It’s so good to have you here!

I’m Eleanor, and I’ve worked with doctoral and early career researchers for over a decade. Along the way, I’ve learnt an enormous amount from my own experiences (including getting a PhD from Oxford, working part- and full-time while self-funding my doctorate, being a mum to an infant-school child, learning how to manage my anxiety) and from training hundreds of other researchers as the lead for the University of Oxford’s Researcher Development programme for social scientists.

I’ve seen that while everyone’s research journey is unique, there’s a lot of experience and expertise that could be shared between researchers. Unfortunately, most only have access to a handful of peers in their own department, so what’s known  never circulates far.

I’ve created this blog to be a nexus for that knowledge, in the hope of sharing insights and support that might not otherwise be available to researchers in their immediate academic environment.

Given my own hinterland, I’m particularly interested in the challenges facing:

  • researchers with complex and competing demands on their time, energy and attention, wherever these come from (including parenting or caring responsibilities, work, mental and physical health conditions)
  • FirstGen doctoral students who find themselves on new terrain, often without a person they feel they can chat to informally about their experiences of research and being a researcher
  • mature research students who’ve been away from the academic world, and find it’s changed immeasurably in the intervening years.

The vibe I’m aiming for is as though we were sitting having an informal chat over a cup of coffee. I can be quite direct in my recommendations, but at the same time I’m respectful, and completely committed to seeing every PhD project as situated in, and ultimately a product of, the researcher’s holistic experience. 

I encourage an intentional approach to academic practice, one that values setting realistic goals and showing up consistently, and celebrates incremental gains and improvements. You’ll find no glorification of long-hours, 7-day weeks, or or juggernaut productivity approaches here (although such voices abound elsewhere online, if that’s your cup of tea).

I want for you to feel a sense of ease in starting where you are, to feel assured that every action you take – however small – is part of the total that’s necessary to get you through your project (#Truth), and to know how to use your finite time and energy as effectively as possible. 

I blog weekly, and the content will include:

  • Access to tools and tips about the practicalities of doing the work
  • Tools for thinking with, about what it means to do your PhD your way
  • Insights from a diverse range of researchers into how they manage their work in the context of their holistic lives, to share experiences across our wider community

When I’m away from my laptop, I’m probably walking in the woodlands near my Oxford home, batch-cooking family meals as a gift to future-me, or immersed in the writing group’s latest book recommendation.

If I could write a post just for you (and it’s absolutely on the cards), what would it be about? Let me know below! 

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