Last month I ran an editing boot camp aimed at helping late-stage doctoral writers whip their theses into shape. My late dear friend, Heather Kerr, used to talk about the ‘large, loose, baggy monsters’ that PhD candidates often confront towards the end of candidature. The phrase comes from Henry James when describing big 19th-century novels, and seems particularly apt for those doctoral candidates who have been writing and writing for several (sometimes way too many) years. The boot camp was designed to tame those baggy monsters into tightly argued, concisely written documents ready to submit for examination. Here I outline four exercises we used to achieve this.Continue reading
Our guest blogger is Siân Lund from the Royal College of Art PG Art and Design college in the UK. She has been the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) Coordinator for almost 6 years. She has a background in language education and is passionate about exploring diversity in communication with a special interest in acculturation processes. At the RCA she is responsible for providing Academic Literacies support for all students at MA and Doctoral level as well as promoting pedagogic strategies for enhancing learning.
By Siân Lund
While building up support in academic literacies skills for our students, I was struck by distinct epistemologies of Art and Design disciplines and how this impacts on the way students develop their research and writing. Through interviews with staff, I recognised the importance of a reflective process of enquiry underpinning the research process in these fields. Tutors often expect the students’ experiences, inspirations and reflections to become part of the writing with individual perspectives and interpretations. Combining this creative and often very personal approach with more conventional and critically objective elements of academic writing has caused difficulties for many students. We are often asked ‘how can I combine my individual journey and voice with criticality and academic writing?’ At the risk of opening a huge can of worms here around terminology, I am thinking of ‘objective discussion’ as a genre along a spectrum of ‘academic writing’. Sometimes a tutor’s conversation with students which involves encouragement to use personal perspectives, narratives and a creative approach in the writing process can lead to a struggle for students to combine these elements with critical, more objective discussion.
Not wanting to go down the rabbit hole of exploring what researching and writing in an Art and Design context might mean, it feels necessary to set this context for the annotated bibliography that I am including here.Continue reading
By Susan Carter
I’m returning to a theme that intrigued me back when, as a doctoral learning advisor, I worked across disciplines with doctoral students who consulted me with their problems (Carter, 2011). Candidates sometimes wanted to talk about problems that surfaced specifically in the borderlands of doctoral interdisciplinarity. Back then, research interdisciplinarity was recognised as valuable but in my experience as a doctoral learning advisor, there was never a cohort of peers to ask for advice and mutual support.
Now, post-Covid, and in the face of evident climate change, it seems that solutions to tough global challenges might be best found by working across disciplines and we need to establish support for interdisciplinary doctoral research. And yet my hunch is that, in the tradition-hugging entrenched disciplinary norms and biases of academia, candidates could run into the same problems. Here’s my practice-based list of what can be tough.Continue reading
By Dr Kay Guccione, a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development at Glasgow Caledonian University. Kay has been a teacher and educational development professional since 2010, working in Researcher and Academic Development at the University of Sheffield for nine years. Her specialism is in Dialogic Learning, as applied to Mentoring, Personal Tutoring and PhD Supervision. She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2018 in recognition of her national profile in these areas, and she edits a blog on Research Supervision, and edits the Journal of Imaginary Research
Researchers in music psychology (of which I am not one, to be transparent) have produced a huge body of evidence, documenting how music affects human behaviour and emotion within a wide range of performance contexts, varying music genera and tempo, task type, volume and the presence or absence of vocals. Writing to the right musical soundscape, can make you work faster (Bramwell-Dicks et al, 2016). This post will put you in touch with resources for choosing music to write by.Continue reading
By Susan Carter
I’m working with several doctoral students who are approaching submission deadlines, so careful revision is much on my mind. There are a few things I am picking up across their work, and I wondered if maybe there are common considerations so that a checklist would be helpful.
My list below relates to what I am doing here and now, and is limited by that—what I’m thinking about now. I’m sure that there is more to be said, and would love it if thoughts about revision checklists surfaced in your own ideas and teaching to add to advice. You could add a comment, or contact us if you could offer a blog post on the same topic: presubmission revision.
Cally Guerin has written before in this blog about presubmission with a focus on formatting, and Claire Aitchison had acknowledged the psychological stress of the presubmission state that seems inevitable, but this post focuses on the seemingless endless checking that revision entails.Continue reading
By Susan Carter
The DoctoralWriting SIG has had a few posts on what was so huge and different about 2020, churning over what has happened to us all, how we might best handle it, and how kindness to each other is one very positive response to something that is generally frightening, depressing and worrying: a global pandemic. I’m sure that you will have your own experience of how COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have affected the doctoral writers you know. We all know that we’ve lived through something extraordinary. Continue reading