Careful curating.

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Since joining this course I have started to think more deeply about my identity as a researcher, and about how I want to communicate that identity to others.  It seems that building an online identity is something that can be done in haste, only to be repented of at leisure.

In particular, there’s Twitter.  I had never had anything to do with twitter before now.  To be honest, I could not see the point of it.  However, since signing up, I’ve discovered a whole new world of information, both good and bad.  But more excitingly I’ve discovered a whole new world of possible contacts and networks to join. For instance, today I signed up for an online Shut Up and Write group hosted by an academic in Brisbane, for academic writers who wanted some encouragement to focus, and some support from others.  This is well beyond anything I had expected to find on Twitter, which I had previously suspected was exclusively populated by celebrity watchers and trolls!!

But this whole new world raises two (at least) things to consider.  The first is the issue of identity.  How do I want to present myself; who do I want these other people to see?  In the 23 Things blog, Thinking about Ideas, Suzanne talks about story – the things we include and the things we omit.  I realise she’s not really talking about our personal stories, but I think what she says can be extended to that.  For example: a couple of years ago I organised a meeting for Faculty of Ed postgrads, with a well-known guest speaker.  We had such a high turnout, and so many responses from people who couldn’t make it but wanted to see it, that we asked permission to film the presentation and put it on the closed PGSA Facebook page.  Permission was duly granted (and of course we had to get consent from everyone who attended just in case the back of their head featured in the film, but that’s a whole other story).  However, we were then asked NOT to put the film up online, because it didn’t fit with the online presence the speaker was developing.  That was my first encounter with this issue.

The second thing to consider is this question of curating content.  Because I have spent a lot of time lately drowning in content, seeing things that interest me and then not being able to find them again.  So I’m really keen to try out some of the tools recommended in thing 10.  However, I’m going to have to wait.  Time is short and deadlines are pressing!

In the meantime, I’m a bit unsure about how to create a link to another blog, so I’m going to reblog it in full.

When is it right to write?

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I’m always interested in advice about writing. Although the more time I spend reading this advice, the less time I seem to have to actually do any writing of my own. Weird or what?

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When is it right to write?

This is a common source of anxiety amongst PhD researchers, not helped by the competitive nature of many writing challenges set on twitter. Whilst they can help some, they cause angst to many others. So should you write from the start of a PhD?

I am now 8 months in… and feel in a good place where I have found my feet. If you haven’t yet come across the excellent blog by Professor Pat Thompson, then Writing From Day One is Risky is recommended. The blog Three Month Thesis Why Writing From Day One is Nuts also caused me great relief.

The authors aren’t saying don’t write anything, they are saying don’t expect to write your thesis from day one. How could you? I am always shocked when people claim to have written 30,000 words in a week or have written 3 chapters in…

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Professional social networks.

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I already have an account with both LinkedIn and Academia.edu but I’m not sure what their value is to me at the moment.

I joined LinkedIn mainly to keep my daughter happy (she works in Recruiting and uses LinkedIn every day as part of her work).  So far I’ve enjoyed setting up my profile and making connections with people I already know, but otherwise I’m maintaining an attitude of wait and see about it.  I’ve worked through the suggestions about the 5 things you probably aren’t doing with your LinkedIn account (I wasn’t doing any of them) and I’m trying to make the suggested changes.  I still have to think of some wickedly catchy headline!

I agree with the John Naughton article that LinkedIn is mainly associated in my mind with finding a job.  I’m not in that position at the moment, and I haven’t really thought before about how i could use it to increase my profile as a researcher, or develop a professional network around discussion of ideas.  So in light of the readings for this week I’ve joined a couple of groups from the list of suggestions, and I’ll try and make the effort to join the online discussions to become a participating member of the groups I belong to, rather than just a silent watcher.

As for Academia.edu – I joined that in order to get access to an academic paper I wanted to read.  I currently have no idea how to use that particular site, and so my account just sits there.  I think it might be staying dormant for the foreseeable future.

I’m interested to hear how others use/view these sites. As I said at the beginning of this course, I’ve never really ‘done’ social media, so perhaps I don’t appreciate the possibilities.  I think the best way to really learn about them would be to hear other people’s stories.

Silent Sociability

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Here’s another useful blog I’ve found relating to the dark art of academic writing. I find what she says about identifying distractions quite challenging – after all, if I eliminated all distractions, how would I have the time to read what she’s written??

Explorations of Style

One of my first tasks upon returning from my sabbatical was to run a dissertation boot camp. Although dissertation boot camps are a well-established way of supporting doctoral writers, this is the first time we have offered one at the University of Toronto (we did offer a very successful research article boot camp earlier in the summer). We had sixteen participants (doctoral students from a wide range of disciplines), and we met for three days, from 9-5 each day. Our days were made up mostly of writing, with breaks to discuss strategies for pre-writing, productivity, and revision and to consider the particular challenges of thesis writing. The overarching theme for the three days was silent sociability. A writing retreat of this sort involves both silence and sociability and thus presents an opportunity to reflect on the ways that academic writing relies on both.

First, the silence. When planning…

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Feed readers

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How do I organise my reading?  The short answer is not well enough!  Not only do I suffer from what has been called Obsessive Article Download Syndrome, I may also suffer from the related Obsessive Alert Subscription Disorder.  Altogether, the prognosis is poor.

I use Feedly on my laptop at home as a way of receiving journal alerts.  It works well with Firefox, it’s very efficient and tidy, and it presents lots of information in a well organised manner.  I just need to remember to look at it!  However, it only acts as an alert.  If I see an article I’m interested in I have to access it separately through the Library website.  And while that’s not a problem, it might be quicker for me just to search my favourite list of journals once a month through the library.

Blogs that I follow (aka Thing 4)

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Thing 4 makes me think of a Dr Seuss character!  I’m hoping that these things are as much fun as the friends in the Cat in the Hat, but that they cause slightly less chaos in my life 🙂

I’ve already mentioned that I follow the blog Patter.  I am also a fan of the Thesis Whisperer: http://thesiswhisperer.com/

I’ve been following this blog since I started my M.Ed (so a number of years now).  Not only does it contain a wealth of practical advice on the student researcher life and process, it’s also entertaining. I have been known to laugh out loud at times when reading it – so perhaps it’s not entirely suitable for a serious and silent workplace!

As a further recommendation, I really like the way the author, Inger Mewburn, writes.  She has a relaxed-without-being-too-informal style that I enjoy reading.  If you haven’t already discovered this particular blog, then check it out.  Meanwhile, I am going to check out some of the others recommended in Thing 4.  At the very least I expect them to provide me with some further tools for procrastination.

should doctoral researchers blog?

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This is one of the blogs I follow. I found the comments here quite thought provoking!

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I often get asked about the pros and cons of doctoral researchers blogging, and I know other colleagues do too. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question of course, it’s always an “It depends”. But here’s a few beginning thoughts.

For a start, whether to blog or not depends what you are hoping to achieve. Maybe you are thinking about an individual blog, something you create yourself on one of the standard platforms like blogger, wordpress or medium… and if you are, here’s some possible reasons and some things to consider….

(1) Your personal blog is a place to reflect and record what is happening in your research.
A blog can do this. It can be like a journal. You might blog about the things you are reading and thinking about. Formulating ideas into a thousand words or so and linking to relevant texts and other online…

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