Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Done with PhD…and still miles away from Paradise (Fazeela Ibrahim)

Photo collage provided by Fazeela Ibrahim

Could it be three and a half years already?

It still seems like yesterday that I left ‘Paradise’ to embark on my doctoral journey back in 2015. If you're curious to know more about my leaving Paradise, my story begins here.

Approximately three years, two months and a week later, I submitted my thesis for examination in early June 2018 (i.e. just before the three year, three-month minimum submission mark). It was a two hundred and seventeen-page document. To put it simply, for me, it was a proud moment and significant achievement but also a reflection of hard work, exhaustion, self-doubt and tenacity.

It was a shocking moment when my thesis amendments were approved by my supervisors.

My initial reaction was, “I am not ready! There is still a lot more improvement to be made.” But mostly it was because I really wasn’t ready to let go of my prized possession yet, for several reasons (most of which were not directly related to my thesis). What I felt at that time was a quiet moment of joy followed by the dread of what was coming next.

Monday, 10 December 2018

More than words: Reflections from La Trobe’s Academic writing month 2018 (James Burford)

The beginning of the 'Creative ways into academic writing' workshop | Photo by James Burford
In this post RED (Research Education and Development) team lecturer James Burford reflects on the activities of the La Trobe Academic Writing Month, which took place in November.

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This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I’m not super good with numbers.

The slide-sweep-click movement that my thumb does on my phone to find my calculator is a familiar one, and you’ll sometimes see me counting out big numbers on my fingers.

Despite my rather humble abilities in the maths department I know that (taken collectively) the La Trobe researchers participating in #LTUAcWriMo this year will have written more than tens of thousands of words. Indeed, some individual writers clocked up word counts in the tens of thousands. Perhaps the total number of words written by #LTUAcWriMo participants numbers in the hundreds of thousands, or maybe even more?

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Emails are academic writing! (Jamie Burford and Brittany Amell)


via GIPHY

Emails. Every academic’s worst nightmare — or are they?

Spending time on emails is sometimes positioned as the enemy of real academic writing, such as writing theses, articles or book manuscripts.

It doesn’t take long to come across descriptions of email from academics that sound like a review of a thriller movie.

For instance, we've seen words like "dread", "anxiety" and "out of control" used to describe academic inboxes. The Thesis Whisperer even wrote a post on how to avoid Death by Email (hint: limit your email time, use a timer, turn off notifications, and come up with a strategy to manage your inbox). We know that emails build up. They often need to be thought about, replied to, actioned or deleted. And in our increasingly internationalised universities, emails not only now arrive by day, but also by night. Ooof. It’s enough to give anyone an elevated heart rate. Depending on the day, our inboxes might even give us a good jump-scare!

While we know these feelings well, and negotiate them regularly, in this blog post we want to re-position emails as an important form of academic writing in and of themselves. To do this, we lift the veil on our own email correspondence to explore how and why emails might matter for academic writers.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Best writing advice ever?

Photo by Jonathan Percy | unsplash.com
We're into the third week of La Trobe's Academic Writing Month!

It's also the week of the Bundoora 3-day writing retreat and - right now - there are about 50 scholars in the John Scott Meeting House attacking their writing goals on Day 1!

For this post, I canvassed some of our stalwart Thursday morning 'Shut up and write' participants for the best pieces of writing advice that they'd received. I think I actually asked for "writing advice that changed your life, or at least influenced your writing significantly". The biggies, y'know?

These lovely, giving folk responded with the treasures below!

Now, we know that there is no magic formula to writing, and these are offered in the spirit of sharing helpful aspects of the writing process and what resonated with others. Some have whole books as their source, others remembered bits of encouragement or blogpost analogies.

But, enough prevarication. Let's let our researchers speak for themselves!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Writing all of Saturday? Yes, please! (Julia Dehm)

Image from Wikipedia Commons
URL: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
File:RMIT_Swanston_Academic_Building_Entrance1_2017.jpg
It’s the end of another long week and the promise of a lazy Saturday pottering in the garden beckons.

Instead, I pack my laptop and books and head towards the CBD to #MelbWriteUp for an intensive writing day.

I’m not alone.

There’s always a packed room of academic writers of various levels: PhD students with submission deadlines looming, early career researchers struggling to find time to write amidst teaching commitments, and more established academics (as well as aspiring creative writers) plugging away on novels and books.

Every Saturday between 10am – 5pm, #MelbWriteUp provides a space for researchers of all levels of experience to come together and focus on their research in a collegial and distraction-free environment.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Three concentration hacks to help you write! (Lise Leitner)


Photo by Dmitry Sovyak | unsplash.com
It’s November, and AcWriMo and NaNoWriMo have officially begun!

If you’re like me and love getting a lot of writing done, but also love all things shiny and distracting, getting long sprints of writing done can feel very difficult some days.

While everyone’s writing routine is different, there are lots of ways to improve your working environment and focus.

The good news is that lots of them are easily accessible and free!

To help you prep like a pro ahead of AcWriMo and/or NanoWriMo, here are three concentration hacks that have greatly helped me focus (and write!) better in the past:

Thursday, 1 November 2018

2018's #LTUAcWriMo has begun!

Fingers to your keyboard! La Trobe's 2018 Academic Writing Month (#LTUAcWriMo) has just kicked off!

Photo by neonbrand | unsplash.com
For the whole of November 2018, the RED team will turn our focus to thinking, talking about, planning for, and doing writing!

For the full #LTUAcWriMo program and registration details, please take a look at this year's introductory post.

For 2018, the RED team chose the theme of “Together”.

“Together” can mean lots of different things when it comes to academic writing.

It might ask us to imagine writing as a process of communication that involves both writers and readers, a way of coming together on the page. It might also invite us to consider writing as a practice that can involve collaborators, writing buddies, writing groups, proofreaders, editors, cheer squads, community stakeholders and many other people besides.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Crossing the Void: Grieving and Transformation (Lara Bardsley)

Image from Lara Bardsley | Digging into the earth,
breathing into expansiveness. 2018, digital print. 
Lara Bardsley reflects on the value of collecting “familial stories of loss, trauma, separation, suicide, and genocide” for her research. Beautifully capturing her feelings of loss upon her PhD submission, she notes the “transformative power of witnessing our stories” she has gained during the PhD, which she carries with her in her professional career.

When I finished my PhD, I fell into a hole, a descent that was unplanned, too long unwitnessed and incomprehensible for many (including myself), who expected the completion to come as a celebration.

I have been present to stories of suffering and transcendence in my twenty-two years as a psychologist and supervisor, but my PhD had offered me a unique experience: to turn my attention to my own stories and reflect upon them as an artist and researcher, using the language of film, life writing, photography and fine art.

Immersed as I was in the stories that emerged when I asked, “What does it mean to know who we are?” I did not expect that I would feel such a loss when it was over.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge with context, community and copyright in mind (Clare O'Hanlon)


Photo by Kyaw Tun | unsplash.com 
Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge is the theme for this year's Open Access Week and it has made me read about and reflect on power, privilege, equity and inclusion in higher education even more than usual, so I thought I would share some of these readings and reflections this week.

I suggest that when thinking about equitable foundations for open knowledge, it is important to keep context, community and copyright in mind in order to ethically make knowledge and resources accessible to relevant practitioners and communities.

I conclude with some resources to help researchers do this and hopefully make the labour involved more manageable.

Dr Chris Bourg, Director of MIT libraries, begins her Open as in dangerous talk by illustrating the many achievements she and colleagues have made in the Open Access space at MIT. Next, she goes onto to illustrate some of the dangers of being open online.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Working through research translation (Ilan Abrahams)

Most of us want to translate our ideas into forms that connect with the world. To get that work out that we’ve nurtured over the hours, months, and years.

Maybe this translation is part of a series of translations happening all the time? From the basic sensations of what we smell, hear and see, translated through emotions and patterns, into words and phrases in our heads. Then onto the computer, and through successive edits to the world beyond.

But, hold on, isn’t good communication a two–way process? Listening to other people, audiences and participants, too? Or, at least, trying to imagine what life is like from their perspective?