May 23, 2013, 11:00 am
A few weeks ago, I discussed how I discovered toward the end of graduate school that mentoring is a fantasy. In short, what I mean by this is that in any advising situation both parties often have expectations of how the relationship will work and that these expectations do not always align with each other or with reality. I came to this realization after one of my dissertation readers suggested I add a bit of Heidegger to my project. (If that sounds like the set-up to an academic punchline, well, it’s Friday, right?) Eventually, I declined, and my reader didn’t bring it up again.
As I’ve reflected on this event again recently, I’ve come to a new realization, summed up neatly in this post’s title: the point of grad school is to learn to say “no.” Let me explain.
When I was finishing my undergraduate work, I found myself looking forward to grad school as an opportunity to stop…
May 23, 2013, 8:00 am
Whether your summer plans involve writing, teaching, travel, or relaxing, we’ve got something in the ProfHacker archives to help.
Plan Your Time: Anastasia points out that we often fall prey to an illusion of an “Endless” Summer and suggests that “more unscheduled time or perceived freedom can be dangerous, with the temptation of grandiose planning and over-commitment.” Last summer she experimented with an alternative calendar app to help plan her summer.
In Summerproofing Your to-Do List, Jason usefully warns that
It can be very easy to reach August with May’s goals largely untouched. This is perhaps especially true when you’re not teaching
Jason lists several task manager tools and approaches in his post, pointing out that it’s worth spending time now to set up whatever system you’ll use to track your summer goals and actions. In Get the Most From Summer With Well-Made Deadlines,…
May 22, 2013, 11:00 am
Over the last few years, we’ve spilled a fair amount of digital ink on the importance of keeping good records. We’ve talked about what to keep, since good documentation is important whether you’re writing an annual review or going through the “tenure box” in preparation for a bid for tenure and/or promotion.
We’ve also noted the importance of keeping records up to date.
What I’m learning is that I’m likely to be able to update my records more accurately — and without it feeling like a huge task — if I’m regularly documenting the work I’m doing. And by “regularly” I mean at least weekly.
Such regular documentation isn’t something I’ve been at all good at this past year (though fortunately I have concrete examples of course work I can point to, as well as a transcript). One of my goals for the coming academic year is to document my work regularly.
What I’ve yet to determine…
May 22, 2013, 8:00 am
A constant here at the site is our collective fondness for WordPress, the open-source blogging platform that’s easily adapted to a whole range of needs. Indeed, one of the reasons that we’re so fond of WordPress is that it’s so easily extended and modified. The WordPress backend makes the code for the various themes readily available, and so it’s quite easy to apply some CSS and a little light PHP to make a theme of your very own.
For those new to the platform, or new to the idea of trying out their own changes, this can be as intimidating a process as it is empowering. What if I break something?!?
If you are interested in starting to tinker with WordPress, but are worried about modifying code you don’t understand, Joshua Beckman has your back. Beckman has distributed Naked WordPress, a stripped-down, heavily commented theme that explains what’s going on under the hood. (Freely…
May 21, 2013, 11:00 am
[This is a guest post by Austin Kocher, a Ph.D. student in geography at the Ohio State University. You can find his minimalist blog at austinkocher.com or see some of his work online here.--@JBJ]
Qualitative data. The phrase conjures up stacks of spiral-bound field notebooks, a dented-and-scratched voice recorder, and most of all, perpetual disorganization. While chemists have lab notebooks and accountants have spreadsheets, qualitative researchers are often left to invent a data management system entirely from scratch. Not one to turn down a challenge, in the summer of 2011 I tried find a workable and productive solution to managing a busy year of interview-driven research. Here’s what I did.
Interview data – like any James Cameron movie –is 90% pre- and post-production and only 10% on-site action. I needed a centralized and secure system for managing contact…
May 21, 2013, 8:00 am
It seems like new online services for collaborative writing are emerging all the time. After a series of postings about the powerful collaborative capabilities of the GitHub platform, used for writing code by programmers around the world, I suggested that this opens up the possibility for radical new ways to engage in academic scholarship and explore ways of forking the academy. For this to even stand a chance though, we need writing platforms that work better for our needs than the steep learning curve and some of the other limitations of Github. I offered my own list of suggestions about what that kind of platform might look like and in the next few weeks I’ll take a closer look at some of new options out there to consider. I begin with Draft, a new writing platform created by the extremely talented Nathan Kontny.
Draft is designed for drafting and collaborative writing of text. It is…
May 20, 2013, 11:00 am
Now that I do all my conference travel with only an iPad, I’ve been looking for better solutions to creating presentations and content while on the road. One of the most interesting of these is the recently released free app Flowboard. The free storage includes 250 MB, which seems like enough for most projects, but there is a premium for more storage. Unfortunately Flowboard requires iOS 6 and an iPad, but it creates presentations that are published through its platform and easily viewed on the web, rather like Prezi.
Essentially, Flowboard is a streamlined tool for creating linear presentations, galleries, or magazine-like content with internal and external links, text, images and video. It’s similar to PowerPoint but with fewer options, and it eliminates some of my least favorite things that show up in PowerPoints: bullet points, tables, and random flashy animation. The Flowboard…
May 17, 2013, 3:00 pm
The semester is over! Grades have been turned in, the weather is beautiful, possibilities are endless. It’s the perfect time to think about beginning summer projects, and to read up on the digital humanities, one of our favorite fields at ProfHacker. My links in this week’s Weekend Reading focus on some interesting developments in race, ethnicity and literary studies within the digital humanities, social media, and some literary inspiration for beginning your new summer project.
May 16, 2013, 8:00 am
Last year, I reported on the website Quartzy, which can be used for inventory management. The site is nominally marketed towards use in the life sciences, but we have found it to be very useful in our physics department. Since last September, there have been a number of updates to the website, which might be useful to ProfHacker readers.
First, a major wish-list item of mine has been added to the site: you can now directly link protocols to inventory items. The key here is to think of protocols more broadly than just experiment protocols. In our department, we are using protocols to post introductory lab directions, and now we can associate a given protocol with the inventory records of the equipment used in the lab. This is a key functionality as we have students assist us with set up of labs; the students will be able to easily access information on types and quantities of equipment…