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New year, new projects, new datasets, new life

The end of the year was even more hectic than I thought it would be, so I really didn’t have much time to actually sit down and write what I had learned in the past semester, let alone the entire year. I started the year hitting the pavement running, so I haven’t had much time for self-reflection, something I promised myself I would seek to engage in on a regular basis (as I also promised myself I’d seek balance in my academic and personal lives). But I’m glad that I always write notes while I travel (usually for research, fieldwork or conferences). I scribbled the following few paragraphs on my trip from Lisbon to London, and they are a solid reflection of my state of mind towards the end of the year.

Even though I did not report my datasets on my CV nor on my annual report, constructing them was actually the part that I absolutely loved about this 2013. Actually from July 2012 onwards. I spent the vast majority of this and half of last year doing new fieldwork, collecting new data, examining potential field sites for future research. And building datasets. For the past little while I had felt that I needed a renewal. There is only so much you can do with data from your PhD dissertation.

The only way I have gotten away with publishing anything out of my PhD thesis has been updating the data and reexamining the methods. I do not regret having spent these few years post-PhD writing on other subjects, collecting new data and opening new project arcs. I do regret that I didn’t do this as systematically as I would have liked. There are people I admire and are way more prolific than I am. Since I am not teaching until August 2014, I will be using the first 7 months of the year cranking out research and publishing. I’ll also be doing a lot of fieldwork and so I will spend a few weeks in Vancouver (with side trips to Seattle). I do intend to travel less, and more targeted.

What I found incredibly useful in 2013 was participating in small, targeted workshops. These more intimate venues provide a context where more in-depth intellectual discussions can be had. I wrote three papers from scratch and I am ready to work on them and submit them with views for publication next year. I am incorporating all the feedback I have received from other colleagues at the workshops I participated and I am sure the final product will be a much better version of the previous paper.

The final published article will definitely be much stronger.

Collecting new data doesn’t mean that I throw out the old ones, it does mean I need to systematize it all. This 2014 will be all about systematizing, analyzing and publishing new data. I will also extend project arcs beyond what I originally thought. For example, when I started working on intractable water conflict, I thought I’d have this project done and completed by the end of 2013. Once I participated in a workshop on water politics, I realized this will probably be a 5 year project. And that’s fine, since I have interest in moving towards understanding conflict (seeing as I’ve studied cooperation for so long).

This will be a great year, with new data, moving forward projects and focusing on publishing.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. My 2014 manifesto: Peace and balance – Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD linked to this post on January 13, 2014

    [...] and 2013 were great for my research in that I got to create new datasets, explore new field sites, undertake new fieldwork, and write, write, and do even more writing. The second part of the semester, though, was simply [...]

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