things to do during your #phd – attend a summer school

Many learned societies offer summer schools. Some universities and research networks do too. I’ve just been to one. I was one of eight lecturers at a sociology of education summer school organised through the European Educational Research Association ‘s @socedu28. The summer school was in Naples and held in the conference centre of the University of Naples ‘Federico II’.

A couple of dozen doctoral and postdoctoral researchers were there. They had applied to attend. They had been selected, from a much larger group, on the basis of the ‘fit’ of their research interests with the summer school theme, and the case they made for their attendance. Some support was offered – accommodation, morning and midday meals – and  the summer school made a contribution towards travel. However, most participants had to find the bulk of their travel funding plus incidentals.

On each of the four days there was at least one formal lecture,  time for questions and for whole group and small group discussion. Each person presented their research and connected it to the summer school theme. 

Participants came from a range of European countries with a couple coming a very long way, from Chile. The lecturing staff were from Italy, France, the UK and Australia.  We presented an aspect of our current work linking it to a broader issue – thinking with theory, preparing a research bid, conceptualising a project, developing a research agenda, writing and publishing.

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The summer school brought people together who might otherwise only have sat adjacent in the same conference presentations or perhaps have had the odd chat over a drink at a conference social occasion. Participants in summer school were together for extended periods of conversational and social time. Their discussions were focused on common themes but there was ample time for people to find out about the current political, economic and social situation in other countries besides their own, various traditions of intellectual work, different ways in which doctorates are organised, funded, supervised and examined, a broader range of literatures and theoretical resources, and work which had some potential connection with their own.

Summer schools are tiring, and this one was no exception. People had to work at listening. Listening not only for content, but also for nuance. The proceedings were conducted in English, but there were multiple Englishes in use so everyone had to pay close attention. A great deal of concentration is required to work continually in another language, and for most of the participants this task was combined with getting to grips with unfamiliar ways of thinking, arguing and analysing.

Adam Wood, one of the curators of the Architecture and Education blog, wrote after the summer school … it’s a different space to the one you’re normally in so you have no choice but to think about what you do and how to relate that to others who don’t know you/your work. And you come into contact with ways of thinking that might not be available at ‘home’ and new people too obvs – you can learn from them directly and indirectly too by seeing things through their eyes. Doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable and full of joy, all of the above makes it (potentially) full of existential shock but that’s good too in the end maybe!

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Each person was an expert in their context, but also a learner. It is confronting when peers ask questions about practices that are taken for granted at home. It is challenging when people ask questions of your research that haven’t been asked of you up till now. It is hard work processing the diversity of views, projects and national policy nuances in a short space of time. There is an intensity, confusion, pleasure and excitement about these kinds of hot-housed, intercultural scholarly conversations that is hard to duplicate.

An encounter at a summer school might be the foundation of more permanent collaboration, although that is not their immediate aim. The summer school certainly means that at the forthcoming conference those who were together in Naples will be able to meet up again, and to continue some of the conversations they began. With a bit of luck, over time, summer schools will help to strengthen the sociology of education special interest group through discussions based in deeper understandings of differing national situations, and different approaches to researching in the same field.

Writ large, thus summer school and others like it embodies what it can mean to be a contemporary scholar, engaged in transnational, critical dialogues which enhance understanding and knowledge. Of course, we do all have to go back to our institutions and the everyday life of emails, audit and deadlines. However, these kinds of ‘out’ times, when the usual demands are temporarily ‘suspended’, are important, and need to be maintained. Taking the time to sink into a protracted scholarly conversation is very worthwhile. 

So why not look around to see if there is a summer school that you might attend – or a winter school, because they exist too.

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And for the next few days I am suspending normal patter transmission, and blogging from another summer school – my annual participation in the Tate schools and teachers week-long summer school. This year I’m probably thinking about the pedagogies of the summer school – but this might change – so if you are interested in this kind of thing, do read along.

 

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on form and function – and Les Back’s Academic Diary

So you want to write a book which examines everyday life in the contemporary university. You want to show the ways in which academic work is constrained, but also what freedoms are still possible. You want to communicate the reasons why some of us choose to enter the academy, and stay in it. You want to convey the small pleasures that sit amid a deep and ongoing commitment to – and love of – scholarship.

So how to do this? You could write an extended essay about policy, highlighting the continuities and changes in higher education. Mmmm. Perhaps a bit depressing, and anyway isn’t there already a lot of that kind of writing out there? So, alternatively, maybe you could write an essay about the positives of academic life. But it’s hard to do this without seeming Pollyanna-ish, worst still, saccharine and disconnected from reality – and it could end up sounding more like marketing than anything else. So how to write about academic life now? 

And how to write about academic life from an anthropological/sociological perspective that honours small events, patterns, rhythms, conversations and relationships? How to show the lived reality of higher education? How to bring this political commitment to ‘telling it as it is’ into text? How to make the very personal something social and not just idiosyncratic or solipsistic? How might this writing speak not only to other academics, but also speak past the stereotypes, media hype and league tables, in order to reach interested others?

I imagine that these are the kinds of questions that Les Back asked himself as he started on his Academic Diary project.

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The choice of diary genre was crucial. 

The diary is a textual form that matches an interest in every-day life. It is a genre which readers expect to unfold before them – there is no meta commentary at the start, no signposting to signal to the reader what they can expect. And it is The Genre which readers expect to be connected to a calendar, to offer a record of quotidian experience. The diary is episodic, and thus amenable to multiple small narratives which add up to something more than their parts. It is stretched out in time, so is able to convey a year, terms and weeks punctuated by regular and irregular events. It is individual, a story told by a particular person, so it is able to bring together the idiosyncratic and emotional detail that dominant genres of intellectual sociological commentary render invisible.

How better to convey everyday academic life than through the diary genre, a text that rolls out day after day?

 Academic Diary uses/needs/relies on the characteristics of the diary. It tangles form and purpose into one indivisible union. The structure of the diary is the genre/structure that made tangible Back’s reason for writing – or so I am guessing. 

Of course, choosing the right form/structure is not enough. The diary would not have worked if the entries themselves could not stand up to reading. Each one had to be carefully crafted.

On the one hand, diary entries are a little like blog posts. They contain a single idea. They often work with an introductory narrative written in the first person. This might be an encounter, a piece of dialogue, a recount of a meeting or an event. The reader is invited to imagine themselves experiencing the same encounter, conversation, event as the writer – just as they are in fictional or in semi fictional accounts. The narrative then morphs into a more general discussion, so that the implications of the story become clearer. The point of the narrative is made even more explicit as the instalment concludes. However, there is much less ‘telling’ in a blog post than in conventional social science writing, and much more ‘showing’ through the narrative. So too with the diary entry.

On the other hand, the diary entry is not like a blog post. A blog is a series of isolated and discrete writings. But a diary, a diary in the form of a book, must have narrative structure and there must be discrete threads that hold the separate pieces together, that pull the reader through each entry. The diary is intended to provide a cumulate experience – its effect, meaning and impact is derived from montage, from seriality.

Back did not start out with a book form diary.  His first Academic Diary was online. It was/is a step away from a conventional blog with stand-alone posts, but wasn’t yet the unified text of the book. Back’s online diary has much more carefully crafted entries than your average blog post, many of which are dashed off rather quickly (something I can see when I go back to look at my old posts!) This slapdashery isn’t the case with Back’s online entries  where each piece shows clear evidence of careful crafting. 

However, I happen to know that the book version of the diary required even more writerly attention, with much more revision, revision and revision. Each entry was honed to the point where it could both stand alone and also serve a particular purpose in the chain of instalments.

This writerly attention to the minutiae of each entry and to the whole – seeing both at the same time – is what all good writers are able to do, no matter what genre they work in. I don’t know if Back had an overall book plot before he started, or if it evolved as he went along – with the online diary perhaps providing the road map for the book, a structure which could be modified and adapted. There are multiple ways to achieve the doubled writer’s vision of detail and the overall. Each of us eventually finds a way to do the big and the small that works for us. But find it we must, if we are to produce a text which draws the reader onto the next instalment, be it diary entry or thesis chapter. Back obviously found the way that worked for him – and for us.

I admire the work that Back has done in Academic Diary. I appreciate the authoring craft that has gone into its making, as well as finding enjoyment and some solace in its  substantive contents. You might of course have expected me to comment more on the book’s contents – the way that Back discusses Powerpoint, the library, the viva for instance. Well, other reviews of the book do that. And I agree with their praise. But I always read for the writing, as well as for the substance, and I did find this book a particularly generative and stimulating read on both counts. 

Academic Diary is an interesting lesson for those of us who think about how to break the stranglehold of default social science writing. I wanted to write on the writing in particular because the book’s mission and its form are indivisible. For this reason, Academic Diary is a book I’ll be suggesting that people read to see both what it says about the academy and to see what is possible outside of the straitjacket of the conventional journal formula and monograph. 

And it’s affordable too!!

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an exercise in willpower

Willpower. The mysterious process you use to make yourself do something – or not, as the case may be.

Chocolate? Not today thanks, I’ve got willpower. Oh go on then. I’ve got no will power when it comes to chocolate …

There are lots of ways to describe willpower – tenacity, doggedness, bloody mindedness, determination, strength of character, resolve, staying power, stickability, perseverance, backbone, self control… but what ever word you might decide to use, we often recognise willpower by its absence.

More chocolate? Well why not. I’ve had one piece, I’ll have another, might as well consolidate myself as someone with no willpower at all.

There’s lots of research on willpower. People who have it apparently “do better” than those who don’t, psychologists say. There’s certainly a market out there for the researcher who finds the magic solution to growing willpower and having lots of it – but is this wish for willpower simply catering for/pandering to a (dubious) desire for total self control?

Most of us lack willpower sometimes… when we “lapse” and allow ourselves to be seduced by food, a new bit of kit, clothing we don’t actually really need, another academic book, a conference that’s not entirely related to our research… or when we skip a meeting because the temptation to not go is just too strong.

Maybe we beat ourselves up about these lapses. Or perhaps we pass judgment on those who appear to lapse too often or 2960946798_649b8da888_btoo easily.

Either way, not having enough willpower is generally seen as a Bad Thing. There’s a moral value lurking behind the word willpower. It’s good to have it. It means you don’t give in to base impulses. Lack of willpower is seen as a sign of weak character, evidence of a lack of self-discipline  – thanks must go here to Socrates and Aristotle for their ‘ethical’ deliberations on akrasia,something to be avoided at all costs.

It’d be nice to avoid problems with willpower, right? If only we could.

Willpower, and its murky moral companions, are unavoidable in academic life – and particularly so in relation to academic writing. There are lots of times, when you’re ‘doing academic writing’, when you do just need willpower.

You started on this piece of writing very energetically, with total commitment and conviction. Now you can hardly bear to look at it any more and it takes an incredible effort to sit down to it again. How to finish the writing off? If only you could quickly get rid of it, send it away. Maybe you could leave it. Perhaps there is a way to shorten it. What if you could get someone else to come in and help complete it. Would it really matter if you just stuck it in the bottom drawer and never thought about it again? Couldn’t you just prevaricate for a while? But – you’ve said you’ll do it. Other people are expecting it. Your co-author is relying on you. You have a contract to meet, and you might never get another one if you renege on this one. It’s so close. And if you don’t finish it you’re a failure, a flop, utterly hopeless.

Aargh. Double plus aargh.

Mostly we do finish the dratted writing. It might be a book, a thesis, a paper we’ve worked on for ages. To the point of hating it. But we do it. We end the agony, but only by exercising willpower, dredging up the energy to keep going from somewhere. We delay the gratification of starting another piece of writing, writing the next bid, reading that big book. We are perhaps spurred on by a pigheaded refusal to be beaten by a measly text.  We keep in sight that long-term writing objective we are so close to achieving.

Well mostly. Mostly we exercise our willpower relatively regularly. We get it out and give it a spin. In truth, we’d never get anything done if we didn’t.

And to that end, I’ve just blogged myself into the willpower needed for tackling a third round of book proofs. After doing this lot of proofreading I never want to see this book again. Never. Never. Well not until I hold it in my hands…

Hello, willpower, my old academic writing friend.

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things to do during your #phd – sit on a university committee

In thus guest post Milena Popova and Jackie Barker, two PhD students from the University of the West of England reflect on 18 months acting as PhD representatives on university committees. Milena Popova is a PhD researcher at the Digital Cultures Research Centre, working on sexual consent in fanfiction. She used to blog back when she had a life, but these days most of her writing is going into her thesis. She does still tweet as @elmyra though. Jackie Barker is 18 months into a full time PhD on patient and public involvement. She tweets as @opsologist and guest blogs on PhD and cycling matters close to her heart.

 Imaginary interviewer: Why did you become a rep?

Milena: I returned to academia after a ten-year career in the private sector and in activism, so I’m one of those people who will exhaust all avenues before they give up on something.

Jackie: I thought I’d do something to be a good university citizen. During a welcome meeting, the chair of one of my faculty committees asked for a volunteer. And I thought, why not?

 Imaginary interviewer: What are your top pieces of advice to potential committee members?

Sshhhh, some committees are to be avoided.

Milena: If there isn’t already a post-graduate community, then build one. I worked with the Graduate School to set up a mailing list for post-grads in my faculty, started informal monthly meet-ups, went to other people’s events, posted in the Graduate School Facebook group, contributed to the Graduate School’s post-grad newsletter, spoke at welcome events for new post grads, and even set up an instance of the virtual collaboration tool Slack for my faculty.

Jackie: Treat it like a job. If you’re replacing someone, meet the outgoing rep for a cuppa. I’d ask them what they’ve discovered about the way the committee works, how they’ve achieved their successes and what they feel there is left to do. Go and meet the chairperson before the first meeting, make sure you know what the committee does.

Milena: I found engaging with the Students’ Union to be really helpful in several ways: working out how PGRs fit in the main campaigns the union ran and how we could both help and benefit; getting in touch with reps from other faculties; being offered opportunities to engage with initiatives beyond just being a rep, like taking part in the QAA (the UK Quality Assurance Review).

Jackie: I think reps need to help their committee come to terms with their role. At our university post grad reps are not elected. They are not a one-person, representative sample of the student body. They do not and cannot speak for the entire student body. When the committee I’m on want to fob me off, they say “Ah yes, but is your view representative?” For a while I ran around doing surveys to back up my point. But now I’d say, “this is insight from an engaged, thoughtful member of the post grad community. That’s its value.”

 Imaginary Interviewer: Are there any frustrations in committee work?

Both: You’re kidding, right?

Milena: The glacial pace of getting anything done. Do proactively communicate progress (or lack thereof) to the other post grads, and most importantly, celebrate your successes!

Jackie: Leaving the room after the first part of the committee is done. The ‘grown ups’ then do the real work. It makes it pretty hard to come to the table as partners.

Milena: Sometimes really big and important things are genuinely beyond your control: Universities are vast organizations and you may well be barking up the wrong tree/taking your issues to the wrong committee.

Jackie: Being alternately patronized for some tiny contribution (“that’s a brilliant suggestion, well done!”) and ignored for anything remotely worthwhile.

Milena: Sometimes the answer will be no, for good reasons or bad: The good news is that organizations and decision makers change. People retire or move to different jobs and sometimes you (or your successor – do have a succession plan in place!) can outlast them.

Imaginary Interviewer: How about your blooper reel, anything to report?

Milena: -That one time where, due to a combination of turnover and absences, I was the longest-serving member of the committee (including the chair!) present at the meeting.

Jackie: When the committee I sit on was the one that failed me for my first progression. I know, right?

Milena: That one time I offered to do something and terrified the chair. (Apparently my private-sector habit of showing that I care about a thing by offering to actually help make it happen is strange and unusual in the university committee setting.)

Jackie: When I arrived for my first ever meeting and the university staff members ignored me and kept on talking. Well, it’s funny NOW.

Milena: That one time we went from me proposing something to it being agreed in the same meeting. I’m still not convinced I didn’t dream that one, but it’s in the meeting minutes. 

Jackie: When I confessed, after the first year, that I still had no idea what the committee was FOR.

 Imaginary Interviewer: What are you two doing now?

Milena: Going for fancy tea…

Jackie: …and cake. Want to come?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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sift and sort – a revision strategy for a problem paper

Those of you who like to work with material stuff, moving actual objects around, might want to try to this revision strategy. It’s not too dissimilar to the computer based version, but here you get to use paper and scissors.

1. Write the main point that you want to make, your take home message, onto a small library card.

2. Print out a copy of your paper.

3. Cut your paper up, paragraph by paragraph. Mix these paragraphs up so that they aren’t in their initial order. You should have an assorted heap of paragraphs.

4. Now place the card with your major point in front of you.

5. Go through the paragraphs one by one, putting all of those which relate to the point in a heap next to the card.  These are the useful paragraphs. Place the paragraphs that don’t seem to have anything to do with the point in another heap to one side. These may or may not be useful, but probably not. You’re sorting the wheat from the chaff, eh, or lentils from the pod as in the picture…

15780460277_79f42f84db_b6. Now put the paragraphs in the useful pile into an order that makes your argument – one that gets you from a good starting off place to the point on the card. Remember that the first paragraph needs to anticipate why we need to know about this point, now.

As you sift through the paragraphs, ask yourself –

  • Does this paragraph advance my argument?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it sufficient?
  • Does it provide evidence?
  • Is it explanatory or illustrative?
  • Does it go to the significance of the point?
  • Does it raise questions, add caveats or refer to important debates?

7. Having sifted and sorted, you may find that there are some gaps. Write what should go in this space on separate cards and put it/them into the relevant hole(s).

8. Now read each paragraph carefully making sure that everything in each paragraph is coherent.

  • Does the reader know from the lead sentence what the paragraph is about?
  • Is there an ending which will lead onto the next move?
  • Is the middle of the paragraph all about the same thing? Is there anything lurking within the paragraph that is actually another paragraph or is just superfluous?
  • Is there anything missing?

9. Take a deep breath. You should now be in a position to redraft your paper. 

Now you can return to your original draft, in its digital incarnation,  and cut and paste the document into the new order, the one on the reordered, cut up paragraphs. You can transfer information from the cards marking gaps into the new document,  putting in enough holding text to signal what you need to do next.

And you’re off rewriting…. 

(This strategy is adapted from Bruce Bellenger who adapted it from Peter Elbow. It’s a remix in other words.)

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things to do during your #PhD – work collaboratively on a ‘side project’

This is a guest post by Louisa Penfold and Roma Patel. Roma  is a scenographer undertaking her PhD at the Horizon Research Institute and is based in the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham. She tweets as @digitsetdesign. Louisa  is a children’s curator doing a PhD in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham in partnership with Tate. Her research investigates the construction of child-centred practice in early year’s immersive environments in art galleries. Louisa blogs on creative environments for children in art galleries: she’s on twitter as @louisa_penfold.

Earlier this year we were approached by the arts centre at the university to develop a children’s creative play environment that embodied the theme of ‘invention’ as part of an annual children’s festival. We were interested in constructing a space that people of all ages could explore through collaboratively making and playing. The parameters of the family festival required us to design an activity that could be accessed at multiple levels of complexity and therefore relatively open-ended in nature.

The idea of building a Ball Run Factory came to us after seeing the work of the Tinkering Studio and makerspaces that design creative activities for children at the intersection of art, science and technology. We also thought it could be a fun to explore the concept of a ‘creative factory’ in Nottingham with the strong industrial history of the East Midlands. And in our practice as artists and within our PhD research, Roma and I have both been drawn to Simon Nicholson’s theory of ‘loose parts’ in which artists and architects construct a creative environment which includes an assortment of materials which can be used, transformed and manipulated in a large variety of ways. We were particularly interested in exploring these ideas with an early years and art-based framework.

Ball Run Factory was split into two parts. The first was a dedicated area for babies and toddlers featuring a cardboard ‘factory’ with tubes and plastic pipes extending out of it. The pipes and tubing were designed in such a way that children and their parents could move them and roll different balls down, allowing for the space to become a place of continuous transformation. The second area of The Factory was a much larger space where older children could use recycled and quirky materials such as cardboard tubes, plumbing pipes and wooden tracks to design and construct ball runs. We wanted the activity to be intuitive so that when children walked into the space they could have a look at the demo model and what other children were doing and immediately understand the essence and possibilities of the activity with little verbal instruction required.

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In the weeks leading up to the Children’s Festival Roma and Louisa collected an array of materials from recycling bins, charity stores, discount shops, Roma’s daughter’s toy box and the Scrapstore in Nottingham. We also got our friends, family and colleagues to collect materials from home such as cardboard rolls, plastic food containers and cardboard boxes. This allowed us to accumulate a large amount of materials in a short period of time and within our limited budget.

Over the festival weekend we were amazed to see the large variety of ways in which children appropriated the materials. The simplicity and limitless possibilities of the materials and objects seemed to trigger children’s imaginations. We also loved observing the ways in which people’s creations provoked even more eccentric and creative responses from others. For example, on numerous occasions we observed a family complete their ball run and leave the space. Another family would then enter the space and start adding and changing the previous family’s run to make new constructions. The focus of the space was not on the creation of a particular physical thing but rather for children to explore the creative process, develop their own learning strategies and collaborative practice alongside their peers and adults.

It was fantastic to observe how children creatively problem solved the unexpected glitches in their runs. For example, many children experienced the issue of the balls being too bouncy and discovered that placing soft materials and fabrics along parts of the runs created enough friction to slow down the ball and prevent it from bouncing off.

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After the festival, Roma and Louisa met again to watch over the visual documentation we took of the children. We used video and photography to critically reflect upon our initial intentions and how children’s appropriation of the materials reaffirmed or challenged these notions. Whilst reviewing the footage, we talked about how the children used the space in unexpected ways. For example, the baby and toddler area featured three different sized balls and three different sized pipes. The toddlers in particular spent a lot of time investigating which balls went down various pipes. When we were making the initial selection of the balls, we did so based on their sensory qualities (i.e. one had bells inside and made jingly noises, another was soft and squishy and the third had soft plastic spikes) and did not really consider their size. In out next iteration of Ball Run Factory, whenever that may be, we would like to explore this idea further to see what other sized pipes and balls could be included. We have plans for future of Ball Run Factory and the development of new ‘creative laboratories’ in Nottingham in the future.

Louisa notes:

Ball Run Factory provided a unique opportunity for Roma and I to collaborate and combine our interest in constructing creative play spaces for young children. Such opportunities can be infrequent in the PhD process, in particular within the arts and humanities where students are largely left to their own devices. It is extremely rare to find people who you connect with creatively, professionally and intellectually and consequently I was most appreciative of the complex conversations Roma and I had which really expanded the thinking around my research.

Ball Run Factory also offered me the opportunity to temporarily return to working with children. One of the biggest challenges I found moving from being a full-time children’s curator to a full-time PhD researcher has been the absence of children on a day-to-day basis. This was a major concern of mine going into the PhD. Children challenge me artistically, intellectually and in an unique way that adults simply do not. The project was a reminder of how much I enjoy the complexity of constructing child-centred art activities within art galleries and reaffirmed the necessity to balance my post-PhD career so that I am able to both continue my practice as a children’s curator alongside academic research.

Posted in collaborative work, Louisa Penfold, PhD, Roma Patel, side project | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

conclusions – practice getting to the point(s)

It’s coming to the end of the academic year in the northern hemisphere and lots of doctoral researchers are also coming to the end of their thesis writing. They are writing their conclusion and perhaps even thinking about what might come in a viva.

It’s essential now to get very clear on the big points that you want to make at the end of the thesis and in the viva. But it’s often hard to make the claims forcefully. Or perhaps they are too forceful. Or perhaps they are not strongly related enough to the actual research that you’ve carried out.

You need to get back to the bare bones of the research. Strip away all of the detail that you’ve been immersed in for ages. No fat. No fluff. No padding. No artificial additives. You need to focus on the core of what you have to offer to your field. ( You need to find the contribution in other words.)

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Stripping away all of the additives                                        photo Meredith Taylor

In order to get ready for writing the crunchy conclusion, for paring your research down to its essentials, it’s helpful to practice. Prepare yourself beforehand. It doesn’t have to be a long arduous process.

Here’s a few writing prompts that might help you to get your head clear. These prompts go to the main points you can justify making.

Simply choose one starter that seems to fit your work, and then do some timed writing – about 20 minutes should be enough – starting with your chosen prompt. Fill in the blanks and you’re away. Don’t stop to think to0 much and don’t try to be too clever. Just write as quickly as you can about the absolutely most important things about your research.

The evidence from my research strongly suggests that….

 Based on my research, the assumption that … appears to be justified/unjustified because….

 My research supports the view that….

 Contrary to popular opinion, my research suggests that….

 While x and y have argued…. my research shows….

 The sum of a, b and c points to….

 The literature on x argues that… I add to this the …

Once you’ve done this then you can read what you’ve written, critically considering what you’ve got. You can think about how this pithy stuff might be written in your conclusion, and how it might be presented in the viva to knock the examiners’ socks off.

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