Friday, 18 July 2014

D is for DOTS

The fourth in an alphabetical series of blog posts: A-Z: An alphabetical journal through the doctoral experience. 

Living, as I now do, in Sheffield, dots have figured large in the last month or so (and I would argue that until the Tour de France concludes, it's legitimate to play on Tour de France references!). As the destination of stage 2 of the Tour de France's Grand Depart, Sheffield's houses, hoardings, bunting and cup cakes have featured the red dots of the tour's King of the Mountains maillot a pois rouge. In fact, so used have I become to the red dot, that I committed a faux pas at a conference last week and chattily assumed that the red dotty dress of the keynote speaker was an ironic reference to the King of the Mountains.  It was not. Cue: strange look from keynote speaker....!

Never mind.  The point of this is that, having nearly completed my data collection, I am now sitting on a large pile of data and am about to embark on new phase of joining the dots!  But what will this actually entail?  Pick up an (over-priced) children's puzzle book in a UK service station and joining the dots will mean creating a recognisable shape from a minimal outline.  So far, so simple. But in the world of academia (also overpriced?) joining the dots means finding a common thread binding multiple perspectives and data.  The first implies anticipating the shape of what my data adds up to and shaping the data to represent it.  The second implies heading into data analysis with a more open spirit, allowing opportunities for discovery, surprise, creativity and challenge.  I know which one appeals most.  I just hope I can hold my nerve in the face of limited time, resources, academic discourse... etc.!  

OK, here I go, I've got my dotty shirt on, ready to scale the heights!