Dear doctoral supervisor,
“I was blissfully unaware how long it would take me to write up. To be honest I would have preferred a more clear marker from my supervisor, or from the department, saying stop doing experiments now and write! I was expecting someone to say when I had enough data, because I never felt I did, so instead I kept going much longer than I needed in the lab because I didn’t know how much was enough. I feel pretty annoyed about that.”
It’s 246 days until the 31st of October. I mention this date as we have around 1100 third year doctoral students whose theses are due on that date*. With 8 months to go, now is a perfect time to make sure that your thesis writers know it’s time to spend some time each week — an hour a day, every day? — writing. Read the rest of this entry »
If you are a researcher in the early stages of your career and you want to pursue a career in academia, you’ll need to start thinking about building your funding profile. Starting off with small pots of money gives you the confidence to navigate the application processes and also gives you a track record of your ability to win money. This will be of benefit to you in the future when you are looking to write larger grant proposals.
With this in mind I’d like to share with you how the Think Ahead: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (TA:SURE) scheme can assist with enhancing your funding profile. I’ve previously written about how the scheme is designed to give early career researchers the experience of managing a project from start to finish. Part of this process is recruiting an undergraduate student and then working with the student to apply for externally funded vacation bursaries. The student receives a valuable income over the course of the summer project and the ECR, in their role as supervisor, achieves funding which can be highlighted on their CV. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been thinking a fair amount over the years about the writing process, whether in preparation for PhD sessions or through my own struggles. During the last couple of weeks, we have been running PhD inductions across the Faculty of Science, inviting some academics to share their experience of the writing process and receiving contributions from Katherine Clement, who is one of the new writers in residence working with undergraduate and PhD students, Postdocs, fellows and academics from the biological disciplines in our faculty.
“Becoming a researcher is…becoming a writer”
Read the rest of this entry »
Through my thesis mentoring work, PhD supervisors write to me most weeks and ask — with varying tones of enthusiasm and frustration —
“how can I support/encourage/motivate/force my student to get their thesis written?”
I tailor my reply to the cues I pick up from the emails, the context, timing, relational aspects. I ask for more detail about what’s been happening. Sometimes I coach the supervisor, sometimes I coach the student. Read the rest of this entry »
My usual thesis banter is all about how to start writing. But in order to get it submitted at some point you have to stop.
Lots of you will have hard deadlines to meet and be beavering away towards them. I hear sometimes though a variation on “…but I want to be finished way before that.” There can be flexibility in any self-imposed deadline that allows you to slide it back if you want to. Beware this tendency to drag the process on longer and longer and if you can, force an end by planning a ‘full stop’ point. Maybe plan a holiday, or agree a job start date that requires you to have finished your thesis. It’s hard to write and fully commit to your work in a new role, as many people who are juggling a full time job and thesis writing will echo.
As you come towards the end, keep your mind on being done, and remind yourself: Read the rest of this entry »
During the 2016 Researcher Away Day, I had set a stall with a Ketso kit, which is a fun mind-mapping tool developed to facilitate community engagement. Ketso was developed by researchers from the University of Manchester who have set up a social entreprise to produce this interesting interactive resource, showing that indeed researchers’ creativity and ingenuity lead to entrepreneurial activities.
During the coffee breaks of the away day, I used the Ketso kit to ask Postdocs participants some simple questions about their experiences of being and developing as researchers at Sheffield, about the type of research environment they would want to have, and aspirations about the role of their PIs (e.g. A super PI does… I would like my PI to…) Read the rest of this entry »
Drawing on the format of our Sheffield super-popular monthly academic writing retreats (adapted from Prof. Rowena Murray’s model), we are running 12 (yes TWELVE, you heard it) throughout the month of November.
Is 2h of sitting in a room getting writing done exactly what you need right now?
November is Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo), an academic write-a-thon that happens every November, catering to the specific needs of academic writers. It’s hosted by PhD2Published, as an space where the global academic community can pledge their writing projects, record progress and share thousands of time via the #AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »
Oh, okay, not that one…
You may not have heard of Hofstadter’s Law; I hadn’t until, as I sat, staring wretchedly at the expanse of white on my computer screen, I fell back into one of my favourite, if not most useful, writer’s block activities – namely, mashing my keyboard, trying to shake answers to life’s great questions out of my search engine:
WHY IS THIS SO HARD?
WHYYYYYY? WHY IS WRITING SO AWFUL?
HOW COME IT TAKES LONGER EVEN WHEN I PLAN MORE TIME??
Oh, come on, you’ve all done it……right?
Read the rest of this entry »