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Archive for the ‘research projects’ Category

Another to-do catch up here.

I’ve put my chapmen research project on hold for now, because I’ve been too knocked out lately to move it forward. In particular I’ve not been able to move the necessary reading forward, and there’s an awful lot of that I need to work through effectively. There is also the issue of what I can include in any resulting paper, given the costly open access implications. I haven’t quite worked out what to do with that yet. But other things are looming more quickly, and must take priority.

I’ve sketched out my talk for the archives conference next month. I only have to speak for 10-15 minutes, in quite a packed panel, so will need to be concise and to the point. But I think I should have just the right amount of material for that. I’ll be practising to check on the timing issues nearer the time. Again I used my iPad to develop my ideas, creating a mind map of what I’ll cover, using the iThoughtsHD app.

The other looming thing I need to focus on is working on necessary revisions for a paper that’s been accepted by an academic journal for publication probably next year, subject to the necessary revisions being done. I’ve got the reports from the two readers, and have drawn up a list of the key things to focus on. And again I’m doing the main work on my iPad, having transferred the readers’ reports to there, as well as the latest working version of the journal paper to annotate using my stylus in Goodreader. The revised version of the paper needs to be with the editor in a couple of months, so I’m prioritising working on that now.

I’m also resuming work on my interactive fiction game. I’ve sketched the overall plot in a mind map using iThoughtsHD, and am coding up the game in Inform 7. It has a lovely integrated development environment, which in many ways makes programming like playing a game, and is ridiculously good fun. But large games are still complex entities, so I’m growing mine slowly and steadily, in careful steps. I’ve found that sketching out the overall plot in advance has been really helpful, to keep me focused and productive.

The other thing I’m working on is a series of articles about places with strange histories and much potential for roleplaying ideas, especially horror games like Call of Cthulhu. This developed from a series of articles that I’ve been writing for the Yog-Sothothery magazine for patrons of the Yog-Sothoth website. But I’ve so many possible articles that I could write that I may end up working on something standalone, in anthology form. Anyway I’m having a lot of fun writing these places. Two-thirds of the articles completed so far are about Scottish places with strange histories, and the other third about English things. Generally, though, I find it best to write about things I already know quite a bit about, hence the leaning towards Scottish subjects.

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I received word that my conference talk proposal has been accepted, so I need to write that talk for definite now. And I now have a deadline for the revised version of the accepted professionals paper, by June, so I can deal with other more looming things first.

My immediate priority now is to write the talk for the archivists conference, or at least finish developing the mind map version of its content, which I could turn very easily into a talk nearer the conference in April.

After that I will look afresh at the chapmen material and see where things stand with that. I’m still gathering secondary material, for me to read and assimilate. Masses! But that is good. And I will start to transcribe the other detailed chapmen inventories I found, focusing on any reading material that was recorded. There is a chance that I could have something ready to submit to a journal before the 1st April 2013 open access deadline, but I’m not too worried if not, and will just expunge anything necessary to avoid problems.

I’m also taking a bit of time to work on some fun non-academic articles for a planned ebook project. It’s fun being creative like this, and a bit different from my usual academic writing, which is a welcome change.

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I blogged earlier this month about my research and writing plans for the month. I’m checking in here with a progress update, continuing in the spirit of Academic Writing Month, which I found so motivating.

A few days ago I submitted my Melrose journal paper by email. I’ve already had a reply from the editors, and it will now go through the due consideration process to see if they want to publish it. So that’s nicely out of the way and in their hands.

Regarding the chapmen paper I sent a query to the SHARP-L mailing list, asking for advice on comparative research in a mainland European context. That has given me lots of valuable leads. I now have a mass of relevant books in the house, most bought new or secondhand, and it is going to take me some time work through those. They are unlikely to change my conclusions, but they may give me valuable new ideas for areas to explore in a Scottish context. And I will be able to add excellent discussion of comparative research.

Because of this, indeed the sheer mass of relevant comparative literature which is too interesting to overlook, I am going to postpone submitting this paper until after the 1st April 2013 deadline I had set myself. The paper will probably have to have some PhD-related context expunged, to avoid costly pay-to-publish fees, but the bulk will stay intact.

I’ve also been chasing up more possibly relevant records in the National Records of Scotland. For a short while I thought I might have located a register of chapmen, recording names and addresses, but it just gives total numbers. But even those could be interesting, though they will take time to work through. The NRS also have manuscript records relating to one of the Scottish chapmen I found with a detailed after-death inventory, including his license to sell gold.

So the chapmen paper is now downgraded as less urgent, and I will allow myself adequate time to soak up the ideas in the relevant literature. This should lead to a much better paper in the long-run, and it will be a fun process to work through. But I can’t put a likely timescale on how long this process will take, given the volume of reading required, as well as more primary source research.

I haven’t heard back yet about the required revision timescale for the accepted professionals paper, but I have heard from another editor that another paper of mine is now with the new editor for that journal. So that makes it two papers with editors for review.

So going back to my recent to-do list for this month my next priority is to write the talk that I may be giving to a conference for archivists in Dundee in April, if my proposal is accepted. That shouldn’t be too time-consuming. I’ll mainly write it in my mind-mapping app iThoughtsHD on my iPad.

And I will continue to soak up the chapmen literature. I have also identified a number of additional detailed after-death inventories for chapmen from the period I’m focusing on, and can transcribe those slowly as I’m able to.

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At the start of the month I blogged about my research and writing goals for the month. They have moved forward partially, but I’ve been very knocked out, so not able to do as much as hoped.

The chapmen paper has moved on a bit, with me having started to write it up in the WriteRoom app on my iPad. My goal there is to sketch out the overall structure, see where the gaps are, and fill those in. That made progress in spite of everything, and I hope to continue to work on it in the next month, still with the aim of submitting it for publication before 1st April 2013.

The kirk session library borrowings transcribing has not moved on at all, but that is not urgent, and can wait for a longer-term project and when I am stronger and have more time.

In positive news I submitted a proposal for a talk at a conference for archivists about democratising access to archives. As a disabled user I have an unusual but valuable perspective on this, and have spoken about the subject before to trainee archivists. I hope that I will be able to present my experiences and suggestions.

And another positive thing this month was that a previously-accepted journal paper is now moving forward with the editor, and will hopefully see publication in 2013.

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Inspired by various twitterers I’m adopting the #AcWri hashtag to carry on the good results from #AcWriMo. And to help me make progress I am planning to continue to blog about my goals for research and writing, and how I’m getting on, and the outcomes. Hopefully this will encourage me to get more things finished, rather than have vague ideas still lingering about.

My next goals are to move two research projects forward. Both are aiming at journal papers in the end, and one ideally needs to beat that 1st April 2013 open access submission deadline. So I need to push on.

The urgent one, let’s call it Project 1, is to look at the role of chapmen in reading habits in Scotland in the 1700s / early 1800s. I found out quite a lot of useful information about this, including uncovering unanalysed primary source material, in my PhD. And I’ve since found more good stuff, that I now have at home and need to transcribe and analyse. So my goal for Project 1 in the next few weeks is to finish transcribing the list of chapmen admitted to the Fife Chapman Society in the late 1700s. I’m using this rare local record to give me a sense of how numerous and widespread chapmen were throughout Scotland. At this period chapmen, travelling sellars who sold cheap print, are largely invisible in historical records, so to have such a relevant and rich primary source that can be usefully analysed is too good to overlook. Once I’ve done that I’ll be able to start moving the writing forward. The list of chapmen admitted to the society isn’t too long, so it’s just a matter of me sitting down by the microfilm and getting on with it.

The other project I’m looking at is to examine some valuable library borrowing records I found in kirk session collections in the National Records of Scotland. I have two good sets of library borrowing records to work through, in the form of digital images at home. One, a library in Shetland, is particularly appealing because it’s from the 1870s, so I can look for the borrowers – since I have names and addresses – in the census returns, to find out more about them. In the future I’m planning a large-scale study of the Balquhidder library borrowing registers from Perthshire, which can also be studied alongside census returns. But this kirk session example would be an ideal small pilot case study. And it’s worth writing up as a paper. So to move it forward, let’s call it Project 2, I need to transcribe the borrowings for this library from the kirk session records. Not sure I’ll manage that in December, but I can make a start on it. I can work on it on and off, on my laptop, even while sitting on the sofa at night.

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