Making the most of academic conferences

Another thoughtful blog by Weekademia. Good suff.


“Been there, done that.” #2

‘Been there, done that’ posts are where I share experiences, mistakes, life lessons and advice primarily for students and early career researchers.

I stumbled upon an interesting blog series this week by a PhD student, Owl_Meat, on “Harsh truths and bad conferences” (part 1, part 2 and part 3).

“Conferences can be terrible.”

I have been there, done that.  I have been the awkward poster tube hauling lonely academic wondering who on Earth will come and visit my poster and who I can find to have lunch with.  Whilst I agree there is room for improvement in conference organisation and social events etc., I am not sure the traditional academic conference format is entirely to blame.  In hindsight, I could have been more proactive to make the most of those early awkward conferences.  So whilst we wait for innovative improvements (and I hope they come), here are…

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Running Behind

Hello Avid readers,

Been a few weeks since I last updated this blog. A couple of reasons for this, firstly I have been teaching some of my modules in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Management association and secondly I am literally down to the last few weeks in finishing my PhD. In the past when people have asked me How long until you finish your PhD? First the answer was 2 years, then 6 months, then three months, and now finally we are down to 1-2 weeks. So so close.

So I might not get a chance to update the blog over the next 2-3 weeks so apologies. However until then, check out Lamma Island in Hong kong, one of my favourite places in the whole of the world:

Lamma Island

A most monumental academic cock-up

Lovely post, a lesson for us all!


“Been there, done that.” #1

‘Been there, done that’ posts are where I share experiences, mistakes, life lessons and advice primarily for students and early career researchers.

Lately my twitter and blog reader are inundated with chatter about end of year exams and graduation.  So this week I’m going to tell you the story of my most monumental academic cock-up…

Upon graduating from my BSc degree I was something like 2% away from a 1st and was called in for a viva for the opportunity to be upgraded.  The only problem was that I was 6,000 miles away at the time; here:


I don’t quite remember how this happened. I booked a trip for after my exams but realised later it was before the official end of the year (I swear this date was hidden deep in the small print).  I was not the only one; someone else ended up hugely out of pocket rearranging their holiday on the…

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Do I really need the Kudos?

Some of you may have already heard of a new web-based service called Kudos. The main USP of the software is to help academics develop awareness and greater impact of their research through the main academic (, and public social media engines (Twitter, Facebook). It is aimed at researchers, publishers and institutions and is free to register.

Kudos LogoSo what are the facts behind the marketing buzz. Here are my views on the advantage and disadvantages of this unique software and how useful I really think it is in helping to develop awareness of your work.

Continue reading Do I really need the Kudos?

what is an “original contribution”?

This for me has come just at the right time. I have just started my contribution to knowledge and there are some really good points here. Thanks ever so much Pat!


Many doctoral researchers worry about what ‘original’ in original contribution to knowledge means. They worry whether their research will be seen as original enough. They worry which of the multiple ways in which original might be interpreted will be applied to their thesis.

The notion of original seems to carry with it the idea of singularity – I’ve done something fresh and unique– combined with the notion of originary – I’ve started something new here – combined with the notion of authenticity – this is all my own work, I haven’t copied it from anywhere else. Now each of these terms, applied as assessment criteria, is actually pretty unhelpful when it comes to academic work. These categories of originality might make sense for thinking about painting the Mona Lisa, or even inventing Facebook, but they don’t get very far in relation to scholarship. Let me explain.

Singularity? Something unique?…

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What not to do in a thesis conclusion!

Brilliant stuff. Fits in with my Mount doom post.


The conclusion is one of the most important sections of the thesis, yet it is often done quite badly. This is not good because the conclusion is a key part of the text and thesis writers really need to spend some time getting it right. This is because the conclusion is the place where you argue that you have made a contribution to knowledge, where you show what it is, and where you discuss its implications. While it doesn’t have to be as long as other chapters, the conclusion does have to do the job.

It really helps here to understand what NOT to do in a thesis conclusion.

There are four common mistakes that people make in finishing off their thesis. These are:

(1) the writer goes on a laborious plod through all of the findings that have come in the chapters before. Examiners really hate this. It is…

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Writing up your PhD …

Contributing to Knowledge
How to write up the PhD.

After five long years of working on my PhD I am now near the end of the road, I have reached the write up stage. It has been a long road with a series of ups and downs and highs and lows. The key word for me throughout this process has been “resilience” and “grit”. Thats not to say that I have not enjoyed it, on the contrary I have loved doing my PhD, but you need to have steel if you ever want to finish. Doing a PhD is not easy, there were times over the last five years when the last thing I wanted to do was work on my PhD after a long days teaching and marking. However I am now at the writeup process and so close to finishing that all of a sudden I feel I have hit a brick wall!!

Continue reading Writing up your PhD …

Benefits of using Nvivo for Data Management

One of the biggest mistakes some of my undergraduate students make is to confuse the role of Nvivo in the qualitative data analysis process. Let me be clear, NVIVO is a data management tool NOT a method of analysis. Nvivo is great for organising data and helping you to make sense of it during the process of analysis.

This blog is not about how to use Nvivo, this is something that I may do in the future, it is about what are the benefits of using Nvivo for the research you are conducting.

Continue reading Benefits of using Nvivo for Data Management

Ipad apps for productivity

Previously I wrote a blog post about iPad apps for research in higher education, it was a two part blog post, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.  I want to carry on with this series of blog posts but today I want to really focus on using iPad apps for increasing productivity.

Continue reading Ipad apps for productivity

Best time to publish a Blog post.

As the main writer for this blog I sometimes tend to overthink things, and try to anticipate every eventuality about the blog and how it will be perceived. Hence when I first started this blog back in January I found I was overcomplicating things and I started asking myself What is my Target market? for whom am I writing this blog for? What value will this blog bring to the wider world? Will anyone read it? etc. The majority of the questions were easy to answer, the focus was and is always on PGR students, the value would be for people like me who have struggled with the intricacies of the PHD research process and who in the early days had struggled to overcome the vast leap in terminology from MSc to PHD.

Continue reading Best time to publish a Blog post.

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