Experience matters: mindfulness and doctoral education

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Our guest author this week is Dr Michelle Jamieson – a Higher Degree Research Learning Advisor at Macquarie University, Australia, with a special interest in the role experience plays in doing research. As a mindfulness practitioner and medical sociologist, her work explores how mindfulness can help students to develop balanced work practices, healthy ways of relating to themselves and greater joy in the research process. She is the author of the blog www.themindfulresearcher.com.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that no matter what teaching setting I’m in, discussions of the technical aspects of thesis writing often quickly turn into conversations about experience. Whenever students are given space to reflect on their work or ask for help, they’re keen to share their own (and hear about others’) experiences of the research process. Continue reading

Finding certainty in an uncertain world – how writing can help

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By Claire Aitchison

As I explore this idea I’m thinking primarily – but not wholly – of qualitative researchers who must learn to live with a high degree of uncertainty. Of course, to be admitted and/or proceed with their project most doctoral scholars will need to write convincingly about their research design, describing the aim, research questions and method. Quite rightly, everyone takes this first account very seriously. Supervisors and students will work to make the research proposal as accurate as possible—after all, it will be the basis for years of work ahead. Students are encouraged to make clear decisions and write with certainty—even though we know for qualitative researchers there is a degree to which these declarations of intent may be a bit of a charade. What I mean by this is that, although a research proposal proclaims with confidence the nature and purpose of the investigation to be undertaken, in truth, the newly minted doctoral student (and their supervisor) may secretly concede the text holds plausible degrees of uncertainty. Continue reading

A new year and a new book for the Doctoral Writing blog

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It seems incredible that the DoctoralWriting blog is moving into its 8th year. Academic blogging and the scholarship of doctoral education has blossomed during this time—so too, has our reach and readership (Guerin, Aitchison & Carter 2019).  Cally, Susan and I have been blessed to have been working together as editors, authors and reviewers engaging with our readership and the numerous guest contributors over these years.

We have noticed both continuity and change in the themes and concerns regarding doctoral writing. Of long-standing interest for supervisors and students is the nature of new and traditional doctoral texts, and the resultant implications for creativity and voice. Secondly, and unsurprisingly, the craft of writing—from grammar and structure to argumentation—is an enduring theme. Continue reading

That’s a wrap! The end of 2019 and the start of a new decade

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

2019 has been another busy year for DoctoralWriting, just as it has been for our readers around the world. Recently we passed the 15,000 followers mark. We’ve published another 35 posts this year, with the following guest bloggers based in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa contributing to the conversation – thank you all! Continue reading

Another genre for doctoral writers: Eight things you should know about email

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My guest co-blogger this week is Hannah James, a doctoral candidate in the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University where she traces ancient human and animal migrations using oxygen and strontium isotopes. She also works in the Research Skills and Training Unit and in Research Management admin where she spends a lot of time reading and writing emails to and from doctoral writers.

By Hannah James and Cally Guerin

One writing genre that is often overlooked in research communication is the humble email. In many universities, email is still the main communication channel for correspondence between supervisors and their PhD candidates. As we know from other contexts, email can be a complex communication where misunderstandings can result from rushed or simply ill-conceived messages. The following offers some advice that we think is useful for supervisors and doctoral support people to pass onto doctoral writers. Continue reading

Matching Introductions and Conclusions

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By Cally Guerin

It might seem obvious, but it’s always worth reminding doctoral writers to make sure the Introduction and Conclusion to their thesis match. Sometimes, a lot of effort is spent writing an ‘Introduction’ to the thesis in the early stages of candidature. But over time, the focus or emphasis of the thesis can shift – new ideas come to the forefront, and some of the original ideas have faded away into the background. As Mullins and Kiley (2002, p.377) made clear: examiners do look to see whether the conclusions follow from the introduction. Continue reading