Advice for Academic Writing from Wendy Laura Belcher

If there is one book I wish I read at the beginning of my graduate studies it is Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks by Wendy Laura Belcher. Although Belcher provides a detailed plan for completing and submitting an academic article, she also offers honest, useful, and more importantly, realistic advice which is applicable for other sorts of writing such as seminar papers, notes for comprehensive exams, dissertations, and even creative endeavors. Belcher acknowledges that scientific writing generally has other parameters, so she mainly addresses scholars in fields such as the Humanities and the Social Sciences.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions from the book:

  • Identify your feelings about writing.
    • Are you experiencing guilt, fear of failure, impostor syndrome? It is actually very common to have negative feelings about writing. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and even talk about them rather than repress them.
  • Prepare a realistic writing schedule.
    • Work on a writing schedule and anticipate weeks when you might not be able to write.
    • Pick a time of day that works with your other responsibilities and habits. Consider if you are a morning or an evening person before deciding on the best time to write.
    • If you cannot write at the same time every day, try to come up with a regular pattern for your schedule.
  • Make writing social.
    • Writing does not require isolation. In fact, it should be done in community. Join a writing group or attend a writing class. A good conversation about your manuscript will help you think further about your argument and will teach you how to respond to feedback and criticism.
  • Write every day.
  • Do not wait to write. Do not wait for:
    • Inspiration
    • The last minute
    • Big blocks of time.
  • Do not wait until all of your research is done to start writing.
    • It is not possible to read every book which might be related to our topic.
    • Start writing and this will help you determine what information you actually need.
    • Leave holes in your manuscript. These can be filled up later.
    • Approach writing and thinking as simultaneous tasks.
  • Persist!
    • Rejection is common, do not take it as a measure of your worth. The best writers get rejections as well, but they persist.  

Overall, Belcher’s book encourages graduates students to persevere, even when we feel we do not have the time to write. She also offers practical solutions to common internal and external obstacles. If you would like to know more about her approach or if you are interested in following her 12-week plan, you can find her book at the Hesburgh Library. (The Spanish edition is also available for online access).

Did you enjoy Belcher’s book? Do you have any more questions about it? Ask the Salmon! Submit your questions to gradlife@nd.edu or go to the Ask a Question tab at the top of this page.

Biking Around Notre Dame

In this special guest post, Jessica Schiltz a Graduate Orientation Ambassador, breaks down the bike options for getting to all the best places. 

The beauty of our campus is undeniable, with the sprawling quads, carefully lined flower beds and the grassy expanses, artfully lined with paved sidewalks. The winding paths and acres of lawns and landscaping are however, less than desirable when you need to get somewhere fast. The University of Notre Dame is approximately 2mi2 and navigating on- and off-campus can be time-consuming.

In order to optimize your daily routes consider acquiring a bicycle. Purchase options are always available at the wholesale retailers in Mishawaka, but if you’re looking for a deal that isn’t in a store, or on Craigslist, every year Fischer O’Hara Grace (Graduate Student Housing) hosts a bicycle raffle at the start of fall semester. Not sure if you need a bike right away? No problem, Notre Dame hosts an Old2Gold sale that includes donated campus bicycles. (Side note: graduate students who work year-round should remember to visit ND Security Police (NDSP) in Hammes Mowbray Hall in May to pick up a summer tag for their bike, so that your bike doesn’t get removed during this annual clearing!) You can also hunt for deals at the annual spring Bicycle Swap through the Bike Michiana Coalition, where you can haggle for mountain, road, and cruiser variants.

It is highly recommended that you register the ownership of your current or newly acquired bicycle through NDSP. This improves chances of recovery if lost or stolen, or possibly placed on a tree branch. To prevent damage to your property and nearby leafy perennials, consider purchasing a U-lock rather than a cable lock and, if on campus, secure your bike to a bike rack. Also two quick pro tips: once summer is over, and winter quickly approaches, NDSP is willing to store bicycles for free, keeping them safe from the ravages of freezing temperatures and salt. Oh, you have a popped inner tube? Need a new chain? Proform Bike Shop is the closest place where you can get help on maintenance and repairs.

Can’t afford the purchase of a new or used bicycle? Consider LimeBike. These bright key-lime green cruisers are dotted across ND and South Bend. Download their mobile app on Google Play or the App Store to set up an account and ride for 30 minutes for only a $1.00! Plus, if you sign-up with a valid ND (.edu) email, you can get a 50% discount. Plus, if you know you’ll use LimeBike frequently the LimePrime Students program is $14.95 a month that includes 100 ride credits. So, if you are sick of two-ten-ing (walking) everywhere, waste no time and go find a two-wheeled ride!

Meet More Graduate Orientation Ambassadors!

In this post, we reveal the identity of three of our graduate orientation ambassadors (GOAs). These lovely people have volunteered to support the New Student Orientation taking place in August 2018. While all ND grad students are awesomesauce, the GOAs are a special flavor of awesomeness. If you see them during orientation, or just around, be sure to say hello!

 

Hi! My name is Chuanqi Wang, a third-year PhD student in ACMS department. I’m working with Dr. Jun Li, and our research is mainly about machining learning methods for single cell RNA sequencing data. I’m originally from China and very excited to be a GOA to welcome new graduate students. When I’m not working, I like to go to fitness classes, do some oil painting and handcrafts. I also enjoy cooking and exploring local restaurants. If you have any questions or common interests with me, I’d be more than happy to communicate with you.

 

Hello everyone! My name is Claire Scott-Bacon and I am currently a second-year Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. I am originally from England and call Miami, Florida my home. Currently, while at ND, I call Mishawaka my home away from home.

I enjoy going to the movies, watching superhero movies, gardening, biking, walking, being out on the water (i.e., lake or ocean), fishing, boating, and traveling.

I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to you on your acceptance at Notre Dame, while extending a warm welcome to the South Bend, Mishawaka, Michigan, and Michiana community.  I can assure you there are plenty things to do, see, hear, and enjoy during your down time on and away from campus.

As a non-traditional graduate student, I am very excited to be serving as your Graduate Orientation Ambassador.  I look forward to helping you through your early days on campus at the graduate orientation. Please feel free to as me any question (face-to-face or via email at cscottba@nd.edu) about ND, South Bend, Mishawaka, local attractions, accommodations, transportation, and homeownership.

 

 

 

My name is Arman, I’m from Iran, and I am a second year computer science PhD student. I like playing sports as a hobby, especially volleyball. Come find me if you are interested once you get here! 

 

 

 

7 Books Every Grad Student Should Read

Are you looking for some beginning of the semester reading? I’m a fourth-year grad student and I have found these 7 books to be quite influential in my own ability to navigate the world of academia. You may find them helpful too:

The Professor is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD into a Job by

Karen Kelsky

  • Shows you how to structure your time and priorities to meet the demands of the job market.
  • Best for those in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Get it from the ND Library here

 

Advice for New Faculty Members by Robert Boice

  • Empirically informed explanation for how to overcome the bad habits you’ve formed as a student and how to start thinking like a true scholar
  • Get it from the ND Library here

 

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It by Valeri Young

  • Good for all people- explains impostor syndrome and how to identify that this is the problem that you or your colleagues are suffering from and some key ways to overcome it

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

  • Explains the importance of being in touch with your core values and how to approach structuring your work around those values.
  • Get it from the ND Library here

 

Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang

  • You will get rejected again and again as an academic. This book shows how you can understand these rejections as opportunities while transforming them from ego crushers to ego boosters.

 

The Power of Habit: Why We do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

  • Learn how to craft your approach to your work. By incorporating cues and automating a lot of your research process, you can get more done with less resistance.
  • Get it from the ND Library here

 

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin

  • Understanding all of the intricacies of top performers can inform your work process. There are many subtle nuances to becoming an expert in a field, and this book explores how the good from the great are defined by very subtle differences in everyday decisions.