Writing and writing…

On hold
Artwork by Marc Johns (www.marcjohns.com)

Three months I’ve kept you on hold – even if without drab music or  compliments! It’s now high time to resume activities on this blog! It’s not that I’ve been doing nothing though, on the contrary. In those three months, I’ve been mostly writing, writing papers, writing grant proposals and replies to reviews of grant proposals. And exploring new avenues for future research.

It was that time of year again, where, as a staff member of a non teaching department at the University of Oxford, I had to start thinking again of how to maintain myself in employment – and preferably in research. Being of post-doctoral standing in a non-teaching department has both advantages and drawbacks. One advantage is that my daily tasks all revolve around research without ever being overruled by teaching and admin-related responsibilities, the main drawback however is that without teaching duties, it is much much harder to get a permanent contract at the university – and, as a matter of fact, the permanent staff in the department are either of professorial standing, or are lecturers jointly employed by the department and a teaching department, or are part of the research support team. So with the end of my contract lurking in the not so far distance (December), the main focus was on creating my next job. I had some research ideas in store, all of which are connected in one way or another to the main focus of this research blog.

So first, I had to:

Of course none of this paper writing was mandatory, but first of all it was fun, and also it is important in terms of building my track record for my grant proposals. Even if digital dissemination via blogs and social networking along with presence at conferences and workshops are improtant, until we devise new models and means of publication (by which I mean that digital tools can also be part of output that is assessed by research councils), peer-reviewed publications prevail (with all the faults and lacunae that system might hold).

(with thanks to the artist)

Next I had to tackle grant writing. Always a daunting task, especially when you haven’t written so many of them before! I’d been waiting to hear back from a proposal I had submitted in January. I received reviews, and as I had a right of response, I used it. That proposal was the first one I’ve ever written and submitted. Two of the three reviews seemed rather enthusiastic, the third one expressed some reservations, but they seemed to be rooted in a misunderstanding rather than in a huge flaw in my project proposal. So I had gone through the first stage of the funding process, and had to wait until I heard a final answer. So, in the mean time, well I had to think of a plan B – so I started thinking of another project proposal – pondered over it for about 3 to 4 weeks, and decided that that specific scheme was probably too big a bite for what I could chew at the moment. So I’ve revereted to a less grand idea with a much more modest scale, which is what I’m working on at the moment.  There’s another idea floating around too, and I’ll have to tackle that one at some stage soon. You’ll understand that I can’t go into the specifics, but all of these ideas do revolve around the questions of knowledge creation and meaning of textual artefacts, and ways to handle and support this process digitally. There must be at least 10 years of research floating in my head around this theme, and the challenge is “just” to get it funded…

All this writing is part of the process. Researching and writing grants in parallel is no easy task, but, boy, am I learning!

My next post will be more artefact and meaning related, promised!

Maybe even a sneak-peak at my work on the Artemidorus papyrus…

Ségolène Tarte

I am a senior researcher at the e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, UK, where my research interests revolve around the seamless integration of digital tools within Humanities research, the impact of digital approaches on Humanities methodologies as well as the impact of Humanities methodologies on the development of digital tools. These interests brought three main themes to the fore in my research endeavours: materiality and its relationship to the digital; expertise and the multifarious questions of methodology in the Humanities; and multi/inter-disciplinarity and how that affects research processes. Originally an image processing specialist, my research focus turned to the Digital Humanities, when I started working with Classicists on images of Ancient papyri. The methodologies that I draw upon in my research are inspired and informed by ethnography, philosophy, and the cognitive sciences.

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