There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
And somehow blogging keeps slipping lower down the list of priorities. Still, we do have the very best of intentions of keeping this blog going – we still have plenty to say! – and with that in mind, I thought that now might be an appropriate time to share a little treasure that I stumbled across some months back.
A few years ago David Gauntlett scribbled down some notes in preparation for a workshop titled ‘Surviving your PhD’. Yes, believe it or not, he has really managed to fit everything you need to know (or nearly everything, at least) onto a single side of a single piece of paper. His reflections provide some quick tips that are easy enough to implement immediately as well as some broader suggestions that may require more time to digest.
There are two points that I’ll just quickly pick up on, and I’ll let you discover the rest for yourselves:
1) “Don’t spend forever reading without writing”
It is incredibly easy for reading to become a welcome distraction, or even a procrastination technique. Following up an interesting citation in the journal article you read yesterday soon leads to the discovery of an expert you’ve never heard of before, two weeks later you still haven’t written anything and the deadline for finishing your next chapter was three days ago. It happens.
What’s more, sometimes these serendipitous forays into new bodies of literature prove incredibly fruitful. The point is that they shouldn’t keep you from writing because, in my experience at least, the longer the writing hiatus, the harder it is to get going again. Which leads on to the next point:
2) “Publish stuff”
Easier said than done, I know, but you won’t regret it. Let’s be honest: in this economic climate, jobs – academic or otherwise – are hard to come by. Having a couple of publications in hand won’t guarantee you your first job, but they will make you a much stronger candidate. Not only does publishing show that your research and writing skills are of a high standard, it shows that you’re taking initiative to actively engage in your chosen field.
The peer-review process that accompanies publishing can also provide a useful source of critical feedback. The reviewers will likely pick up on weaknesses in your argument that you (and perhaps even your supervisor) weren’t aware of. Additionally, replying to reviewers gives you a chance to practice responding to criticism – an essential skill for surviving your viva.
And with that, it’s time that I got back to writing my long delayed (by reading) journal article.
So, without further delay, here’s the promised link: