This will be my last post of 2012, as I am signing off for the Christmas and New Year Period. I thought it would be appropriate to give you 'Lynsey's Annual Round-up' at this stage, for you to understand the progress I have made in my doctorate in 2012. I will completely understand if you view this as a self-indulgent pat on the back but I hope it will inspire new doctoral students to push ahead with their own research and to get the same enjoyment from the process.
2012 has been a very productive year for me. The year started with multiple trips to the National Archives, Kew, where I gathered an abundance of primary source material to enable me to start writing up. I write up my findings as I go along to ensure that my writing skills do not get rusty. I will, of course, revise, amend and add to this in my final year. I completed my transfer of status (often known as an upgrade), where I had to write up 5000 words of original research and present a conference paper. In extension to the latter, I co-organised the conference where this was presented, which was a massive success. I passed my transfer and I gained some very useful feedback from my examiners, Dr Sloan Mahone and Professor Pietro Corsi.
The summer months saw me pretty much camped out in the London archives and libraries, and writing up from Oxford. I have completed my secondary reading (for now) and wrote up a draft introduction/literature review. This has to be revised, as it is sitting at 15,000 words and is all in the present tense. When I am doing my final drafts, I will put this into synopsis but contrary to what my fellow doctoral students think, this was not a waste of time. It has helped me to 'set out my stall' so to speak - I have refined my core research questions and I know who I agree and disagree with within the literature. I researched and wrote up a chapter on the organisation and administration of the Royal Air Force Medical Services, with specific emphases on neuropsychiatry and the core themes of specialisation and prevention. I completed a draft in late October and my supervisor, Professor Mark Harrison has given me very useful feedback. This was a mundane and tedious chapter to write but I had to do this first to be able to understand anything about my topic!
The last few months have also been excellent. I entered my second year in October and I have begun to research a chapter on the development of aviation medicine, with particular reference to the study and understanding of mental disorder within the RFC, RNAS, and RAF until the outbreak of war in 1939. My research has taken me to Brooklands Museum in Surrey, where I met the most adorable volunteers, who helped me to understand the nature and consequences of flying accidents in the early twentieth century. I have set this within the context of the development of aviation as a whole, as I believe that the two chains of knowledge were developing at very different paces. I have also applied to present at a couple of conferences in 2013 and I am waiting for the results. I have also been granted access to three exclusive archives, which will add a unique qualitative edge to my thesis. These archives are virtually untapped by historians but I will not reveal their names and sources until I have been given ethical approval. I am a bit superstitious. I also joined the IHR HistoryLab Committee, based in London, and I am the Public Relations Officer for the Oxford Forum for Medical Humanities. We have an event coming up in the New Year - I will post details when everything is finalised.
All in all, it has been an excellent year for me research-wise and I have made lots of new friends and contacts. I will leave you with this wonderful wintery photograph. This is held at the Imperial War Museum archives and is of three Westland Lysander Mark IIIAs of No. 307 Polish Fighter-Reconnaisance Squadron RAF. They were based at Dunino, Fife and this photo depicts a photographic reconnaissance training sortie in the snowy Scottish hills.
I wish you all a very peaceful festive period, whatever you are doing and a Happy New Year when it comes.