A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online

June 18, 2012 - 3:41am
Most of us have been there. Standing in line at the annual conference of [insert national association of scholars of some discipline or region here] and protesting the length of the time to register. Wondering why it takes the conference committee so long to accept or reject our abstract. Locating typos in the conference program. Complaining about the seemingly mismatched papers on a panel. But have you ever sat on the other side of that registration table? Considered volunteering for or organizing a conference yourself?
June 14, 2012 - 8:14pm
For the past couple months I've been planning a trip to Rome, Italy. Sounds wonderful right? Wrong. I'm here doing some pre-dissertation research that will be pivotal to not only writing grants but doing my dissertation proposal this Fall. This trip has a lot of weight in how the next couple years are going to proceed. I understand that I shouldn't be complaining or nervous about going to Rome, I mean it is a beautiful city full of amazing archaeological things to do. However, I'm not here to be a tourist. I'm here to do research that could change the outcome of whether I get funding or pass my proposals. I had this discussion with a friend of mine who is dealing with a similar problem, although her's is worse because she's worried about going to Hawaii. 
June 14, 2012 - 3:01am
  In our teaching roles as graduate students, we often are called on to assess students' participation in classroom activities like discussion; often, this evaluation assumes the form of assigning an actual grade to such effort. As I look back on my graduate school career (yes, I successfully defended my dissertation last month!), one constant stands out, at least in terms of the many courses I've taught and the discussion sections I've led: "Grading participation" is a tricky but necessary business.
June 11, 2012 - 12:49am
For most graduate students, writing papers and a dissertation is one of the more dreadful parts of the research process. Writing, and organizing your thoughts in such a way that it becomes clear for peers in your field, can be a challenging task. As a result, writer’s block is one of the most commonly heard troubles of graduate students.
June 7, 2012 - 9:05pm
A few months ago, I wrote a GradHacker post on studying for comprehensive exams. This post is a follow-up, with suggestions on how to successfully write the exams themselves.
June 5, 2012 - 4:49pm
For most of us, the days of long and leisurely summer vacations are likely over. But after a long spring semester, how are we supposed to rest up for our work during the summer and fall? The summer months offer a great opportunity to reflect on the past academic year and reenergize for the year ahead.  Here are a few things you can do to recharge your mind, body, and spirit, whether you have a day, a week, or the entire summer.
June 4, 2012 - 6:48pm
I recently finished The Information Diet,  and I felt that the metaphor was the most powerful part of this book. Johnson's assertions that our current informational climate serves us up cheap fillers in the way of celebrity news and downright unhealthy partisan rhetoric rang true for me. I have long been concerned about the issue of the Filter Bubble in which all the data that Google, Facebook, and more are collecting about us lead to all the algorithms only showing me what it thinks I want to see. Johnson's Information Diet is a call to action against this and many other informational ills perpetuated by our networked consumption. The challenge issued is to approach consumption of all media in the same way we might approach healthy eating: recognize what is junk and stop consuming it.
May 30, 2012 - 4:50pm
I love the concept of Summer Reading. It often seems that non-academic reading is a pleasure that needs to be put off during the semester. If one does indulge the non-academic reading habit it needs to be kept secret, like watching Smash. Despite my responsibilities both as a student and as teaching assistant this summer, I plan to use the extra hours of daylight to dip into some juicy beach reads.
May 28, 2012 - 7:05pm
I began playing capoiera a few months ago, and I am terrible at it. Which is pretty perfect. My foray into the Brazilian fight-dance began academically enough, but the process of practicing something that I am not -- and will perhaps never be -- good at has been a refreshing change of pace during a life point of increasing responsibility and supposed expertise development.
May 24, 2012 - 9:44pm
This year, I made a fortunately successful run on the academic job market, and I'm looking forward to beginning my tenure-track position in August. Until now, I’ve resisted posting on those experiences. I have, however, commented on the job search more broadly. For instance, I’ve discussed the need for doctoral students to simultaneously prepare for the academic- and non-academic job markets. It seems odd to me, then, that I haven’t offered some hacky, this-is-how-you-do-it tidbits for writing the academic cover letter, preparing a writing sample, practicing for interviews, and acing the campus visit.


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