November 30, 2014

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’vecontinue reading.

October 15, 2014

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.

June 4, 2014

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. Onecontinue reading.

September 25, 2013

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 therecontinue reading.

August 21, 2013

Endnote vs …. well, everything else

Just before I handed in my thesis two things happened, which, up to then I had thought were PhD student urban myths: A whole journal came out full of articles that ‘scooped’ my thesis topic (gah!!) Endnote bugged out and turned all my 400 odd references into gibberish (instant coronary!!!) My supervisor solved crisis numbercontinue reading.

March 13, 2013

5 time management ideas… from part time PhD students

Last week @lanceb147 contacted me on Twitter looking for advice on doing a PhD part time. @lanceb147 is not alone. There’s a surprising number of students doing their PhD part time. At RMIT where I used to work 50% of research students were enrolled part time and this institutional profile is not unusual in Australia. Some are self funded students from the beginning; others have been forced to take up part time study after their scholarship rans out.

Many academics have the impression that part time students are troublesome and take ages to finish, but a study by Pearson et al (see reference below) showed that students who study part time for their whole degree finish sooner and have better results than full time students. Clearly they are doing something right!

I did my research masters over three years part time and worked for 2 days a week for all but 6 months of my PhD. So I know a lot about managing study part time – for me. If there’s anything I have learned about PhD study in all my years of whisperering it’s that everyone is different. So I asked on Twitter if part time students would share their time management secrets with me – and what a rich treasure trove of information they gave me!

I reckon part time students could teach full time students a thing or two about how to manage a long term research project. I have enough from my Twitter conversations for about ten posts, but I will confine myself here to five

January 15, 2013

Why do academics work so much?

Recently a Forbes article claimed that being an academic was the least stressful job of 2013. However, a storm of protest on social media forced the author to add an addendum acknowledging that this probably wasn’t the case. In fact academics work a a lot and that work tends to intensify in the so called ‘down time’: January here in Australia and July in the North of the world. Freed somewhat from the distraction of emails and the responsibility of caring for students, us academics inevitably find ourselves not at rest but facing the deep end of the ‘to do’ list.

October 31, 2012

Going paperless part one: your desk

A couple of months ago I published a post called ‘Are you a piler or a filer?’ In it I compared my experience of going paperless to giving up smoking; I have been trying diligently for a year, but still print out about 50 sheets a month.

In response to my post Marek Martyniszyn (@Martyniszyn) sent me a long desccription of his working methods. Marek recently submitted his PhD thesis focusing on international aspects of competition law at the University College Dublin. For the 2012/2013 academic year he joined the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies in the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where as a Senior Research Fellow he will be conducting research on the interface of competition and international law.

The document Marek sent me was very long and detailed. I have decided to publish in two parts because I think this is valuable advice for anyone in the process of giving up the paper habit.

October 23, 2012

Why I changed my mind about #acwrimo

Last week, Charlotte Frost of the wonderful PhD2Published blog declared November #acwrimo (academic writing month). The concept of #acwirmo comes from NaNoWriMo where the aim is to write a whole book in month.

September 26, 2012

5 more phone apps for researchers

… to celebrate my new phone I thought it was time to revisit my list of top five phone apps for researchers, which I wrote about a year ago. On that list I included a PDF reader, Evernote, Book catalogue app and ‘Loot’ for managing your money. Many more apps have appeared since then. I now wonder how I ever lived without this little computer in my pocket.

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