Three weeks ago I was getting a bit grumpy. I'd been battling the rather bureaucratic ethics process for several months and was starting to get worn down. This mandatory component of my doctoral research has taken far longer, and proved to be far more arduous, than expected. I couldn't understand what the problem was, and nor could my supervisors. The research fitted the low-risk criteria and approval was supposed to take two weeks. My supervisors agreed, however the ethics committee saw it differently. In addition, it seemed the committee had no sense of time, with 14 weeks elapsing since the original submission. Apart from continuing to do background reading while I waited, my doctoral research had stalled and I was left twiddling my thumbs.
Then, on 4 April, the email I'd been waiting so long for arrived. The brief note said the research had been approved. Finally! This was just the news I needed, because on 6 April my wife and I were leaving for two weeks holiday, and I certainly didn't want to spend the time away moping about a process I had no control over. Safe in the knowledge that the research had been approved, I read three books (The Beekeeper's Lament, and the two mentioned here) and quite a few governance articles, and relaxed with my wife and her siblings.
Looking back, the holiday came at just the right time. The time away enabled me to get my head back together, knowing that the roadblock I had been powerless to break through had been dealt with. Since getting home, two companies have agreed to participate in my research, with discussions underway with a third. Also, I have written an abstract for the ECMLG 2013 conference in Austria, attended a Board meeting, and moved a house-load of furniture ahead of new carpet being laid this week. It's great to be back on track, having cleared the ethics hurdle. What a difference one brief email—and a fortnight to reflect and recharge—makes!