Tuesday, 10 December 2019

The care-full doctorate: Doing a PhD from home with caring responsibilities (Jane Mantzalas)



Photo by Markus Spiske | unsplash.com

Recently I (RED team member – Jamie) celebrated the publication of an article called
Curating care-full spaces: doctoral students negotiating study from home (co-authored with my colleague Dr Genine Hook). Our article is a personal account that traces periods of our own doctoral journeys when Genine and I managed heavy care responsibilities and worked from home. Genine shared her story of writing her PhD in a walk in wardrobe as she was a sole-parent carer for her son, and I shared my story of caring for my mother and writing my PhD inside my parents’ old bedroom. When I shared the news of this publication online, La Trobe graduate researcher Jane Mantzalas contacted me to share some reflections of her own experience of working (and caring) from home. It is important that we recognise that graduate research is not only written in ‘ideal’ environments. Sometimes, in order to manage other priorities in our lives we need to curate different kinds of spaces in order to get our work done. I have invited Jane to share her experiences in this post.

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I am a first-year PhD student from the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (School of Psychology and Public Health) where I am investigating autistic burnout.  I’m also the mum and primary carer of three school-aged children. To balance the demands of full-time study and motherhood, I work from home and only go to campus for weekly supervision and to occasionally attend workshops/seminars that aren’t accessible via Zoom. My work is structured around the school run and I need to maximise every minute, so a daily commute is impractical.  Most nights, I try to study after the kids are asleep (if I can stay awake) and while I aim to keep the weekends for family, part of me is always thinking about my research.  Working from home gives me flexibility to take care of the kids when they’re sick and I’m very fortunate to have supportive supervisors and children.


Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Academic Writing Month 2019: Showing up for ourselves and each other (RED team)


The 'Wall of Achievement' at the Bundoora retreat 2019 

November is a time where tiny ducklings scurry about, hot days arrive and are extinguished by cool showers, and the campus takes on that unique rhythm we call 'exam time'.

For researchers of all kinds, November is also Academic Writing Month or #AcWriMo for short. This is a month-long festival of academic writing where researchers of all kinds commit to making progress on our research goals. #AcWriMo is an event that has a long history of being tended to by researchers, and it is celebrated across Australia and internationally.