Thursday, April 26, 2018

Publishing expectations on the Tenure Track

I recently ran a poll about publishing expectations on the Tenure Track, trying to see how many papers TT scholars are expected to publish per year. Whereas in Delft, the expectation is about 2 per year, I've heard (horror) stories about much larger pressure too. The "more than 10" category certainly seems very high, but for some that seems to be the standard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I am Ghayda Aljuwaiser, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Ghayda Aljuwaiser. Ghayda is a doctoral student @ SHU (Sheffield Hallam University), 4th year, in the C3RI (Communications & Media Department). Her thesis is exploring Saudi women’s online practices on social media platforms. She worked as a lecturer between 2009 - 2013 @ KAU (King Abdulaziz University), Jeddah - Saudi Arabia, taught several modules in Sociology and Communication, to - female - bachelor students. In her free time she Tweets, writes/ blogs, reads and goes to the Theatre!

Current Job: I hold a position as a T.A @ Media & Communication Faculty - KAU in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, granted a scholarship from the department of communication skills to pursue my PhD in the UK since 2013 .
Current Location: Sheffield, UK
Current mobile device: iPhone 6s plus
Current computer: MacBook, 12 inches

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
Currently a PhDeir @ SHU (Sheffield Hallam University), C3RI department (Media & Communications). Started my fourth year on September 2017. My thesis is looking at Saudi women’s online practices on social media platforms

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
Google Drive (Docs and Slides): for daily writing,
Scrivener: for conferences abstracts and presentations ‘scenarios’ & monthly reports (clarify).
Microsoft word: for finalising my submissions formatting,
Evernote: to log scattered materials, such as: books to read, papers to download, ideas for my thesis chapters etc.
Calendars5: to organise my days, weeks and months.
Doodle: recently to arrange my meetings with my supervisors,
Omnioutliner: to plan the meetings agenda and record them also.
Mendeley: for pdf references,
Google Scholar: is my daily addiction: I sat a notification for certain topics - keywords, which keeps me updated with latest research in my field, and also to follow scholars and copy-paste app citations ^_^ (we all know Mendeley fails sometimes).
I also use citethisforme occasionally for referencing purposes.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I don’t have a fixed workspaces, I alternate across different locations:
  • @ my office @ the Uni 
  • Cafes all over Sheffield
  • The Uni’s library (something Uni of Sheffield and the Diamond building also)
4. What is your best advice for productive academic work?
  • Set realistic - small goals
  • Believe you can accomplish them
  • Stick to your to-do-list
  • What you think is ‘rubbish writing’ will turn to a neat 1st draft: trust me, just write, and do what you have to do, even if it didn’t make sense, it will turn into great work afterwards
  • Work from Mon - Fri, and treat yourself on Sat & Sun; build new skills, discover new places and read non-academic stuff
How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Recently, I downloaded a template for: Publication Prioritising and Goal Setting, by Hugh Kearns. I wish I had discovered it earlier, yes I ‘tweaked’ the file, but overall it helped me to follow my productivity and my work progress. Recommended for all newbies in academia and PhDiers especially.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
  • Logitech Bluetooth mouse and a Foldable Wireless Keyboard
  • Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter to connect the uni PCU monitor to my MacBook, it helps to reduce writing neck pain 😔
  • Does the Wii U Console count? I watch movies, T.V shows etc, via Amazon video, Netflix and YouTube 😄

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Doing research in a multidisciplinary topic, where my readings and writings cross different fields: HCI-CHI, Sociology, Ethnography, MENA- GCC arena, Women/Gender and Cross-Cultural studies.

What do you listen to when you work?
Mainly Saudi tunes, sometimes Arabic and seldom English. Here is my Soundcloud likes list ;)

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Since I began my writing up, mid of the third year, my reading rate has declined :(. Even on the weekends, I tend to read articles more than books. I’ve only managed to read around 10 books in 2017 😔. Anyway, I’m currently reading a book, by a famous Saudi intellectual figure: Ghazi AlGosaibi, he died in 2010. (was the Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland btw). The book is a collection of talks and articles he gave/published @/in different venues/magazines, it looks at Globalisation and National Identity, specifically within the late 1990s (1998). How - for example - Saudi Arabia should look at international models in development and business for examples and adopt them within the cultural context, how the media broadcasting was changing dramatically, and how diplomatics should adapt with such transformations. He reflects on his own - both - personal and professional experience, what he has learned and what he wishes the public and the private sectors could reform and change. I’ve dictate weekends for free reading, and recently and built a habit of pre-sleep reading!

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I consider myself an extrovert, but living abroad/on my own, the whole experience of having my own apartment and daily routine have changed some of my preferences, such as: avoid noisy places, prefer to surround myself with less but more trustworthy and easy going people, talking less and listen more 😃 .. I don’t know if the habits I’ve already gained growing up, or the experience of studying abroad experience, but I noticed how much my lifestyle, relationships and the communication with people have changed.

What's your sleep routine like?
To be honest, I don’t have a fixed sleep routine, but generally I sleep around 12-1:30 a.m .. start my day around 11 a.m -12 p.m. This of course is subjected to change in weekends, vacations, travelling to Saudi and not mentioning surprising to do missions, such as this paragraph, which I am finalizing @ 3:22 a.m! 😀

What's your work routine like?

As I mentioned, I arrive to the office around 12 p.m., stay there until 9:00 p.m. I focus on certain to do list, what I have to write-submit, sometimes transcribing-reading comes in the middle. At the meantime, I’m working on my DA chapters, so my work is focused on one chapter: translating, reflecting then emerging themes and sub-themes for finalising my drafts for submissions. I sometimes use tomato timer to set my writing hours, I also use wordkeeperalpha to log my word count.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Keep writing .. don’t give up .. chin up .. you can do it :)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I am Susan Thomson, and This is How I Work

Today, I am interviewing Dr. Susan Thomson for the "How I Work" series. Susan Thomson ( is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies. Her research is dedicated to understanding how systems of power structure the lives of individuals in so-called times of peace. She also studies the practical and ethical challenges of doing field-based research in post-conflict settings. Thomson is the author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013); and co-editor of Emotional and Ethical Challenges for Field Research in Africa: The Story Behind the Findings (Palgrave, 2013). Her latest book, Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace is forthcoming in February 2018 with Yale University Press.

Current Job: Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, and director, Women's Studies Program, Colgate University
Current Location: Hamilton, NY
Current mobile device: Samsung S7
Current computer: MacBook Pro

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I am a tenured professor at a small liberal arts university in Central New York. I am trained as a lawyer and a political scientist, with an emphasis on international public law and African politics. I received my Bachelor of Laws in 1998, and my PhD in political science in 2009. My scholarship is dedicated to understanding how systems of power structure the lives of individuals, and how individuals subject to power experience it in so-called times of peace. This concern means that my research draws on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, feminist security studies, history, law and politics. My focus on how individuals live through and rebuild their lives after violence also drives my interest in studying the practical and ethical challenges of doing field-based research in post-conflict and other difficult settings. Working in such contexts is critical to producing academic knowledge about how ordinary people experience violence, and how this knowledge can inform government and UN responses to post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation.
I have a new book on Rwanda since the 1994 genocide with Yale UP (January 2018). I also have a book with Wisconsin UP (2013) on the resistance of ordinary Rwandans to the government's postgenocide reconciliation, and an edited book (with An Ansoms and Jude Murison, Palgrave 2013) on fieldwork ethics.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I use old-fashioned notebooks (moleskins mostly) to sketch ideas and sections of chapters or articles I am writing. I also use coloured pencils and markers to mind map and doodle. I am a poor speller so use the app Grammarly to double check my writing.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I work in 20-minute increments during the school week (M-F) with extended periods of writing (up to three hours) on the weekends (provided I have a deadline). I generally work at my desk at home or at the local lunch counter called Hamilton Whole Foods. The staff there have a nice set up to accommodate our campus community. I wrote about half of my new book at home and the other half at HWF. Revisions and edits also happen on airplanes and in the evening when I am doing field work (my new project is in Cape Town, South Africa).

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
My best advice is to focus on one project at a time, waiting until a draft of the text you are working on is complete. Then, while waiting for readers to return comment, move on to your next project. I also suggest writing while not connected to the internet, and away from social media.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Paper lists that structure my week into four sections during the semester (teaching, research, service and personal). Because I immerse myself my writing, I need to remind myself of personal things like paying bills, taking my kids where they need to go, etc, etc

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
I think my skill is that I am able to focus over long periods of time. I also write a little bit every day rather than waiting for big chunks of time, meaning I produce a chapter or two each semester.

What do you listen to when you work?
I don't listen to anything.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
During the semester, I read student work, my own work and one or two books of my own choosing. Right now, I am reading Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life. In the summer, I read novels.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
Definitely an introvert. I think this helps as I am always planning ways to be home. I rarely attend evening events when I have a writing project so I can get up early to write for 40-60 minutes before the workday begins.

What's your sleep routine like?
Also disciplined. I tend to go to bed around 10 and get up between 530 and 630am.

What's your work routine like?
I generally work from 8am until 6 or 7pm. I prepare lectures, grade student work, attend meetings and consult with students.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Take care of your needs and those of your family above anything you might be asked to do professionally. Institutions will never love you back so don't prioritise work over family (received when I was 27 years old and working for the United Nations)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Communication with your Chair: Tips your Chair Wants you to Know

Today's guest post is written by Dr. Laura Pipoly. Laura earned a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in both school counseling and community counseling. Laura graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a doctorate in both special education and in Instructional technology and distance education (ITDE). Her dissertation focused on Counselor Education Curriculum and Online Counseling and was published in part in the Journal of Instructional Research. Laura has also published and presented at the national level. Her most recent work is Meeting the Challenge of Bipolar Disorder: Self-Help Strategies that Work. Laura is both a Licensed Professional Counselor and a certified School Counselor. Throughout the years, she has worked as a school counselor, psychotherapist, behavior specialist, mentor, dissertation chair, methodologist and clinical site supervisor. Laura currently works for University of Phoenix as a full time faculty member.

As a dissertation chair, methodologist, content expert and former doctoral student I have sat on all sides of the dissertation committee. Throughout this process communication is the most essential element to facilitate student success throughout the progression. Without communication progress stalls, motivation can wane and confusion sets in.

As a dissertation chair, I schedule communication by phone with my learners every two weeks. This timeframe is often enough that I am able to be proactive if any pressing concerns come up, but also spread out far enough so that we have sufficient content to address. If your chair does not have a set communication schedule you certainly have the right to request one. It is likely that your chair is busy and overworked, so be sure that you are being active in taking responsibility to set up a contact strategy that is a good fit for your needs. Do not hesitate to send a friendly email reminder—after all you are in charge of your dissertation. The chair and committee are there as your guides through the process. I do find that phone calls are the best way to stay in contact. An email is good for a quick question about formatting, but it does not translate well for complex design questions. The dissertation process is complex and sometimes it takes hashing it out on the phone. I find students are able to reach their “ah ha” moment with a little back and forth. With email this process slows down and sometimes is completely lost. Just the other day on the phone, I had a student share several ideas. I could hear in her voice her frustration as she discussed being unable to find the “gap” area for her research. As she shared about her thoughts on the topic, I stopped her. She had just unknowingly shared that “gap” area that was so elusive to her.

When you do have a scheduled phone call be on time (keeping in mind any potential time zone differences), be prepared and be organized. Many times I will call a student at our agreed upon time and I can hear that they are distracted. Or even worse, they are driving. This does not facilitate the best use of our time. A quiet, private place will allow for you to focus. Just as you would write an outline for an assignment, I suggest that you do the same for your phone conference. Come prepared by writing down any questions or topics you want to address beforehand and use this as your guide. Not only does this allow you to make sure that everything is covered, but it helps to cut back on emails in between phone conversations which may ultimately slow down the process. When speaking to a student I have a copy of their dissertation in front of me so I can point out specific questions or refer to it as needed. Be sure that you do too and that you are ready to take any notes you may need.

Listen, really listen. As a learner I treated this individual time with my chair as a gift. I was able to get a new perspective, flush out my questions and soak in their expertise. Listen to the suggestions your chair makes, write them down and apply the feedback. So many learners will send me their marked up paper with corrections still unmade. Most times, I have the same suggestions.

Lastly, remember your chair is your cheerleader. Your chair has been there and done that. They know that the dissertation is a journey and that your motivation will wax and wane. I truly want my learners to succeed. I want to be their motivator when things get hard –because they will. I would much rather have an email from a learner stating, “I am having a hard time with…”, than see that they withdrew. When a learner emails me that “they can’t”, I email back them about how they can. Your chair is on your side, not only can they help you with your writing but also through the process. Part of that process is maintaining your motivation and dedication. I remember my own chair referred to me as the “future Dr. Pipoly” which was sometimes the push I needed to read, reread, and dig in a little deeper.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Open access publishing

I recentlly ran a poll on Twitter to see how much or little academics publish open access. I had just learned that TU Delft wants to publish 60% of articles open access this year, and that open access publishing fees are waived for TU authors and authors based in the Netherlands by a number of publishers. As such, I decided to look a bit deeper into the topic. And the result is that the opinions and practices are divided. Here are the results of the poll:

Here's a pearltree collection of the tweets of this topic (note: now that Storify has called it quits, I'm still looking for an alternative that works well and trying out pearltree for the first time):

Open Access, by evalantsoght

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On finding the right time to meet - poll

I recently ran a poll on which time of the day is the best for meetings. Some time ago, I wrote a post about how certain times of the day may not work for your colleagues. You may not have thought about this, but one colleague needs to leave early to pick up his kids from school, and the other colleague gets anxious when a meeting involves food... Moral of the story is that you best ask your colleagues which restraints they have. If you are a supervisor, create a climate within your research group that allows your colleagues to speak up and tell you about the restraints they face regarding a meeting time.

Out of curiosity, I ran a poll - and the opinions are divided. The most popular time slot is in the early afternoon, but there is no clear winner. You can find the Storify about the poll below: