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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Entries in resource (11)


Getting Your Research Beyond the Ivory Tower

Credit: Naturejobs.comSo you've written your academic article (yay!), you've gone through the sometimes-grueling peer review process (thank God it's over!), and now your journal of choice is ready to publish your brilliant research (finally!). Now what?

The process of getting your research out and increasing its impact is not yet over, but the next part of the process is a lot more fun than copy-editing and reading Reviewer #2's comments. In a recent article on Naturejobs, Jack Leeming shares his tips on how to get your paper noticed.

  1. Write a clear paper. Keep your prose as light and jargon free as possible, whilst still maintaining the level of accuracy you need for a research paper.
  2. Write a lay summary and post it somewhere. Write a short summary (400-600 words), have a non-specialist read it for clarity, and then post it online in the appropriate venues (such as your department website/blog or your professional portfolio).
  3. Tell your press office about it. They can help prepare a press release based on your (hopefully) clearly written paper and your accessible lay summary close to your publication date.
  4. Prepare your social media circle. Before your paper comes out, engage with journalists, editors, and scholars via social media to help establish yourself as a contributor to conversations.
  5. Use The Conversation and sidestep all of the above. The Conversation is a news site with content coming entirely from academic researchers. An editor will help you craft a piece into something suitable for mainstream media, and then your article will be freely available for any other organization to publish.

To read Leeming's full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


What's Keeping You from Finishing Your Dissertation?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are dissertation writers. But no matter the reason, one thing is likely true: there’s often a large, unspoken disconnect between faculty advisers and graduate students when it comes to writing a dissertation.

In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Kerry Ann Rockquemore writes, "Advisers imagine that delays are due to the content of the project, while graduate students are most often struggling with writing and resistance. Because of that disconnect, advisers’ efforts don’t meet students where they are stuck, and the students’ impostor syndrome can be so intense (and the power differential so great) that it keeps them from asking for the type of help they need."

While Rockquemore's article is targeted at faculty advisers, graduate students can glean some good advice that they can start using right away:

  1. Ask yourself, "What is a dissertation?" Let's face it, most graduate students have never written a dissertation before, and the genre is wildly different from the types of papers they've been writing (e.g. binge-and-bust seminar papers) and reading (e.g. closely critiqued seminal works in their field) thus far in grad school. Have a detailed discussion with your advisor about the scope and quality requirements of a dissertation, and ask for a rubric, guidebook, or successful sample.
  2. Get into a daily writing habit. As Rockquemore writes, "It’s well documented that the most productive academics write every day - Monday through Friday - in short periods of time. (And by “writing” I mean anything that moves a manuscript out the door.) However, that’s the opposite of how most graduate students write, or imagine they should write, their dissertations. This emerges from a combination of past binge-and-bust writing habits, the flawed assumption that nothing can get done in 30 minutes a day, and the idea that they must have everything figured out before they start writing." So, if your current strategy isn't working for you, try out a new one!
  3. Figure out what type of support you need and where you can get it. Dissertation writers thrive in a supportive community of active daily writers. This might look like an in-person writing space like the Graduate Writers' Room or an online community of peers that can provide built-in and regular accountability.

To read Rockquemore's full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


How to Align Your Time and Your Priorities as an Academic

Credit: Kyle SteedDid you know that you have access to a ton of great resources on the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) website as part of UCSB's institutional membership? When you sign up for free, you can opt in to receive weekly Monday Motivator e-mails, with great information on upcoming events, career advice, and strategic planning.

This week's Monday Motivator recapped a webinar from NCFDD founder Kerry Ann Rockquemore on the Sunday Meeting, which is a 30-minute weekly planning meeting you have with yourself that is designed to help you align your time and your priorities. There are five simple steps to the weekly meeting:

Step 1: Create your skeleton. The meeting starts by blocking out all of your commitments for the week (research and writing time, classes, office hours, and meetings) as well as non-work items that you are committed to a specific time and place (such as child care pickup, date night, and/or Zumba class). Your commitments form the skeleton of your week because everything else has to be fleshed out on top of them.

Step 2: Brain dump. Write out all your to-do items for the week including the short term tasks you need to get done, as well as the strategic tasks associated with your long term research agenda (these should be listed by week in your strategic plan).

The purpose of this step is to: 1) reconnect you with your strategic plan on a weekly basis, 2) get everything out of your head and onto paper, and 3) to put you in a position to control your week (instead of your week controlling you). The brain dump can cause either relief or anxiety, but no matter how you feel about it in the moment, go on to the next step.

Step 3: Introduce your tasks to your calendar. Here's where it gets ugly! Turn back to your calendar for this week and assign each of your to-do items to a specific block of time. This will require you to estimate how long your tasks will take, prioritize what’s most important, and commit to actually doing specific work at specific times this week. Inevitably, you will have the same devastating realization each week: you don't have enough time to complete all the tasks on your to-do list.

Credit: Jurgen AppeloBreathe deeply. Having more tasks than time is the perfectly normal reality of academic life. No matter how frustrating it is, it's far better to deal with that reality at the beginning of the week then to walk blindly into that realization at the end of the week.

Step 4: Decide what to do with everything that doesn’t fit. Knowing that you have more tasks than time, consciously choose how you will spend your time this week. You may need to prioritize the tasks on your list and I suggest using the criteria by which you will be evaluated for your next step (whether it's passing your qualifying exams, going on the job market, or going up for tenure).

Step 5: Commit to executing the plan. Of course, the best-laid plans can be thrown into disarray by unexpected circumstances and daily chaos. But having a clear plan and genuinely committing to its execution are essential to moving forward each week, will help you to easily say "no” to additional request during the week, and will assist you in being far more productive than you would be if operating on crisis management each day.

To sign up for your free membership on NCFDD and start accessing all of the resources it has to offer, click here for more instructions.

To watch the full webinar on the Sunday Meeting, click here.


Tips for New Teaching Assistants

Credit: cybrarian77As a graduate student, you will most likely be called upon to be a Teaching Assistant or an Instructor of Record during your time at UC Santa Barbara. In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Julie Dodd gives some advice to graduate students who will be teaching for the first time this year.

  • Convey enthusiasm for what you are teaching. Sometimes teaching assistants and new faculty are assigned to entry-level courses or courses that fulfill general education requirements. TAs may consider such teaching assignments not interesting or important. But these courses are mostly taken by freshmen and sophomores, and their experience in them can often determine if they continue in college and even what major they choose.
  • Create a syllabus that provides policies and deadlines. Beginning teachers sometimes think the syllabus is a formality, or even a constraint, on the spontaneity of their teaching. But a well-constructed syllabus can be helpful both to the students and to the instructor. Creating a syllabus makes you consider what is most important for your students to learn during the course. The syllabus also is where you explain the policies for attendance, making up missed work, use of technology, and eating or drinking in class. Then, when a student turns in a late assignment or is using a cell phone during class, you can address that as a course policy issue and not just an “I don’t like you doing that” situation.
  • Connect with your students, but not on too personal a level. College students want teachers who are approachable and responsive, but you need to establish boundaries. That’s especially true for teaching assistants, who typically are close in age to the undergraduate students. New faculty members and TAs should talk with faculty and experienced teaching assistants to seek guidance.

Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed's website here.

Also check out the teaching resources on the UCSB Instructional Development website and be sure to attend New TA Orientation on Tuesday, September22.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


Why Science Communication Matters

Credit: Naturejobs

Like many academic disciplines, the sciences face the often difficult task of communicating about the importance of their research. Not surprisingly, this imperative has spurred a renewed focus on - and in fact the development of the entire field devoted to - science communication. In a series of blog posts on Naturejobs, Julie Gould takes a newcomer's approach to the topic and immerses herself in this developing enterprise.

Part 1: A beginner's journey. Why both scientists and the public need science communication.

Part 2: Science in the media. The top five lessons from a media training workshop.

Part 3: A new generation of communicators. How the field of science communication is gaining momentum.

Part 4: Keep it simple. The importance of understanding your audience.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


Discover Valuable - and Free - Webinars, Resources, and Readings

Credit: Tim LewisAdd this to your summer to-do list: check out all of the free professional development resources available to graduate students and postdocs through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). UCSB recently became an institutional member of the center, giving you access to a hoard of resources including webinars, readings, and discussion forums.

To take advantage of your membership, follow the instructions here and get started exploring!


Beyond the Paradigms: Teaching Through Narratives

Credit: Yau Hoong TangIn a recent article on Vitae, David Gooblar explains that there are two modes of thinking. The first, “paradigmatic,” is the mode of science, of logically describing and explaining the world. It categorizes and conceptualizes, arranges in systems, and tests for empirical truth. The second is the “narrative” mode. By contrast, it makes sense of the world through stories, through the pursuit of meaning and the particular experience of human existence lived over time. A paradigmatic explanation proves; a narrative explanation illustrates.

All of us use both paradigmatic and narrative modes of thought all the time. As teachers, we’re very good at using the paradigmatic mode. In teaching important concepts to our students, we lay out our case and show how ideas are related to one another. We distinguish between concepts that are similar but different in significant ways. The paradigmatic mode is an essential one for the classroom, an arena where misconceptions are corrected, where clarity is pursued, and where we strive to leave our students with an organized understanding of complex subjects.

However, in our fervor to explain, we often neglect the narrative approach. It’s important to remember that the two modes of thought complement one another, and work well in tandem. Of course, the easiest way to bring narrative into the classroom is to tell stories. Stories are great attention-getters, and very effective at drawing students into a subject. Even personal stories can have powerful rhetorical effects for instructors, making students more likely to take an active role in the classroom.

Read the full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


The Two Big Lies of Graduate School

Credit: "Defehrt epinglier pl2," designed by Goussier, engraved by Defehrt. Diderot's Encyclopédie (1762)There are two big lies in graduate school:

  • Big Lie Number 1: A Ph.D. prepares you only for an academic career.
  • Big Lie Number 2: A Ph.D. prepares you for any career.

According to a recent article by Elizabeth Kennan on Vitae, Ph.D.s do have transferable skills — even desirable ones! — beyond teaching and thinking deeply about one topic for an extended period of time. The first step to a successful move outside of academia is identifying your transferable skills. The second, more difficult task is figuring out how you might use those skills in a future career — one that you might actually enjoy. And the third, probably hardest, step is making those skills obvious to those who might hire you.

In the first of this three-part series, Keenan discusses the difference between skills and jobs, how to look beyond the obvious, and how to be patient in the process.

Read the full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


The Importance of Writing - And Writing Well - In All Fields

Credit: Nic McPheeWhile you may think that extensive writing skills are the purview of Humanities and Social Science fields, a recent article on Vitae argues that STEM scholars should also practice and hone writing skills. Theresa MacPhail draws on her own experience as an assistant professor, as well as interviews with three high-profile technology professionals, to convince STEM students that writing skills matter for any career path. Read the full article here.

In related news, the Dissertation Writer's Room will resume a relatively normal schedule starting in August. Hosted in the Student Resource Building (Room 1103), the Writer's Room is open four days a week during the following times:

Mondays and Wednesdays: 1-4 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m.-noon

The only exceptions to this regular schedule are Tuesday, August 4 (when it will be open 1-4 p.m.) and Thursday, August 20 (when it will be hosted in SRB 2154). Come join your fellow scholars from across disciplines to exercise your writing muscles! Click here for the full summer schedule.


These Are the Two Most Important Soft Skills for Academics

Credit: PhotoDisc/ Getty Images Brad GoodellAccording to a recent article by Elizabeth Silva in Naturejobs, teamwork and good communication skills are the two most valuable soft skills an academic can develop. However, many graduate students don't recognize the importance of cultivating these skills, and the isolation of grad school may prevent grad students from seeking out or taking advantage of opportunities to develop their teamwork and communication skills. Silva offers some advice:

  • Practice communication through poster presentations, journal clubs, and seminars.
  • Participate in community outreach programs that connect students and postdocs with various sectors of the public.
  • Work frequently with colleagues in collaborative ways.
  • Recognize that success in any field requires recognition that each person’s style, experience, and background (including yours!) has its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Participate in a self-assessment workshop that relates to communication styles, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  • Practice these soft skills every day, and remember that in any non-academic environment it is more important to solve a problem faster by working as a team than to demonstrate that you can do it on your own.

Read the full article on Naturejob's website here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.