Announcing Academic Writing Month 2014

It’s back! Academic Writing Month 2014 starts 1st November! If

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #54 by Linda Levitt

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tl;dr. You may be familiar with this acronym, which is

Sarah Caro

Random Post: What Does Writing a Writing Lab Look Like? by Charlotte Frost

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This blog post by Charlotte Frost (aka PhD2Published’s founder/director) is


Hackademic Guide to Networking: Hone Your Elevator Pitch
Posted by Angson Chow
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Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 

HONE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH. Learn how to describe what’s very broadly at stake in your work. This can take years of practice to get good at — and it’s especially hard to do straight after completing your PhD — but we don’t have years (we usually need to hone a pitch before the PhD is even finished), so here’s a cheat. Imagine you have to convey the life or death importance of your work (and that your life actually does depend on getting the message across). What would you say? Instead of being lost in the intricacies and jargon of your field, you have to tell someone — anyone — just why your work matters. This sort of thing is often described as an ‘elevator pitch’, a short teaser you could recite to the most important person within or outside your field in a short elevator trip.

 

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #24 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Read out loud: another old standby. Reading out loud can reveal your clunky sentences, your unclear ideas, and your weak transitions. Reading out loud can also reveal a beautiful turn of phrase, a just-right articulation, and a resonant idea. A few variations on the theme may be useful as well: have someone else read your work out loud so you can hear a different articulation of your writing. Or, by recording yourself reading, you can listen to what you have written and be able to make notes and edits at the same time.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Have a Privacy Policy
Posted by Angson Chow
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under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 

HAVE A PRIVACY POLICY. Being an academic often means doing public work. Even if you see yourself as more of an introvert, research is about sharing and opening up dialogues in the classroom and beyond. Social media intensifies this so it’s worth working out how to approach social media platforms in advance and maybe devising a clear policy for yourself. For example, a Facebook post about LOLcats or a casual comment on Twitter about a heavy weekend’s drinking might not be things you want to add to your professional persona. Whether you have friended colleagues on Facebook or not, even with privacy controls, you can never guarantee these things won’t come to light elsewhere. With that in mind, you might like to consider firstly which platforms you are likely to use to communicate with colleagues and peers and which are for close friends only and second, lock down the privacy on the ones you want to be personal. Then decide what you are happy to talk about in public. Savvy social media users appear to be very open and friendly but are often extremely careful about what they do and don’t share. It might be useful to brainstorm a policy for yourself on paper, which you can keep handy to periodically remind yourself what you’re comfortable with.

 

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #23 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Print out a hard copy. An old standby, but a good one. When you need another perspective on your writing, print out a hard copy and read off of the page instead of the screen. A hard copy is helpful for both proofreading and editing, and can also be a useful way to get at seeing significant changes you might want to make to the piece you’re writing. Bring scissors, tape, highlighters, colored pens, and whatever tools might be helpful to the table.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Don’t be a Stalker
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

DON’T BE A STALKER. While social media networks encourage us to watch each other and to jump into conversation with complete strangers, there are ethical limits. It’s important to learn the conventions of a professional space (whether physical or virtual) before engaging too rampantly in that space. It is not okay, for example, to use Twitter to follow one single person (and only that person) while using it for nothing else. That’s just creepy. It is also not okay to keep pushing people to engage with you. If someone is not responding, you need to respect their boundaries and/or how busy they are. Finally, social media channels are all about sharing, so make sure that you are contributing to your network, as much as (if not more than) they are contributing to you. If someone sends a message to you asking for help or for your thoughts on something, return the favor.

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #22 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Tell your Mom. This is an idea inspired by my friend Gil Rodman, who challenged his students to write complex concepts in readable terms. If you’re struggling to sort out your theories or ideas, pick up the phone or sit down with someone who is not familiar with what you are researching and tell them about it. There’s no better evidence that you know your material than being able to explain it to someone…and perhaps even interest them in the topic at the same time.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Stalk Yourself
Posted by Angson Chow
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Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

STALK YOURSELF. Or rather, Google yourself. It’s a really useful exercise and will help you begin to think about ways to hone what Jesse calls your “Googlesume.” Know that potential employers, editors, and students are Googling your name, so what shows up is a part of your identity whether you’re aware of it or not. Buying your domain and creating professional profiles on social media are the best ways to harness what shows up in a Google search for your name but so too are making sure substantial work is well linked-to. In brief, when you google yourself, think carefully about what you see and the message it is conveying about you. You’ll be surprised about how much of what you see, you actually have direct control over.

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #21 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Set early deadlines. A brief anecdote: my cousin asked if I could drop him off at the airport to travel home. When I asked what time his flight was scheduled to depart, he wasn’t entirely honest with me. By modifying the flight time, he built in a cushion of comfort so there was no panic about getting to the airport on time.

Set early departure times for your abstracts and article submissions. Putting something on your calendar the week before it’s due will bring it to your attention earlier. Additional time to start thinking about and working on your submission might potentially alleviate last-minute, rushed writing.

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #20 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Have your day of hate (bear with me). Mentors will say you should select your research topic carefully. If you choose to study something you love, you might end up hating it. It happens. Should you find yourself having a serious wrestling match with your topic, wanting to scrap the whole thing, and wishing you had made a different choice, go with it. Throw yourself into the negative space until you exhaust all of the possible complaints. Then go for a walk, play a video game, or engage in some other activity you enjoy. Don’t think about or go back to your project until the next day. See how you feel when you come back to it, and plan to have a day of reconciliation with your work.

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Crossing Disciplines – From Fashion Undergrad to Geography PhD by Emma Waight
Posted by Linda Levitt

Bronze_bowl_pink_flowersEmma Waight (@EmsWaight) is a third year PhD student in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She blogs at emmawaight.co.uk.

If there’s one thing I do a lot of, it’s write. Everything from my diary (which only I read), to my PhD thesis (which if I’m lucky three people will read) to my blog (which is open to all). I’ve always rather enjoyed writing; a helpful quality in a social scientist.

I haven’t always wanted to be a social scientist though. Growing up, I was dedicated to a career in fashion and planned my subject choices and work experience around being a fashion journalist. In my sixth form leaver’s book my English teacher wrote that he looked forward to seeing me as a future editor of Vogue. Now my main ambition is to publish a social theory text on consumption or material culture. Sometimes people find it difficult to comprehend the path I’ve taken to date, but actually, is a fashion journalist all that different to a scholar of material culture?

I recently attended a career and leadership development course and completed a MBTI psychometric questionnaire. The report suited me perfectly (apparently I come across as mysterious, which I like, so I won’t spoil it by saying which type I was) and matched me up to jobs such as writer, sociologist, teacher, artist, counsellor. I’m a conceptual thinker, creative and value driven. Being a fashion journalist would have suited the creative part, but perhaps didn’t fit with my values. This is clearly the case, as I directed my undergraduate dissertation to ethical fashion, followed by an MPhil on the same topic, leading to a PhD on consumption and its social role. I am very fortunate to have had the space to explore this; I doubt fashion could have ever fulfilled my inquisitive nature and desire to make a difference.

So now I’m able to do the two main things that I enjoy—I’m writing up my PhD in human geography and planning an academic career in the social sciences, whilst I continue to blog about ethical fashion for my own blog and others. Both roles stem from a desire to investigate the wider world, to find out about stuff that interests me. Both involve desk-based research as well as getting into the field for interviews and observation. Both involve writing up that research in order to communicate on a broader platform. And both allow others to engage with my ideas, provide feedback and become part of a wider conversation. Clearly, there are huge differences too and I’m sure many academics would be livid to hear me comparing academia to journalism, but I do believe many of the processes are the same.

Starting a PhD in human geography was a steep learning curve, simply due to the change in subject matter, not in the way I approached writing. Yes, I had to learn some new lingo but now I’m nearing the end of my PhD, I can see that an interdisciplinary background has helped rather than hindered in the long term. It allows me to draw on a broad range of literature, using them as I see fit to build up my argument. One thing I did struggle with at the start was the use of first person. I had been trained before to take a more report-like, business style approach to writing which becomes difficult when you need to discuss and highlight reflexivity as a researcher. My cultural/social geography PhD research draws strongly on ethnographic techniques; hence I had to learn to adopt a narrative approach to my writing and not be afraid to situate myself within my topic.

The fact that I was blogging in a fashion role before my PhD meant that blogging about academia was a natural progression. Not only do I write about PhD life for our departmental postgrad blog, but I also use my academic work as a basis for popular writing on consumption and shopping issues. I’ve found a happy medium where I can have two interlinked elements of my life, and both feed into each other. I hope in the long term my broad networks will lead to interesting collaborations both inside and outside of academia, and mean that my research has a use outside the ivory towers (which is happening more and more across academia anyway). Sometimes I still feel like I have a lot of catching up to do in the social sciences, but no academic knows everything and I intend to make the most of my interdisciplinary background as a strength rather than a weakness.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Be a Good Hackademic
Posted by Angson Chow
Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/  under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

 BE A GOOD HACKADEMIC. Hackademia is all about honing your academic skills. It’s about thinking holistically about what it takes to be a good professional academic — which doesn’t end with simply being really quite clever. In our other tips we’ve helped you think about things like how to focus, collaborate, and critique your own work, but we produced these tips by being good at something else: researching and reflecting on our own methods. Therefore being a good hackademic means taking time out to regularly research everything from how you grade your students papers to whether papers are the best form of assessment and even what impact the tools you and your students use to write and grade papers might have on their learning. It means scouring professional development outlets like the Chronicle and Hybrid Pedagogy for debates on grading, or whatever other topic is keeping you up at night. It means keeping abreast of all the new tools out there you can deploy to grade and teach and research. And most of all it means sharing this information: good hackademics conduct their own professional development programmes and make them public!

 

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Get a Mentor
Posted by Angson Chow
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under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

GET A MENTOR. In some universities you might be lucky enough to be assigned a mentor and this may already be working well for you. Perhaps your PhD supervisor is still in the picture. Either way, it’s always worth trying to establish further relationships that will support your career growth. Try to identify someone in your field who you admire. Don’t start by approaching the biggest name in your field, because they probably won’t have time. Look instead for someone a few rungs higher up the career ladder and who you would like to be in regular contact with. Approach them by making it clear how the informal mentoring might operate — for example, you might agree to Skype for half an hour once a month. They’re likely to be really flattered you’ve asked and if you both set out some sort of schedule from the start, then neither of you need worry about taking up too much of their time. You might even decide to collaborate on a project together further down the line. Help lighten your mentor’s workload by providing a few questions/prompts in advance of your meetings. For example you might ask them about the major turning points in their career and invite them to help you reverse engineer the steps involved. Always be ready to help them in return. And as soon as you are ready, take on some mentees of your own!

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #19 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Keep a recycling file. Whether in the process of moving material from an outline to the document you’re writing or editing a piece toward completion, it’s likely that you’ll be deleting some significant chunks of text. Instead of trashing them, put those sentences and paragraphs in a recycling file. “Unused” or “save for later” work just as well. Later in the revision process, you may find a place for that concept or quote. Or, it may spark a new project or be just the idea you need for the next essay you’re writing.

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Hackademic Guide to Networking: Be a Cerebral Stalker
Posted by Linda Levitt
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Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiddleoak/
under this licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost continue their Hackademic series with a new set of hints, tips and hacks focused on academic networking.

BE A CEREBRAL STALKER. One of the wonderful things about social networks like Twitter is that you can find out about people’s work by watching and listening in on their public exchanges. Isn’t this precisely what platforms like Twitter and Facebook are for?* ;-) Certainly it makes the perfect way in for newcomers. So try this:

1. Find someone you admire on Twitter, follow them and the various topics that interest them – even follow some of the people they follow.

2. Lurk / listen for a few weeks, perhaps, before boldly @mentioning the person, directing a question their way, or asking them for some kind of feedback.

3. There are savvy and not so savvy ways of doing this, but we totally encourage tweets like this one, “Hey @charlottefrost, I noticed you’re working on a project about ______, what do you think of ______. Any advice?” OR, “@Jessifer, I just retweeted your new article, do you have any additional sources on _______?”

4. Rinse and repeat. Very meaningful conversations and even meaningful collaborative relationships can develop from this sort of educated (and polite) cold-calling. OK, that’s not really being a stalker is it?

 

* We don’t encourage stalking outside of social media channels (or even actual stalking within social media channels). There is a different set of ethics related to how we engage on social media and how we engage in face-to-face situations. Be careful to respect the boundaries of the medium in which you’re approaching someone.

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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #18 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Go ahead and clean the kitchen. Many academic writers talk about how when it comes time to sit down and write, they are distracted by the whole list of things they have to do first. Instead of sitting down with a clenched jaw, determined to stave off distraction, take a few minutes to review your draft or your notes. Then go clean the kitchen, wash the car, or tend to whatever physical task distracts you. If you do that mundane task or put your space in order while you are already thinking about your project, you might find yourself coming up with epiphanies rather than distractions.

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