27 September 2010

Arms wide open, here we go

If you have found my weight loss blogs boring, this is going to be much, much worse because posts about my potential postdoc will go on now for at least a year, potentially three. So saddle up.

Last week, you'll recall that I went to a seminar and met some people I had been wanting to meet. Although I had been leaning towards teaching when I finish my PhD, that swung radically the other way in the last week after I decided I needed to do aim a bit higher so as to potentially stretch myself even further. I have always been a B+ student at B+ institutions. It's time to take the next step.

The next step is applying for a very competitive postdoc supported by a very competitive university. King's College is the university; the ESRC postdoctorate is the funding. First, a bit about King's for my reader's across the pond, from Wikipedia.
King's College London is a constituent college of the University of London in the United Kingdom. The college was founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and its royal charter is predated in England only by those of Oxford University and Cambridge University, thereby giving King's a claim towards being third oldest university in England. Along with University College London, King's College London became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London in 1836. In 2010 King's was ranked 5th in the UK, 6th in Europe and 21st in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

According to the Guardian newspaper, King's College London, the London School of Economics, Imperial College London and University College London, each 'have international reputations that in this country only Oxbridge can beat'.

Basically, Oxford and Cambridge aside, it's one of the best in the country. Not only that, but they are also arguably the leader in linguistic ethnography, the area of research that I want to expand on in my postdoc.
The ESRC is the government's research funding body for work in the social sciences and their postdoc basically covers one year of consolidating your PhD research into publications. As my work right now seems to be going about thirty different ways with thirty different strands, having a 'will work on in postdoc' pile would be very useful for me, especially as I could find myself with very disparate areas that I would want to publish in.

The process now that I have to follow begins with contacting my potential mentor at King's, which I've done, and will now start to prepare my materials for an application to King's. They will require some information about potential research, two chapters of my thesis, and some other ins and outs. They will take three weeks to accept/ reject the application and then, if it's accepted, I would start working with my mentor there on the real application for the ESRC, making that application sometime in Autumn of next year. Then it will be another two months or so, and I should know if I get the funding or not. If I get the funding, then I will have one year at King's and up to three months collaborating with an overseas researcher, if I want. There is someone I want to work with at the University of Hamburg, so I may go there for a couple of months. We'll see.

So, the next step is find out when King's wants this application and then pushing on with my PhD research with that in mind. Although the ESRC grants are very competitive, my professor at the OU and my supervisor at Middlesex are both currently doing research funded by the ESRC and my supervisor at Middlesex actually reviews applications, so I may be able to get a good idea of what a successful application would look like.

The bad news? Well, if this works out (and that's a HUGE if), we will have another year of essentially the same income we have now. We would also probably stay in the same house in Milton Keynes... But the money is not that bad now and we are content here. So I think this is the right way to go. And I'm excited: the beginning of the next thing.