My blog is updated periodically and covers a wide range of topics. I blog about research, academic life, and some personal interests.


#AcWriMo Day 16: In Which I Ramble About Limits

1. What did I accomplish?

Tonight I started setting small, manageable goals. I have been working on big goals and big accomplishments because of the time frame, but these night work sessions took a VERY HEAVY toll and knocked me out for a day. I was able to sustain a good work habit working late for awhile, but I can’t sustain it for a month. It’s not possible. And while my AcWriMo goals are still possible, I think I will have to move some other goals around. 

More specifically, I have finished my most pertinent reading for my first prelim. I am continuing to read as I write, but I had to decide (as I have heard many say) that at some point, you have to say: I have read enough. And I have. This prelim draws on texts that I have been reading for over two years. I am ready to write. I understand the material. The extra reading will largely, I believe, simply be a gatekeeping measure–a peppering of citations to show I have consulted the relevant sources. But my research area is well-documented and much of the literature is somewhat repetitive as a result. New knowledge takes awhile to develop–each new article adds something new, but a small something. And the bulk of the stuff is repetition of things I learned in other sources.

So I am writing. As questions arise, I will consult relevant sources. But I am getting started. And it is going well–I’m planning a writing binge this weekend. If I can knock this baby out by the end of the weekend, I will be in good shape. And it is possible. The prelim is roughly 20-30 pages normally–that’s doable if I sacrifice some rest again. I do have a concert to attend Sunday night (see this post to learn more about why I’m excited about seeing Derek Webb), so if keep my eye on THAT ball, I can get this done.

Oh and I presented at conference. So one of the tasks that was hanging in the air is COMPLETELY done. Just need to update the CV.

2. What can I do better?

I may have to push the second prelim to December. I don’t think it’s possible anymore. I think setting that goal was folly–a feature of sometimes believing I have superhuman abilities. When you get this far into grad school and accomplished a lot, it’s hard not to sometimes feel like you can do stuff that you can’t really do. Which is, I think, a really important point that many grad students forget. We all overcommit. It happens. And it’s important to set goals. And during November, it’s important to set big goals. But two 20-pagers in a month with research only completely done for one? Come on. We all have limits. And I’m not talking about work-life balance stuff. That’s important (although I sacrifice it sometimes, like during AcWriMo), but it doesn’t apply here. I’m talking about the limits of the human body.

What can I do better? Just be honest about what’s possible. I can run on a little sleep. I can’t run on virtually no sleep.

With that, time to hit the sack.

Why @derekwebb Should Come Back To Twitter

It started with this:

And then this:

And that was it. Derek Webb was done with Twitter. (more…)

#AcWriMo Day 9

What did I accomplish?
I completed my poster this weekend, which was a new addition after the abstract I submitted was accepted. I have been reading, but not NEARLY fast enough to get the prelim done. I’m going to have to binge on reading in the next few days so I can start writing by next week. Furthermore, I simply do not see it as being possible to get everything that I need to get done without adding one more writing project–another prelim that is inclusive of topics I’m currently researching. To manage this new goal, I’m dropping another one: no substantial blogging (read: non-AcWriMo blogs) until everything else is done. I am now officially in over my head. But I don’t care. This is what I live for. It WILL get done. I can lose some sleep for this.

What can I do better?
I’ve been productive in the evenings because I am a nightowl. But mornings suffer from lack of productivity. Using the JFDI approach, I’m going to have to grit my teeth and tell myself: “It’s just for this month. You get to sleep during December.” I have time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get an article read. So that’s the plan.

I know none of this is healthy. But if I want to finish this stuff, I have to sacrifice. It will pay off in dividends later.

Let’s do this.

#AcWriMo Day 3

1. What did I accomplish?

Yesterday I completed a submission to a journal of a book review I had completed awhile ago. I had initially selected a certain journal, and I formatted my text to meet their word length requirements. But then I found out that they did not have open submissions for book reviews, so it took some time to find another journal that did have open submissions for book reviews. After that, I set up my account with the journal, wrote a cover letter, wrote an author bio, and then hit submit. My first single author pub is in the review process.

I have accomplished one of my goals already–which means that I can now focus more on my prelim and book chapter. I also read some of my current article, but because of the focus on the book review, I did not meet my 2 article requirement. I’m now considering limiting my daily reading load to 1 article a day–this seems more manageable because the amount of time I have each day for reading varies widely–but one article is always possible.

2. What can I do better?

Tonight was my night out with friends. I don’t regret this choice, as I think it’s important to do, and it is often difficult to schedule around our various responsibilities. But the result is that I won’t get any writing done tonight. It is not a good start. I admit that. But given the unpredictability of scheduling these biweekly outings, I’m willing to chalk this up to an anomaly. I will have to make up for it tomorrow by doubling down and reading more (and faster). My goal then will be to have read three articles by the end of the day tomorrow. I’ll be reading some tonight to try to get a jump on tomorrow’s big reading day. I’ll also take a stab at the book chapter as well tomorrow evening.

Overall, I’m feeling like #AcWriMo is starting off well–with one goal down, I can narrow my focus and energy to really get something done this month.

#AcWriMo Day 1

Following posts in ProfHacker and PhD2Published, I will be participating in Academic Writing Month, or #AcWriMo. Following the prompts from both sources, I’m going to go through the process of deciding what I want to accomplish in this month.

    1. Decide on your goal. The goal, like NaNoWriMo (which I did as an undergrad and failed miserably at), must be ambitious. The goal in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is to write 50,000 words in a month. This goal is not particularly meaningful for academics–publications matter more than wordcounts. So here is what MUST be done by the end of the month whether I do AcWriMo or not:-A co-authored book chapter (approximately 3000 words)

      -An abstract for an international conference (approximately 500 words)

      -A presentation for a regional conference (approximately 500 words)

      I have preliminary examinations in January, and for the most part I have been taking my time reading while working on a research project, but this is a good motivator to kick it into high gear so I am done writing on time. Therefore, I will be adding to my current projects these goals:

    2. Declare it!
      • One prelim question complete (approximately 12000-15000 words)
      • One book review submitted to a journal (mostly edits and formatting)
      • One scholars fair proposal (approximately 250 words, but I did it last night, but it still counts)
      • Two substantial blog posts (approximately 1400 words)

    4. Draft a strategy.While this list does seem a little light on the protein, it’s really all I can manage with the holidays and a regional conference travel scheduled near the end of the month. Managing it, of course, will take some consistency. I have blocked off Fridays for research and writing, as well as a few hours every evening and, of course the weekends. I don’t take that schedule too seriously, and I think that is a problem. But changing that will take some kind of enforcement mechanism. One thing that helped me with my Masters Thesis was blogging about my progress, so I think I will revive that strategy as a way to manage the schedule part. I may adjust the schedule because, looking at it, it makes me a little nauseous. We’ll see how it goes.

      Strategy: Blog every other day on my progress, answering these two questions.

      1. What did I accomplish?
      2. What can I do better?


    6. Discuss your progress. I’ll be doing this through the blog as a way to keep on track. I’ll also be keeping a running update on Twitter at the #AcWriMo hashtag and the Accountability Spreadsheet

    8. Don’t slack off. I know a few of you read my posts, and so I would appreciate it if you could drop me a line if you sense your BS meter going off or if you want to offer some positive encouragement

    10. Declare your results. I’ll be posting my accomplishments regularly, but I will do a recap post at the very end of the month as well to review which of my goals I accomplished.


    Let’s do this.

Why It Is Illogical To Reject #CCSS Based On Bad Class Assignments

I have been following the #stopcommoncore hashtag on Twitter to keep abreast of the debate that is growing across the country about whether states should continue to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). One argument against the implementation of the CCSS that has been advanced on a number of occasions is the idea that a particular lesson aligned to the CCSS is evidence that the CCSS are bad. This argument is an example “affirming the consequent”, which is a logical fallacy. (more…)