January to March 2020 – beginning of year 3

It’s March, and I am social-distancing at home in France.. As I write this post, we are in lock-down to fight the worldwide pandemic. There are more important concerns than the slowing down of research activities.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-map-how-covid-19-is-spreading-across-the-world

But let’s start from the beginning: these were three eventful months…

I applied for a visa extension and agreed to stay in Australia for a few more weeks than originally planned, to complete work and stay to the end of the lease of our apartment. Enjoying a few more days of sunny Sydney.

Week after week of heat and dry weather eventually exploded in heavy rain on the weekend of the move, over us carrying furniture downstairs, packing and cleaning. But it stopped on the day we left and we made it all dry to the airport. It was luck that we booked a flight with route over the middle east, instead of the far east, or we would have been super worried of virus lockdowns and possibly quarantined.

With effort, I admit, I managed to submit two journal papers before leaving Sydney. The elation did not last long… rejections received rather quickly when back in Europe. (This reminded me that last year too, Jan-March was a time of rejections, but then the rest of the year was okay, so let’s not dispair).

Received the good news of all my conference submissions accepted at MIE and NI2020, but the first is now cancelled and the second postponed to 2021 because of the virus.

The journal paper published last-year was embargoed by Wiley for 12 months. We should have paid for gold open access! Trying to fix this is taking weeks and in the meantime my EU grant is on hold. Lesson learned! Will definitely check the open access options and potential embargoes for the journals I submit to in the future.

While in London in February I enjoyed starting work at UCL, set-up the desk, start a new routine, meet new colleagues, and participating in meetings at CXH. Now everyone is working remotely, so it makes no difference wherever I am.

Plans are for replanning. Which reminded me of a paper on planning megaprojects [1]…

“Only naïve people believe plans to come true, at least that is what we can experience when we go beyond simple and short-term issues. […] “Project plans are repositories of expectations on which managers build their daily activities […] project managers need to “exercise the art of managing the unexpected parallel to executing the plan” (Söderholm, 2008, p. 81). […] When being confronted with the unexpected, actions emerge along the timeline of anticipation, coping and adoption.”

Finally, nobody mentions logistics when planning fellowships, but logistics may in fact determine – or at least contribute – to how the fellowship unfolds. Finding affordable accomodation in London seems an almost impossible job! Had spent months looking, searching, planning, applying… Plans? What plans? Plans are for replanning. We had arranged to stay with friends at our arrival – then a week before leaving realised we could not stay there, so had to arrange a Airbnb at the last minute. I had found a sabbatical home for April, but could not find a place for March. So we took a train to our home in France, to return to London at the end of March… We didn’t know the virus would keep us here for a while.


In closing, a reflection on the state of the planet, finally breathing better for a while. I wonder what the birds and fish are thinking of the peace and quiet, and how will they be shocked again when airplanes and cruises will eventually restart.


References:

  1. Nachbagauer, A. G. and Schirl-Boeck, I (2019). “Managing the unexpected in megaprojects: riding the waves of resilience.” International Journal of Managing Projects in Business.

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