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Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #57 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Engage in bracketing. This is a tip that comes from conflict management, and it carries over well to research and writing. When we are engaged in conflict, many different issues and concerns might come to the fore. If those issues create a digression, the original source of conflict might get lost and might never get resolved. Instead, the effort toward resolution turns into an even muddier puddle. In managing conflict, you should be mindful of those side issues and point out that they should be bracketed for a later conversation, once the current conflict is resolved.

As interested, engaged researchers and writers, we often find side interests that might take us down rabbit holes. This happens even after you have stopped reading your email and shut down your internet connection. Keep a notepad or an open document where you can jot down the “save for later” topics and keep yourself on track.


Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #51 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Read before you write, part III. Whether you are seeking inspiration, guidance, writing prompts, or tips for productivity, there is a wealth of information available to get you started. PhD2Published.com and its archives can be a good starting place, as many guest bloggers here also blog elsewhere. Setting up an RSS reader or creating a list of bookmarks or favorites can give you quick and easy access to good sources.

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #33 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Try microcalendaring. There are so many adages about how to tackle big projects and multiple deadlines, but getting from feeling overwhelmed to having a manageable process can be daunting. One approach is microcalendaring (not to be confused with the popular app MicroCalendar). Begin with your terminal deadline, and see how many project units you have available. For example, if you were submitting an article two months from now, you would have about 60 units to work with, or fewer if you were to take weekends off from working. Knowing the number of available units enables you to determine the size of each unit: some people work well with word counts while others find text sections more manageable (i.e., for Tuesday, finish writing the argument in section two). Either way, knowing the size of the task that awaits you helps you prepare better and see a reasonable goal in sight by the end of the day.

Hackademic Guide to Networking: Subspecialize
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

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.

 SUBSPECIALIZE. Build and promote an expertise that’s cross-disciplinary or even tangential from your main subject area. A more generalised, let’s call it ‘sub-specialty’ is going to attract a wider group of people to your work. Engaging with folks in neighboring and related disciplines will help you build a more diverse network. The points of intersections between our own work and the work of our peers is often what most inspires us to push off in new directions. We’re fans of networks built around related but divergent interests. Fiona Barnett, the HASTAC Scholars Director, coined their fantastic mission statement, “Difference is our operating system.” This is something we believe strongly of academia and scholarship. Ultimately, our work is only as good as the connections it makes and the discussions it gives rise to.

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #28 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Sort your projects. Many readers can see summer break around the corner, along with the opportunity to delve more deeply into research. If you don’t have that circumstance ahead of you, this is still a good time at the change of seasons to assess your research agenda. A writing group chum suggested sorting projects and project ideas into three categories: urgent, priority, and save for someday. Getting a sense of what you have to do and what you want to do—and making some choices in the process—can be a good first step to setting yourself on a productive trajectory. Don’t discard those “save for someday” ideas, as they may be a good for a call for proposals or a collaboration down the road.

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #26 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Serve as a reviewer for conferences. While it varies across disciplines, large national and international conferences will often look to their membership to conduct peer review of conference submissions. Volunteering to serve as a reviewer has many benefits: You have an opportunity to see what research is underway in your field. You provide important service to the discipline, which 1) makes you part of the community, 2) strengthens connections and contacts, and 3) can be helpful if you are on the market or have service requirements toward tenure. You can also learn from the best practices and mistakes of other writers.

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #21 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.

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #12 by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Schedule a meeting (or seven). As a new year is beginning, and a new semester for many, you may be looking at your calendar for 2014 to fill in your standing meeting, appointments, and classes. Now is the time to schedule your meetings with your projects. Setting a routine meeting can be a good way to ensure you sit down to work on research and writing. The key is to block the time and lock it in: don’t let anything take precedence over the time you’ve set aside. So rather than thinking, “I want to write on Tuesday and Friday,” set a specific time of day that can’t be interrupted.

Weekly Wisdom #97 by Paul Gray and Simon E. Drew

LEARN TIME MANAGEMENT. Determine your work priorities and try as best you can to match your time commitments to those priorities. The model of an academic having large blocks of time at work to think deeply about a problem is not valid, and may never have been. Your time on campus is fragmented. You are interrupted for teaching, office hours, supervising dissertations, phone calls, keeping up with e-mail, research, writing, publication, and more. Each activity is important and/or mandatory. You barely have time to be collegial. If you are overloaded, use time management tools. The simplest is the calendar that comes with e-mail software. Keep a record not only of your appointments and your teaching commitment but also your interruptions. Analysis will show times when you can combine repetitive interruptions and when you can undertake reading, research, and professional activities. Learn to say no! One of our colleagues, who published well over 30 books in his career, advised: “If you write only a page a day, that’s a book a year.

Weekly Wisdom #90 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew

RECOGNIZE THE DELAYS IN PUBLISHING. You face long, long delays. In this hint we estimate the delays in journal publica­tion. For books, the total time is usually much longer. Let’s assume you’ve written your first article and printed out a copy that is ready to send off to the top journal in the field. If you expect that this brilliant piece will appear in the next issue or, at the latest, the one after that, we have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Let’s assume that your paper is so good it is accepted without a request for even minor revisions. Even in this unusual case, the pace of publication is extremely slow.

Weekly Wisdom #69 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew

WRITE MOST OF YOUR ARTICLES FOR REFEREED JOURNALS. Papers presented at meetings get you funds to be a world traveler. However, even if refereed, conference papers don’t really count for tenure, promotion, or salary raises.

Weekly Wisdom #67 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew

PROTECT YOUR INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL WHILE TRAVELING.  You can publish your research findings in a journal after you presented a paper about them at a conference.   Be careful, however, not to present creative initial speculations and hypotheses,  that you are not yet ready to publish. They can be stolen by unscrupulous members of your audience.

…and All the Academics Merely Players

In this post, regular contributor Claire Warden offers her top tips for giving excellent conference presentations. She is Lecturer in Drama at the University of Lincoln where she has been working since 2010. She blogs at www.clairewarden.net and tweets as @cs_warden.

Here in the University of Lincoln’s drama department we are approaching our first performance fortnight of the year: a chance for students to showcase their talents and explore new methods. Currently I spend Thursday mornings amid a sea of robots, fake blood and apocalyptic visions as we rehearse a version of Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. In recent days I have been thinking a little about the way we ‘perform’ as academics. Our performance ability is particularly tested at conferences and, in this my third short meditation for PhD2Published, I want to consider the way we perform at these events.

For as a postgraduate I remember being taught about archives and writing journal articles and the need to develop a workable bibliographic system, but I cannot recollect ever really learning about conference presentation. The assumption, I imagine, is that it must come naturally to anyone considering an academic career or passionate about their research. Anybody who has sat through long days of conference proceedings will know that this is far from the case and, though I do not claim any real expertise in this area (I am the presenter whose Powerpoint didn’t work at my first major international conference as well as the panel chair who introduced a colleague with the wrong university affiliation), I have been considering what help us ‘performing arts types’ could provide to colleagues in different departments. So, below are my top tips for excellent conference presentation and, for those of you balking already at the thought of a drama scholar at the helm, I can promise that there will be no exuberant jazz hands, no actorly hissy fits and I will not call you ‘darling’ at any stage…

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Weekly Wisdom #65 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew

PREPARE AN “ELEVATOR SPEECH”. Throughout your PhD studies, your professors grounded you in your discipline and taught you all the caveats and disclaimers that must accompany your scholarly research.  Then, in the dissertation defense, and afterwards, for example when you seek a job, you will be asked to succinctly summarize your work and what it means. Imagine that you are attending a national conference.  You step into an express elevator on the 45th floor of the building, and push “lobby”.  the only other person in the elevator is, say the senior Federal policy maker in your area of interest, for example, the National Endowment for the Humanities or the President’s Science Advisor, or the chair of the department you really want to interview for a job.  He or she says that they heard that you completed an important dissertation study.  S/he explains that s/he would like to know about your research, but,given a packed schedule, only has this elevator ride to learn about your work.  What do you tell them?

Claire Warden – Interdisciplinarity: Variety Is the Spice of (Academic) Life

In this post Claire Warden, lecturer in Drama at Lincoln University, returns with another guest post, this time looking at the issues surrounding interdisciplinarity. You can follow Claire on twitter here. Recently I went to an Iron Maiden gig in Nottingham. Earlier in the day I had attended a yoga class and had then grabbed some sushi for lunch. Not owning an ‘Eddie’ top I decided to wear my Peter Gabriel 2003 tour t-shirt instead. An insightful friend called me ‘eclectic’ and I must admit that in all areas of life I rejoice in my slightly unusual day-to-day combinations: a lover of progressive rock but also a former classical soprano, a devotee of professional wrestling but also a reader of verbose Victorian novels. My friend is clearly right…I am nothing if not eclectic. This approach (call it eccentric if you will) actually impacts my work daily and I am starting to feel its effects more and more keenly.

In my last article for ‘PhD2published’ I briefly mentioned the importance of developing an interdisciplinary approach, of connecting our work with (or at least reading it alongside) the ideas of others outside of our immediate field. In this article I want to briefly begin to explore why and how this can be done. Read more