You might not think that form filling is an integral part of a PhD. However, it definitely is, and is very important at that. Why? Because there are always forms to fill, from forms to apply for courses, to grant application, as well as registration forms for attending conferences, together with abstract writing. Before breaking up for the Easter holidays I wanted to finish off all the applications I have pending, so the last few days have seen me doing quite a lot of form filling.
I realise however that form filling is definitely not my forte. Maybe I think that people should give me what I am asking for – because I said so? I also realise that I am not always too good at expressing myself and targetting the audience I am addressing. Take today’s case in point:
One of the forms I was filling was an abstract template for a conference next year (yes – that’s right – September 2011). The first problem I ran into was that I wasn’t exactly sure who my audience is. At first I assumed that the audience was a scientific audience. However, unfortunately, this is often not the case in my field. In fact the audience I should have planned was actually more for heritage professionals such as conservators. This meant that the aim of the abstract had to be turned on its head: from focussing on the nitty gritty of the scientific aspects of my work I needed to focus more on the usability and relevance of my work.
The second problem I ran into, and which my supervisor very helpfully pointed out as well, was that I needed to give more information about why my work is important and how it is so novel in the field. Since I still don’t have the results I aim to present (remember that the conference is around a year and a half down the line!), and what I was writing was mainly projections of what I hope to achieve, I was being very tentative in what I wrote. However, my supervisor sort of lambasted me for that and told me to get on with the job of writing a good abstract.
Before I finished my work for the day I sent off the abstract to my supervisor. Waiting for his response now. Hope I did a good (or at least better!) job!