The Professional Plan

By Michele H. Jackson. Nuevo Día 2004 Presentation

The Professional Plan

“Professional planning” is a phrase I settled upon as representing the process of setting out the professional activities for the intentionally-vague period between now and a number of years into the future. For many of you, “now” means either the last years of your graduate program, or the first years of your first position. And the only distinct landmark in “the future” is contract review, promotion, and/or tenure. Talking about a “professional plan” is a way of turning that planning into something explicit and concrete.
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It’s not easy being an open scholar

It’s not easy being an open scholar. Well, technically, it’s much easier than the traditional route. There are several thousand open access journals, which means a good number are being published in every field. And an increasing number of universities are hosting open repositories for their faculty’s scholarly work.

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Professional Advice, circa 1993

My graduate program had a weekly “Research Lunch” and during my last year in the program, the organizers invited a few of us that had one foot out the door to give some advice to the newer students. I recently dug up my notes from this event, and I’m sharing them here.  Most of the advice is still relevant. Don’t know if that is a good thing or not…

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What Makes a Study Interesting?

Every once in a while, I go through my file cabinets (yes, I still have file cabinets), looking for things to purge or—if I’m lucky–for lost treasures.  I found a few today, and here is one of them.  It is a handout from a course on quantitative reasoning that I took in graduate school from M. Scott Poole in the early 1990s at the University of Minnesota. The title is “What makes a study interesting”.   As with most of Scott’s ideas, I think this remains relevant and good advice to new scholars (heck, to established scholars as well).  I’ve recreated it here exactly as given to me and my coursemates, with the exception of correcting a typo and the numbering of one list. [Read more…]

Teaching students how to think about and write about research

I teach at all levels of higher education — from first year college students to PhD students. No matter the level, one of the challenges is teaching students how to think about research differently. Many are used to thinking about research–published research, especially–just as something to understand and remember. Maybe to criticize or disagree with. But this misses one of the core elements that makes research exciting for those of us who do it for a living — which is that research is a conversation held among people who care about a subject, want to develop an argument or position that will help us understand it better, and want to discuss those positions with others. [Read more…]

Make your writing readable

Sometimes, it’s dangerous to write out advice to others. Especially so when that advice involves how to write well. So, I will keep this short. By far the best book I have read for helping experienced/seasoned academic writers improve their prose is Style: Toward clarity and grace by Joseph M. Williams with Gregory G. Colomb.

Get a copy. Read it slowly.

Williams, Joseph M.1990. Style: Toward clarity and grace. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Ill.

Common Formats for Comps Questions

Graduate students studying for comprehensive exams sometimes ask me what the questions will look like.  Though every question is different, some patterns reappear more often than others.  They are variations on formats used at every level of schooling, just at a deeper level. Here are some of them: [Read more…]

Useful Series of “Ten Simple Rules for…”

On Your Way Out: Succession Planning Suggestions for Chairs

LEAP Chairs’ Lunch December 3, 2009

The approach here is an alternative to “the keys are in the mailbox, good luck” approach to Chair succession.
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Keeping your manuscript in the Queue: The journal peer review process from a reviewer’s point of view

Notes from Organizational Communication Mini-Conference 2009

Let me start with a story. When I was in graduate school, there was not as much of an expectation to publish while you were completing your degree. Nevertheless, mentors in my program encouraged me to craft a manuscript from my M.A. thesis and submit it for review. So I did. To Quarterly Journal of Speech. It was the first manuscript I had ever submitted. And I submitted it to one of the toughest journals to get into. Not surprisingly—at least in retrospect—it was rejected. [Read more…]