What am I doing?

Research pathway

Your project and your ideas have their own individual pathway. Work to your own pathway and use progress metrics that suit you and your advisers.


Your pathway will change.


go off track.


This end up being great, or

 it may seem like a waste of time.

General rule:

It hasn’t been done.

If it has been done, it has been done poorly*


So, your ideas and your research are always able to contribute.


Research is theory and measurement

These things go together.

How can you evaluate whether you are adequately assessing your theory, if you don’t understand your measures?

If you need to find some measures, then how can you evaluate whether they are good measures if you aren’t across the theory?

Just adopt your adviser's theory/ measures? Imagine yourself at a conference getting questions about your research. How will you defend your own research, without your own, solid understanding of the theory and measures?


Know the theories near your research

What are the theoretical claims?

What can be explained by current theory?

What are the proposed mechanisms behind this?

What is not being explained?

Aim to advance the theory.

Figure out the measures to test your theory well. That’s what research is. If you can’t link it to theory, or can’t measure it, you will face constant battles.


How to be on top of measurement:

Know the theory. Know the different measures for the theory. Compare and contrast the measures and the theory:

What are the different measures doing? What are the gaps between the measures, and between theory and measures? Why do the gaps exist?

Does it make sense across contexts (e.g. developmentally, cross-culturally)?

Can this be used to describe anyone you have ever met? Or are you just describing variables?

How is the data analysed? Does the data analysis suit the theory and data type?

Ask all these questions. Then seek to answer them.


Some hints for thinking about measures:

What is the task?

What are people (or animal/computer/thing) asked to do in the task?

What aspect of cognition, behaviour, education (or other) is that task trying to measure?

If someone (or animal) does poorly on that task, what does that indicate about their cognitive (or other) ability? If someone (or animal) does well on that task, then what can we say about their cognitive (or other) ability? How is this related to the theory? Does that accurately represent people (or animals)?

Just because others have used it, doesn’t mean it’s good for your research



Things will go wrong.

More things will go right and still be wrong,

And even more things will fuck up


Each time things fuck up, you’re going to learn something.

You can’t create something intelligent and innovative without fucking up every now and then.

Fucking up is not the end of the world

Sometimes your research will seem shit

But that might reflect how your thinking has developed.

Not everyone has gone through the same thinking process as you. So maybe you would do it all differently now, but that doesn’t mean your research isn’t good. What you have done might still make a contribution to research.



Critically reflection is good

But don’t criticise yourself or your research. Let others do that if they want to.




There are hard and soft deadlines.

Hard deadline: strict cut-off dates (grants and conferences)


Soft deadline: your research


You will meet your hard deadlines (possibly with little sleep), but the tough thing is to keep the soft deadline projects progressing without deadlines.

There are many ways to keep your PhD progressing.

Different techniques work for different people, and sometimes a familiar technique stops working.

I’m not going to tell you a bunch of techniques. Look it up on the internet. Or I dunno, do that Pomeranian thing**.




[add something about never getting around to doing non-urgent things]




*Thanks Jason Forte and Robert A Reeve
**This is a bad joke. No, I’m not a dad.