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Search Results for: workflow

Pushing against Taylorism in academia: Say no to the “billable hours” concept

Before I became an academic, I worked for a consultancy company. As you may know, you bill your time (much like lawyers) by the hour. The main currency of work in consulting is your hourly rate and the number of hours you work. I didn’t really like that approach, but I ended up continuing [...]

Four strategies to help build an academic writing routine

While I have a couple of blog posts pending (both by request, on how to prepare for comprehensive exams and how to build a research trajectory and a project pipeline for early career scholars), I wanted to write a post on something that I get asked about quite frequently. I arrived to the daily writing [...]

How many sources are enough? Six questions on breadth and depth of literature reviews

The first question I posed in the title of my blog post is one that all of my students (undergraduate and graduate) and most of my research assistants ask me: how do I know when I’ve read enough for a literature review? The answer is never clear cut, unfortunately. I am someone who loves reading, [...]

Writing a memorandum based on a synthetic note

In previous posts I have addressed how to write rhetorical precis (very brief, four sentence summaries of the reading you are doing), synthetic notes (brief summaries of articles, focusing on the Abstract, Introduction and Conclusion as per the AIC method), and memorandums (longer, 1000-2000 word briefings that synthesize the content of an article, but also [...]

They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (my reading notes)

When I wrote my blog post on how to properly teach our students how to do Description vs Analysis in their academic writing, I linked to a number of resources. The one that Dr. Omar Wasow (Princeton University) recommended was “They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing“, edited by Gerald Graff and [...]

Writing an annotated bibliography

One of the research products I find most useful for an academic, short of openly-accessible datasets and code for replication is the annotated bibliography. As I have noted before, I consider the annotated bibliography an intermediate step between a bank of rhetorical precis, a bank of synthetic notes, and a fully-developed literature review.

I consider [...]

Using prompts to motivate writing: Five strategies to get some words out

I just came back from a week in Paris attending a meeting of field experiments’ scholars, and I took the opportunity to do some fieldwork. There are perfectly good reasons why I study French water governance, specifically in Paris, but that discussion is reserved for another post.

When I do fieldwork or when I am [...]

Move Every Paper Forward Every Day (MEPFED) vs Work on One Project Each Day (WOPED)

For many years, I have advocated the Move Every Paper Forward Every Day (MEPFED) model of working. The MEPFED model basically says “every day, insert something related to each one of your research projects/papers on your To-Do list, so that collectively, every week you’ve moved most/all of your work forward“.

MEPFED has worked for me [...]

The Everything Notebook

I am very analog in everything I do, and research activity and workflow planning isn’t the exception. I don’t carry around many planners, nor do I dump everything in a cloud-based service like Evernote: I have a trusty Everything Notebook, where I schedule tasks I have to carry out for my research and teaching and [...]

Different reading strategies II: Engaging at the meso-level

In my most recent Twitter poll, I asked what I could write about that would be most helpful to my readers (many of which are undergraduate and graduate students). I was asked to continue writing about reading strategies. The previous post I wrote on was what I think is the fastest technique you can use [...]

Different reading strategies I: Skimming, scribbling and crosslinking

While I took a course in speed reading when I was very, very young (probably 8 or 9 years old, at the most), and I can speed read, there are times when I, too, find myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of reading I need to do. While I’ve written before on how you can [...]

6 strategies to focus on writing (or research)

If there’s a downside to being a polymath is that everything looks interesting. If I don’t control myself (and I have to be quite strict about this), I can easily spend hours down the rabbit hole of Twitter and Facebook, or the depths of the internet. Distractions come easy to me, sad as this may [...]

Recognizing heterogeneity in academia: There is no magic bullet for anything

While I write about ways in which I have improved my academic writing, or become more systematic and organized in the way I develop my literature reviews, and my own workflow, I am keenly aware that the techniques I use, the hacks I implement and the suggestions I provide can’t be implemented by every single [...]

My yearly planning process through the Everything Notebook

People have asked me if I could share my yearly planning process and how it relates to the use of the Everything Notebook. I have also been asked if I use other planners and whether they’ve worked for me. I’ll answer both questions in this post. There are many planning and organizational methods out there, [...]

8 strategies to keep up with reading while on a teaching semester

One of the hardest things I have struggled with has been the ability to keep up with the sheer amount of reading I need to do, given the broad variety of topics I study. But I do consistently make time to read, particularly because I integrate reading into my academic writing, otherwise I would need [...]

Processing a Paper Protocol – from PDF to memo

When people visit my campus office, they often admire the fact that I have a systematically organized library where my books and printed articles/book chapters/reports are all available (and ordered alphabetically, in the case of printouts, and by topic, in the case of books). For me, “processing” articles and books/book chapters is a systematic process [...]

On doing the grunt work in academia

While I have pushed for reflection and slow scholarship in my blog, I have to admit that some of the less romantic and glamorous parts of academia don’t particularly excite me. I call that “the grunt work“.
This is grunt work: Cleaning up THIRTEEN references I just imported into Mendeley pic.twitter.com/OT3BX4QQge
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) [...]

Using the rhetorical precis for literature reviews and conceptual syntheses

An important component of writing is reading and summarizing the literature. This exercise helps the author situate his/her work within the broader set of related works. I maintain a systematic process of reading and writing article summaries, but I normally do so in the form of long-form memoranda. Earlier this year, I had a conversation [...]

Granular planning and The Rule of Threes

One of the things I’m an expert on is overwhelming myself with the sheer amount of work I have to do. In the past decade, I have slowly become better at simply reducing the size of my To-Do list and breaking down my workload into manageable tasks, at focusing on just one thing at a [...]

Editing a research paper

I was asked to write about tips for editing a research paper, since my Academic Writing and Literature Review posts seem to be quite popular. I have to confess that I don’t have any particularly insightful piece of advice to give, because here is the kicker: I HATE EDITING MY OWN PAPERS.
I do it, [...]

Starting up and maintaining an Everything Notebook

It’s been an excellent few months for me, because I have been able to share more of my “tricks and tools of the trade” with people who read my blog, and readers seem to like how my workflow processes help them with their own. As always, I don’t provide “advice”. I simply share my experiences [...]

Synchronizing my digital and analog weekly and daily planner

Some people who see how my daily workflow happens in real life seem to be taken aback by the fact that I synchronize my digital and analog daily and weekly plans. To them, it would appear as though I take longer to plan my life than to actually execute it. This isn’t the case. It’s [...]

The 30 minute challenge: Achieving short-term goals

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a strategy I use to keep myself motivated: the Quick Wins method. I use this method because I am actually someone who faces enormous challenges in keeping himself focused and motivated. Because I have so many different research interests and I study a relatively broad range of issues, [...]

Writing effective memorandums

One of the challenges I face when teaching my students how to write effective memos (memoranda, memorandums) is that I have developed my own method of memo-writing after reading dozens of books, book chapters, articles, and implementing some of those ideas. I’ve written so many memos that I don’t actually know whether to recommend a [...]

KonMari your campus desk and office: The benefits of decluttering your academic life

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I often post photographs of what I’m doing, reading, and (often times) eating. Yesterday, I posted photos of how I had cleaned up my campus office (I’m officially on holidays, although I had to come into the office for 3 days in a row [...]