Writing text for research posters

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By Cally Guerin

Recently I sat down to make a poster about the DoctoralWritingSIG blog for a higher education conference. I’ve made only a few research posters over the years; this genre is more common in some science disciplines than it is in humanities and social sciences. The exercise encouraged me to think about how this kind of research writing differs from that of a journal article or a thesis or, for that matter, a 20-minute oral presentation for a conference.

Poster prose is a little like reducing an 80,000-word thesis to a Three-Minute Thesis presentation: turning an article-length idea into a poster requires the author to focus in on the key messages of the communication. Posters encourage writers to extract the skeleton of the narrative they have developed in more fulsome terms elsewhere, to distill the key ideas of the work into neat dot points or short statements. This is not a time to be chatty; a poster gives us only the central message. Continue reading

What does it mean to ‘theorise’ research?

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By Cally Guerin

Researchers, and especially those working on doctorates, are advised that their work needs to be much more than a description; they must also ‘theorise’ their work. Many of us are a little unsure about what this really means, especially when instructed to ‘theorise your practice’, so here is my attempt to try and define it.

Doctoral writers generally need to tie their research to existing, well-established theories, for example, feminist theory, attachment theory, social constructivist theory. Such theories act as a lens through which the research is perceived, and often determine the direction and focus of the research.

But on another level, doctoral writers are also required to ‘theorise’ their findings. This second kind of ‘theorising’ demands that the writer step away from the mass of details to enable a big-picture view of data in order to understand its broader meanings. Continue reading

3rd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training (ICDDET), 3-4 April 2017

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By Cally Guerin

The International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training (ICDDET) is gaining momentum with its third conference in the UK held at Stratford upon Avon last week. As in 2015, this conference draws together perspectives from (primarily) the UK, Europe, North America and Australia. The doctorate is an international qualification and it was encouraging to see how speakers from all these regions are consistently on message: doctoral education needs to be thinking about what happens to our researchers beyond graduation. Continue reading

Pinterest for doctoral writing: Learning from creative writing

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By Cally Guerin

Searching around for new ideas for my doctoral writing classes recently, I found myself perusing the endless array of pins on Pinterest. Academic writing, and especially doctoral writing, is often regarded as being almost entirely separate from creative writing: doctoral writing is supposed to be objective, direct, dry. However, a short foray into the world of Pinterest quickly reveals that much of the advice to novelists is relevant to doctoral writers, so I started compiling my own board of pins that were aimed at aspiring fiction writers but also useful for academic writing. Continue reading

How to work with a thesis editor

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Dr Kerrie Le Lievre is a former teacher of business and academic writing at the University of Adelaide, and a current freelance editor. She is a professional member of the Society of Editors (SA), a branch of IPEd. You can find her blog, which includes thesis-writing tips, at https://kleditor.wordpress.com/blog/.

By Kerrie Le Lievre

It’s becoming increasingly common for PhD and Masters students to employ professional editors or proofreaders when finalising their theses. However, many editors report that the students who contact them often know very little about what a thesis editor does, how to work with one, or even when to approach one.

While Australia’s Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) has some useful information available online both for supervisors and for students, these mostly focus on what happens once an editor has been engaged, and cover only a small portion of what students need to know to ensure that they can work effectively with their chosen editor. Similar information is available from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) in the UK, and multiple bodies in the USA. This post uses Australian practice as a model, but the advice given here will be useful in other contexts too.

Preparation phase

Well before students complete their thesis drafts, they need to know what a thesis editor does, how to locate one and when to contact one. Continue reading

Moving beyond ‘because I said so’ – motivation for thesis writing

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Dr Kay Guccione (@kayguccione) works at the University of Sheffield. Kay designs mentoring programmes for researchers and her work is centred on linking people together to talk about the things that matter to them.

By Kay Guccione

Writing a thesis of 80,000 to 100,000 words is something we expect of everyone in almost all forms of doctorate. In a PhD it’s impossible to avoid doing some writing — our writing is what we are assessed on and how we communicate our research in conventional forms. With ‘publish or perish’ resonating down every corridor, our attitude to writing is our gateway to the currency of research careers. We are emotionally preoccupied with the fear, excitement, dread, satisfaction, guilt and elation of writing (Wellington, 2010) — see #AcWri #AcWriMo #shouldbewriting #shutupandwrite…

But for some, writing in thesis form seems a futile endeavour at first glance. Continue reading