Old endings…new beginnings

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Whew! Ahh!…now I can catch my breath! Another academic year comes to an end for me and I can now look back with smiles on an exciting year full of old endings and new beginnings. It has been a rather frantic dash to the finish line over the past days as I scurried to clear up my desk before setting off into the sun.

This has been my proper first year of being a full-time academic without the additional  trauma drama of being a PhD student at the same time. To keep up the nostalgia of student life and remain a professional student, I did sign up for a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education on a part-time basis starting in January, 2018 at my current institution. It has been a rewarding experience having the time to reflect on my teaching philosophy. I am now beginning to build up a repertoire of approaches, techniques and the necessary skill set to enhance my teaching and the learning experience of my students.

I have enjoyed the ups and downs that came my way this academic year. I have found both teaching and research to be fun (newbie syndrome?). The tricky bit I experienced was upon my return from paternity leave at the start of term 2 in February, 2018. The craze of catching up, looming marking deadlines and admin to sort out all left me feeling a bit dizzy. But this phase passed and I was able to get to a more regular rhythm of routines.

Gradually, I find myself growing, developing and ‘owning’ my new identity as a full time academic but sometimes it does feel a bit unreal and I have to pinch myself to say, ‘wake up mate!, the students are looking up to you to shape their learning and impact your “expert” knowledge’. Pinching myself is a way to deal with the impostor syndrome that tend to rear its head every now and then. I recently came across this post on Twitter which resonated well with me…….

Words and pronunciation

As a ferocious reader while growing up (full story on another day), I read anything that had text on it including discarded Robot Chewing gum wrappers on the street. Image result for robot chewing gum ghana

These wrappers came printed with insightful and funny Q&A such as – Q: Do fishes sleep? A: Yes, but with eyes open….ahhh full nostalgia coming on but I digress. Reading a lot while growing up has meant that I have picked up on the meaning of an awful lot of words (especially old fashioned English words) and the apt context to deploy these but often struggle with their pronunciation. The Twitter post got me thinking about how this particular word which is used a lot within Higher Education often tripped me out in the beginning. This word…

module

How on earth do you pronounce this word on first encounter if you didn’t grow up learning phonics (or perhaps not paying enough attention in English Language class). For a more mundane example, try pronouncing this one…

Burgoyne Road

In any case, it has been an excellent first year of academic life and one of the highlights has been that I got nominated by one (or more) of my students for the Sheffield Hallam University Inspirational Teaching Awards 2018 – Outstanding Student Support. This was a pleasantly unexpected surprise (a cliché but apt). The nomination came with the following student(s) comments about me….

Very real and helpful. Honestly, would get back to me very fast when I was stressed or just needed a few questions answering. Just a good example what every tutor should be like, so supportive. Unfortunately, not everyone is.

In research terms, this year has been productive so far. I had a paper published on “Tourism and national economic development planning in Ghana” and still have a couple of others currently going through the review process. I am also co-editing a special issue on “Sustainability in tourism policy and planning in Sub Saharan Africa”. This has been an enriching experience in learning about the mechanics of being an Editor-in-Chief of a journal (full story on another day). It does sometimes feel like a heavy responsibility being a gate-keeper – also when I am reviewing papers for other journals. Essentially, I am making decisions on the acceptance or rejection of someone’s hard work. I do take solace in the words of a senior colleague who explained that, “its ‘hazards’ of the job! Any academic afraid of ‘rejection’ is, I dare say, in the wrong profession!” So, I press on in providing reviews and recommendations to the best of my ability and judgement.

Throughout this academic year, I have come to realise even more strongly the importance of family support. I am most indebted to my dear wife Marre and our kids – Zoë, Joshua and Daniel – for their understanding, patience and support. It is an old ending of trying to fit you guys around work and a new beginning of fitting work around spending quality time with you. The wise words of my former Sociology Lecturer – the late Dr. Kojo Wireko-Brobbey (the Lord bless his soul) still echoes in my head. On many occasions in class, he would often say…

The success of work life can never compensate for the failure of home life

This is going to be my motto going forward into the next academic year as I rearrange work life to fit around family life. This is simply because the success of home life can always compensate for the failure of work life.

Now, we are off into the sun to relax, reconnect and recharge the batteries for what comes next. I can’t wait to dip my bare feet into the sand and sea while inhaling the serenity of this spot…

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The story of tourism in Ghana’s economic development plans since independence in 1957

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It has been 61 years since Ghana become an independent country. If it were to be a person, Ghana as a public service worker is now 1 year into compulsory retirement and living on pension. As ever, much of the debate around today’s Independence Day celebration will be around how much monthly pension our pensioner Ghana is receiving. Underlying this is whether Ghana made any significant investments and savings while it was in active service. There are many things to be proud of as an Independent Ghana but there are also a lot more to be done…starting with a confident re-imagination of the society we want and taking a sustained approach to achieving this. In this regard, perhaps it is time to consider the central role tourism (international, but especially domestic tourism) can play in re-imagining the beauty and potential in our land.

In my recently published research article *in the International Development Planning Review journal (see first page below), I trace the evolution of tourism within national economic development planning since independence. Tourism has consistently been identified as a viable option for national development although successive governments have taken different approaches to the sector. In this overview paper, I take a historical approach in showing the changes in the thinking around tourism’s role in economic development starting from the 7-year Development Plan for National Reconstruction and Development, 1934/64 – 1969/70 through to the most recent Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II, 2014-2017. I analyse how tourism came to be positioned as one of seven key economic pillars for transforming the national economy and identify some of the ongoing challenges facing the sector.

IDPR Paper first page

Not too long ago, I managed to get access to one of the first national socio-economic development plans developed in Ghana at the British Library in London. In this Second 5-year Development Plan of 1959-1964 tabled before Parliament by Kwame Nkrumah’s government, there was a full chapter dedicated to ‘The Tourist Industry’ (Chapter IV). In outlining the goal of the plan in his opening statement, the then President of the country stated that; “What is the basic objective of our Plan? It is simply this. We believe that it should show what we have to do – by our on hard work, by the use of natural resources, and by encouraging investment in Ghana – to give us a stand of living which will abolish disease, poverty, and illiteracy, give our people ample food and good housing, and let us advance confidently as a nation (pg. iii, emphasis mine). The development of tourism was seen as key to this vision. The drafters of the plan argued that;

“The possibilities for developing a tourist industry in Ghana are immense. The country has one of the best climates in West Africa. It is easily accessible, both by air and by sea, and is therefore a good stopping place for people ravelling to or from other parts of the West, Central and South Africa. Its scenery is varied, there are numerous historical monuments, and the traditions and ways of life of its people are a great attraction for visitors. Quite apart from external visitors to Ghana, it is important to provide tourist facilities for Ghanaian themselves. With the development of the country, and the spread of education, the number of Ghanaians able to take a vacation for a week or more is growing very rapidly, and Ghanaian tourists visiting different parts of the country will probably always exceed the number of visitors from abroad. Even if there were no external visitors it is desirable to encourage Ghanaians to travel around their country, and to provide facilities for them to do so” (Government of Ghana, Second 5-year Development Plan of 1959-1964; pg. 24-25)

As we celebrate 61 years of national independence, it is perhaps timely to revisit how tourism can help ignite and encourage the confident re-imagination of the society we want in Ghana, land of my birth.

 

*Do send me a message if you would like to but can’t get access to the full copy of the research article

Out in print now: Sustainability in Tourism Policy and Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa (a special issue)

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The wait is over and I am delighted to share with you the special issue on “Sustainability in Tourism Policy and Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa: past, present and future” that is now out in print. I edited this issue with my buddy Albert Kimbu who is based at the University of Surrey and it has been a good learning experience. It has taken all of 2 years from the initial idea to this finished product and we hope you find some inspirations in these papers.

In our editorial (free to access through the link) we note that…

This Special Issue on Sustainability in tourism policy and planning in Sub-Saharan Africa: past, present and future, reassesses the process of tourism policy and planning in SSA over the years. This is set against the wider context of the UNWTO having declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) having three of the seventeen goals making an explicit reference to tourism in goal 8: economic growth and employment, goal 12: sustainable consumption and production, and goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (United Nations, 2016). The tourism sector is ergo being called upon to explicitly integrate sustainability in its economic, social and environmental dimensions than has been done previously. This Special Issue therefore considers how the increasing focus on sustainability in policy discourses are shaping current and future tourism policy and planning in the SSA context. The papers are drawn from across all the different sub-regions of sub-Saharan Africa and provide a critical (re)examination of the role of tourism policies, plans and practices in achieving sustainable development in SSA.

My own paper in this special issue is also freely available (50 copies) through this link

https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/z8epyuHMDtUFMUAEuTnM/full?target=10.1080/21568316.2018.1537002

The rest of the articles in this special issue are available from this link

https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rthp21/16/2?nav=tocList

SI cover page with contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

editorial

Appointment as Co-editor for Tourism Planning and Development Journal

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I am delighted to announce that my application was successful and that I have been appointed as co-editor for Tourism Planning and Development Journal. It is an exciting, albeit nervous, new season in my academic career and I am looking forward to this challenge. Over the past year, I have published in and have been co-editing a Special Issue in this journal so it is a real privilege to have this opportunity. As a co-editor I will be working with my senior colleagues Professor Richard Sharpley and Professor Marina Novelli.

Tourism Planning and Development (TDP) is an international, ranked, peer-reviewed journal published by Taylor and Francis which aims to;

explore and advance our theoretical and practical understandings of the intersections between tourism, planning and development studies. Each of these fields of study is characterised by rich scholarly and interdisciplinary traditions. TPD seeks to leverage these and other complementary scholarly traditions to build new interdisciplinary understandings in tourism planing and development. 

The official announcement of my appointment can be found here: http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/pgas/rthp-announces-co-editor

Co-editorship

Let the party begin……pexels-photo-900102

 

Historical Trajectories of Tourism Development Policies and Planning in Ghana, 1957–2017

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I am delighted to be able to share free copies of my freshly minted research article that has been published. Use this link to get your free copy….

https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/z8epyuHMDtUFMUAEuTnM/full 

Feedback and comments are very much welcomed…

The abstract is below…

Historical Trajectories of Tourism Development Policies and Planning in Ghana, 1957–2017

Abstract

Historical research on tourism development policies and planning is generally limited, with scant attention on destinations in the Global South. This paper traces the historical trajectories of the development of tourism policy and planning in Ghana using the analytic framework of ‘Development First’ and ‘Tourism First’. The analysis builds on a 3-year research project and using the framework approach to qualitative analysis provides a detailed contextual analysis of key national economic development plans and national tourism development policies and plans. Four broad political eras of tourism development and planning are identified – i) 1957 – 1966: post-independence era of Development First; ii) 1966 – 1981: political instability era of Tourism First; iii) 1981 – 2000: structural adjustment era of mixed Tourism First-Development First and; iv) 2000 – 2017: democratic consolidation era of Development First. The analysis highlights how the distinct historical contexts of state involvement shape the present and future characteristics of tourism development. The implications of this paper suggest the need for more detailed exploration of the historical processes of tourism development in Global South destinations. Such exploration provide important insights into the critical role of the state in the development and implementation of tourism policies and the effects on the sustainability of tourism development.

Keywords: Ghana, tourism history, local economic development, poverty reduction, sustainability, tourism planning and development, tourism policy

Phuket, recon survey and the ‘formalisation’ of informal economic activities

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Finally, the ‘see you soon’ became a reality as I arrived at Phuket International Airport on Monday night for the Inclusive Innovation in Tourism research Workshop. 20180827_144337There a number of firsts in this experience – first time in Asia (and obviously first time in Thailand) and significantly my first time experiencing jetlag after crossing multiple time-zones from West to East. It is still a bit of a funny feeling to think that it was already close to 10pm local time when I got to my accommodation while my body clock said 4pm (UK time). I am kind of glad I binged-watched movies on the flight rather than sleep as it helped to counterbalance the jetlag a bit and helped me to sleep.

It was nice to see the little welcome from the pre-booked taxi company at the arrival terminal. The guy who was there to meet me was impressed with my exceedingly long name. 20180827_145759

After a night in a dormitory at a hostel, I moved to check in at the venue of the workshop.20180828_073935.jpg

Once I had dropped my bags in my room (which is such a nice contrast to my bunk bed in the hostel), I went for the mandatory reconnaissance survey of the neighbourhood. Phuket – well Patong Beach specifically – is an interesting place. In a number of respects, there were parts of what I saw that reminded me of cities such as Accra and Kumasi in Ghana and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. There is a key difference between these cities because Patong is built for and around tourist/tourism unlike the other two. The similarities for me were to be found in the informal economic activities, the easy access to street food and all the little corner (fashion) shops on every place you look.

 

An interesting observation that jumped out at me was the calmness of informal trade which appears to be very regulated. The shops and products do not spill over the streets nor take over the pavements as you could find in Accra or Kumasi. However, owners keep their wares  neatly arranged on shelves. Taxis – tuk tuk, motor cycles and 4X4s are all parked within designated spaces. While sellers call out to potential buyers, I did not see the pushy approach and arm pulling that one would expect to encounter in say Kejetia, Kumasi or Kantamanto, Accra. From what I have seen, even the informal can be ‘formalised’ and regulated so that both public space and pavements can be used for their purposes without inconveniencing pedestrians or depriving others of their daily bread. This has implication for policy makers grappling with managing urban spaces in cities such as Accra and Kumasi.

20180828_093312.jpg

Okay, now back to the main reason why I am in Phuket….the welcome reception was nice and the dinner buffet was excellent. In the interest of public disclosure, I must say that I have taken myself off the weight-watchers list. I have accepted the fact that I will be gaining some extra kilograms from all the great food on offer. I aim to make use of the gym and swimming pool here – but who do I kid? Let’s just see how it goes….my presentation is tomorrow so I need to put some finishing touches to it now…

 

Africa Tourism Leadership Forum & Inaugural Africa Travel and Tourism Innovation Awards 2018

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The Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) and yours truly are pleased to invite you to the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and the inaugural Africa Travel and Tourism Innovation Awards 2018. The Forum is being hosted by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the auspices of the Ghana Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The event will take place on 30 and 31 August, at the Accra International Convention Centre.

The ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders from Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights and devise strategies for sustainable travel and tourism development across the continent, while enhancing enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa”. ATLF is the first of its kind and aims at promoting tourism as a major sustainable development pillar and core socio-economic diversification factor for African destinations.

With the inaugural Africa Travel and Tourism Innovation Awards, ATLF will also highlight and recognize game-changing initiatives being pursued across the sector. These will include progressive policy-making, thought leadership, innovation, sustainable investments and public-private community partnerships that are making waves across Africa’s tourism sector. Africa’s tourism sector now accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in the global workforce. According to WTTC global outlook 2017, the sector is anticipated to support over 380 million jobs, by 2027. For Sub-Saharan Africa, it is a powerful development path for economic diversification, given the abundance of tourism resources, (World Bank, 2014). In spite of these, the sector’s contribution to African economies remains unrecognized. It is against this background that ATLF is being convened to help give the sector the recognition that it deserves.

The Awards categories are:

• Leading in Progressive Policies’ Award

• Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award
• Women in Leadership Award
• Most Innovative Business Tourism Destination Award
• Outstanding Accommodation Facility / Group Award
• Outstanding Tourism Transportation Award
• Outstanding Africa Tourism Media Award
• Championing Sustainability Award

Nomination form can be downloaded from: tourismleadershipforum.africa or requested from nozipho@africatourismpartners.com . Interested parties should take note of following key dates:

• Submission of nominations – July 30, 2018.
• Announcement of Nominations – August 10, 2018.
• Announcement of winners at Awards Dinner – Friday, August 31, 2018 in Accra, Ghana.

All nominations should be received via email at: nozipho@africatourismpartners.com by no later than the July 30, 2018.

The Awards will be judged by a committee of renowned African and global tourism experts including academics and audited by Grant Thornton. I am excited to be part of part of the awards judging committee 🙂 

For registration kindly visit: tourismleadershipforum.africa

 

 

10 years on from my first graduation…

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Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20)

Today, 28th June marks exactly 10 years since I walked across the podium of the Great Hall at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology graduating with a BA in Sociology and Social Work (First Class Honours). What a journey it has been over the past 10 years!?! Wildly beyond my thoughts and exceedingly above what I could ever have dreamt of at that time. I am so grateful and thankful to God for the manifold blessings beyond what I could ever have asked for.

So in a slide show picture essay, I want to celebrate my first decade after my first graduation with a look at all my other graduations since 2008. A big shout out to my family and friends for being there with me along the journey of many graduations…..especially to Marre, my special friend and dear wife.

May, 2008 (Republic Hall Annex, KNUST): After writing my last ever undergraduate exam paper, my roommates took me through the ritual of water pounding

 

 

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28th June, 2008 (Great Hall,Parade Grounds etc, KNUST): Graduation from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – BA Sociology and Social Work (First Class Honours)

 

 

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25th January, 2011 (The Barbican Centre, London): Graduation from King’s College London – MSc Tourism, Environment and Development (Distinction)

 

 

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17th June, 2013 (IBEI, Barcelona): Graduation from both Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals, Spain and International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands – MA International Development Policy (Higher Merit)

 

 

 

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17th July, 2017 – (Home and The Octagon, Sheffield): Graduation from University of Sheffield – PhD from Department of Urban Studies and Planning

 

 

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In the constant rush to get to the next big thing, and the next, and the next, we don’t often pause long enough to look behind at where we started from and trace our accomplishments to where we are at the moment. So now I choose to pause, to reflect and to bask in a wonderful decade of my academic journey. Sometimes I feel like being in a classroom (teaching or being taught) is all I have ever known since my parents first sent me to kindergarten. Being a student and an academic has been one of my most enduring identities and I easily find fulfilment through these identities.

 

Here is to another decade of academic fulfilment starting with this song……

 

 

 

Phuket…here I come (soon)!

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I am delighted to have been successful with my application and to have been invited to the Newton Funded Researcher Links Workshop on INCLUSIVE INNOVATION IN TOURISM. This Researcher Links Workshop is taking place in Phuket, Thailand at the end of August and…

…provides a unique opportunity for early career researchers from the UK, Thailand and internationally to share research expertise and network, exploring opportunities for building long-lasting collaborations related to inclusive innovations and new business models in tourism. During the workshops early career researchers will be expected to participate actively by leading or engaging in workshop paper sessions, discussion panels and interactive event activities.

The aim of the workshop is….

…to support international development-relevant research, contribute to capacity building of early career researchers,  and establish new research links or significantly develop existing links, with the potential for longer term sustainability in the area of inclusive innovation for enhanced local experience in tourism. 

The exciting part for me is that the British Council is covering the related cost of my participation at the workshop (travel, visa fees, accommodation and meals). It is a packed and intensive programme of learning and networking activities from Day 1 to Day 4.  but I am looking forward to making new connections. I will be presenting a paper on “Institutional thickness, inclusive innovation and tourism‐led local economic development planning”.

This being my first ever trip to continental Asia, it would have been nice to see more of this place. However, the workshop programme is too tight to meander and the length of stay too short to linger.

phuket

As I don’t really do bucket list stuff, I guess I am not going to be too disappointed to find out I ended up completing only 1 of the “18 best things to do in Phuket” – which is basically that I was there but holed up in a conference room for the whole time. For what it’s worth, it might leave a lingering desire to go back for a long family holiday.

Reflections on the PhD journey: an academic life story

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This is a short article I wrote (without the cartoons) for the University of Sheffield Doctoral Times Magazine. The final formatted version has been published and accessible from here  https://www.flipsnack.com/Tuostimes/doctoral-times-issue-17.html (Pg. 13)

 

academia

It was during my undergraduate days in Ghana that I developed the romantic idea of becoming an academic. At that time, I saw being academic as the career par excellence – you get to read and write at leisure, impact knowledge to impressionable undergraduates and weary postgraduates and have generally such great flexibility in terms of lifestyle. It was clear to me back then that completing a PhD was the most basic requirement so it was a dream come true when I was offered a University of Sheffield Faculty Scholarship to begin my PhD in September, 2013. Now when I look back on it, the PhD time was such a great and wonderful time of ‘unfettered’ freedom and flexibility. Sure there was the big thing about the thesis that wouldn’t get out of your head. However, it was also a time when you could decide to put your feet up for a few days or weeks just to relax, go to a conference, write a book chapter or a journal article or just simply read anything you want. I know this does not always apply to all people especially if you a STEM or Arts student with experiments to tend and or lab equipment to queue for. But even then I think there is much more room for some flexibility if one takes the view of enjoying the journey (as well as the destination called thesis).

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management at Sheffield Hallam University and I still consider my PhD days to have been more flexible. As a PhD student, I could technically start my working day at 10am or 1pm but now if there is a class to be taught or a seminar to be led at 9am, I just can’t postpone it. My point is that enjoy life as a PhD student in all its variegated complexities because it could just be one of the best times of your life. If you consider academia as your place, then use the PhD period to build up experience in teaching, publishing, organising conference, working in administration, applying for little grants and funds, networking etc. If the PhD process already leaves you disillusioned about academia then still build up experience that can help you transition to a career outside academia. Increasingly there are a number of resources being made available within the university to cater for those interested in the alt-academic (alternative academic) career paths – seek for these resources. Check out the Think Ahead blog which features a weekly blog from someone who made this alt-academic career move after their PhD.

I must be honest here and add that landing that elusive first academic position does not always come easy or depend entirely on having the experiences I just listed above. In my very short lived experience, I can say that it is a matter of timing and luck. Certainly, your experience in teaching, publishing etc. does count but when that is combined with being in the right place at the right time with the right vacancy open then the stars align. It can be frustrating sometimes because you cannot always force the stars to align. One can only do what is possible with gaining the right experiences. In the end a great deal of determination, perseverance and grit is needed while waiting for luck and time to align.

Irrespective of which stage of the PhD you find yourself, I would recommend the following books for you. I found them incredibly useful for my journey and I hope you do to:

  • Phillips, E., & Pugh, D. (2010). How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and their supervisors. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
  • Petre, M., & Rugg, G. (2010). The unwritten rules of PhD research. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
  • Dunleavy, P. (2003). Authoring a PhD: How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2014). Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. Routledge.

researchtrajectory

So is my romantic idea of an academic life holding up to scrutiny? Well, not quite yet – especially within the super time-stressed pressed higher education sector in the UK. I am building up the reality bit by bit and so there is still hope of dreams coming true. These things do take time so I am not giving up on the dream.