Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.25.27 amIt’s time for a Christmas break here at the Whisperer. This short pause is a good time to take stock of the year.

Far from slowing down with age, the statistics show that the Whisperer is still going strong. This year there has been 1,320,287 page views, more than a third of the over 3 million views the blog has had in the four and a half years of operation.

The global reach of the blog continues to astound me. Here is a heat map of the hits by country for the year. If you look at the country by country hits you will notice it’s also a map of economic privilege, which reminds us all how lucky we are to get a chance to study for a PhD at all:

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.32.56 amThis year we published 54 posts. When I started the blog I thought I would run out of things to say in about 6 months, but there are now 317 posts on the Whisperer and well over 370,000 words entirely free words of advice written on the subject of doing a thesis.

While the most viewed post on the blog this year was still 2013’s viral hit “Academic assholes and the circle of Niceness”, the top five most popular posts written this year were:

Of those 52 posts, 34 (including the most popular one) were written by guest authors. I’ve always wanted the blog to be collaborative because I sincerely believe we are all enriched by listening to a diversity of voices. This year that vision really became a reality.

I’d like to thank all my guest posters: Richard Ferrars and Amir Aryani, , Lauren McGrow, Alex Strike, Fiona Saunders, Sheree Bekker, Liam Connell (for his post and for teaching me how to do Thesis Bootcamp), James Donald, Juan Castro, Rebecca Turvill, Inez Von Weitershausen, Martin Davies, Sarah Stow, Paul Farelly, Brendan Brown, Charmayne, Eve Hermansson-Webb, Ben from Lit Review HQ, Sandra J. Velarde, Casilly Charles (our most popular guest poster), Paula Hanasz, Judy Robinson, Walter Rheinhardt, Jess Drake, Susan Stewart Leone, Jonathan Downie of the Rock Your Talk blog, Robin May, David Alexander as well as the posters who preferred to remain anonymous.

Writing and creating content is creative work and finding the energy can be challenging. To be frank, I think I would have given up on blogging by now if not for these generous contributions – and the number of people who are interested in reading it. The Whisperer is blessed with an audience who is highly literate and engaged. It’s rare that a post does not get at least 20 comments. In fact, the comments thread is often more interesting than the post itself.

I do have a moderation policy in place to keep the comments a respectful and safe place to express a view, but I rarely have to apply the mallet of loving correction to a commenter. I think this speaks to the classiness of the audience, so thank you, dear reader, for the sense of community you help to create here.

The Thesis Whisperer is not a cost free operation. The Australian National University, and in particular Professors Jenny Corbett and Margaret Harding, have been generous in giving me time to write and travel. I do, however, have to pay some of the Whisperer expenses out of my own pocket. These include hosting, computer equipment and books.

If you want to support my work you can buy a copy of the first blog book or purchase books I recommend on my Amazon affiliates store. I have a commitment to remaining non-profit, so any money I make above expenses goes to charity. This year I have donated:

  • $480 to the Peter MacCallum hospital cancer research fund (which includes an excellent PhD student program) in memory of my mother, Velma Blackford, who received excellent care there.
  • $400 to the Philippines Typhoon appeal via the Red Cross
  • $300 to Wikipedia

That’s all for our yearly wrap up. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks, when I’ve had a chance to digest all that turkey, but before you go, I’d like to announce my first ever competition!

I’m going to spend some of my Christmas down time getting my next book ready for publication and will send 5 lucky readers an advance copy.

To be in the running to win a book tell me in the comments what you would like to read on the Whisperer next year.

What is bothering you most? What have we not covered yet? What would you like to know more about? The more specific and detailed your response the better.

I will select the five winners from those responses that most make me itch to write a post.

To make sure the prize can be delivered to you either

1) leave your email address in the comment, or

2) come back at the end of January to see if I have responded asking you to email me your details.

The competition closes at the end of January. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with 🙂

Have a great break everyone!