Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 20, 2019

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest HemingwayThis week’s collection of articles from around the web is laden with questions. How do I approach an inter-disciplinary thesis? I’ve passed my comps – now what? How do I plan my first draft and get the right stuff in the right order? What are the ethical issues of working with literature? How can I be a good peer reviewer? How do we support research engagement? How can I deal with the growing complexities of international collaboration? And the theme across Peer Review Week 2019, how many ways can you define quality in peer review?

Ernest Hemingway once said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” As we come to the close of Peer Review Week 2019 it is fitting to remember that our peers are apprentices as well in this craft. None of us have all of the answers to the questions above or the countless others that face us as academic writers. We learn from each other and grow stronger in our writing and disciplines as a result. This week, embrace your apprenticeship status and Happy Writing!

How to approach an inter-disciplinary thesis

Interdisciplinary research utilizes techniques from two or more disciplines to come up with solutions to problems. Increasing number of universities worldwide are recruiting professors who can lead interdisciplinary research projects. While there are many benefits that entail doing interdisciplinary research, there are some downsides to it as well.

Life after comps

Others have written helpfully about how to prepare for nearly every aspect of the exams, but it can be easy to forget about what comes next. The looming shadows of the prospectus and dissertation often leave grad students frozen in place after exams. While a short breather from work can be a much-needed, saving grace, it’s important to not let that breather turn into a rut. So, you’ve passed! Now what?

A planner’s approach to the first draft

For planners, ‘writing a draft’ is not simply about generating text. That’s necessary of course and you can’t do without all the words. But planners see the real work of drafting as ‘getting the right stuff in the right order’.

The ethics of working with literature

‘Literature’ is the academic term, referring to peer-reviewed scholarly work such as journal articles. Academics increasingly recognise the value of ‘grey literature’, as they call relevant information that has not been through the peer review process. Also, the definition of ‘literature’ has grown to include written phenomena and artefacts such as ephemera (leaflets, zines, etc), creative writing (novels, poems, and so on), and online writings such as blog posts and tweets. When I ask people about the ethical issues of working with literature, they tend to look blank. So here are some pointers.

How to be a good peer reviewer

In my experience, the streamlined process of peer review is complicated when reviewers with good intentions do bad things. A reviewer who does bad things displays behaviors that slow down or lessen the effectiveness of peer review. A good peer reviewer displays efficient behaviors and adds value to the process. The good thing about a reviewer who does bad things is that they can change. There are quite a few ways to shift bad behaviors and habits of reviewers to become not just good, but great peer reviewers.

How do we support research engagement?

Research engagement is a government priority in many countries. While the requirements differ, there is a growing body of research and practice that can help inform how we respond.

The growing complexities of international collaboration

Did anyone really anticipate just how complicated internationalization in higher education was going to be? The idealists among us hoped for that the flow of talent around the globe would lead to multinational collaborations to speed up innovation and the development new knowledge that would address the world’s most pressing problems and ultimately improve quality of life everywhere. We certainly underestimated the enduring legacy of political, economic, and military competition and mistrust among nations. Nor had we calculated the resurgence and effect of extremist ideology.

Quality is multi-dimensional: How many ways can you define quality in peer review?

So what is a high-quality peer review process? How can we define quality? Measure it? Improve it? Do different individuals and communities view quality in the same way? Is it equally important across all disciplines and publication types? And what about peer review in other research workflows, such as grant applications, conference submissions, promotion and tenure applications, and more?