PhD Diary – April 2021

For this month’s blog post rather than looking back, I wanted to use this as a chance to look forward. As a PhD student, I am eager to get my perspectives out into the academic community through my work and engagement with others within my field. To do this, my supervisory team and I have begun to make plans for what will be my first publication. This acts as a milestone for the project as a whole and helps direct the rest of the project going forward.

One of my personal concerns with my research are the questions “Has someone done this already?” and “Have I missed a paper where they discuss this?”. Esports psychology and the application of skill acquisition & performance within competitive gaming is very much a new field, with an ever-growing number of outputs. For me, it is difficult to imagine that other researchers have not discussed or answered the ideas I am developing. The fear that the works that I plan to put out has already been undertaken by someone else has been hard to shake off. Being realistic, every researcher has a different perspective on the questions within a field. This means that the approach one takes to answering said questions will differ. Some researchers are well read in other fields, applying their expertise in new contexts. Others come from a background in games and/or esports, synthesising their experiences with rigorous academic investigations. Remembering this, the question of missing a paper that explores my planned topic exactly seems unlikely. These concerns are most likely a consequence of Impostor Syndrome.

I will be upfront. I do not like the term Impostor Syndrome as it sounds like it is synonymous with medical disorders, as it is more accurate to describe it as a state of mind. Semantics aside, the concept of Impostor Syndrome is something I can very much relate to. Being a young academic in a field with established researchers it is hard to feel that your voice has any weight. It builds up this feeling that until you feel like you have the authority to talk about a matter, it is easier to remain silent. I know that feeling unqualified is not justified, but it one that does not seem to go away regardless of what knowledge I gain.

To combat this feeling, I have found that it is good to acknowledge how I have grown. This is my fifth year in higher education, an infant in the eyes of many. Yet, in that time I have developed based on what I knew when I started my undergraduate studies and where I am now. Whilst it is good to remind yourself that there is always more to learn, it is also important to recognise your successes and taking pride in your work. Having publications may give weight to what I am saying, but at the end of the day I must be the one that starts speaking.

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