When I started here last October, Research Week was an almost mythical thing. The 2nd and 3rd year students talked about it like it was the best week ever. At first, I only equated Research Week with the APG upgrade and therefore stress. Now, I know better.
It was still very stressful, but it was also an amazing opportunity that (it seems) few other departments get. The chance to spend a week talking with other PhDs who can understand your topic, finding out about their topics, listening to presentations and workshops and all around working together to make a better PhD community is a really great thing.
There was a great deal of planning that went into RW this year. I have sincere appreciation for the people involved. From what I understand, it worked much better than last year, so we are continuing to improve as a department. Always a good thing. There was a good combination of first year presentations, workshops on such topics as 'Writing for publication', 'NVIVO 7' and 'Methodology Issues'. There were also guest speakers with truly interesting presentations and the chance to talk to them at more length than our typical lunch seminars throughout the rest of the year give us. We had former PhD students come to tal kabout what they are up to and a few great presentations by senior students to update everyone on where their projects are at. It was a good combination, especially since the week ended in a trip to Liverpool to see the museums there!
I feel that everyone who attended got something out of the week, and for the first years, I think we got quite a bit more than that. No only did it give us the opportunity to present in a safe and comforting environment, but we could have a little fun with it too. And we have a huge support network in place while we took our APGs, which went quite well! It is always a good thing to have people around to celebrate with after such an important event.
I think the best thing that came out of the week, however, was the chance to discuss issues within the department and the PhD community and plan for how to make things EVEN BETTER for next year. We are already well on our way, with our new student reps (yep, one of them is me, your Attic Moderator!), and a great deal of help from all students. Hopefully, when October rolls around and our new first years arrive, things within the department, how the community runs, and the next nine months of their first year, will be as amazing as we can make it.
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.