We all know what bloat is. If something is bloated it is swollen, puffed up, flabby, distended, enlarged. Right now, we probably associate bloat with eating too much over the festive season. But bloat also happens in academic writing.
A lot of academic writing is on the bloated side. You can pick up almost any academic journal and find papers where whole paragraphs are stuffed to the gills with excess phrases and words. Of course, academic writing is not the only kind of writing that suffers from word-inflation. Legal and bureaucratic writing over-indulges in the same wordy overkill as some academic writing.
And when a supervisor or reviewer suggests that academic writing needs to be tightened up, it’s likely that they are actually saying that they’ve noticed a lot of bloat. They’ve met a text that takes up too much space – and much more time than they wanted to…
As UK Higher Education institutions continue to accept students from ethnically diverse backgrounds, scholars argue that this changes how as educators we should view the student body. A popular view among academics is that there is now a responsibility on academics and institutions to provide learning environments and experiences that are inclusive, validating and affirming. Todays blog post is about discussing these issues within the context of a recent paper that I have written.
Near the end of my PhD during the write up process I made a conscious decision to stop all publishing activity. “Why?” I hear you ask, it was not due to lazyness, nor did I come down with a very acute affliction of “donothingitus”. There was a method to my madness and holding down a full time job and trying to complete my PhD I needed to prioritise. So my priority became my PhD with paper writing placed on the back burner.
Most academics have their own approaches to examining PhDs, some will start from the conclusion and work their way back, while others will spend a huge amount of time reading your aims and then comparing them to your findings. However, what each of these academics has in common is their somewhat religious adherence to the structure and content of the methodology chapter. You must get this right.
I’ve been thinking about guilt lately. Academic guilt. And why I seem to feel it – a lot.
The most recent guilt ridden occasion was just last weekend. The week before I’d been away for four days at a conference. I’d left home at 5 am on Tuesday and arrived back at 2 30 am on Saturday. Gah. Just the way the flights worked out. But it did mean that on Saturday I couldn’t do much more than get my laundry done. Shattered doesn’t really describe it. And on Sunday I got up quite early, blogged, did slides for two presentations I had to give on Tuesday and sorted out some urgent research project admin. That took me to a late lunch and then I stopped. Stopped but feeling guilty that I hadn’t done more.
Guilty that I hadn’t
responded to a colleague’s paper that I’d promised to read
Greetings, it has been a good long few months since my last blog post and as the academic year looms fast I thought it maybe best to spruce up the old’ blog. Todays blog is all about my adventures (not really an adventure) from the 24th Nordic academy of Management (NFF conference) which this year was held at the Nord University in Norway (Arctic circle). This being my first time in Norway I am glad I bought my fleece with me, while Bodo is breathtakingly beautiful it can also get pretty cold! However I had the NFF 2017 conference to keep me warm with lively discussion on some hot topics with some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
How many times have you plugged the question: ‘What are the odds of getting published?’ into google? Me – an innumerable amount. There is nothing more mesmeric than seeing that ‘magic’ number of new authors who manage to score a publishing deal or literary agent in any given year. And nothing gives more of a thrill of excitement than reading the Writer’s Digest ‘How I got My Agent’ series, or the query appraisals over at Call my Agent! I am also constantly searching and devouring success stories direct from the writers themselves, like Louise Allen and Paula Weston, who both signed with literary agent Lyn Tranter in 2016 and 2011 respectively.
The Viva – a live presentation of your thesis to examiners – is not common in Australia. Our thesis examination is a blind peer review process, which has its own fears, but nothing like the anxiety that a viva can provoke. Horror stories tend to circulate, which is why I was happy to be sent this post by a student who preferred to remain anonymous.
“I had my doctoral viva. And I enjoyed it.”
Yes, what you are reading is indeed true. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my 3 3/4 hour viva voce. But it wasn’t just me. Both of my examiners also enjoyed the experience.
Why was this the case and what lessons does it hold?
From handing in my thesis until my viva, I was overcome by a crippling state of anxiety. I had heard all of the horror stories: people having their work rubbished, examiners proclaiming…
The majority of research in social science is carried out via a Qualitative approach, where the key research method is either the collection of multiple interviews or focus groups. These interviews are the most essential aspect of your data collection, they help you to understand the phenomenon you are studying in depth. Thus, I am often surprised to see how often researchers go into this crucial data collection process blind. Blind, in that they do very little interview rehearsals, very little time is spent running over different scenarios that may occur in an interview and finally, probably, the most crucial they spend very little time developing their interview skills.
Phenomenology, a word that strikes “fear” into the heart of every qualitative researcher. A lot of this fear is born out of a misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge and in many cases a lack of application. The direct link between phenomenology and experience however cannot be denied.
It is important at this stage to acknowledge that phenomenology is just one mechanism on the “long road” to completion, it may not be the best or the most appropriate viewpoint but as a qualitative researcher you may want to think about how it can be utilised to frame your view of the world.