In the third of an occasional series, Writing Skills Advisor Helen Williams talks about how reading previous theses can contribute to your writing practice.
If you saw last month’s posts about perseverance and The Conversation, you’ll have picked up on the fact that November was #AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) – an annual, month-long, communal attempt by academics at all career stages to focus on their writing. In thinking about what can be most helpful in both facilitating and improving writing however, I keep coming back to how important reading is as part of this process.
First of all, take a break. Away from your thesis, and away from your research. This well-earned holiday is both a chance to reconnect with yourself as more than just the author of your thesis, and to reconnect with family and friends that you may have been neglecting recently. Importantly, this also gives you a new perspective on your thesis for when you return to it to prepare forthe next milestone in your journey, namely your viva.
The University of Birmingham has extended their licence agreement for EndNote, so this post about using reference management software from Lynne Harris, Research Skills Advisor, will be equally useful for new and continuing postgraduate researchers alike.
Why do I need to use referencing software?
Keeping an accurate record of all the material you have consulted in the course of your research is essential and can help you to avoid plagiarism. Referencing software is an excellent way to manage your research literature. EndNote is the referencing software recommended to researchers as it is suitable for most subject disciplines, has functionality that is especially useful to researchers, and is fully supported by the University. Other software is available (e.g. Mendeley) so find the option that works best for you.
Much like keeping a ball in the air without using your hands/arms, it can feel like it requires constant effort and concentration to stay up-to-date with the latest research literature in your area. In this post we’ll look at some of the useful tools that are out there to help make this that little bit easier.
Last week was the PGR Writing Summer School 2019, and Eric Ngang, a Global Challenges Scholar in Law, was there.
If you want to get top tips on how to navigate your PhD journey irrespective of the stage at which you are in the process, the PGR Writing Summer School is the ideal opportunity. I took part in the 2019 Summer School and it has been the most invaluable opportunity for me to reflect on my PhD journey after one year.
In the second of an occasional series, Writing Skills Advisor Helen Williams gives advice on writing more clearly.
I am often surprised by the difference between what people think they have written compared to what is actually on the page. I was reminded of this recently when helping a friend with a chapter of her postgraduate work; she was confident that she made frequent links back from her literature review to her own research. Trusting her opinion I had a look, but soon found myself writing comments like “How does this inform your approach?”, “I’m not sure how this relates to your topic” and “Can you link back to your own research here?”
Either you are explicit in how you set out your ideas or discussion, or you are expecting your reader to pick up the implicit connections. Something about doctoral-level writing in particular seems to breed a fear of being explicit. Certainly on my part I always felt that the more complicated I made my writing and argument, the more ‘intelligent’ it would appear. Setting everything out clearly for a supervisor or examiner felt overly simplistic or even patronising – as if they couldn’t work out the links for themselves.