Monthly Archives: June 2012

Being a Graduate Student

So thanks to this person, I got to see this movie about being a graduate student. As a recent PhD grad, my eight years in graduate school have become the subject of my thoughts of late. While watching that movie I could identify with all of the grad students. I also saw the PhD comics movie, but I must say that this documentary captured the ups and downs of the PhD process quite well. The theme that stuck out to me was failure. The grad students in the documentary worked in the laboratory sciences and they seemed to experience failure on a very regular, even daily, basis. I couldn’t relate to daily failure as a social scientist because we’re not doing those kinds of experiments. The failures I felt were probably more intermittent, but they felt like huge failure nonetheless. For example, when I did not receive a large grant for my research funding I was crushed. I still look back on that and see it as a deficiency in my CV, even though I got outside grants for dissertation writing. But some of the quotes from the students really sum up grad school, at least for me, in very succinct ways. One of them said, “You learn so much from failure. You learn almost nothing from success.” When they were talking about their relationship with their adviser, the conversation went something like: “You want them to pat you on the head. It’s kind of sick – you’re like a singer that needs that applause.” I can definitely identify with the need for affirmation from my adviser. It seemed like the more I progressed the more detached from me she became. I will blog more about that later. I have become obsessed with this PhD process and really understanding it and what happened to me.



I have thrown myself into revising this article that was rejected from general disciplinary journal. The editor told me my essay was too unfocused and had too much information. So I have an idea to hone the material down to one sharp point and I am going with that. But in sharpening my point I will have to rip the essay apart and put it back together again. That is not pleasant. But I am doing it the best way I know how – in 500 words a day. Actually, today I think I wrote 700. Basically, I am piecing together a new essay by cutting a pasting sections from the old essay into a new document, following a new outline. I need to stop reading other articles now for their structure because they are discouraging me. I will paste together about 8000 or so words on the page (or until I get to what can conceivable be the end) and then I will return to structure. Because right now content is killing me.

Missing Conferences

Or more specifically, never hearing about them in the first place. Three conferences have occurred that, had I heard about them, I would have submitted an abstract to them. What adds insult to injury is that people I know, and would call my friends, attended and presented at these conferences. I don’t want to complain about them not passing along an email notifying me about a conferences that I might be interested in. But I need to find a better way to stay abreast of the conferences that I would like to attend. There were not conferences for large disciplinary associations in the US. In fact, all of them were for conferences outside of the US (which I would like to attend more of). I have some friends who are constantly asked to attend conferences and participate in panels. One of my friends told me that’s how he chooses to attend the bulk of the conferences on his CV. Rarely am I asked to be on a panel out of the blue, even by people I know. I’m still in the process of trying to decide on what conferences to attend regularly. This whole becoming an academic professional is hard to do.

PS This grant foundation is having its way with me. I have not heard yet!

Waiting is the hardest part indeed…

About two months ago I submitted a grant application to an outside funding source. I worked very hard on the application and I think it is one of the best grant applications I’ve written. I emailed to grant administrator to ask him to notify of the decision through email since I am not in the location of the address in my application materials. He returned the email saying that the committee should be making their decision soon and they were requesting to see the articles that I listed as forthcoming on my CV. What in the world does that mean? They liked my application, but were unsure due to not having seen anything in press? There are myriad ways I am interpreting this. One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was that I did not cite someone important (read: someone on the committee) and they wanted to see if I cited them in other pubs. So now the decision should come any day now and I am on pins and needles. 

It doesn’t help that one of the articles I thought was good (and that others told me was great) couldn’t even go out for a review. Sigh. I was riding high from my triumph of graduating only to be thrown into uncertainty once again.

Pushing Send…Again

I wanted to follow up on the post in January called “On Pushing Send.” It’s interesting coming back to this blog because it really is like a diary. I also keep a written journal but this blogging thing is a different animal. But to follow up, that last pushed send was indeed rewarded with an acceptance to a pretty good journal. The article had already been submitted to “regional journal of basket weaving” and received a revise and resubmit and then a rejection. So I submitted it to “journal particular topic in region studies” and got an acceptance. And now it won’t come out for a year (sigh). So that is a triumph (at least in my book).

I hit send again about a month ago. Emboldened by my two publications (one in an edited volume and the other just mentioned above), I thought I would go for a journal of general basket weaving, but not a flagship. Now I hit send after having presented my paper at several conferences and even receiving recognition in the form of a paper award honorable mention. About a month after hitting send, I got an email from the editor saying that it can’t go out for review because of some issues. S/he encouraged me to make the revisions and resubmit it. Ya’ll my paper was not ready for prime time. So it’s back to the drawing board. So today my head now hurts from thinking about how to piece together a section of this paper. I think I will stop thinking about it for now though. Tomorrow is another day.

On Reigniting My Blogging Habit

I am now facing a summer of time unencumbered with teaching, grading, and working (and receiving a pesky paycheck). I figured now is the time to begin blogging again and really attempt to sustain it. Maybe this will also help to keep my honest about progressing through my summer writing goals. In the next post I will outline my writing goals. Already it’s the 14th of June and I have seriously gotten nothing done. Well, that’s not completely true – I did graduate with my PhD and moved to the midwest to post doc town. But now I’m settled and if I want my next move to be to tenure track job town then I better get a move on this whole writing thing.