research & the holiday season

Holiday season is great for many things, but I believe research is not one of those things.

Holidays mean more friends available to catch up, better days to stay outside and less people at the office for the same amount of work. These are hardly helpful factors when it comes to arrive home and getting things done with research.

Since I try not to be an easy quitter, I’m trying to balance things but at the end of the day, the effort to sort everything out – the effort to balance – is in itself another disturbing and tiring factor to add up.

But I’ll keep trying.

rotterdam

I took the opportunity of being around for visiting some friends in good ol’ Rotterdam. Which, again, it’s a port city, packed with research subjects.

I wanted to interview two people – one related to the port authority, the other to a short-sea carrier with multimodal interests – but only the latter was available.

I got very good information about the basics of the business. Plus, I got also some cheese, sun & ice-cream.

field trip

On Wednesday, the last day of the conference, we went to the Port of Antwerp on a field tour. We visited PSA’s Noordzee Terminal and the Katoen Natie logistics facilities.

I’ve already be at PSA’s, thus the most impressive for me was Katoen Natie. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed indoors.

the job is done

The audience was big, good and kind. One of the parallel sessions was in French, which meant many people joined the remaining two, mine included.

I managed to do it on time and passing the message I had: my early stages of research, with the problem and the sketch of the research methodology to tackle it.

It was my first presentation of a scientific paper and that already leaves me happy enough. Better still, I manage to interest a few people about my subject and networked with a lot more, who already gave me hints and tips for further development.

Now I’m looking forward to working harder and presenting the follow-up – which will be the buildup, if I think in terms of thesis research.

The job is done. Now it’s time for strolling, enjoying the city and having a De Koninck.

here

Arrived yesterday. All is set: the power-point is finished, mock presentations have been tried (not yet on time, but there are some hours left), the way to the university was found and tested.

Although the conference starts tomorrow, the session I was scheduled to is only on Tuesday, which gives me an extra day for preparation, mingle, and improve my know-how for these occasions.

On the tourism side, it’s great being back to Antwerp, a city I really like. It’s be warm and sunny and I wonder what I will do with all these winter clothes that pack my suitcase.

presentation

I’ve been working on the presentation for the WCTRS-SIG2 conference “Key Developments in the Port and Maritime Sector” and I’ve finally finished and submitted it. It will be 10 nervous minutes, plus five for discussion. Now I must prepare myself for delivering it.

I said “nervous” but I realize I’m seldom nervous during presentations. I am when I’m drafting and preparing the presentation, I am even more when the date approaches but once I’m doing it, I’m doing it. At the end I’ll see whether I messed up or not.

This has the added difficulty of being my first presentation of a scientific paper, but I hope my previous experiences at academia can help me.

I’ll depart to Antwerp in Saturday and my presentation slot is scheduled for Tuesday morning. I’ll try to come back here before that.

wctr 2013 rio

A strike of luck made me know (on time) about the abstract submission period for the 13th WCTR. I knew the conference would take place next year in Rio de Janeiro, but I was not aware the abstract submission deadline would be so soon as today. Anyway, I found it some days ago on the Facebook group Transport Planning and Analysis and decided to counter-challenge my supervisor (he had challenged me for the conference in Antwerp next month) for a co-authored paper about my PhD topic. This time I managed to draft the abstract in a more confident and right-to-the-point way, which I hope will help me when it comes to acceptance time…

The idea is the same with the Antwerp conference: using these opportunities for testing, with a large and informed audience, my progress, ideas and paths. The paper should be build on the paper written for Antwerp and on the work plan designed for my PhD research. This also has the added advantage of serving as intermediate deliverables with a fixed deadline, something of the utmost importance in a period my job is draining a lot of time and energy from me and I must use all tactics to focus and make the most out of my freetime. Let’s see if it works.

sterile update

I decided to make an effort in order to post more regularly, namely e-v-er-y–d-a-y, hoping that would press me to present results / work harder / be embarassed to come here with nothing to tell or no progress to show.

I was wrong. I’m here, but there was nothing read, written or done today whatsoever. Now even recycling my German skills are ahead, reclaiming the place of marathon training.

I shall comeback tomorrow, hopefully with a conference paper half finished. Let’s go.

meeting of the research group

Yesterday I was in my first meeting with the research group on Transport Infrastructure, Systems and Policy (NISPT), our unit within CESUR (Center for Urban and Regional Systems) research centre.

The agenda dealt basically with the election of the new group coordinator and the discussion of NIPST’s new strategic guidelines. For me, it was a good chance to understand how the group works, to meet new colleagues and to catch up with friends I already haven’t seen for a while. Furthermore, I managed to snatch a fruitful crash-meeting with my supervisor, which is always a must.

pause?

As you may have noticed, news here have became an endangered species. I was expecting that closing the issue “research proposal” would invite me for a more relaxed period, but I was not thinking about complete stoppage of production. But that’s what has been happening, which on one hand is normal, on the other hand is not recommendable.

I haven’t been working in the thesis nor in the paper I must finish. Apart from work at my office (which has been a lot), I’ve been basically practicing sports, with sailing on Saturdays, basketball on Sundays and running everyday competing for my date. Running is taking the lead, as I’m preparing to run Lisbon Half Marathon in late March. It will be my first attempt at such a long distance, but I’m taking workouts seriously.

For my defence, there must also be said that during January there were still many season events going on, especially lunches and dinners that didn’t fit in December calendar. And theather – I’ve been enjoying going regularly.

Only thesing is missing.

happy: comes with a :)

All’s well that ends well. And even though this is just the beginning, my admission to km 0 of a very long road, at least I succeeded at my first checkpoint.

The session lasted for two hours. I managed to comply with the 20-minute limit for my presentation and all the rest was spend arguing with the jury, a fantastic chance to receive input, suggestions and contributions to improve my work and explore different paths.

At the end, I was very happy with my grade and looking forward to continue with my research. Some days are just great!

battle plan

I’ve been trying to have things sorted out on time for tomorrow, but I guess I’ll only call it a day once I’m asked to start my presentation. For now:

  • Power-point presentation: too long, there’s a long night ahead;
  • Mock presentation: tried, but must do it with the right number of slides;
  • Summary report: check!
  • Discussion plan: check! It has framing questions, trained answers, rebutalls & justification brainstorming, and a presentation checklist with everything I’ll need, from cables to suit to water to watch to everything!
  • Readings about Viva preparation: been there, done that, bought the soundtrack.

See you in a couple of hours. If I survive, obviously.