I managed to get the PhD done in three years and six weeks, which was popular because a lot of them do go to four years now, although that is a cut off point. I got the PhD but I suppose from finishing it to graduation was about six months when you go through all the examiners process and then they do the actual graduations. But from graduation I was just doing odd jobs around; the department would give me a few jobs and various other people around. We had put in for funding for a post for me, a research post for three years. On the third try we actually got it but it was 18 months from finishing the PhD to actually getting a job. That can be quite hard, going through that sort of process you think academically you've got the highest you can get qualification wise and you don't walk straight up to a job not these days and so that was a difficult process to go through. But I did that project.
There was another project coming up in the department they wanted me to work on but there was a six week gap and I did do some self-employed work in archaeology basically writing reports for various agencies and government bodies. And that again was difficult because it wasn't guaranteed income some months there was more money than others and it was a difficult process to go through again. I had another research contract, which I did, and then there was another post came up just as that finished, and I walked straight into that and that is what I'm working on at the moment. And so I'm really on my third postdoc position.
Within the same institution?
Within the same institution, yes. I've been very fortunate – I just get on with everybody here, it is a very good department and we all get on and I do seem to fit in. It is a pleasant place to work, which has its plus side, but perhaps on the downside, I'm not getting the wider experience I should perhaps. But, no, I think that is the summary.
Well, the first project, that was going to various offices around the country to collect unpublished excavation reports. There are masses of excavations done that aren't published and they realised that we just didn't really know what the pre-history of Britain is like. And so if you look at my shelves and shelves of photocopies – that's all the material I collected and the map shows you everywhere I went. And so that was basically going around and actually having to negotiate with people; negotiate things like copyright to copy the material. Fortunately it was a very popular project with the people who were doing the work and held the copyright – and they waived copyright, we never had a problem with that. Getting the material in, putting it together, collating it, building the database and basically providing all the support so that the book could be written.
The disability project that was… when they first approached me and asked me to apply for it I thought 'do I really want to do something like this?' But then I read the research plan for it and I thought 'no, this is a really well put together project' and I thought 'this can work.' And I did get the job. That involved basically doing all the background work, finding out what is disability in archaeology is like for students and people who were employed. And so there were lots of doing questionnaires, lots of interviewing people, building up quantitative and qualitative data. It was the first time I had worked on qualitative data like that, which I found absolutely fascinating. And then we designed a self-evaluation toolkit for disabled and non-disabled students to use. And although this was billed as a teaching and learning project we managed to make it very much a research project which again made it great fun.
What I'm doing at present is working on a project that is trying to encourage students to do their own research and also do more work with actual hands on with artefacts. And so we have been building up teaching collections; I've been collating the collections, cataloguing everything. A lot of it is material I have never worked on before and so I had to teach myself it first and then catalogue all the stuff and produce all the teaching material to go with it. And so it is more like teaching development. Certainly just as you came I was working on putting together the materials for background material for the field trips that we run.
It has been very varied the work I've done, from one that was pure research into one that was partly research and partly teaching and learning. And now I suppose I am more on the teaching and learning side at the moment, with this particular post. Where it will go after that, I don't know. Certainly it is not a career path that has been planned; these are opportunities that have come up and I have either applied for them or they have said 'we would like you to apply for this.' And so really things have just happened as it's gone along.