How to use deliberate practice to improve your writing

Last week, as one of my last duties as research fellow at RMIT before I take up my new role at ANU, I hosted two seminars – one from Prof Anthony Pare from McGill and the other from Prof Helen Sword, the writer of the wonderful “Stylish Academic Writing”.

Helen and Anthony had many interesting observations about the process of learning to write, but both made the same basic point: very few of us have formal instruction in how to write like an academic.

Is a PhD like a reality TV contest?

Anyway, it got me thinking (again) about the similarities between doing a PhD and taking part in a reality TV show. I have an unhealthy obsession with reality TV, which I have accepted as part of the brain damage I suffered while doing my PhD. While I’m selective about which ones I watch, I find the whole genre endlessly fascinating for the way it portrays learning as a process of self discovery and transformation. Bear with me here, I think I’m onto something and want to throw these ideas past you in the form of an academic mash up of my own before I go all academic and write a paper on it.