Welcome! I’m glad you found the Thesis Whisperer.
The Thesis Whisperer blog is dedicated to the topic of doing a PhD and being an academic in the neo-liberal precarious academy that we (kinda) love. It is managed and edited by me, Professor Inger Mewburn, Director of Researcher Development at the Australian National University.
To get regular posts and newsletters by email, click the ‘sign me up! button on the right side bar. The best social channel to talk to me directly is Mastodon: open this webpage to find and follow me: aus.social/@thesiswhisperer. This blog is maintained with my own time and money and is run on a ‘not for loss’ model. If you love the Thesis Whisperer and want to help me continue, there are a number of ways you can support my work: read more here.
You can contact me about the blog or workshops via the email listed on my ANU page here, but please understand I may not respond immediately as I receive high volumes of mail.
This blog is 13 years old now. It has well over half a million words of content and more than 100,000 followers over multiple social media channels. The blog has been visited over 10 million times over the last decade and people have left well over 16 thousand comments. It has a truly global reach, with readers located all over the world. See the end of this page for my more academic work on the subject of research education.
Please feel free to explore using the search box. I’ve tried to make it easier for you by curating the most popular posts on the Browse page and have compiled blog content into several books which are available through regular channels like Amazon and Book Depository (just google my name there).
I also do podcasts! On the Reg is a monthly podcast I do with my friend Dr Jason Downs. On The Reg is about life, work and being ‘productive’ – but only on your own terms. you can listen and subscribe here.
It costs me around $1500 a year to run the blog and the podcasts. If you want to support me to keep the Thesis Whisperer going, you can buy me a virtual coffee or purchase an ebook here.
Who is the Thesis Whisperer?
My name is Professor Inger Mewburn. I was born on Nuenonne country, which is now known as Tasmania, Australia (always was, always will be, Aboriginal land). I have a background as a designer and a researcher, which was nurtured at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University.
Since 2006 I have worked exclusively with PhD students and early career academics. I help people finish complex research projects with (sometimes very) demanding stakeholders. I’m passionate about helping people reach their potential as researchers and helping to create a kinder, more inclusive academy. I strive to create spaces where people can do their best work and advance human knowledge for the good of all.
I am currently the Director of Researcher Development at The Australian National University where I run and curate professional development workshops and programs for all ANU researchers. Aside from creating the Thesis Whisperer, I write scholarly papers, books and book chapters about research student experiences, with a special interest in post PhD employability.
I am a regular guest speaker at other universities and do media interviews on request. I am available for keynotes and interviews: please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I do workshops on post PhD employability, publishing, writing, social media, communication and academic survival skills at other universities, for a fee. If you are interested in having me visit your university, see the Workshops page. I am the co-creator of an app to help PhD graduates find non academic jobs. You can find out more about this work on the PostAc page.
I supervise a small number of PhD and Masters students. I am interested in working with people who want to research graduate student issues, especially employability and social scientists wanting to explore machine learning methods in the social sciences (please read the ANU prospective student page before contacting me about study options).
For further information on my work, a selection from my resume is below. You can view my Linkedin profile, my Amazon author page, or contact me by email via the online form above. For more details on my scholarly work please visit my Google Scholar page or my OrcidID. If you need a high res photo of me, you can download from a collection here. A curated selection of my academic CV appears below.
I no longer publish guest posts
For nearly a decade, from mid 2010, The Thesis Whisperer was run on a community content model with weekly posts by me, interspersed with posts by current PhD students and others. I no longer publish guest posts. For more information, please read this post.
The fine print
I am an active, professional researcher working full time at The Australian National University. I do not do paid endorsements on this site, so please don’t write to me with requests to advertise here or supply guest posts about your products. I do accept books to review; you can email me about your book using the address above.
I am an Amazon affiliate, but I only recommend products and people that I think are awesome. Please read the moderation policy page for more information and my recommendations page for book and software recommendations. Visit the resources page for my recommendations on quality, ethical support services like editors and coaches.
I have a strong ethical objection to ‘write your dissertation’ service providers and will not support their work in any way – please don’t email asking me if you can do content marketing on the site, I will just delete your message.
You are free to reproduce any posts from the Whisperer through this Creative Commons license . If you want to share or use Thesiswhisperer material, please respect the non-commercial and share alike terms of the license. For commercial re-use of my content, contact me directly. Photos on this site are either owned by me, given with consent, copyright free and/or sourced from Morguefile or Unsplash.
My academic self:
- Constructing Bodies: gesture speech and representation at work in Architecture classrooms, Ph.D, University of Melbourne, (2009). Winner of the John Grice award for best thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
- “Digital architectures and the presence of the virtual”, MPhil RMIT University, (2005).
- Post-graduate certificate in Spatial Information Architecture, RMIT University (2001).
- Certificate IV in training and assessment, RMIT University (1999).
- Bachelor of Architecture (with Honours), RMIT University (Awarded 1997).
- Mewburn, I & Clews, S (2023 – pre-orders available) – Be visible or vanish: engage, influence and ensure your work has impact, Routledge.
- Mewburn, I., Lehmann, S. Firth, K (2019) Level up your essays, New South Press.
- Mewburn, I., Lehmann, S. Firth, K (2019) How to fix your academic writing trouble, Open University Press, Maidenhead.
- Mewburn, I (2017) How to be an academic, New South Press, Sydney
- Lupton, D, Mewburn, I and Thomson, P (2017) The Digital Academic: critical perspectives on digital technologies in higher education, Routledge, London.
- McMaster, C, Whitburn, B, Mewburn, I and Murphy, C (2017) Postgraduate study in Australia: surviving and succeeding, Peter Lang, Amsterdam.
- Freund, K., Kizimchuk, S., Zapasnik, J., Esteves, K. and I.Mewburn (2017) A Labour of Love? A Critical Examination of the ‘Labour Icebergs’ of Massive Open Online Course in Lutpon, D., Thomson, P. and Mewburn, I. (eds) The Digital Academic: critical perspectives on digital technologies in higher education, Routledge, London.
- Mewburn, I. & Thomson, P. (2017) Towards an academic self? Blogging during the doctorate, in Lutpon, D., Thomson, P. and Mewburn, I. (eds) The Digital Academic: critical perspectives on digital technologies in higher education, Routledge, London.
- Mewburn, I. & Thomson, P. (2016) Social media and academic publishing, in Selwyn, N (ed), The BERA/SAGE Handbook of Educational Research, Sage, London.
- Corbett, J., Macintyre, A. & Mewburn, I. (2014), Functional Dystopia: Diversity, Contestability and New Media in the Academy, in Margaret Thornton (ed.), Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences Look at the Neoliberal University, ANU Press, Canberra, pp. 195-208.
- Mewburn, I. (2012) Creative doctoral work, in Carey Denholm and Terry Evans (ed.), Doctorates down-under: keys to successful doctoral study in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand (2nd ed), Australian Council for Educational Research Press, Melbourne Australia, pp. 126-135.
- Mewburn, I., Osborne, L. & Caldwell, G. 2014, ‘Shut up & Write! Some surprising uses of cafes and crowds in doctoral writing’, in Claire Aitchison and Cally Guerin (ed.), Writing Groups for Doctoral Education and Beyond: Innovations in practice and theory, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon and New York, pp. 218-232.
- Mewburn, I. and Barnacle, R. (2010) Razzle Dazzle: making a thesis text in creative practice based research, in Joy Higgs et al (eds) Researching Practice: a discourse on methodologies. Rotterdam, Holland: Sense Publishers.
- Mewburn, I (2008) Through the looking glass and into the design studio, in Pia Ednie-Brown (ed.) Plastic Green: designing for environmental transformation, RMIT Press, Melbourne Australia.
- Ednie-Brown, P. and Mewburn, I. (2006) Vibrating with Difference: Laughter and the intimate distance between us, in Jillian Hamilton (Ed.), Intimate Transactions: Art, Exhibition and Interaction Within Distributed Network Environments, ACID Press, Brisbane.
Spina, Nerida, et al. “Back to Zero? Precarious employment in academia amongst ‘older’early career researchers, a life-course approach.” British Journal of Sociology of Education (2022).
Barnett, A, Mewburn I and Shroter, S (2019) Working 9 to 5, not the way to make an academic living: observational analysis of manuscript and peer review submissions over time in the BMJ Christmas edition, 2019. There is also an article about the paper in the New York Times.
- Book Review – Academics writing: the dynamics of knowledge production in the Journal of Post Digital Science and education, 2019.
- Mewburn, I., Grant, W., Suominen, H. & Kizimchuk, S. (2018) A machine learning analysis of the non- academic employment opportunities for Ph.D Graduates in Australia, Higher Education Policy,
- Mewburn, I. (2017) A PhD shouldn’t look like it’s fun: an actor-network theory analysis of digital badges, Student engagement in Higher education, 1(2), 40-54.
- Trembath, J. & Mewburn, I. (2017) The role of technology in the making of a Thesis Whisperer, The Unfamiliar, 7(1), 14 – 26.
- Pitt, R. & Mewburn, I. (2016) Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(1), 88 – 101.
- Amayo Caldwell, G., Osborne, L., Nottingham, A. & Mewburn, I. (2015) Connecting the Space between Design and Research: Explorations in participatory research supervision, Education Philosophy and Theory, 48(13), 1352 – 1367.
- Amayo Caldwell, G., Osborne, L., Mewburn, I. & Crowther, P. (2015) Guerrillas in the (Urban) midst: developing and using creative research methods and ‘guerrilla research tactics’, Journal of Urban Technology, 22 (3), 21 –
- Mewburn, I. & Thompson, P. (2013) Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges, Studies in Higher Education, 38(8), 1105 – 1119.
- Mewburn, I., Tokareva, E. & Cuthbert, D. (2014) “These are issues that should not be raised in black and white”: the culture of progress reporting and the doctorate, Higher Education Research and Development, 33(3), 510-522.
- Mewburn, I., Cuthbert, D. & Tokareva, E. (2014) Experiencing the progress report: an analysis of gender and administration in doctoral candidature, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 36 (2), 155-171.
- Mewburn, I. (2011) Troubling talk: assembling the PhD candidate, Studies in Continuing Education, 33(3), 321-332.
- Mewburn, I. (2011), Lost in translation: Reconsidering reflective practice and design studio pedagogy, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11 (4), 363-379.
- Barnacle, R. & Mewburn, I. (2010) Learning networks and the journey of ‘becoming doctor’, Studies in Higher Education, 35 (4), 433-444.
Awards, grants and prizes
- Special commendation for leadership, Australian Council of Graduate Research, 2020.
- Admitted as Vitae Senior Research Developer Fellow, 2019
- Vice Chancellor’s award for innovation and excellence in service, November 2017.
- CSIRO ‘On Prime’ commercialisation program prize, 2017 and 2018
- Leader: $150 in Discovery Translation Funds from Canberra Innovation Network, 2017 – 2020 to develop PostAc
- Leader: Department of Industry research grant to investigate the application of machine learning to explore PhD employability and the ‘hidden job market’ for graduates, 2015 – 2016. $80,000
- Leader: ARUP engineering research grant to explore the integration of digital badges in engineering contexts, 2014 ($6000)
- Leader: Office of Learning and Teaching seed grant to explore the use of digital badge technology in doctoral pedagogy, 2014 ($40,000)
- Best concise paper, “Badge trouble: implementing digital badges at the Australian National University, ASCILITE conference, Wellington, 2014.
- Leader: ANU gender institute grant to explore PhD student attrition, 2013 ($1500)
- John Grice award for best thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, 2009. ($3000)
- Best paper award, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, 2008 ($3000)
- Melbourne research scholarship, University of Melbourne, 2006-2008. ($24,000 PA)
- Creative research industries CRC award for creative explorations, 2003. ($3000)
- Mewburn, I, Grant, W and Souminen, H (2016) Tracking Trends in industry demand for Australia’s advanced research workforce, Department of Industry, Canberra, Australia.
- Mewburn, I and Trembath, J.L (2015) The culture of sharing at Arup: A report on the use of internal social software systems, Arup Engineering, Sydney, Australia.
Peer reviewed conference papers
- Mewburn, I., Freund, K. & Rutherford, E. (2014) Badge trouble: piloting open badges at the Australian National University, Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology, ed. B Hegarty, J McDonald, SK Loke, ASCILITE: Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, Dunedin New Zealand, pp. 643-648.
- Kizimchuk, S, Freund, K, Prescott, M et al 2016, ‘Collective effervescence: Designing MOOCs for emotion and community’, 33rd International Conference of Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education, ASCILITE Adelaide 2016, ed. S. Barker, S. Dawson, A. Pardo, and C. Colvin, University of South Australia, Australia, pp. 348-353.
- Maher, A. and Mewburn, I. 2007, ‘An economy of knowledge: research, architectural practice and knowledge (in) translation’, in Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, United States, 3 – 6 October 2007, pp. 258-269.
Selected expert Commentary
- Mewburn, I. and Thomson, P. (12/12/2013) ‘Academic blogging is part of a complex online academic attention economy, leading to unprecedented readership’. London School of Economics Impact blog
- Mewburn, I. and Thomson, P. (3/12/2013) ‘Why do academics blog? It’s not for public outreach new research suggests’, The Guardian
- Mewburn, I (27/09/2012) ‘Academics behaving badly: Universities and online reputations’, The Conversation
- Mewburn, I (14/06/2015) ‘What’s up with Universities? Wackademia or just grumpy old academics?’, The Conversation, 14/06/2012. Retrieved 19/07/2015 from https://theconversation.com/whats-up-with-universities-whackademia-or-just-grumpy-old-academics-7602
- Mewburn, I (11/06/2012). ‘On the right side of the digital divide’, New Scientist. Retrieved 17/07/2015