Over the last few months there have been several narratives exploring how the radiography profession can increase research capacity. Many of the social media conversations have focused on the challenges to achieving this for individuals. Radiographers want to and have the ability carry out research- it is carving out the time to achieve this which is difficult.
As an academic I am very fortunate to have scholarly activity time I can access. However, it become apparent over the summer that if I was to drive my professional doctorate work forward trying to complete it in my own free time was not going to be enough. Therefore, I thought I would use this blog to share some recent lessons learnt.
Look for support. Whether this is time or mentoring start looking. There are opportunities out there. For me it was about applying for internally funded workload to release me from my duties so I could concentrate on my research. If you cannot get support locally, I would urge anyone who wants to do research to visit the Society and College of Radiographers career progression webpages as a starting point.
Make yourself accountable. I had been sitting on the application form for a few months. I realised that if I verbalised out loud to a group of peers that I was going to apply this would make me accountable. Now and again I would get a gentle reminder or offer of support to get the forms completed and submitted. Nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get a task completed.
You are not an imposter. A fortuitous opportunity that has arisen from asking for help is access to our Faculty “research career guidance”. I was taken aback when I was asked to consider this as I do not think of myself as a researcher. Neither had I considered what my career would be like after my Doctorate was completed. I was reminded of Professor Peter Hogg telling a room full of radiographers that a Doctorate is not the end-point rather the beginning of a lifelong research trajectory. (Although a five-year plan is more than sufficient now given my completion year will be 2021).
Unexpected bonus. Even if I had been unsuccessful in this round of applications completing the forms required me to articulate my research plans for the coming years. This also included a mapping exercise of how my scholarly activity time would be used and justification of why additional time was needed above this. Year 2 of my Doctorate involves a 13,000-word portfolio with a progression viva. I have not started as the whole prospect was daunting (apologies if my research supervisor is reading this). By filling in the request forms I now have a clear road map of what I need to achieve.
So, there are my experiences of what happens if you ask. I hope the blog post inspires fellow radiographers new to this thing called research. If nothing else, it counts towards the reflective logs I am keeping as I develop my research question this year. My Doctorate mantra for 2016/2017- work smarter not harder.