April 30, 2008

Deconstruction gone wild

Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu

The Onion

Grad Student Deconstructs Take-Out Menu

CAMBRIDGE, MA-Out of sheer habit, English grad student Jon Rosenblatt tried to interpret the message within his Burrito Bandito menu.

It's finally happened. As reported in the Onion, a Harvard University English graduate student has gone off the deep end and used his hard-earned skills of deconstructing for evil instead of good. Yes, Jon Rosenblatt has deconstructed a Mexican fast-food menu.

As his roommate explained, "He has become so steeped in the complex jargon of critical theory that he's unable to resist the urge to deconstruct even the most mundane things."

You can read all the details of this tragic story here.

Grad-school-ruled notebook paper

Mead Releases New Grad-School-Ruled Notebook

The Onion

Mead Releases New Grad-School-Ruled Notebook

RICHMOND, VA—Company officials say the new notebooks feature lines 3.55 millimeters apart, making them "infinitely more practical" for postgraduate work than the 7.1 millimeter college-ruled notebooks.



The Onion, always up-to-date with the latest innovations for highly educated people, reports that graduate students will no longer have to put up with inferior college-ruled paper, which is only meant for undergraduates. Because of the higher level of learning demanded of graduate students, they will get their own paper, with even more narrow lines.


You'll be happy to know that "the notebooks are currently available in several special grad-school-edition colors, including alabaster, saffron, vermilion, and, for girl graduate students, periwinkle."

April 27, 2008

What they didn't teach you in graduate school


This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education has some truly useful career tips for junior professors. It is adapted from What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career (Stylus Publishing, 2008). Included are tips about topics such as:
  • Departmental politics
  • Where to publish
  • When to serve as an editor
  • Why to change your career or move
I've just ordered the book from Stylus -- I'll let you know what I think.

April 18, 2008

Don't overdo your will power quotient

We only have a limited supply of willpower in our brains at any one time, reports an article in the NY Times. If we use up that supply resisting dessert, giving extra time to students instead of taking a nap, or staying within our budget, we won't have anything left over. Image

How does this willpower limitation apply to academics? One of the biggest struggles for academics is having the willpower to write on a daily basis. Because there is no one out there calling up each graduate student or professor and asking them how their writing went that day, it is extremely difficult for them to nail their butt to the chair and just write something. So days without writing become weeks without writing, which leads to unfinished dissertations, low publication records, and reams of research that the world isn't learning about.

The fact that we all struggle with willpower in so many areas of life is one reason I came up with the Academic Writing Club. Why use up all your energy trying to go it alone, when you can lean on the support and encouragement of many others just like you? It's a simple but powerful principle. Save all that willpower for organizing your closet or going green.

April 16, 2008

Mini-hint to help with editing: fact sheets

A client of mine recently told me about a technique one of her grad school peers uses to get a handle on all the information he's trying to incorporate into a chapter. He creates what he calls "fact sheets." Each fact sheet has one sub-topic or question at the top of a page, and under it he collects his notes and thoughts on that one topic. My client has been using this technique as she edits a chapter, and says that this helps her review her notes in a "somewhat orderly fashion."

How do you get a handle on all the information that is piling up in folders in your computer or on your desk? How do you make sure it all makes it into your writing?