guilty, as charged | pat thomson

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…

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the citation dump – and three more citation tactics to avoid – #thesisknowhow | pat thomson

All doctoral researchers know they must locate their work in the literatures. They also know that they must refer to the relevant literatures when they make an argument. Unsubstantiated claims are not acceptable, unless of course they are what is to be empirically interrogated/tested.

However, some doctoral researchers do assume that the purpose of citations in their thesis is primarily to demonstrate that they have read. That they have read in their field full stop. And they must show the examiners their reading.

can you tell me how you are using the term neoliberalism?Thinking that the…

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academic writing and the connoisseur-critic | pat thomson

I often write, well no, I actually often rant about, the importance of reading to writing. Researchers can simply read for the content of papers, chapters and books – or they can also read for the writing.

Reading for the writing can mean different things, for instance, reading texts to see their ‘technical’ characteristics….asking
What kind of writing is this – narrative? argument? report? 
What conventions are followed – sections, headings, signposting, use of examples and visual material, mode of address, first or third person ?… and so on…

However, there are other ways to think…

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avoiding the laundry list literature review | pat thomson

I’ve been asked to say more about the laundry list literature review. The laundry list is often called ‘He said, she said” – as one of the most usual forms of the laundry list is when most sentences start with a name. And the laundry list is a problem. It’s hard to read and not very fit for purpose. 

So, what does a laundry list look like? Below is a page of a published book. It is taken from a chapter reviewing the literatures on neoliberalism in ‘the university’. It’s a laundry list. I have:
underlined in red the sentence where the author says what they are trying to do (you might call…

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two things that made me think this week | pat thomson

Last weekend brought the inevitable long Saturday newspaper read – that’s a thing in our house. We only buy one paper a week and we do like to sit down and savor it the morning it’s bought. We leave some of the sections on the kitchen table and they become browsing material until the next instalment.

This week’s book section – my favourite piece of the paper – carried a small article by Simon Garfield about time – Faster isn’t always better. Time is of course a continued hot topic in the academy. So it wasn’t particularly surprising than that I was struck by this extract from Garfield’s new…

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choosing a conference | pat thomson

I’ve recently been asked how new PhDers ought to go about choosing academic conferences. Here goes… Because conferences are discipline specific, you really do need to talk with your supervisor and your peers about which are the best conferences to go to. Cop out? OK. Got me. 

I’ll try to do better. I actually have three answers… take your pick. 

Answer One: It’s all about purpose

It’s often helpful to think about the general purpose of conference-going, rather than any particular event. I tend to think about four purposes for PhDers and conferences –
go to a conference where you can…

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blogging research projects | pat thomson

I am often asked about the ways in which I use blogs for research purposes. I take this question  to mean I should talk about something other than the usual blogging that I do. So here goes.

I have played around with various research-related blogging strategies. Here are two that seem to have worked fairly well for me and colleagues:

Blogging a serial-style literature review
Research partners are invited to tune in each week to a shortish post which is one section of a literature review. Over time, the full literature review is posted.
An example – the performing impact project looked…

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