One of the major hurdles has been this notion of “publish or perish.” When you are a new (and hopefully!) emerging scholar, your survival depends on publishing or not. Perhaps this is one of the most frustrating aspects of my PhD life is publishing my research (or in my case the battle to publish with no prior research). It is a never ending negotiation of what to send in, what not to send in, and where to send it. As I have alluded to already the major challenge that has emerged for me is my lack of data from my Masters. Unlike other PhD students, I came into this PhD process with no prior research under my belt. Of course, I can naturally argue that I have much more practical experience especially in K-12 then many other researchers because of this tradeoff. However, the lack of data does pose an issue especially when your dissertation study has not officially started. Naturally it has caused me to be more resourceful when it comes publishing my work.
My writing issues haven’t been just about “data.” I have struggled with my identity as a “writer.” Before I came into this, I thought I was a writer but apparently I am not because the measure of a writer in academia is one that publishes. It is about finding the right words to express yourself (or at least the words that people in your field understand and appreciate). It also about taking on a register that is not quite you but in order to be successful you need to learn it well. It may also mean taking on an identity that does not fit.
I had an interesting conversation recently with a friend. English is not her first language and she expressed her frustrations with learning to write in “English.” She commented on how it might be easier for me since English is my first language. However, what she does not realize is that “Academic English” is often not anyone’s “first language.” I might be a native speaker of English but I spend hours learning how to mold my sentences in the “right” academic way. It is a “new” language for me. I need to learn the structure, lexicon and the right ways to say things.