December 2014 marks a bit of a turning point if I am honest. This time last year I was mourning my mother (still am really), I was about three months from completing my doctoral thesis and 2014 itself was yawning before me like some 22 month year in anticipation of ‘the oceans of time I would have’ post-PhD. Only two of these turned out to the way I had thought. This year turned out to be a long struggle with both NUIM (now Maynooth University) and the Office of the Ombudsman.
In an earlier post I outlined very briefly how the Registrar’s Office insisted on a fifth year of fees despite completing the thesis to academic satisfaction in four. This struggle was not helped by an intransigent postholder keen to imprint a particular style of management. There was an insistence on rules which were for their own sake, not reflected in common practice. I asked the Office of the Ombudsman to examine my case, in advance of shelling out €3,400 for nothing. It took so long for that office to examine and rule on my case that by September, I felt no choice but to pony up anyway. I wanted my doctoral thesis examined this side of Christmas. I may well reflect on the viva process in a future post but the pre-viva experience has been alienating to say the least. I will not say too much about my interaction with the Office of the Ombudsman until my appeal of their decision has been brought to a conclusion.
In the meantime, things that are more positive from an academic point of view: I successfully defended my thesis (with Prof. Avril Maddrell as external examiner) and I managed to write a couple of thousand words for various upcoming projects. The most exciting of these is making a small contribution to an exhibition of photography to be held at Darc Space, Dublin 1 next month. I’ll be blogging about that once it opens. I’ve also managed to contribute a book chapter to a volume on the bible in Ireland which might be published in 2015. However, and this is where the clouds are a little darker, I need to adjust my writing style for articles. Someone close to me says that I write blog posts well but when it comes to journal articles, I lose coherence and not a little clarity. It is as if I feel the need to write like ‘an academic’, a style that was cultivated while an MA student in the 1990s. I continue to receive great support from friends and others in my pursuit of a new career. For now, here’s another plug for the RSP interview I did earlier this year which I enjoyed doing very much. Chris Cotter and the wider team have done some excellent work. Here’s hoping that NSRN Online benefits from Chris’s energy and enthusiasm.