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Showing posts from June, 2008

"ABD" -- what does it really mean?

I thought I knew what the definition of ABD was. It was exactly the same as defined here in Carnegie Mellon's University Doctoral Candidate Policies for All But Dissertation (ABD) : After the completion of all formal degree requirements other than the completion of and approval of the doctoral dissertation and the public final examination, doctoral candidates shall be regarded as All But Dissertation(ABD). I have, though, occasionally run into the term ABD being used as a somewhat disparaging designation for one who fulfills the formal degree requirements of the Ph.D. but never finishes the dissertation, and then quits the program. Most recently, I saw it in What They Didn' t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career , by Paul Gray and David E. Drew. Number 9 of their helpful hints is one that I strongly agree with: "Remember that a Ph.D. is primarily an indication of survivorship." They go on to say, "You stuck wi

The psychological mine fields of grad school

You must establish a firm psychological stance early in your graduate career to keep from being buffeted by the many demands that will be made on your time. If you don't watch out, the pressures of course work, teaching, language requirements and who knows what else will push you around like a large, docile molecule in Brownian motion. That quote is from an excellent list of tips for graduate students, entitled " Some Modest Advice for Graduate Students ," by Yale professor Stephen C. Stearns. I particularly like the section called "Psychological Problems are the Biggest Barrier." As a psychologist, I see all the time that the grad students I coach are plenty smart enough to do the job. What impedes their progress are the psychological mine fields that are in their path. I suggest reading this article if you have been running into these mines.

Anti-Procrastination Tips

An Academic Writing Club member recently posted these anti-procrastination techniques on the message board. Here are the tips I try to use to get myself to work: 1) WARM UP ROUTINE -- Instead of starting with email, news sites, or any of the other things that I find lead to hours of procrastination ... I try to have a "prep time" for writing as warm up: I put on the same mix cd each time I write (mental cue) Open the diss chapter (NOTHING ELSE except EndNote -- Close email and web browser) Then clean off my desk Warm up my coffee Set the kitchen timer for the min. amount of time I want to write Finally -- And this may sound quite odd, I light a prayer candle (I use the Virgin of Guadalupe, because I have deemed her patron saint of anthropologists, given the role she played in colonization and the Catholic church's stance on indigenous Mexicans). Although I am not really religious -- I say a little prayer (a mantra would be good to) to just write something,

Shame about being a mother and an academic

A recent pseudonymous article in The Chronicle of Higher Education brings to light a theme that I've heard from academic mothers in the Writing Club. They struggle with a feeling of shame, starting in graduate school, when they have to "admit" that they are parents. This feeling of shame is not necessarily brought on by the particular person or situation that they are dealing with at the moment, but by the attitude that they feel is rampant in academia, towards any non-scholarly activity in academia. For example, one person wrote, "I once APOLOGIZED to my advisor (when I had my first child) for being a mom in academia." This gets back to the theme I've been writing about lately; that of finding balance in academia. If the appropriate amount of balance existed, then it should be possible for half of the human race to participate equally in academia while raising a family. While not feeling ashamed.

Balanced Life Chart

Image by  Kim Carney Reproduced with permission Balanced Life: Myth or Possibility? Tracking what you're doing on a daily basis can help you realize what is missing in your life. The latest issue of my newsletter, entitled " Get a Life! A Chart for Living a Balanced Life(Even if You're an Academic) " just came out on Wednesday. In it, I wrote about the fact that academics feel that they're never good enough and that there's always someone better than them. Both of these factors, among others, lead to a guilt-caused imbalance in their lives.  You can find the PDF of the Balanced Life Chart here: Balanced Life Chart You are Worthy, so Reward Yourself One way to motivate you to take some time for yourself is for you to notice  what you are  accomplishing on a daily basis. If you realize how much you're accomplishing, then you will feel that you deserve to take time to savor a cup of tea, to schedule a lunch or squash game with frien