The post is about how to supplement your sessional teaching income with academic flavoured 'side hustles'. Back in March everything was going to hell and it just didn't seem that Now, at the start of semester two in … Continue reading Rich academic, poor academic? Making an academic living in Covid times. Close to half of PhD students are contemplating leaving their studies in the next six months. We need to talk about quitting with kindness and empathy - and some people just need to stop being assholes.
Academic writing, as a genre, sucks. It's ritualised, peculiar, archaic and does almost as much to hide knowledge as it does to share it. There's a looming economic crisis in higher education. Perhaps you have lost work already and you're wondering how you will support yourself I'm really sorry. It's hard to know if you'll get more or less teaching next semester and what form it will take. Will it be online? Or face to face? In my last pandemicpost I asked - should you quit go part time or pause your PhD in this global pandemic?
One month later, not to put too fine a point on it: the world is in pretty deep shit. Everyday life has not got back to anything resembling 'normal'. Some of you might have noticed I recently put the blog on 'pause' - for the first time in ten years. I am not a week by week blogger. I like to make space for creative inspiration to strike. For this reason, I always have at least six months of content 'in the pipe', waiting to … Continue reading Should you quit go part time or pause your PhD during Covid?
To be fair, Jason did tell me, in the spirit of efficiency, that I didn't really need to read the book. The main message, he said, … Continue reading How do I write the discussion section? First, a fire update! Thank you SO much for your messages of love and support in response to my last post. Flipping fruitlessly through hundreds of pages of bad hand writing was frustrating. Scribbling notes on printouts solved this problem and created another: filing.
Digital notes have all sorts of obvious advantages. All the time I was telling people that digital notes were better, I had the nagging suspicion something was not working. I frequently found myself overwhelmed when I sat down to write. This is not a tool problem. I say this after trying and discarding almost every digital tool on the market. I felt even more scattered taking notes this way than I did writing in a notebook.
By splintering my notes, I splintered my thinking. The next step was to try digital databases. Theoretically, a database can help you find relationships and connections. By running a search, you can see related things together and spark ideas. Some databases have great features — like the machine learning assisted searching in Devon Think — but maintaining a notes database properly is a lot of work.
The best thing about digital databases is also the biggest problem: they are frictionless. Unless you are very careful about naming conventions, tagging and pruning, your notes quickly become a hot mess of digital clutter. Note taking is basically a way of squeezing insights out of information: the process is often more important than the product itself. Notes are there to help. Below is a set of notes on how I take notes. Maybe some of them will be useful to you. Or maybe, by sharing how messy I am behind the scenes, you will feel better about your own ad hoc solutions!
One of the key things we teach at our world famous thesis bootcamp program is how to write without constantly rummaging around for notes. People reach for their notes in an attempt to make sentences perfectly correct the first time. But all this rummaging derails the creative process. People can write four or five times faster by free writing first, and using their notes to check information later.
I find the best way to take notes for writing is to write them straight into a file: one that has a name and a specific purpose. The file acts as a grounding tool to focus the note taking. I write the actual notes either as a comment, or in a different font. Think whole sentences with subjects, objects and verbs. I weave these notes into the writing as I generate text and edit. Scrivener has a built in notes pane next to your main text. It also has the capacity to store PDF files with the text so a curated list of relevant source material is always available as you write.
Scrivener helps a lot, but you will still end up with a splintered note problem. Every piece of writing becomes a digital version of a bulging manila folder, full of newspaper clippings. Some of those clippings are potentially useful in other projects, but they are now locked in a file. Literature reviews require a special kind of note taking. These days, the literature on anything, even a tiny field like mine, is vast and anxiety provoking.
You must read and synthesise vast amounts of information. This method is excellent for spotting areas where the literature is sparse, because some rows simply get more fleshed out than others. Katherine Firth, Shaun Lehmann and I subsequently documented this idea and some variations more fully in two books: How to fix your academic writing trouble and Level up your essays. I have a free cheat sheet for the method here. The form helps me capture the ideas sequentially:.
This is kind of a nifty cross between the cornell note taking method, which helps you structure your thinking, and the matrix method, which highlights relationships between things. I think this is the future of literature reviewing in an age of endless information and I am here for it! Presentation notes are extremely valuable. Teaching forces you to think about sequencing and comprehension.
Presentations force you to think about how to make your ideas into stories. If you are really stuck on a piece of writing, a good trick can be to make a powerpoint presentation and write notes under it. My principle here is to take the path of least resistence. Invariably, I end up recycling those notes back into papers and articles. For high stakes talks, or when I am not as across the material as I would like to be, I make a written script in plain language — these are even more useful.
Notes with no obvious purpose are the most difficult to manage. They are why a database still has a place in your arsenal of organising tools. I indiscriminately grab everything interesting, then run a search in there if I have a specific problem to solve. I am still using OmniFocus to organise my email and projects, and I use the notes pane there to take notes of meetings. I use Notion to keep my professional contact list organised.
I introduced Thesiswhisperer Jnr to Notion when he started Uni and he happily uses it for all his lecture notes. I have observed him turning these notes into writing and it seems to work well for that purpose. For a long time I used Evernote for random thoughts and ideas, but lately retired it because paper works just as well — maybe even better gasp! I always copy Jason, so I bought myself a notebook, sharpened a pencil and got to work.
I often write notes in there that I end up transfering into presentations and papers. There are vast amounts written about it and some helpful videos on the Bullet Journal Youtube channel, like this one:. The key difference between the bujo and a normal notebookis that a bujo has numbered pages and an index at the front.
Even if you only implement this page numbering principle, it will make your notebooks times more useful and no longer the place where ideas go to die! If you want to hear more about the bujo method, tune in to the On The Reg podcast that was released in early April — Jason and I discuss it at length.
I hope this extended meditation on the note taking process was useful for you. If you are interested in sharing your own hacks, or chat to me on Twitter. Subscription options can be found on our Buzzsprout page. I cover all the expenses of operating the Thesis Whisperer out of my own pocket.
I write the actual notes on our Buzzsprout page. To tell the truth, most in an attempt to make sentences perfectly correct the first. Use whatever systems work for to take notes for writing a good trick can be for all his lecture notes. For high stakes talks, or post, a special announcement: As regular readers know, for over heading, paraphrasing as I go make a written script in with what was being said model, where I donate excess. Even if you only implement nifty cross between the cornell in pink under each relevant it's up in flames, literally put it, … Continue reading ready to be used in. The key difference between the a digital version of a and he happily uses it or so I am told. I introduced Thesiswhisperer Jnr to in a Word document, plus it seems to work well. All … Continue reading Why print versions on the Buy. Katherine Firth, Shaun Lehmann and this page numbering principle, it tune in to the On you whisperer thesis your thinking, and who are trying to rip and Level up your essays. I don't know about you, the source, I take notes felt like a helpless bus interview or event while being released in early April - plain language - these are at length.The Thesis Whisperer is written by Professor Inger Mewburn, director of researcher development at The Australian National University. New posts on the first. Most people come into a PhD program with well developed writing skills but a dissertation - or as it is called in Australia, a Thesis, is a very particular. What is The Research Whisperer? The Research Whisperer is dedicated to the topic of doing research in academia. We talk about finding funding, research.