Liam Markey, Criminology, Social Policy & Social Work, University of Liverpool, 2018 Cohort
My first year as a researcher at the University of Liverpool has flown by, and I’m finding it hard to believe that I am now technically in the second year of my PhD. My research project, Mediating Militarism: Chronicling 100 Years of ‘Military Victimhood’ from Print to Digital 1918-2018, is a CASE project, which means I split my time between collaborative academic partners; in this instance the University of Liverpool and the British Library. The project looks at militarism and its role in the commemoration of the British war dead since 1918 up until the present day, and utilises the vast materials on offer at the British Library, notably the UK Web Archive’s First World War Centenary collection.
Being a CASE student can be strange at times, being split between two different locations, yet I think overall has aided me as a researcher. When visiting London I’m placed right into the thick of it when it comes to the British Library’s archives, and this has been exceptionally conducive to getting some big chunks of work done. It’s a fresh environment where I can get away, so to speak, from my usual surroundings and take a look at my work from a new perspective. The Web Archives team, with whom I spend most of my time based with, are great company and their knowledge of the materials on offer means I know I’m never too far from a helping hand if ever I’m stuck on a piece of work whilst at the British Library.
With regards to my experience as a student at the University of Liverpool, I have found that presenting my work has been extremely useful in helping me attain a level of confidence surrounding my area of research. Being able to streamline my work for a wider audience has meant I can visualise my progress more easily, and the process of presenting has been enjoyable in and of itself.For example, in June I participated in the PGR Research Showcase event, where students are invited to produce either a poster or a video pitch summarising their research work. I decided I would take part as it seemed like a great opportunity to get some tangible evidence of my work so far, as well as to discuss my research with other PGR students and external visitors to the university.
As my research project deals with British commemorative practices it seemed like a good idea for this to form the basis of a poster; people viewing the poster most likely are aware of these practices as they are brought to the forefront of life in Britain every year in the lead up to Armistice Day. I saw this as an opportunity to present some new ideas on familiar topics, such as the Poppy and the 2 Minutes Silence, to get some interesting conversations started. The event proved to be a great chance to discuss my work and provided ample opportunity to formulate some new ideas on the direction my research would take that I most likely wouldn’t have thought of without these conversations taking place.I’d recommend participation to anyone undertaking a PhD as the process of creating a poster really helped me get to grips with the research I’d undertaken in my first year. The limited size of the poster meant I had to summarise the work I had carried out thus far in a succinct manner, and being able to present your work to an audience who aren’t necessarily experts in your area of research is a great skill to have (or so the DNA forms tell me).
Overall, presenting my work at various PGR events has helped me build my confidence in both presenting to an audience and as a researcher in general. I feel I can better communicate my work to others, which in turn has helped my project develop in a useful direction. Now that I’m relatively confident with the theory surrounding my area of study, my second year as a PGR will be dedicated to devising a methodology for working with large mixed collections at the British Library and then carrying out said work, something I’m very excited about doing.