Week 98: Hard work pays off

My room smells of vanilla and chocolate because I’ve just baked chocolate chip banana bread! This feels like a bit of a special treat for this weekend.

Yesterday I had the last supervision meeting of the second year of my PhD programme, and I was glad to hear that my supervisors are happy with my draft of Chapter 2. I still have to make some minor changes to complete it, but for now, I have a little bit of a ‘honeymoon’ feeling as my four months of work have finally paid off!

In the meeting, we discussed my research progress and schedule. I asked my supervisor if it is feasible for me to submit my thesis next year. She said “yes”, provided I am not too ambitious about the quantity of analysis. We then agreed to aim to submit it in December 2019. Having been quite anxious about my thesis progress, I was so glad to hear that and am now confident to devote myself to accomplishing it.

I printed out all of my working drafts annotated by my supervisors: Chapters 1, 2, and 3, fieldwork reports that will be included in Chapter 4, and data transcripts that will be the source of analysis for Chapter 5. I found that some sections that I worked on last year don’t make sense now, but will just leave them at this stage.

My next step will be to go back to the data and start the analysis.


My working chapters
On Monday, I cleaned my desk.
On Thursday, I cleaned the kitchen.


Learning about ‘reader-friendly’ writing

A week ago Luca and I visited our friend, who finished his PhD in mathematics three years ago.

I saw, on his bookshelf, his hardbound thesis, placed in a position I could reach, and I asked him if I could read it. He looked happy. I took down the thick and heavy book and treated it very carefully.

I immediately noticed that, although the content (a maths thesis) was too difficult for me to understand, the structure, tone of writing, and presentation of data made it easy to follow. I felt that the thesis considers the readers well. My next thought was: that was something I might be ignoring in my writing, and I must learn how to consider my readers.

His thesis has a good structure with clear subheadings, lots of visual data (figures, tables) and many signposts to show the reader the process, all of which makes it easy to follow. And the writer’s subject pronoun was ‘we’.

Since then, I have been randomly reading websites on what is reader-friendly and how to enhance it. I found this content very interesting: Get Read: A guide to making reader-friendly publications by Les Robinson. This is a guide to writing and designing good reader-friendly publications, but it looks very helpful for any writers.

This is my quick summary of ‘reader-friendly’ qualities, based on the guide above. The link is here.

  1. The content must be designed based on readers’ interests.
  2. Stop being logical.
  3. Break up articles into easily digestible chunks.
  4. Be visual.
  5. Make each heading into an informative statement.
  6. Avoid content-free headings.
  7. Be brief, be simple
  8. Be aware of and avoid language that stereotypes gender, nationalities, etc.

What struck me most was “Stop being logical”, the explanation being that a reader’s ordering of information is frequently exactly the opposite of a writer’s. The guide’s advice is to “Write interestingly and aim to create motivation. Then discuss your subject in a way that is relevant and interesting to your readers. Complicated points can be introduced in stages.” These are not easy to perform, but are so worth trying.


Chocolate Chip Banana bread

I baked banana bread using Donal Skehan’s recipe. Freshly baked banana bread and coffee smell simply wonderful, and I truly love this recipe.

Luca normally doesn’t like the banana bread sold in shops, but he ate almost all of this bread. I personally prefer the shape of a square tin to a loaf tin, and will sprinkle nuts on the top next time.


Chocolate Chip Banana bread


Lovely moist bread!


My achievements in week 98

  • had a good discussion with my supervisors over my draft and clarified the next step
  • completed the two-year course of the teaching programme (the certification will be arriving in two weeks)
  • bought a cocktail-making set and learnt how to make different gin cocktails at home
  • outlined Chapter 4

Goals for week 99

  • finish the revision of Chapter 2
  • work on Chapter 4
  • bake Chocolate Swirl Buns


With a cup of coffee for Sunday brunch

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