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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 20, 2020

“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” ~Gustave FlaubertIn academia – like the rest of the world – our daily routines have been challenged over the past couple of weeks faced with continued effects of COVID-19. These challenges can derail us and our writing or they can present opportunities to look at new routes to success.

This week’s collection of articles identifies some opportunities for redefining your scholarship as we face uncertainty in the days and weeks ahead. First, consider writing as a research method, the urgency of public-impact scholarship, and life outside the boundaries of academia. Explore your research design and build new ways to connect with others. Consider your “plan B” options and re-evaluate the goals of your projects that may require some extraordinary measures in the weeks ahead. Finally, take time to enjoy life – even if it doesn’t go as planned.

Gustave Flaubert acknowledged his writing challenges with the following. “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” Being faced with challenges, uncertainty, and results inconsistent with our intentions can be opportunities for exploring new lines of thought and action. We wish you safety and continued growth this week. Happy writing!

Writing is a research method

Writing, in Euro-Western research, is universal. It’s the one method used regularly by both quantitative and qualitative researchers. Perhaps that’s why it isn’t recognised as a method, because it unites us rather than dividing us. But it is a method, and I would argue that it is a qualitative method. We can’t do research without writing, and how we write affects the ways our work is understood and used by other people.

The urgency of public-impact scholarship

Imagine, writes Lisa Reyes Mason, if more of us in academe publicly shared our research expertise to help address crucial social issues. What impact could we collectively have? How could lives change?

Life as a writer outside the boundaries of academia

I finally found my way out of academia by applying to be a medical writer with a medical communications agency. I’ve always enjoyed writing and editing, and this was the perfect place where I could use all the knowledge that I’ve accumulated for something worthwhile and, most importantly, secure. Medical writing is a funny thing; you think you know how to write until you don’t.

Research design in qualitative research

Qualitative research design is, most basically, the way that you, as a researcher, articulate, plan for, and set up the doing of your study. Research design is the overall approach to how a researcher (or research team) bridges theory and concepts with the development of research questions and the design of data collection and analysis methods for a specific study.

Building your remote workforce: Including tips & tricks for social distancing

Over the past few weeks, remote working has become a sudden reality as organizations globally encourage people to work from home due to the coronavirus. And it’s creating real challenges for those who aren’t used to supporting a remote workforce. I’ve had this post rumbling around in my head for some months now – largely because we’re shaping a different way of working at PLOS as we downsize our downtown San Francisco space by 50% (and save $1m annually). While the ideas below are influenced by my thinking about a longer-term and permanent transition, much here will be useful for those of you who have been forced to adapt quickly to a temporary situation (including a final section with tips and tricks from our remote PLOS team members).

Pandemics and PHDs

I cannot imagine how many PhDers are currently worrying about whether they can do the research they want to, whether they have to start again, and/or whether they can afford the additional time it might take to get their projects done if their designs are un-modifiable.

‘Extraordinary measures’

Move them online: colleges and universities have been giving professors clear guidance on what to do with their classes during COVID-19, if not quite how to do it. But the directives on what to do with scientific research and equipment-heavy lab work have been much less clear, leaving faculty members, students and some staff members scrambling to adapt to social distancing measures.

The PhD Movies

The PHD Movies are the film adaptations of the comic strip “Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham. The films take a smart and humorous look at the world of Academia through the eyes of four grad students, and features real academics (including several MacArthur Geniuses and a Nobel Prize winner!) in many of the roles.