2016 – another good year for doctoral writing!

By Claire Aitchison, Susan Carter and Cally Guerin

It’s a convention at this time of year to reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months and thank those who have helped make all that happen – a convention of which we heartily approve as part of the season’s celebrations. This is our 50th post for the year, and we’ve covered all sorts of topics, received lots of comments on them, and seen our readership continue to grow. Continue reading

A review of ‘Social Media for Academics’ by Mark Carrigan

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By Claire Aitchison

Is it possible to write a book about social media with any chance of it not being out-dated before it hits the presses? This is the question I asked myself when I first heard of Mark Carrigan’s book: Social Media for Academics (SAGE 2016). In this case Mark has managed to do so and has produced a book about social media that is thoughtful, practical and relevant to his target audience – academics. Furthermore, the scope and the scholarly approach to exploring the whys and wherefores of social media for academics means this book is likely to remain relevant for quite some time yet.

Mark writes like an insider because he is an academic and researcher who is also an active and skilful social media user. Mark’s approach to social media is informed by his work as a digital sociologist and consultant. This means he is concerned not simply with how and what to do in the social media space; he is also interested in the social and personal functions of social media in higher education, digital scholarship, identity and engagement, and the implications arising from participation.  Continue reading

International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Seville, November 14-16, 2016)

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By Susan Carter

I had the privilege of attending the ICERI conference this year, a large international conference attended by mostly Europeans, but with most parts of the world represented. Perhaps influenced by the recent theatre of the American elections, approaches to education at this conference seemed to emphasise education’s political and social benefits, its potential to be an antidote to powerbrokers by merit of the changes that it makes to individual lives. This potential seems relevant to, and maybe even an inspiring reminder for, doctoral writing, a process that transforms many of our lives. Continue reading

Is doctoral writing doing you harm?

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By Claire Aitchison

Writing is a physical activity that subjects the body to specific routines and impositions – it wears on the body in particular ways. I recall the deformed fingers of my grandfather: he had callouses from holding a pen, the physical manifestation of a lifetime of writing. Writers these days wear different traces of their labouring.

It seems particularly pertinent to raise this question during AcWriMo – a month when all around the world doctoral students are busy pushing themselves to write, write, write. Writing is the business of doctoral scholarship, but not all doctoral students realise Continue reading

Reading and writing the thesis acknowledgement – support, people and identity

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by Lilia Mantai

This fabulous guest post about thesis acknowledgements comes from Lilia Mantai who settled in Australia after completing her teaching degree in Germany. For the last six years she has been working at Macquarie University, Sydney, in various roles (as tutor, research assistant, project officer and academic developer). She is now close to submitting her PhD on researcher identity development of doctoral students. Good luck Lilia!

Writing is personal. It is also social as it does not happen in isolation. Discussing and clarifying ideas with your colleagues, receiving and incorporating feedback from critical friends and reviewers are social acts that make writing collaborative. Yet the doctoral thesis comes across as a disembodied, de-personified and de-personalised product of doctoral ‘training’ – void of the emotions, typical PhD ups and downs, and identity crisis battled in the process. Until you read the thesis acknowledgements.

My PhD research looks at how doctoral students become researchers in the PhD journey.

While reading through various theses in the early stages of my PhD, it struck me that the acknowledgement section of the thesis was just oozing with personal and ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories. Continue reading

Done all that work – but has this thesis really got anything to say?!: Strategies to regain perspective on research contribution

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By Claire Aitchison

What have I got to say? This is the terror moment that strikes every doctoral student: the fear that perhaps there isn’t anything of worth to show for all the years of work.

I’ve never met a student who hasn’t experienced this kind of self-doubt – in part fuelled by exhaustion during the final stages, and in part this anxiety is an almost natural outcome of being too close, too fully immersed in the project to be able to objectively assess the merits of the work. However it is essential that researchers do make such judgements accurately since convention demands that the thesis clearly identifies the contribution and significance of the research.

Over the years I’ve collected a few strategies for helping students gain the perspective needed Continue reading