I set up this research journal at the outset of my PhD with the idea that I would create a series of clearly structured ʻcategoriesʼ to show how the various aspects of my study inform one another:

  • complementary writing – locating my praxis in a lineage of similar practices and relating and referencing my specific inquiry to broader contemporary debate;
  • critical reflection – making my embodied ʻperformer knowledgeʼ explicit – comparing and contrasting other work, finding resonance between my research and contemporary debates, offering new insights into the conceptual framework and theory implicated within my practice;
  • documentation of process – recording evidence of my ongoing practical, experimental and iterative design including tool sets, methodology and outputs, capturing moments of insight and happy accident;
  • artistic outputs – demonstrating rigour in respect to the imaginative creation, thoughtful composition, meticulous editing and professional production of new artwork;
  • review and feedback – presenting evidence of professional peer review and limited data gathering through structured interviews with select audiences.

In practice, most of these areas hadn’t become become focused enough – at least within the first year of my research – to warrant discreet journal entries – though by the start of the second year they’ve become increasingly significant.

Through the experience of developing this journal and other documentation tools I’ve come to realise that aspects of certain categories – such as “recording evidence of my ongoing practical, experimental and iterative design” within documentation of process has been better served through my digital sketchbook.

I’ve also since realised that there are additional categories to my intial listing which reflect the process of undertaking a PhD and that I needed to journal:

  • MMU milestones – key proposals and reports required by the University that mark the procedural pathway towards a PhD: the Research Interests in the initial application; the RD1 – the application to register for the degree of Master of Philosophy (with the possibility of transfer to Doctor of Philosophy); the RD2 – the application for transfer of registration from Master of Philosophy to Doctor of Philosophy etc.;
  • research frameworks – a description of the various research methods, techniques and structures and critical approaches and tools I’ve subscribed to, adapted or developed in order to guide and direct my research – such as those developed through the Practice as Research (PaR) initiative; an engagement with the principles and practices of ‘open knowledge’; and my own evolving ʻartistic experimental methodʼ.
  • papers, presentations and showcases – online links to published papers, ‘scripts’ to my various conference and symposium presentations and documentation from opportunities to showcase to my work provide useful ‘snapshots’ of my evolving practical experimentation and insights into areas of focus and attention reflected through current reading and thinking.