Reflections on Six Weeks of Research

A look back on the process, highlights and challenges as my six weeks of research draws to a close, plus a look at what is still to come.

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All six weeks of my research project are now complete. Six weeks ago, I started by planning out the research process. It was then into books, journals, maps and records for the desk-based assessment, which occupied most of the first two weeks. For the second two weeks, I spent afternoons in the field and mornings at the computer performing the contrasting field and digital techniques that would combine into my analysis. And for the third two weeks, I have been performing that analysis and recording the results.

Those results have exceeded all expectations. When I developed the research idea and method, I was reasonably confident it would produce insights, but the scale of the output in practice is far larger than anticipated. This outcome is mostly a major positive; part of my purpose was to develop and test the utility of my method, and the initial reflection is that it is very productive. This exists alongside other positives that have arisen over the past six weeks. Getting out into the landscape, speaking to people and undertaking my research was a fantastic process. My video for public engagement has been a success. And along the way I have acquired skills and experiences to take forward.

There were a few hurdles before reaching the finish. From an organisational perspective, some elements of the research, particularly in the initial desk-based assessment, took longer than expected, disrupting the research timetable. From a knowledge and skills perspective, I encountered situations for which I was not fully equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide an immediate solution. From a methodological perspective, there were pieces of research which I wanted to achieve, but had not been attempted before. From a practical perspective, conducting a fortnight of fieldwork in the heat of July 2021 was a challenge. While each problem had its own specific solutions, at least three general principles were shared amongst those solutions: being flexible and adaptable, both in having a plan capable of change, and reacting to accommodate changes; acting strategically, with the wider aims of the project in mind, when deciding how to approach a problem; and putting in the time and effort to devise and implement a solution and keep the project progressing.

Although the six scholarship weeks are over, this is not the end for this project. There are the substantive writeup, reflective reports and stakeholder engagement still to perform. Given the final results, the project also merits further investigation, for which hopefully there will be an opportunity. Nonetheless, at this milestone, I can reflect that it has been a brilliant and very valuable six weeks, which may yet become a springboard for more.

Andrew Hill

Student, University of York

I am studying BSc Archaeology at the University of York. My primary interests are working on a ‘large scale’: archaeological field survey, GIS and digital methods, and utilising landscape and multiperiod approaches. Accordingly,  my research combines field investigation and digital analysis in a multiperiod study of the Mid-Cheshire Ridge, testing the potential contribution of comparative viewshed analysis to understanding past reasoning and change in the landscape.