that this device operates by allowing “people to cycle up in an effortless and enjoyable way. The system is balanced with counterweights leaving the user body as the only weight to overcome. Using a gearing system similar to how bikes work, the user can decide how much effort they want to put to ascend or descent”.

You can see how Vcyle works in action in the video below.

Here is a possible future that Elena hopes to provide – pretty inspiring stuff!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

I love the visionary and inventive ways bicycles are being utilised, modified and adapted to help provide productive and resourceful solutions to growing social, environmental and technological issues.

I can’t wait to see more ways where bicycles are being used to create a more positive future for all.

Images and video courtesy of ycle.co.uk

Helmet Law Survey Results

The results of the Bicycle Network Helmet Law Survey are in! Big ups to all those who responded to the survey online and via my blog post on September 19th.  A summary of the key findings are at the end of this post. Very interesting!


Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.com

A survey of almost 20,000 people has found that nearly two-thirds don’t believe you should have to wear a helmet every time you ride a bike in Australia.

It also found that if current mandatory helmet laws change to allow Australians to ride a bike without wearing a helmet, more than 30% of people would ride a bike more often.

The survey was conducted in August and September this year as part of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law policy review.

Currently under the law, it is compulsory to wear a helmet whenever riding a bike in Australia, excluding the Northern Territory.

Bicycle Network CEO, Craig Richards, said the responses received from its members and the public will help the organisation evaluate its position on helmets, forming one part of a wider review which also includes a literature review and evaluation of expert opinion.

“It’s great to get such a large amount of public opinion about bike helmets. It’s something people are clearly passionate about and it’s helpful to see how Australia’s helmet laws may impact people’s decision to ride,” said Mr Richards.

“The opinion of our members and people who ride bikes is important and will help inform our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet law. Along with academic research and information from experts, we will be able to make a fully informed decision.”

When it comes to relaxing laws, it’s not one-size-fits-all

While most people said they don’t support mandatory helmet laws, there was a divide in whether laws should be fully relaxed, or adapted in specific situations.

41% think helmets should still be mandatory in some circumstances, such as riding in ‘high risk’ situations, like racing, riding on roads or under 18 years of age.

“Understandably, there are people that feel safer wearing a helmet. But there are situations where some people have told us they would feel safe without a helmet, like riding on a trail next to the beach,” added Mr Richards.

“If we were to change our policy on Australia’s mandatory helmet laws, it may not be as simple as saying you’ll never have to wear one again.”

Bicycle Network is Australia’s largest bike riding organisation representing 50,000 members.

It’s mandatory helmet law policy review began in August this year and is expected to be completed by April 2018.

 

Helmet Law Survey Results - Bicycles Create Change.comSummary of Bicycle Network’s mandatory helmet law survey

  • The survey was completed by 19,327 respondents
  • Respondents were mostly Bicycle Network members and people who ride bikes with varying regularity. 2.6% of respondents were from overseas, and 1.9% of respondents said they never ride a bike.
  • 58.3% of respondents said there should be a change to helmet laws, while the remaining 41.7% said helmets should be mandatory all the time
  • 40.7% believe helmets should only be mandatory when the risk is high, for example, when racing, on road or for young people
  • 30.4% would ride more if helmets weren’t mandatory
  • If laws changed, almost all people who currently wear a helmet when they ride would continue to do so and the number of people who never wear a helmet when riding would only increase by 3.7%

This post was first published by Bicycle Network on 21st Nov, 2017.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit

Life ever stops. Mixing bikes, research and work is my challenge AND my pleasure – as regular readers well know! As a change from our usual bike posts, this post is a little indulgent academic wankery. It has been a very busy week with my new 10-week course starting, a 4-day family trip and a 3-day conference to attend – among other things. Now that peak crazy period has passed, here’s an update of the RE4D Summit (conference) that has been the focus for this week. Cheers! NG.


Earlier this week I attended and presented at the ReImagining Education for Democracy (RE4D) Summit.

It was the first time I have attended this conference and I was very impressed.

To get details of each session – here is the Conference Program.

Essentially, this conference uses Critical Pedagogy perspectives to unpack and explore aspects of contemporary education research, policy and practice that are complex and challenging.

The Summit has a strong political undercurrent with sessions wrestling with issues such as globalisation, the role of the state and markets, technocratic models of education and how equity, access, fairness and social justice are being addressed in schools and within wider educational dynamics and systems.

So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?

This event was an awesome 3-day conference that covered an wide range of education policy, process and practice. There were 5 keynote speakers, a free public lecture, and event called Pedagogy in the Pub, and over 80 presentations in the form of symposiums, focus panels, individual research papers and workshops.

The was a wonderful range and scope of the presentations. You can always tell a good conference when you are conflicted about what session to go to for fear of missing out on other sessions.

My Presentation

My presentation was part of a symposium with 3 other presenters.

As a group, we had developed the abstract (see below) and each of us contributed a differing perspective to our main contention.

We decided to go for the practical, for the personal and for the challenging.

Unfortunately, on the day one of our speakers (Ian) could not make it, so we were missing the male perspective, but it also meant that we had more time.

 

Here’s the abstract for our symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Our presentation was awesome.

We had a great topic and some really interesting and unique expreinces and difficulties to share.

Naomi started us off by presenting her experience of being a mother whilst doing her PhD to tease out some key political and neoliberalist tensions. Sherilyn followed up with a little more methodological view to processing some key transformative ‘moments’ she had during her work disrupting educational and social structures within in her own local community.

Then, I ended by outlining some of the practical ‘shadows, cracks and hauntings’ that I have experienced in my work and telling 6 stories that hit at the heart of when things can go wrong when working on  gender justice.

 

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

This format worked really well and the session was a pleasure to be part of. The build-up and layering of ideas from one presentation to the next was strategic and served well to show the individual, dynamic and complex nature of the work we do as well.

I told a few stories that I have not told before, which was a little daunting,  but I was glad that my presentation struck a cord with the audience and  reminded people that there are ofter negative ethical, social and other consequences of the work we do that need to acknowledged, shared and addressed.

Here’s my abstract for session on the symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Did I mention that Prof. Michael Apple, his wife Rima and Prof. Pat Thomson from the academic blog Patter (among others) attended my presentation? Talk about a big gun audience!

Following the symposium, I had a number of audience members come up and say how much they enjoyed it – which was very affirming!

I was touched when one woman said that she was very moved by the stories and that my presentations really made her think. She said it was so important to share stories of when things go wrong and to acknowledge that there are dark sides to research, researchers and researching – and I agree!

As a final boost, I was stoked when a friend sent me through this Twitter post that was uploaded from an audience member I’d never met before.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

One final thought about the Summit…. Prof. Michael Apple

Prof. Michael Apple

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Listening to, and meeting Prof Apple was a real highlight for me.

It was so refreshing to hear his keynote speech on the second day, least of all because it was jammed pack full of provocative ideas. His topic was Can education change society and I was struck by his eloquence and skill as a public speaker. It was truly a pleasure to listen to his educated arguments. He is a consummate orator and gifted storyteller -and a delight to listen to.

To often keynotes are generic, pussy-footing-dont-want-to-upset-too-many-people-or-prensent-anything-too-controversial. But, Prof Apple went there, giving his ideas on some pretty tricky issues – which was great as it meant you knew exactly what he thought and could agree or disagree with it. So suddenly – hey, presto you have a conversation! Awesome! Thats what a conference is all about after all!

Before the conference, I wasn’t fully aware of who he was and I didn’t fully appreciate the immense impact and influence he has within the field of Education and Critical Pedagogy.

Turns out he is one of the fifty most important educational scholars of the 20th Century and one of the ‘first fathers’ that established this field of inquiry and was a contemporary of Paulo Feire and Basil Bernstein – a big deal in my circles.

And, after following up on some of the things he mentioned and finding out more about his about his amazing political commitment to progressing educational and social/cultural activism, I am now a big fan.

Prof. Michael Apple has written widely on educational and social activism with the most recent being his article Critical educational reforms and dirty toilets: being honest about blockages and contradictions for AARE – a very interesting read indeed (especially given some of the ensuing comments).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference! See you there!


To give you an idea of the topics covered, below is the 2017 schedule:

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create ChangeReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

More info please!

The website Rage and Hope gives a great overview of the key thinkers of Critical Pedagogy.

For more details on the main thrust, debates and foci of the Critical Pedagogy movement, Aliakbari and Faraji (2011) Basic Principles of Critical Pedagogy is a clear and easy read to get the basic principles and concepts of what Critical Pedagogy is all about and how it is related to education, politics and society.

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress

This time last week, the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress (APCC) was being held in Christchurch, NZ from Tuesday 17th Oct – Friday 20th Oct.

I wasn’t able to go as I had my PhD Confirmation paper and seminar due smack in the middle – doh! Otherwise, I would have been there for sure and I had a session to present. It will just have to wait until next year!

What was on at the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress?

The program for this year looked jammed packed full of interesting sessions. Check out the program link below and see what session takes your fancy.

Get the APCC Program and daily schedule here.Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The link above also gives the daily schedule and a number of the speakers provided their presentations for public distribution.

All sessions were divided into these key themes:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I like that there was also a bit of personality coming through – as evidence,  I was delighted to see Jo Clendon’s poster abstract had a footnote for the term ‘bike user’ as being:

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

The APCC event is a great forum to share ideas and get inspired. I would have like to have seen more Asia-Pacific-ness in the mix (very Oceania focused). As far as I could see there were no sessions from East Asia, South Asia or Southeast Asia – and there are some amazing projects going on there!

I hope to see more recognition for countries that are not usually considered to be ‘cycling’ countries to be better represented, included and instrumental in biking discourse and practice. I’d like to see more initiatives from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the like. I know it is far to travel to NZ from these countries, but I’d really dig seeing some more diversity and range of contexts and ‘life world’ experiences in this conference’s program (in fact in all ALL conference programs!).

Who was presenting?

As you would expect, there were HEAPS of NZ presenters covering a massive array of planning, economic, behavioural, community, research and other projects – impressive!

As I have said before, NZ is by far whooping AUS arse on so many fronts (least of all NBN, Politics, Supporting Outdoor Industries to name a few). However, NZ’s progressive, strategic and forward-thinking development and integration of cycling an biking nationwide are envious. I go to Rotorua every year to ride and have posted before on a number of fun and admirable aspects of how riding and bike feature prominently in NZ.

I’ve also said before how easy, convent, and enjoyable it is being a cycling tourist in NZ. I’ve posted on how easy it is to get around in Rotorua, and some of their great community projects like the Dad’s n Lads bike events, as well as the formidable urban strategic plans within the major cities ( like Rotorua) that make biking a normalised way of getting around town – as well as being part of the larger picture to connect the whole country from top to bottom by bike paths – awesome! So NZ is by far a cycling leader on many fronts – and AUS would do well to learn from their NZ counterparts.

 

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

I was happy to see Brisbane represented:

  • Mark Pattemore’s (Brisbane City Council) Better bikeways for Brisbane.
  • Sarah Wilkinson (QLD Government) Cost-Benefit analysis of recent major cycling investments across QLD.
  • Narelle Haworth (QLD), Kristin Heesch (QLD) & Ashim Kumar Debath (VIC) Individual & Environmental Correlates of motorists passing distance of bicycle riders

As well as other Aussie presenters:

  • Cameron Munro (CDM Research, Melb) Designing for Bike Riders on local road roundabouts
  • Peter Metcalf (Wagners, Aust) Cycling the Hawkes Bay NZ region in safety with the aid of a clip on cycleway

And some OS delegates:

  • Tom Ransom (Isle of Wight, UK) School travel behaviour change
  • Thomas Stokell (USA) Bike Data Analysis – a comparison between 21,000 NZ riders and 180,000 riders from around the world
  • Jurgen Gerlach (Germany) with Axel Wilke (NZ) & Alistair Woodward (NZ) Safe…. but only if it’s efficient
  • Tyler Golly  (Canada) & Ryan Martinson (Canada) How to achieve rapid change for cycling outcomes

There were so many great NZ sessions that it would be too much to include here – suffice to say, it is well worth checking out the program link above in bold to see which session is most interesting for you.

October is the month for it!

The APCC is run in conjunction with Biketober, Christchurch’s month long celebration of all things bikes. Seems like October is the month for such events if Bike Palooza (Bendigo, VIC) and Biketober (Christchurch, NZ) is anything to go by!

Here is some of what is on for Christchurch’s Biketober.

Asia-Pacific Cycling Congress - Bicycles Create Change.com

Recommended for PhD Confirmation

PhD Confirmation happens about 1.5 years into your research. It is a major milestone to check you are on track before you go out for data collection. Essentially, it is a pass or fail milestone – but they don’t actually say it like that, they call it ‘recommend to continue’ (pass) or ‘recommend to revise’ (fail).

After the candidate gives their 30-mins presentation, there is an open Q & A. Then everyone (including the candidate) is asked to leave and the panel (your supervisors, the HDR Convenor and your independent assessor) discuss the work in private. Then only the candidate is invited back in. Then, in private the panel give immediate feedback on the study and the presentation and let the candidate know if they are recommending for continuation or not.

On Friday I had my PhD Confirmation Seminar

PhD Confirmation is a big deal as it is the first time you show your research to anyone outside of your supervisory team. It is where you have to submit you first 4 dissertation chapters (Intro, Lit Review Theoretical Perspectives and Methodology). My first 4 chapters comes to 191 pages and 50,718 words. Two weeks after you submit your Confirmation paper, you present your work.

So on Friday, I  presented my PhD Confirmation seminar to explain, justify and defend my bicycle NGO research study.

Here’s my PhD Confirmation flyer.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create ChangeA Successful Seminar! Recommended for PhD Confirmation!

I’ve been recommended to proceed with my study!

It was a very stressful and interesting process putting the seminar together. Big decisions  had to be made about what to leave in and what to leave out.

My study is pretty complex, but I managed to get it all organised on the day.

The seminar itself went well. There was a great turn out and it had the largest attendance to date! While waiting for the seminar to start, the audience started singing The Pushbike Song, which boosted the energy in the room instead of being so formal and academic (which it was) and made me feel very supported. There were some good questions at the end from the audience at the end, which I was able to answer and had slides prepared for (phew!) to the point where the questions almost looked like a plant (they weren’t!).

I got called back in and was asked the difficult questions in private. No surprises in the immediate feedback I received. The study will need more shaping and ‘massaging’ and I already have a few other ideas I’d like to change and discuss with my supervisors.

I get the Confirmation reports from my panel back in 1-2 weeks.

I’m very interested to hear the feedback!

The panel has recommended me for PhD Confirmation! Yahoo!

This recommendation goes to the Dean of School of Education & Professional Studies to be approved. It is rare that a panel’s recommendation is overturned, but I still have to wait for the official approval from the Dean.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create Change

I was completely wiped out at the end of the seminar.

For the last 4 weeks, it has been a massive big push to get my Confirmation paper prepared and then to arrange  the seminar.

My brain is officially mush.

I am happy with the result, but too tired to celebrate just yet.

My main task over the weekend is to have a glass of red wine while reading a good book in the bath – and recharge!

PhD Confirmation Paper

Hooray!

Finally!

I’ve handed in my PhD Confirmation Paper!

Looking forward to hearing what the independent assessor says about my 4 Chapters….Intro, Lit Review, Theoretical Perspectives & Methodology.

It was a missive big push to have it all done….I keep reminding my supervisors that I am Part-Time researcher. Also, that I only want to do one PhD at a time (…bad joke – but true!!)

Thanks to Deniese, Annalise, TK and all the others who helped during this time – I will not forget you!

Woohooow!

Bicycles Create Change.com

Now time to start on my 30-mins Confirmation Seminar for next Friday!

My eyes are sore, my brain is mush and I am (almost) to knackered to celebrate!

It does feel quite surreal to see it all in the one document  -with all the fancy referencing, formatting, images and section headings.

Why do the PhD  Confirmation procedure?

At my uni, you need to do a PhD Confirmation, because it allows:

  • provide peer feedback to the candidate on the work completed to date through open discussion of the candidate’s research proposal
  • provide confirmation that the project is appropriate to the degree for which the candidate is enrolled
  • determine whether a candidate has made suitable progress during the initial stage of the candidature
  • ensure that adequate resources and facilities are available
  • confirm that satisfactory supervision arrangements are in place
  • identify any specific problems or issues (for example, ethics or intellectual property) needing to be addressed; and
  • determine whether the candidature should continue.

What does a PhD Confirmation paper include?

Here what my Uni requires for Confirmation papers:

  • the research question
  • where the question came from in the context of relevant literature
  • why the research question is important
  • how the research question is addressed including details of methodology
  • a bibliography of relevant literature
  • progress made to date; and
  • a timetable for completing the research
  • needs to be a summary 40 pages – or as instructed by your supervisor.

My supervisor said, don’t waste time condensing and editing a separate document, hand in the whole  first four chapters! So I did!

Why do my PhD in Africa? Give us a little taster!

I still get people asking me why my research on girls’ education is in Africa.

It’s  because that is were some of the most disadvantaged girls are.

The red areas on the map below show the most disadvantaged areas for girls education.

Bicycles Create Change.com

My PhD is at the intersection of education, poverty, culture, gender and location.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Aspects of gendered daily school travel, transport and mobility are key themes in my research.

Bicycles Create Change.comSource; Bryceson, Bradbury & Bradbury (2003).

I’ll be able to outline more once my Confirmation Seminar flyer comes out.

For now, I  very pleased to have handed in – but am also very tired,

Fingers crossed for me, and the Independent Assessor!!

Top List of Infosharing Software

The last post detailed the Advancing SQLR session I attended. At the end, I suggested a couple of design  programs fellow PhDers might look at using to present their data. I got quite a few emails and requests for a full list – so here it is!  If I am missing your favourite program  or you have another suggestion, let me know in the comments below! Happy Designing! NG.


Pedalhistory.com-Bicycles.create.change.com
Source: Pedalhistory.com

As a bike researcher, one issue I wrestle is adequately communicating the dynamicism, embodied and affective nature of people cycling through place, time  and space.

For me, 80,000 typed words, Excel tables and ‘theoretical anchors’ do not quite capture the thrill and rawness of riding a bike …(boring!!!).

I want my dissertation to bring my research to life – the bikes, the environment, the people, their stories and the African locations where my research is based. I want to capture it in all its glory…the sights, smells, topography, climate, risk, colour, activity…the lot.

So, I’m supplementing the written component of my PhD with a healthy dose of images, infographics and diagrams.

Producing these images has meant learning a few creative software packages. This has been challenging, but very rewarding. The design skills I’ve learnt are transferable for many purposes, like this blog!

History of cycling - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: Infrographiclist.wordpress.com

My top list of Infosharing software programs.

Software Programs that are quick and easy for non-specialist users.
Additional functions (free trial period/ full pay access)

A few scientist mates have shown me simulation and real-time graphics programs they use for presentations. But these are a whole different ball game…I’ll look at them later, maybe for presentations – not so much for dissertations! (Stay focused! Another post!!).

Using the list above can produce more engaging data like:

Sydney bike commuters by gender - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: City of Sydney Council (n.d.)

Other ideas from Research into Action. Focused purely on communicating complex data, this site provides some innovative ideas to get inspired….their suggestions on this topic are:

  • StatPlanet: this browser-based interactive data visualization and mapping application allows you to create a wide range of visualizations, from simple Flash maps to more advanced infogrpahics.
  • Xtimeline: allows you to create your own timelines of data.
  • Gap Minderthis site created by Hans Rosling allows you to upload data and create an interactive motion charts and graphs.
  • Creately: this is easy to use Online Diagramming software – purpose built for team collaboration.
  • Hohli: this online chart maker is simple to use and allows you to create a range of colourful pie, line, scatter, radar and bar charts.
  • Tagcrowdallows you to upload texts and highlight the most common concepts. The clouds can be exported as images and inserted in a website or power point presentation.
  • Wordle: similar to tagcloud, this application lets you create images out of key phrases and words relevant to your research, great for using in PowerPoint presentations.
  • Tableau: a free Windows-only software for creating colourful data visualisations.

Some examples of researchers presenting work in new innovative and visual ways:

  • Information is Beautiful: David McCandless, an ‘independent data journalist and information designer interested in how designed information can help us understand the world.”
  • Flowing Data: This blog explores how “designers, statisticians and computer scientists are using data to understand ourselves better.”
  • Afrographique: Ivan Colic’s “small contribution to assist the changing perception of Africa and it’s people…This blog aims to collect as much data as possible with the aim of presenting the information in an exciting and digestible format to all.
  • For inspiration and not so much for academic purposes, but shows how info can be presented in a very digestible way for the wider public – see Farming First. They have series of infographics on agriculture and the green economy in the context of international development which are simple and clear.

Next steps

No more boring text-heavy Excel data tables!

Creative visual data is more interesting to create and  far more engaging to read.

Get inspired with David McCandless’s video below and get experimenting to share more bike information!!

Good luck!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review

As I gear up for my PhD Confirmation paper submission on Friday, all thoughts are now academic. My PhD is looking at how bicycles create more positive community change and this post gives a quick overview of an academic skills workshop I attended earlier this week that will help me explain and distribute my research more widely. Viva la bici! NG.


A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review

How to write a kick-ass Literature Review? Need a publication? How about conducting a SQLR? Never heard of it?

A SQLR is a Systematic Quantitative Literature Review – it is where the best Lit Reviews are at! The SQLR technique was devised by Prof. Pickering (Griffith University School of Environmental Science) …. and it is amazing!

Here’s a quick snapshot of what it is… On the offical SQLR website it is described as..

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

I won’t go into details about what is is here – there are some fabulous resources online here and  a series of very clear step-by-step video instructions here that explains the process better than I can.

Suffice to say that it is a kick-ass way to get a comprehensive lit review completed AS WELL AS  being able to publish it.

SQLR publications are still relatively new and more often used in science disciplines. There are a few SQLR starting to crop up in the social sciences, so it is a good time to get in, as scholarly interest is increasing – and you can leverage the ‘novel’, yet comprehensive contribution it provides to a research field.

For theses, you need to do a thorough lit review anyway, so why not do a super good job of it AND get published?

Don’t get me wrong; it is a serious undertaking and hard work, but… oh so worth it!

My SQLR problem
I did a SQLR as part of my lit review. You need at minimum 15 articles to do a SQLR. Even with the help of librarians, I only found 12 publications specifically on my topic. Crap!

This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it means my area is emerging and requires scholarly attention (i.e. justification of my PhD!!). But it’s also a curse because there is insufficient evidence and breadth to establish generalizations or to formulate a theoretical framework purely based on previous work.

So I went to the Advancing SQLR session to see what my options were.

Boy, am I happy I did. Prof. Pickering sure packed a lot into the one-hour session!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

Top 4 takeaways from this session.

1. Questions = Answers!
I had prepared questions ahead of time and I didn’t waste any time asking them. My hand was first up, and I was very appreciative that the Prof answered them directly and clearly. I got exactly the info I needed. As well as asking questions directly related to aspects of my project, I was also sure to reiterate the answers back so there were transferrable elements and general practicalities that would be applicable to other students as well.

2. Concrete examples
The PPT and handout provided included heaps of concrete examples of next-generation ideas, explanations/justifications and development techniques to include to maximise publication possibilities. See some of the examples at the end of this post – Unbeatable!

3. Analysis Inspiration
I was inspired by the ‘advanced’ level and types of analysis Prof. Pickering presented. It truly was ‘advancing’ the process on the original SQLR session. It was great to see to what degree, and the types of creative analysis that is being drawn out of SQLR data.

It was at this stage that I got some specific idea on how to meet my minimum source quotas to exceed my current 12, which the Prof. also confirmed in more detail during Q & A– woohoo!

4. The infuriating 3rd Reviewer (or in this case the in-FUHRER-iating)
As the session drew to a close, the conversation turned to getting published. One of the biggest headaches and sources of stress and anger for scholarly authors is the infamous ‘3rd reviewer’.

In response to dealing with the frustration of getting 3rd review feedback, the Prof. recommended the video below – Bloody GOLD!

(The quality is not 100%, but well worth it for the relief it brings!)

Add my own practical visual data 2 cents!

Overall I was very glad that I went to the session.

During Q & A, I offered my top picks of the most useful and relatively easy to use free (or free trial/nominal fee) design software programs that others might want to check out if they want to might want to spice up their text-heavy work and present data in a more engaging way.

Prof. Pickering appreciated the practical suggestions. She asked me to email her what my suggestions were. I also had a few attendees ask me afterwards for the names of the programs.

I felt good that I contributed something valuable for my cohort as well as getting exactly what I needed out of the session!

Now to apply it all!

Now, I need to get back to work and  look at how I’m going to integrate this into my Confirmation paper.

If you are doing any kind of research, I highly recommend checking out SQLR as a lit review methodology.

Best of luck and let me know how you get on with it!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. PickeringA Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. PickeringImages: Prof. Pickering Advancing SQLR Handout.

Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocalypse

Usually this blog features events, initiative and personalities where bicycles create positive community change. At times, I also include some researcher aspects to do with my PhD study. This is one such instance.

Departing from our usual bicycle centred posts, the next couple of entries are PhD-orientated as I prepare my PhD Confirmation submission for next Friday. And yes…. I am freaking out! NG.


Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse. Image: PhD Comics

Academic Overload

I’m preparing my PhD Confirmation paper for submission next Friday. Two weeks later I will defend my thesis in my PhD Confirmation seminar.

As you can imagine it has been very busy and somewhat stressful time.

I’ve found myself in the middle of academic overload! I feel like I am in the middle of an Academic Zombie Apocalypse!

Good grief!

The fortnight lead-in was intense anyway. Trimester at uni ended last week. Last Thursday I finished semester classes and said goodbye and good luck to my two Communication and Languages for Science classes and my HDR Writing Workshop, which, I think is ironic given my current stress round my Confirmation submission! Hilarious!

Also, last Friday I finished marking the last of 48 final report assessments for my class. This week all the paperwork, reporting, feedback, blah, blah… you get the picture!

You can see what my classes have been up to on Instagram account at: @nina_griffith_uni    #nina5903   #ninahdrwritingwksp   #eps_hdr

Anyhoo…

Finally, I thought…. now I’ll have concentrated time to ‘catch up’ preparing my submission.

Alas, not quite.

Added to this crazy time has been a convergence of workshops (see next posts). Each of these workshops is interesting and useful, but the timing is very awkward. I still have a lot to do on my paper. All I can think is that I need to be at my desk, all day every day, working on my manuscript.

It seems like I can’t escape! I need to get away!!!

Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocalypse

Image: The Conversation

I am hiding inside, not risking to venture out. I squirrel around at odd hours and lock myself up at night. I have my equipment with me at all times, and bury myself in my work and try and disappear from sight, not making a sound. When someone approaches me, I get nervous, suspicious, and cry out ‘What do you want! Stay away from me!’

It is a very appropriate metaphor. If I had less brain drain, I’d ‘flesh out’ the idea out (tee hee) but I am conserving synapses for Friday.

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse.

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse

Image: kids-army

Academic zombie apocalypse survival kit

Taking inspiration from other zombie survival kits – I’m working on developing my own academic zombie apocalypse survival kit.

I quickly vox popped some academics & PhDers for ideas on what they would include/do/have for this busy time. Here are their suggestions:

  • laptop
  • key journal articles printed out
  • trashy pulp fiction book for mental breaks
  • coffee
  • Sudafed
  • exercise
  • a critical (about work, not you!) and a non-critical friend to talk to
  • good nutritious food
  • a short holiday at the end to look forward to
  • downtime away from communications and electronic devices
  • limit of one drink per week/no drinking alcohol during this time
  • connect with meaningful other/partner
  • designated office space for undisturbed time to work
  • thinking time away from the office (sitting on a bus looking out a window)
  • hot showers
  • good poos
  • sleep

Certainly, a lot less ammo than I expectedl!

I’m going to keep the survival kit idea handy – just in case.

But  the mere act of just talking about starting a academic zombie  apocalypse survival kit has already made me feel a little better.

I think I might go to the office and smash out some more writing for my Confirmation paper!

See ya soon!

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse. Image: The bestschools.orgImage: : thebestschools.org