contributions and comments

Writing for patter

Patter very occasionally publishes contributions from others.

I’m interested in thinking about supervision, academic writing and everyday academic life. Please email me if you’d like to talk about writing something. Im contactable at my university address –

If you are writing for Patter then this information may help:

  • Posts are usually between 800 – 1200 words
  • Patter readers are doctoral researchers, early career researchers and supervisors. They are all over the world so don’t assume that they know about your particular location or that what you experience is the same everywhere
  • Posts are relatively informal and don’t usually have a lot of references. They do have hyperlinks out to relevant sites and texts
  • The tone is informal, much less formal than conventional academic writing. It’s good for a blog post to have the ‘voice’ of its writer
  • Posts are either about sharing information, resources, experiences or offering strategies.  I don’t like one best solutions, recipes, blueprints, and self help style advice. (My own posts are very often pedagogical in intention, that is, I speak as a supervisor and someone who runs workshops and courses on academic writing and research methods)
  • I like to use an image or two in each post. You can find these on Flickr Commons, Giphy or other sites where there are free to use images or GIFs. I try to make the image do some work rather than simply illustrate, and I often have a caption which reflects my sense of humour. I will find an image if you don’t have time.
  • I am fond of the quirky and idiosyncratic, and I like to have some posts that are just a bit off beat.


I filter the comments on this blog. I am always interested in comments that are conversational and that add something to what I have written. I also like knowing whether posts have been of interest or useful.

I do not publish comments that are pedantic – I’m really not as fussed about grammar as some people – nor am I interested in comments that are personal, rude or combative.

I filter comments that contain URLs to commercial services even if they are helpful. Im afraid I maintain a very strict non commercial approach. I get no handouts from publishers and accept no advertising in any form.

I particularly loathe comments that come from commercial essay writing services – I can always tell this kind of spam. Don’t waste your time.

27 Responses to contributions and comments

  1. Sue Gollifer says:

    Hi Pat,

    Have you written anything on writing conference presentation papers? We seem to be so focused on article writing and publication, and less on how to communicate aspects of our research to an academic audience in the hope of critical feedback and discussion. At least I am struggling with maintaining a focus on a topic in a 15 to 20 minute time restriction, in a way that benefits both my audience and my own needs. If you have already posted on this topic, could you tell me under which blog entry, and if not, it would be great to hear your words of wisdom on the topic.

    Many thanks.

    Sue Gollifer

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pat, I’ve seen that you have blogged some on answering questions at conferences. But lately I have been thinking a lot about how to ask presenters good questions- by ‘good’ I mean constructive and helpful. Do you have advice on how to phrase or approach this? I seem to struggle to pose a point of criticism/clarification in a way which is not taken as an attack. Alternatively, I also worry that I can ask questions that are too ‘nice’ and so do not help advance or develop the presenter’s ideas. This might vary substantially on who the presenter is (undergraduate, postgraduate, lecturer, etc) and the context (larger conference, small presentation to research group, marking) but if you have any words of wisdom (or previous posts I overlooked) that would be very helpful!


    Liked by 2 people

  3. rhodaleza says:

    Hello there Pat, I am a grade 7 public school teacher. I know that there are lots of studies about teaching approaches but I am still struggling in choosing the most suitable teaching strategies that I may use in my students. I am dealing with a heterogeneous group of learners. Can you give me a piece of advice regarding this matter?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anon says:

    Hi Pat,
    Just wondering if you’ve got any resources or thoughts on ‘feedback from Supervisors to Students’ at different stages of the thesis writing process?

    I’d like to send some of my work to my Supervisors but I want to ensure that there are some clear parameters around feedback (e.g. I don’t want to get caught up in minute detail at this stage but rather know if I’m on the right track).

    Most Appreciated!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. J. M. Davies says:

    Hi Pat

    Thanks for your insightful pieces – they’ve been very helpful. I’m a second year PhD student and I want to employ case study strategy for my research. Having read through the literature on this topic I am getting increasingly confused regarding what constitutes a ‘case’. Some authors argue it is the person/institution and others the issue that is being investigated e.g. welfare reform. If the latter, it would then be a single case study and the organisations being investigated would then be the samples. Please correct me if I am wrong as I want to get going on my Methodology Chapter draft but keep wasting time in trying to clarify the concept.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Alex Haynes says:

    Dear Pat – I really do get something from every post you write. They seem to come at just the right time and give me just the right amount of something else to think about, and use. When I started the PhD I subscribed to numerous interesting and relevant blogs but yours is the only one that has really survived the test of time. I always read it even if at first glance it doesn’t relate. If it’s something I am already doing or know it still gives a little bit more confidence I am not doing too badly. It is a lonely old journey sometimes. So this is just a very big thank you comment – I have another 12 months (part-time) to go so keep them coming. Regards Alex

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ameenacott says:

    Hi Pat, I’m not a Doctoral student however my husband is and he passed your website address onto me saying it is a great example of blogging! After a very stressful day, you brought a smile to my face whilst reading your latest post. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Franchetta Beckford says:

    Good day Pat,
    I graduated with my Ph.D. in 2013, but I haven’t published one article from my dissertation. Have I waited too long to do so? If not, what can I do to make my writing fresh?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs says:

    Hi Pat,

    I have seen a couple posts by you on the academic CV but I was wondering if you have written advice (or could?) on writing a cover letter/job application. Are there particularly helpful phrases to include (or avoid – e.g. talking too much about PhD), topics to start with (e.g. your research specialisation), and information you must absolutely include (e.g. viva date)? Any examples you could share?

    Thanks as usual for all your helpful/encouraging/considerate advice!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Katrina McChesney says:

    Hi Pat

    If it’s not too narrow a focus, could we have a post on where to start with writing vignettes? I’m starting to write up the results chapter of my (mixed-methods) PhD thesis and want to use some vignettes to bring together participants’ ideas, feelings and wording about their experiences – in my supervisor’s words, to “really let the reader in”. I can find stuff online about using vignettes as an interviewing strategy (give participants a pre-prepared vignette and ask them to respond / interpret etc) but nothing much on how to go about writing one as part of communicating results in academic writing.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chetan Sahasrabudhe says:

    Hi Pat

    Let me begin by saying that your blog has immensely helped me in the process of writing my Thesis. Whenever I hit a block I could simply search your blog and get direction. Thanks a tonne for that!
    I was wondering if you could do a post on annexures or appendices to a PhD Thesis. I guess they could contribute to the ‘audit trail’ that you had mentioned in one of your posts. My thesis relies on archival documents so should some of them be put in an appendix? Is there more to it? (BTW are annexure and appendix just synonyms?)

    Would love to read your thoughts on these!


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Katy says:

    Hi Pat
    Thanks for the very helpful and insightful blog. I am a PhD student and have been trying to improve my writing over the last year. One of the problems that I am recently facing is that I can not let go of my drafts! So no matter how important a page or a paragraph is, I keep changing and changing it and it is eating a lot of my time and energy. I was wondering if you have had any experience with this phenomenon of becoming fussy about the writing and can help me get over with it by sharing some tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jennifer says:

    Hi Pat,
    Do you have any advice on how to avoid stating the obvious? Or avoiding that you feel like you are stating the obvious?
    In my PhD, I am evaluating the legal certainty of some legal concepts (like a mandated duty to disclose certain information). I often feel silly or childish because the arguments I make seem self-evident to me (even though they haven’t been stated in legal literature). Do you have any tips ons this subject?

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jessica says:

    Hi Pat, I’m converting my PhD into a book (hopefully with Routledge), and their information about how to do this is rather poor. I’m referring mostly to writing style. I know you have written blogs on the subject – which I’ve read – but I wonder if you know of anywhere there might be an exemplar to show how the author did this? I’m in the performing arts and education domains, and I’ve used cultural psychology and narrative inquiry methods for my work. I’d really love to find a side-by-side conversion to help give me some pointers. Thanks! Jessica

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Andrew Farrell says:

    Hi Pat,

    Do you or any of your readers know any methods for finding a therapist who can help someone struggling with writing anxiety? I’m asking this as a working professional, but I assume there are a number of academics who feel they’d benefit from therapy for working through their chronic writing challenges. However, while it seems there is a fair amount of research about Writing Process Training and its efficacy, I am finding it very hard to find anyone who practices it.

    Have you or anyone else here had any luck finding a therapist with experience treating Writing Anxiety?

    Many Thanks,

    Liked by 1 person

    • pat thomson says:

      No I don’t I’m sorry. I can ask hive mind on Twitter if you haven’t already. Are you in the US?


    • coryleeclark says:


      It’s been a year since you asked here so I’m not sure if you’ve found a therapist that has been helpful or not. But I’d recommend looking into a therapist that practices ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. You could try searching the database of practitioners on the contextual science website to see if there is somebody practicing in your area. I’m sure there are also many therapists who are not listed on the site.

      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Anon says:

    Dear Pat,

    I’m publishing my first academic book (art history) with a university press. I’m currently overlength and having to make cuts. My editor has said she thinks I should cut the first five pages of my book. These are pages I was particularly pleased with and which have been highly praised by reviewers. Eg” The opening is breathless and tgrilling.” “I really really liked the introduction” and “The opening material works exceptionally well as a framing device.” I use a picture to set up themes that are very relevant to my book. A friend said I may have written a “beautiful frame” but it’s the “wrong frame” for the picture that is my book. I don’t know how to know if that’s the case.

    She wants me to cut straight to the more prosaic “This book is about…”
    Should I trust she knows what she’s doing?! We’ve never spoken in person and I don’t know for sure if she’s really read my manuscript or not. Should I just make the cut to be published?

    I also need to cut from the introduction “the historical preliminaries” but I don’t feel clear what that means. Ive completely changed my intro several times now based on all the feedback I’ve had from reviewers. I’m afraid of working on it again and making it worse!

    Any thoughts much appreciated,

    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • pat thomson says:

      It’s your book. One option is to try your version and then her version, so write two alternatives and see which you and she prefer. But a good editor can spot places to cut and it sounds like she thinks you just need to get into the stuff of the book a bit earlier. Is it worth trying to talk this through with her? Is she suggesting this because she thinks it’s the easiest cut, or because she thinks theres unnecessary material and the book takes too long to get going?


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