Let’s help ‘stressed PhD Students’: Designing-in pedagogies of self-care

The Supervision Whisperers

This post is by Kay Guccione (@kayguccione), who works at the University of Sheffield where she designs mentoring and coaching programmes for research staff and students. She is researching trust and the supervision relationship and tweets about supervision from @predoctorbility.

Discussion ofacademic workloads, measurement culture, and the impact of stress onmental health, andwellbeing has seen some recent andwelldeserved attention.Many of us have known in an uncoordinated,experiential, day-to-day wayaboutacademic strainand stress for a while,through doing, supervising, or supporting research work. Those of us to whom doctoral researchers turn when they’re stressed, areglad to see the mental healthneeds of an at risk group of peoplebeing better documented and championed.

But aside from saying ‘see,ain’t it awful’ — what do we do now we have the proof that the PhD is statisticallysignificantlystressful?

We can design in pedagogies of self-care; creating a (new) academic priority

Calls forraising awareness of stress symptoms and…

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What does it mean to ‘theorise’ research?

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Cally Guerin

Researchers, and especially those working on doctorates, are advised that their work needs to be much more than a description; they must also ‘theorise’ their work. Many of us are a little unsure about what this really means, especially when instructed to ‘theorise your practice’, so here is my attempt to try and define it.

Doctoral writers generally need to tie their research to existing, well-established theories, for example, feminist theory, attachment theory, social constructivist theory. Such theories act as a lens through which the research is perceived, and often determine the direction and focus of the research.

But on another level, doctoral writers are also required to ‘theorise’ their findings. This second kind of ‘theorising’ demands that the writer step away from the mass of details to enable a big-picture view of data in order to understand its broader meanings.

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Enjoying your viva

The Thesis Whisperer

The Viva – a live presentation of your thesis to examiners – is not common in Australia. Our thesis examination is a blind peer review process, which has its own fears, but nothing like the anxiety that a viva can provoke. Horror stories tend to circulate, which is why I was happy to be sent this post by a student who preferred to remain anonymous.

“I had my doctoral viva. And I enjoyed it.”

Yes, what you are reading is indeed true. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my 3 3/4 hour viva voce. But it wasn’t just me. Both of my examiners also enjoyed the experience.
Why was this the case and what lessons does it hold?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom handing in my thesis until my viva, I was overcome by a crippling state of anxiety. I had heard all of the horror stories: people having their work rubbished, examiners proclaiming…

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message tactics – #wakeupreader


If you want to keep your reader interested in your argument it helps to think about the tactics and tools you have at your disposal. You actually have a lot. Some of these are syntactical, some more artistic, and some are to do with your message. This post is a reminder that it’s helpful to keep messagetactics in mind when you are writing. They can do a lot, not to simply to strengthen and support what you argue, but also to interest and engage your reader.

We often think about some of these message tactics as ‘evidence’ – they are the ‘stuff’ that we offer in support of our argument. But rather than evidence, I’d like to reframe these, just for a minute, as message tactics.

Humour me. What do I mean by message tactics?

Well, theidea of a message stems from an understanding that the reader is in a…

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