No Milestones Too Small

celebrating a mini-milestone of my PhD today!

PhD can be a lonely journey – celebration of things big and small can help us recount what we have done so far, and help us put things into perspectives. I am recording this today so that future me will be thankful!

Today I am celebrating that I have finished scrapping/recording number of citation of over 4000 papers!! This serves as part of a bibliographical review that I am doing to understand how ethnicity is described and theorised in literature. I tried to write a small tool in Python ( to automate this process, but later decided it is not worth the risk & time to auto-scrap from Google! This meant I will have to do this the old-fashioned way: Manual Searches!

This meant that for the past 3 months I have spent several hours every weekend doing one simple task – ctrl+c, ctrl+v, type number, repeat. Whilst my pinky is aching a bit (from pressing ctrl too hard, and too frequently), there is a strong sense of accomplishment when all 4000+ rows are filled! I split the 4000+ records into batches of 50rows per file, such that I can easily stop & restart whenever I wish. This also helps distract me from the startling size of the task, and allow me to focus on the 50 in front of me.

I found myself spending way more time than expected to complete this, mainly because I was distracted by – you guessed it – the papers themselves! I have yet to decipher what a “perfect” academic paper title should read like, but I am certainly drawn to read quite a bit of them as I copy-and-pasted them. This is very much a blessing in disguise!

The next task is further screening and data extraction from these papers. I hope these findings can be shared with PPIe groups that I am intending to organise (if I get that mini-grant!). Future me, know that you are contributing to something that is meaningful to you – which is the least ambitious, the minimally sufficient motivation for any work!


Author: joseph lam

On a Part-Time PhD Journey. Reflection on living Academia into a better place. 🇭🇰 Migrant in 🇬🇧

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