Help – I’m drowning in my own notes!

One of the delightful things about blogging is letters from readers; an endless source of delightful validation and sometimes, interesting problems to try to solve. This letter is a case in point. Dora, a reader from Croatia writes: The situation I find myself in is, I think, one that all researchers have found themselves in... … Continue reading Help – I’m drowning in my own notes!

Slow Academia is for the privileged – but then, isn’t all academia?

Is academia too Fast? In 2011, I wrote a piece called Slow academia in which I mused: "If you think about it, a thesis or dissertation is the epitome of Slow. Even if you finish in speedy fashion you are unlikely to turn one out in less than three years. Over those years you have … Continue reading Slow Academia is for the privileged – but then, isn’t all academia?

The Month of Hell (TM)

Overcommitment is a constant problem for working academics who wear 'busyness' as a badge of honour. I think the overcommitment problem tends to start duing the PhD. This post from Evan Hayles Gledhill has real insight into why the problem happens in the first place - our own reactions to the hyper competitive research culture. … Continue reading The Month of Hell (TM)

Thoughts on ‘Deep Work’

Cal Newport's previous book "So good they can't ignore you" is my all time favourite book on career building. Newport is an academic in computer science, but has made a tidy little side career in writing productivity books. I bought 'Deep Work' as soon as it came out and enjoyed it, but was so busy … Continue reading Thoughts on ‘Deep Work’

How to be a cognitive miser (in a good way)

At ANU we run a program called 'Thesis Bootcamp', adopted from the Melbourne University program of the same name invented by Liam Connell and Peta Freestone. Thesis bootcamp challenges PhD students to write as much as 20,000 words on a single weekend of intensive writing in a group setting. We run four Thesis Bootcamps a … Continue reading How to be a cognitive miser (in a good way)

Thesis Prison

Family Thesiswhisperer has spent the last month in our hometown of Melbourne. We caught up with many friends and relatives while we were there, some of whom are doing or have just completed doctorates. One friend got pregnant twice during her doctorate and had a longer journey than most. While we raised a glass to … Continue reading Thesis Prison

How Mendeley Helps PhD Students Become Successful Scientists

I believe it's important to find a reference manager that fits your working style. Most university libraries teach and support Endnote because it was one of the first to market. Many people end up with it because it's the default, but it's not your only choice - or, in my opinion, the best one (I've … Continue reading How Mendeley Helps PhD Students Become Successful Scientists

Drop and give me 20,000 (words)!

Most creativity involves theft. Take Thesis Bootcamp as just one example. Dr Peta Freestone and Dr Liam Connell from the University of Melbourne, didn't really invent the Thesis Bootcamp, but they did steal it creatively appropriate it in a rather special way.  I watched Melbourne University Thesis Bootcamps at a distance, via social media updates. … Continue reading Drop and give me 20,000 (words)!

Two exercises to help you with your writing life

I love books on writing. I have many, many books on the subject, but I continue to buy more because, well - I simply can't resist them. Just as it's more relaxing to watch people cook and do gardening on the TV, often reading about writing is so much nicer than actually doing it. One … Continue reading Two exercises to help you with your writing life

How to write faster

In a blog post a while back I suggested being a fast writer can be a career 'edge'. Afterwards a surprisingly large number of people wrote to me wanting to become faster writers, or questioning whether learning to write faster was possible. I was a bit taken aback by the questions as I assumed there … Continue reading How to write faster