Halloween special: uncovering what I don't (yet) know

I accepted an invitation a few weeks ago to present at a postgraduate HR conference jointly hosted by Oxford Brookes University and the Chartered Institute of Professional Development. At it, Masters students will present their practice-focussed research to an audience of scholars and practitioners. My work intersects with a number of HR themes, specifically to do with how people experience work, and how organizations host (and structure) that experience. Of course, what I am really interested in is the phenomenon of 'surprise' and whether the relationship between individual and organization can be such that the unexpected can be a mutually positive and beneficial experience. Anyway, this invitation that I accepted was based on my experience in this field, and I was alerted to how this paper could encourage Masters students towards Doctoral research whilst also engaging a professional/practitioner audience.

The particular theme I have selected to present explores digital research methods. I am becoming increasingly passionate about digital research methods but, like many doctoral students 1/3 of the way through their journey, I feel I still have a lot to learn. Nonetheless, I know enough to say that I believe that the online/offline real/unreal distinctions we make about the world we inhabit are becoming very problematic. The way I think about organizations challenges many of those assumptions that were much more stable before cyberspace became geo-located and the virtual became digital. With many of the arguments made by scholars really fresh in my mind, I'm tasked with making sense of my fledgling understanding in the context of a knowledge base which feels - as yet - not fully formed.

Presenting on this subject, and 'exposing myself' for the first time, was always going to be a big step. I have presented in front of large audiences many many times, but this seems to come with a dual challenge of communicating my passion for my research area with emergent methodology: both of which areas I hope to know much more about as each day goes on. I cannot know everything, but I hope that I can prepare a coherent survey of those areas which are of interest to a scholarly and practical audience. There could be something quite horrific about taking this on, but I am trying to spin it into a positive light. It represents development in my doctoral journey, and comes at a really useful time (as I am due to start writing my methodology chapter). I am adamant that I should start with methodology rather than literature review, and this will be a really useful test of how far I have come in connecting with my own - and digital - voice.

I'll report back anon.