ask a scatterbrain: supporting students on the job market.

I am wrapping up my second year as DGS in my department. Over the last couple years I’ve made some small, but significant changes in our grad program and I’m finally beginning to see the results. Now that I’ve found my sea legs (just in time for my term to end next summer), I’m ready to tackle something new: improving¬†our support for students on the market. Continue reading “ask a scatterbrain: supporting students on the job market.”

ask a scatterbrain: writing goals

A colleague of mine has set up a writing accountability group for the summer. They’ll check in once a week to see how the past week went and to map out the coming week. The group is not explicitly about reading one another’s work, but about ensuring that such work is accomplished. I thought some of her questions and concerns would be a worthwhile discussion to have with a wider audience and something that others who might plan such groups could benefit from.

  • Should these groups be about encouragement, measuring progress, evaluating goal achievement, all of the above, or something else?
  • If the group is about encouragement, how can one balance encouragement with enabling? What happens if someone always has an excuse for why they’re not writing? Should they continue to be part of the group?
  • If the group is about progress, what are some of the ways that we can measure progress on intellectual work when it’s not always clear-cut (e.g., an argument is developing, even if I haven’t written the introduction, the paper might not be getting longer, but it’s getting more polished) ?
  • If the group is about setting and evaluating goals, what type of goals are most effective? Is it better to say, “I’ll finish the data and methods section of Paper A this week,” or to say, “I will actively work on Paper A five days this week,” or something in-between?
  • Are there ways for fellow group members to motivate progress and goal achievement? Gold stars worked in grade school, but what works in grad school or on the tenure-track?
  • If someone is working on a number of projects, should they work on each of these a little each week, or focus on them one at a time? Is it possible for people to move projects forward in tandem, in ways that are mutually beneficial, or does multitasking come with too much of a cost?

Finally, are there other things that readers would suggest about such groups? Do you have good success stories, things to be wary of? Any feedback is welcome.

(grad)student-faculty interaction

Notre Dame loves to make videos. They are currently working on a series about graduate students’ experiences on campus and I had a meeting with the production company today to discuss one of the videos, a segment focused on (grad)student-faculty interaction. As great as the meeting was, I left feeling incredibly discouraged about the state of (grad)student-faculty interaction and wondering what, if anything, can be done to change it.

Continue reading “(grad)student-faculty interaction”

ask a scatterbrain: post-review changes not suggested by reviewers

On behalf of an anonymous reader:

After submitting an article to a journal, I have received a revise & resubmit decision along with two reviewer reports. The changes suggested by the reviewers and the editor seem reasonable and doable. However, it has occurred to me after I received the reports that the statistical model I used has limitations. These limitations had neither occurred to me before, nor were they noted by either of the reviewers or the editor. I think the sound thing to do would be to change the model and the data for this are available, but I am concerned about how this will look to the reviewers and the editor.

latex beamer is failing me – help!

I know some scatterbrains use LaTeX and the beamer class to produce lecture slides and notes. I have done so for years, using the following syntax at the top to produce the handouts:

\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[letterpaper,portrait,border shrink=5mm]

\setbeameroption{show notes}

But just today it’s freaking out on me, producing output with the page size clearly wrong such that pages don’t contain even the full slide, much less the accompanying notes slide. Anybody care to offer help? An example of the bad output is at http://perrin.socsci.unc.edu/stuff/badbeamer.pdf.

ask a scatterbrain: sharing code and data

This from an anonymous correspondent:

Making data and code available for other researchers is an important tool for promoting replication, discovering errors, and advancing research agendas. However, how to handle the ownership situation? In this case, a junior scholar who worked for a long time on a tricky piece of code, using publicly available data, was asked to provide a copy of the code. A while later, an original piece of research appeared using the code, with appropriate citation to the original work. However, if the two researchers had been colleagues surely the programmer would have been a co-author on the work. What is the best way to handle this in general? Is there some way to communicate reasonable expectations at the point the code is shared, or should one reserve the right to review and join the work later, or what?