Academic Writing: Perspective from an English as Second Language Speaker

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This post comes from guest blogger, Sabrina Islam. Sabrina  is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the University of Melbourne.

Sabrina is a rookie coder, trying to answer what committing to the response by serotonin means at cellular and evolutionary contexts by looking at biological data. 

Here she reflects on academic writing and doctoral identity.

 

 

The language tree image source is artist Minna Sundberg              Source: https://www.theguardian.com/education/gallery/2015/jan/23/a-language-family-tree-in-pictures

As I was parallel drafting both my thesis chapter and an editorial for the past couple of weeks, I realised how quickly I flipflop between different personalities when I write different pieces. From this realisation resurfaced a much bigger realisation—I switch my personality every time I communicate in English.

“Learning another language is like becoming another person”- said Haruki Murakami. I sort of agree. Donning a second language feels really very similar to donning a “work outfit”- I am a different person with my work shoes on vs what Aussies call “thongs”. Communicating in the language of academia adds another layer of complexity: it’s like putting on suits. To an outsider or someone who is communicating in English as a second language speaker, this may feel like a new dress-code with a new, more complex set of rules. Having multiple voices in the research arena can be an opportunity, but it can also be a challenge.

Pretty much every PhD student who communicates in academic English has been challenged with some aspects of it. Here are some of my insights to ease the friction of switching between personalities. I am organising my thoughts into two layers: being comfortable in your new outfit; and assembling a wardrobe. Continue reading

World-wide kindness towards doctoral writing during Covid 19 lockdown: shared resources

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This post comes from Lyn Lavery, director of Academic Consulting in Auckland New Zealand. Lyn established Academic Consulting in 1999 following a successful career in the tertiary sector. Her 20+ years background in education, combined with a PhD which examined self-regulated learning at a tertiary level, and her extensive consultancy practice have equipped her with fingers on the pulse. She shares some valuable resources.

These times of uncertainty and disruption bring significant challenges for all of us. In addition to the more obvious issues of adjusting to life in self-isolation, there are several unique challenges for researchers. Access to software, resources and equipment has become more difficult, regular support networks (such as thesis supervisors) may have limited availability, and there are many researchers whose data collection plans will require a considerable rethink.

Given these challenges, I’ve been increasingly impressed and heartened by the generosity of many businesses and individuals in responding to the needs of researchers and doctoral students at this time. Before sharing these resources with you, however, I do want to make a point – please don’t feel that you should be upskilling, rescheduling data collection plans, adjusting ethics approvals or engaging in any of the other (probably numerous) tasks that the present situation demands. Take the time you need to catch your breath, look after yourself and your family, and do what you need to adjust to the unexpected circumstances we all find ourselves in (you’ve probably read lots of resources on this theme already, but if not, my favourite is Why you should ignore all that coronavirus-inspired productivity pressure).

Having said that, if you’d like to use the next few months as a chance to upskill, there are plenty of opportunities for research-related training. Continue reading

The Year of Wonders: Doctoral writing in the time of COVID-19

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By Cally Guerin

My title comes from my current reading – Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders, set during the Great Plague of 1666, and Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera (I also recommend Minette Walters’ The Last Hours for a good read on strong women taking the lead on self-isolation). These really are times when academics and doctoral writers need to protect themselves from the world pandemic. As universities around the world close campuses and move teaching online, doctoral writers are facing even more challenges than usual. What used to feel like a bit of a luxury when only occasionally possible, working from home is now mandatory for many of us. This post looks at how doctoral writers can be supported to stay on track in the current state of confinement. Continue reading

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