Helping students write a literature review – Part II

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DoctoralWriting SIG

This is Part II of the guest post by Cecile Badenhorst of Memorial University in Canada. For an extended discussion of these ideas, go to her article on “Literature reviews, citations and intertextuality in graduate student writing”

In the first part of this blog post, I suggested that explicitly teaching students the genre of literature reviews and the many ways experienced academic writers use citation practices can help students understand this challenging genre. In this post, I want to focus on complexity in literature reviews. These papers require complex higher order thinking skills and the ability to critique, evaluate and review knowledge in sophisticated ways. Reproducing this complexity is often the most challenging for students. It is even more challenging for those of us involved in teaching this genre: How do we make the complexity more visible and accessible?

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Helping students write a literature review – Part I

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DoctoralWriting SIG

Cecile Badenhorst MA (UBC), PhD (Queen’s) is an Associate Professor in the Adult Education/Post-Secondary program in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University.  Her research interests are post-secondary, higher education and adult learning experiences, particularly graduate research writing, academic literacies and qualitative research methodologies. In this 2-part guest post she explains her approach to teaching postgraduates about literature reviews.

By Cecile Badenhorst

After many years of running workshops on “How to write literature reviews”, I realized that postgraduate students often left with a few useful tools but without that deep understanding of what was required. Without a doubt, the literature review is one of the most challenging genres students face. It is also one of the most challenging genres to teach. How do you explain in an hour or two a process that takes years of practice, feedback and revision to hone and refine? Recently, I conducted research on literature…

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“Yes, you are a writer!”

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Here’s a wonderful blog article for you to read.

Explorations of Style

I recently gave a talk for the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education about the importance of claiming our identity as academic writers. This topic is one that I have returned to repeatedly in this space. I am sharing a revised version of the talk in this post because it covers an aspect of the topic that I haven’t addressed in much detail here: the practical implications of having an incomplete identity as an academic writer. I’m also sharing this talk because it gives me an excuse to include this delightful drawing that an audience member did during my talk.

Cayley-Writing “Yes, you are a writer” by Giulia Forsythe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I can’t tell you how much I love this drawing. I spoke for over an hour and the artist, Giulia Forsythe, captured the essence of so much of what I said. Since…

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Tending tenderness and disrupting the myth of academic rock stars

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Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî

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In euro-american academia, the arts, media, politics, and literature we are enthralled, obsessed with two things: ‘innovation’ and individuality. The triumph of individual will to manifest something new new new trumps everything else. Granting agencies often focus on a single Principle Investigator to the exclusion of whole teams of human and more-than-human beings who make certain projects or ideas possible. News reporters want to find the new voice, the emerging voice, the singular representative of a community to demonstrate the raw will of a single body, mind, and spirit. They want us to believe that these achievements are not the product of the blood, sweat, and labour of myriad co-convenors, co-thinkers, collaborators, and co-dreamers who lift each other up in often dreary, cold, and impossible (impassible) academic systems and structures. They want us to believe that there is no village of academic aunties (as per Erica Violet Lee’s brilliant…

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Finding time to write

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Finding time to write is an ongoing problem for many writers.  It’s the number one issue that gets raised in my classes.

This morning, I listened to a podcast by Writing Excuses which I found very useful.  It’s called:  ‘Butt in chair, hands on keyboard‘. Although not developed for academic writers, much of what they have to say is relevant.

Listen and see what you think.

Metadiscourse

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Read this blog about the importance of metadiscourse in academic writing.

Explorations of Style

The longer that I teach academic writing to graduate students, the more time I find myself spending on metadiscourse. Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that metadiscourse has a bad name—in the sense of a dubious reputation—and an actual bad name. The dubious reputation is presumably connected to both a general suspicion of academic writing and the many instances of laboured prose we have encountered in our careers as academic readers. I’m sure this suspicion is only exacerbated by the fact that the term metadiscourse is a bit of a mouthful. However, this scepticism is deeply unfortunate since thinking about metadiscourse is a natural way to think about our responsibilities as a writer. And, needless to say, thinking more about our writerly responsibilities is crucial for most novice academic writers, making metadiscourse an indispensable topic.

So what is metadiscourse? Simply put, metadiscourse refers to those places in which a writer…

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A confession about working weekends

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A thought provoking blog to add to our slow scholarship discussion.

The Research Whisperer

Image from Memegenerator: https://memegenerator.net/instance/40630318Image from Memegenerator: https://memegenerator.net/instance/40630318

I came back to academia after being in a professional role for over three years with a promise to myself: I will not work across weekends.

As I mentioned in a recent post, some people derided my promise. Many more laughed in disbelief, or were encouraging in their words but exuded an air of ‘that promise is doomed, doomed!’. Having been in a professional job where I found it extremely easy to maintain the boundaries between work and non-work time, I was very used to having weekends in my life. I assumed that transitioning (again) into an academic role while keeping weekends free would be relatively easy. It was the status quo for me at the time, after all.

Two and a half years after returning to academia, then, how is my promise of ‘not working on weekends’ going for me?

Terribly, I have to say.

And I acknowledge…

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Why slow?

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This blog post on slow scholarship by Agnes Bosanquet is a must-read.

The Slow Academic

Last week I listened to Kate Harris, CEO of Good Environmental Choice Australia, present on courageous leadership to a group of early career academics. She shared this image (from startwithwhy) and asked people to think about why they do the work they do:

Kate made herself vulnerable and shared her purpose, motivation and inspiration. Her grandfather’s dying words to her were: Make peace in this world. And she dedicates her life to this goal. Her words inspired me to think about why I wanted to start this blog, and why I value slow academia.

Earlier in the day, I bumped into two colleagues – one whose partner recently died, and one who is in the early stages of cancer treatment. Both were at work, and working through shock and grief. Work can be distracting and colleagues can be nourishing… but something more important is going on for…

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Slow reading at a writing retreat

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Here’s one scholar’s account of practicing slow scholarship – inspiring!

The Slow Academic

I spent the beginning of this week on a 24 hour retreat with my PhD student, colleague and friend Lilia Mantai. We left our children with their fathers (this deserves a special thanks from me as it coincided with our wedding anniversary) and went to Billabong Retreat. I adored every minute of it. Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way. We paid for the retreat with research funds that I won as a lucky door prize at an early career Christmas in July event. Yes, I am lucky and privileged.

Image result for billabong retreatImage result for billabong retreatImage result for billabong retreat

We practised yoga and meditation. We ate beautiful food. We slept deeply. We read. And we wrote. We are co-authoring a paper on doctoral student and early career academic (ECA) experiences of time pressure. No doubt I will post on that in the future.

Here are some highlights from my contemplative reading on time…

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Done all that work – but has this thesis really got anything to say?!: Strategies to regain perspective on research contribution

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Excellent post by Claire Aitchison on how to pull out the significance of your thesis at the point when you are probably too exhausted to see the value of your research.

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Claire Aitchison

What have I got to say? This is the terror moment that strikes every doctoral student: the fear that perhaps there isn’t anything of worth to show for all the years of work.

I’ve never met a student who hasn’t experienced this kind of self-doubt – in part fuelled by exhaustion during the final stages, and in part this anxiety is an almost natural outcome of being too close, too fully immersed in the project to be able to objectively assess the merits of the work. However it is essential that researchers do make such judgements accurately since convention demands that the thesis clearly identifies the contribution and significance of the research.

Over the years I’ve collected a few strategies for helping students gain the perspective needed

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