Niggles and Wobbles of the EdD Researcher

I’m nearly there! At least, that’s what my supervisor, who has infinite, and what I frequently suspect to be misplaced, faith in me keeps telling me! First full draft due by 4 Jan. Second by mid-Feb. Submission somewhere around March, hopefully in time for a summer graduation. My thesis is all about balancing teaching and parenting.

And this blog isn’t a moan. Honest. I WILL finish it. I remember hitting the ‘no going back’ mark about five months ago, when I KNEW I would, having spent nearly five years of my life on it. Also, I find it fascinating, have so many opportunities to thank it for, and am quite proud of myself for what I’ve achieved so far. Also, those who know me know I’m more upbeat than I have been in ages. I’ve even planned my time carefully to ensure clear blocks of study time and clear blocks of family time and relaxation. And the next three days are clear. Which is lucky, as I haven’t bought many presents yet…

I’ve achieved something today – started writing the final two chapters in full, and I know starting’s always hard, and starting the end bit is harder than most bits, but I don’t feel as proud of myself as usual. Today’s been a bit of a day of niggles and wobbles. I’m not sympathy-seeking. Or even solution-thinking (except the backache bit!). Nor am I fishing for reassurance. But I’m putting these out there, a) in an attempt to shut up the silly unhelpful commentary in my head and b) to reassure others that there are times when it’s rubbish and they do pass. So here they are. My niggles and wobbles!


  1. Guilt, guilt, guilt. It’s the central theme of my EdD, and has been niggling all day. I don’t fuss over Christmas (to be honest, I’m doing my Christmas shopping today), but locking myself away with my studies three days before Christmas day felt like an indulgence too far, and I missed my family time.
  2. Twitter has been my biggest enabler and is now my biggest distraction!
  3. Everyone else is cleverer, better informed and better prepared than me. AKA imposter syndrome. I’m a fraud. Etc. etc. We’ve talked about this one before, I know… [Gives self a stern talking-to]
  4. I’M TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH. I could write for the rest of my life on this topic, frankly. My supervisor keeps telling me to change the world next year.
  5. I’M NOT TRYING TO DO ENOUGH! It’s too narrow, too exclusive, I’m not crediting all of the hundreds of voices I’ve been privileged enough to hear, I’m not giving enough emphasis to the subtlety of the dozens of themes that have arisen.
  6. Structure, structure – making the unfittable fit. I’m in a constant quest for the perfect structure, within each chapter and overall, to capture what I’ve already acknowledged are frequently messy, contradictory thoughts and ideas. This hurts my head.
  7. If you’re going to a job… do it PROPERLY! But I think there’s a general acknowledgement that there’s no such thing as a perfect Doctorate.
  8. Speaking of which, who’s right? All the clever people have different opinions. Who do I listen to?
  9. MY BACK  HURTS. This is a new one. Horrid backache set in about lunchtime today. Clearly the Starbucks sofas aren’t designed for five hour stints – who’d  have thought…? Any tips on this one gratefully received.
  10. I should be cleaning my house. [Actually, this one’s a lie. I rarely worry about this.]


See? I feel better now. Nothing like a good rant, in the wise words of @nancygedge.



8 thoughts on “Niggles and Wobbles of the EdD Researcher

  1. Pingback: Thesis writing advice | A Roller In The Ocean

  2. Brilliant! Feeling rubbishy today and definitely not of ‘super mum’ calibrate as I had a ‘do nothing’ day and let kids run free on ‘all things digital’ (my nemesis). So this rant made me laugh, nod and say ‘yep been there’. But I applaud you… Thesis! Mine was just NPQH
    Keep going girl, I’m cheering for you at the finish line already.

  3. I completely recognise this stage. Had all the wobbles you have had, but honestly, you’ll get there. And when you do, you can clean up and stretch out that back – good luck 🙂

  4. Hope this post helped, Emma – sometimes there’s just such a lot going round in your head that it’s only by getting it out there, on the page, that you can make proper sense of it, process it and come to terms with it.

    I have huge admiration for you and Tim completing your doctorates within a professional context which is so much more demanding than mine – AND against the background of family commitments too. I’ve found mine tough enough, and in many respects my situation is considerably easier.

    One thing I’m learning is that everyone’s journey, and everyone’s doctorate, may be different, and we all find our own way of making it work. You know now you WILL finish, and it’s just a question of when. And think how elated you will feel when you do!

    Just one thing re: timing – it may just be Nottingham, and Middlesex may be different, but in order to graduate in the summer Nottingham say you have to have submitted by 1 Feb. Just worth checking?

  5. Emma I love reading your blog…I am just starting an EdD and my rough proposal is about parents who are teachers and their leadership ambitions. Obviously you are really busy but I just wanted to say that you have helped me a lot already and you are one of the clever people that I look up to!

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