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

May 18, 2012 - 8:07am
It's finally here, summer. That means long days laying out in the sunshine, late nights with friends and extended trips to far away places away from the hustle and bustle of the university. Oh wait... you're a grad student. Then it means long days of trying to teach summer classes, late nights working on ones own research and extended trips to libraries and other universities to raid their archives and labs for that pivotal missing link that would turn your dissertation into a masterpiece. Fear not though, GradHacker is here. Over the past semester we've had articles that cover every aspect of grad school from how to turn your stress into delicious baking or how to deal with fighting committee members. Not only that, we launched our podcasts which interviews academics on broader issues and discusses the articles from the last few weeks. In case you are new to GradHacker, or just need some inspiration to survive the summer, here are our top posts from the last semester.
May 15, 2012 - 10:04pm
  Navigating the internet as a doctoral candidate becomes a bit more difficult than it did for some of our straight-to-work peers.  Seven-ish years in school provides for a lot of time for status updates that might offend or alienate a future employer, and cleaning up a Facebook profile can involve more than merely taking down a couple of photos from the undergrad years.  The arrested development of graduate education often leaves us feeling like we can live large on the internet, up until the moment when those seven years of tweets suddenly become a topic in an employment interview.  As a result, acting professional on personal social networks seems to be an often elusive goal for doctoral students, and I have watched peers struggle after mis-judging their abilities to network, sometimes with professionally damaging consequences.
May 13, 2012 - 9:05pm
In early May, my wife, our two small children and I will pack up our serendipitously named 2003 Honda Odyssey and travel 262 miles from our home near Indianapolis to the campus of Michigan State University. There I will proudly don my newest prized possession: my master’s hood. However, unlike many others who will also walk through such a ceremony this spring, this trip is different in that it will be just my third time on campus as 100% of my degree has been completed online.
May 10, 2012 - 8:43pm
As a former High School English teacher, I have experienced the overwhelming tsunami of having to provide feedback on a weekly basis to ~150 students. Between that experience and my more recent experiences teaching online students, I've thought a lot about providing feedback on student writing and student products.
May 9, 2012 - 9:10pm
I'm going to guess that many reading this column also have seen the “should one go to grad school” blog posts and perhaps even its variant, “should one to go grad school in the humanities.” In April, Inside Higher Ed linked to a similarly titled essay in The Hairpin, and also last month, GradHacker’s own Andrea Zellner responded to a blog called “100 Reasons NOT to Go to Grad School.”  Then there are the animated spoofs on the topic, which in my view, are no less thought-provoking. (Since there are so many devoted to specific courses of study, I won’t link to any one clip here.) But what about a much different question about graduate school—not one about entrance decisions, but exit strategies? When should one leave grad school, and in particular, a PhD program?
May 7, 2012 - 7:09pm
Often there is a lot of discussion on protecting the identity of our subjects when we do our research. The IRB focuses on the protection of both the subjects and the institution to a great extent, but what about the researcher?  In the Terry Arendell paper about the difficulties she found in her interviews men, the topic of safety in the field is discussed at length.  It important to note that while this particular example discussed the dangers of women being alone while interview men, this does not mean that other gender interactions won't lead to dangerous situations.
May 6, 2012 - 9:19pm
About a month ago, I got really lucky.  My school sent out an e-mail notifying me that the following week would be “Fulbright Week,” and that they would be offering a series of panels to bring me up to speed and prepare me for the application process.  I had been planning for a while to apply for a Fulbright to fund my dissertation research on race and slavery in nineteenth-century Colombia, so I was happy Rice had a whole week devoted to getting prepared.  As I started looking into the process more deeply, I had a momentary sense of panic as I realized I should have started months before I did.
May 3, 2012 - 9:15pm
I'm not sure if this Grad Student phenomenon has a name yet, but I'll give it one - "The mid-degree crisis." You are about two years into your degree, but still two (or more) years away from finishing.
May 2, 2012 - 8:39am
I'm not sure if this Grad Student phenomenon has a name yet, but I'll give it one - "The mid-degree crisis". You are about two years into your degree, but still two (or more) years away from finishing. Most of your structured requirements are finished, but you've done less than half the work that you'll need to do for your degree. And one day… you can’t remember why you pursued your PhD to begin with.
April 30, 2012 - 8:11am
When doing research, sometimes it is easy to forget about the actual research project as you jump through all the hoops to get your IRB approved, find your subjects, honing in on your questions, etc.  For those of us doing more qualitative work, there can be another huge layer of work involved interviewing subjects will be a part of your study.  I wanted to look closely at some other factors that can help prepare interviewers beyond the simple adage of "don't ask close ended questions!"


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