Social aspects of doctoral writing, courtesy of Marmalade the rabbit

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By Susan Carter

You probably don’t pay much attention to the image we have as our banner branding the DoctoralWriting SIG blog. Take a look at it now—there’s a hand at the keyboard of a computer, and it holds a ballpoint between two fingers telling of work on both hard and soft copies and thinking across both. Over to one side there’s the top of a notebook and a document held together with a binder clip, evidence of all the reading and interconnection of texts that sit behind academic writing.

That’s a pretty neat image for a blog on doctoral writing, right? But what you do not know about is the back story to this image, a story that contains a rabbit. This post discusses why the rabbit is missing as an analogy to what you might leave in or take out of doctoral writing. Continue reading

Doctoral writing: the incentive of space

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By Susan Carter

I’ve just met with a Pacific Island doctoral candidate, let’s call her Vai after the beautiful Pasifika movie that you should try to see. Vai moved me almost to tears by recounting that she does her doctoral writing in the cemetery next to her grandmother’s grave. Continue reading

Writing a thesis by publication. Some reasons for and against

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By Kalypso Filippou

Kalypso Filippou is a post-doctoral researcher and part-time teacher at the Faculty of Education, University of Turku in Finland. Kalypso’s research interests mainly focus in the field of higher education, international education, and intercultural postgraduate thesis supervision.

I have recently defended my article-based thesis (aka thesis by publication, collection of articles thesis) and I was intrigued by the blog of Cally Guerin regarding the ongoing debate of writing a thesis by publication (https://doctoralwriting.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/thinking-about-writing-a-thesis-by-publication-some-reasons-for-and-against/#more-2348). I actually agree with all the reasons for and against that were indicated but I decided to re-examine these advantages and disadvantages and add a few more reasons based on my experiences as a doctoral candidate who wrote a thesis by publication. Continue reading

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