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So it’s been a few weeks since my last post here. Sorry about that.

As we rapidly approach the one year anniversary of Darkage-ology it has become quite apparent that I haven’t been able to keep to my self-imposed timetable of a post a week. Whilst I was living in a field for many of these missed weeks, I think it would be safe to say that I have struggled to think of interesting topics to write about over the last few weeks.

This is probably because my life in the office is rather dull at the moment. It largely consists of trawling written and electronic archaeological records for information and then forcibly inserting it into a database. As this process continues over a number of weeks the database becomes a complicated and sophisticated beast capable of secreting the ambrosia-like substance called data.

Data can be analysed. Data can be mapped. Data can be modelled. Data is friend.

So whilst data is great, data collection can be pretty tedious. To facilitate the proceedings, I decided to write a poem from the perspective of my database:

         As the days blur into one,
         Letters and numbers fill me up,
         So that I can float along the river,

         The river of archaeological time

Okay so I never said I was a good poet.

After I finish the database (and regain my sanity) I can then proceed to the analysis stage. This involves comparing and contrasting, making distribution maps, working out a chronology, thinking about networks; these are the things that I enjoy.

I have my next review meeting at the end of November. In a little over six weeks, this database of sites will, perhaps a little unwillingly, be transformed into archaeological interpretation, and will hopefully form the basis of my next research article: a study of Cowdery’s Down and its surrounding region using a methodology informed by Central-Place Theory.

In the sciences people often do a ‘PhD by publication’. This effectively means that instead of submitting a thesis (i.e. a 90,000 word study), a doctoral candidate can publish a series of related articles and submit them as a collection. Some would say this is the harder route because getting published can be tough, whilst others argue that it is easier to write a handful of shorter studies than a single major one. There are compelling points on either side, well summarised in this post by Professor Pat Thomson.

Many people in archaeology write a thesis and then spend the next few years after their PhD converting it into a series of journal articles. Accordingly, it is common to have no publications by the time you complete your PhD. This is the way things are in archaeology and unless you are doing highly scientific research it is quite uncommon to do a PhD by publication.

But why not just cut out the middle man? Instead of writing thesis chapters why don’t we write research articles and publish as we go? Perhaps I’m being naïve, having only published a single peer-reviewed article, but it seems more sensible (and better for one’s career) to get publishing as soon as possible.

So I’m currently toying with the idea of doing my PhD by publication. If I can get a handful of decent papers published over the next two years I might have a strong case. My goal is to get another two published by the end of the academic year to be in with a chance.

Now watch me crash and burn.