Tag Archives: Scientific research

Links: Editing Yourself, Blogging Your Reflections, Dancing Your PhD

Here is some advice from a professional editor about the types of editing we should be doing for ourselves. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s new writing blog, Lingua Franca, Carol Saller offers some tips for self-editing (my approach to this topic can be found here). I particularly liked her reminder that we do a lot of damage through editing itself. Not that we shouldn’t edit—obviously!—but we should be aware that we create a different class of errors through editing than we do through writing. We need to know what our typical writing errors are, but we also need to be aware of the sort of problems we may be inadvertently creating when ostensibly improving our writing through editing. Saller mentions the various ‘cut and paste’ errors that result from moving text around (for instance, repetition and non sequiturs). I would add two more. At the sentence level, be very careful with forms of agreement—for instance, subject and verb or noun and pronoun—when making changes. At a broader level, make sure that all changes are reflected in the language that we use to refer to our own text; for instance, if we decide to reorder a set of points, we must be sure to go back and change the sentence where those points were first introduced. In general, we need to think—especially in late-stage editing—about all the connections that exist in our text. Some sentences stand alone and can be changed solely according to their own demands. But many more sentences stand in relation to others; in those cases, we must be cognizant of how local changes can have a broader impact.

Writing in The University of Venus blog, Lee Skallerup Bessette recently offered her thoughts on the formal demands of a blog post. She offers an interesting breakdown of the general types of academic blog posts and then defends the value of posts that are reflective rather than definitive.

The fourth annual Dance Your PhD contest is coming to a close. I believe the winner will be announced today! If you have never watched these wonderful (and wonderfully odd) videos, you are in for a treat. I’m amazed every year at how they manage to illustrate complex scientific concepts in manner both effervescent and earnest.

Finally, we have reached another day of note. A few weeks ago, you may recall, I looked into the phenomenon of national days of any-old-thing. But today is different: it is the official National Day on Writing. It’s official because the United States Senate passed Resolution S.298 saying so. I hope you won’t let this special day go by without some quiet time alone with your thoughts and a writing instrument of some kind!

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Links: Supporting Scientific Innovation, Libraries and Abundance, Writing to Your Dissertation

Explorations of Style will be taking next week off; I have to travel for a conference and, first, to make that travel worthwhile, have to write the paper I will be presenting at the conference. The presentation is on the role this blog plays in my classroom teaching, so don’t imagine the lack of posts means I’m not still thinking about the blog all the time. I will return with something new—or at least something adapted from my presentation on blogging and teaching—on June 1st. See you then! I will leave you with a few weekly links.

Here is a great piece from Slate on the best model for funding innovative scientific work. Tim Harford offers a fascinating discussion of the relationship between funding—both public and private—and scientific progress.

While I don’t know much about libraries, I am sure that those of us who benefit from university libraries ought to listen to what librarians have to say about the sustainability of the current model of managing collections. Here is something from Barbara Fister, writing at Inside Higher Ed. I particularly like the way she uses a food analogy, stressing the need to think about sustainability even in the face of apparent abundance.

Finally, from McSweeney’s, here is someone’s letter to his dissertation. This letter is part of their series of ‘Open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond’. I am obliged, of course, to say that you would be better off writing your dissertation than writing to your dissertation. But I found this line funny: “You probably sense that I am a little frustrated, the way that I spend time with you every day but it’s never quality time, the way you are always on my mind but we never seem to get anywhere.” (Thanks to The Thesis Whisperer for the link.) If you spend any time with your thesis over the weekend, I hope it is quality time.