Sunday, October 15, 2006

Third Carnival of GRADual Progress

Welcome to the third edition of the Carnival of GRADual Progress!

I've decided to run this one as a sort of awards ceremony with (imaginary) prizes for various categories of grad-school-related blog postings that I made up with no sort of structure or plan whatsoever that were selected according to a complex secret system.

In house-keeping matters, the next Carnival of GRADual Progress will be held on (or around) 15th November and hosted by My Life, My Pace: a big (virtual) award is on its (virtual) way as (very real) thanks for this. You can still submit your posts in any of the usual three ways explained here.

If you think this carnival is worthwhile, please spread the word about it far and wide (or at least give it a plug now and then on your blogs and tag the occasional post you think is worth including). The more submissions we get, the less we have to rely on the host randomly stumbling across good posts. And the less work the host has to put in, the more likely we are to find people willing to host the carnival in future.*

And now for the part of the evening you have all been waiting (approximately thirty seconds) for... the winners of this month's honour and glory!

Awards to be proud of (because I'm too cheap to offer any incentive more tangible than pride):

The award for most courageous grad student of the month is shared equally between www mama and Ancrene Wiseass, both of whom have posted a list facing up to their greatest fears about their dissertations. Stewgad at Pretty Hard Dammit has a list of a slightly different sort: her motivations for finishing.

Stewgad also wins the "I do this ALL the time" award for being terrified of doing something that, when tackled, turned out to be nothing to be afraid of: something most of us probably identify with.

Psychgirl gets the award for imaginary conversations that make me laugh (what, who says that doesn't sound like a real award category?).

I say "my life sucks because grad school is evil." and she says "Grad school isn't evil, if you change your attitude, grad school will be a beautiful utopia! Fairies will do cartwheels you'll be so happy."
The award for best open letter goes to an open letter to the director of the MD/PhD program, posted at At My Life, My Pace.

Post-doc at Minor Revisions wins the story-telling award twice over for her grad school stories: one about herself and one about a grad school drop-out.

There were a lot of candidates for the award for best practical strategies and suggestions for dissertators:

Liz at Revisionspiral gives some tips for juggling teaching and dissertating (and marathon running and parenting and more!). There is also an update to this post later on where she writes about the usefulness of gantt charts.

Parts-n-Pieces recommends a different sort of chart: mind-mapping software, as a strategy for mastering the literature review.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast has a post-traumatic stress disorder-esque flashback to the experience of writing her critical review paper, and shares some thoughts that translate to the dissertation lit review as well.

Complete Your Dissertation also has a post on literature reviews: how do you know when to stop?

Lambda Ex, in a post that also makes some interesting comparisons between being a grad student in the USA and in Spain, gives some useful links to advice on writing conference abstracts.

Uncertain Principles has some tips that might come too late for many of us, but are nevertheless interesting, on how to pick and apply to a good graduate school.

Dr Crazy gives some useful advice on how to identify a good mentor.

In the end, though, I unanimously (me and the voices) decided to give the practical strategy award to Flossie at Stepping on Acorns for a technique that sounds deceptively simple but which, in the implementation, takes a lot of willingness to face up to reality. She is keeping track of the hours she spends working each day, splitting it into teaching hours, time spent preparing for comps, and her job at a literary magazine, in an attempt to find out whether she really does work more than a 40 hour week.

The in-depth discussion award is going to have to be shared by a whole bunch of acadebloggers for the on-going debate about "professionalization" of grad students.

Dr Virago at Quod She has a post on the question of professionalization from her perspective as a director of graduate studies (and also gives an example of a student behaving more unprofessionally than I would have thought possible). Other bloggers addressing this question this month are Heo Cwaeth (who incidentally gets the prize for knowing what she wants and how to get it!), Yellow Dog (who uses the discussion as a lead-in to some thoughts about the problem of conflicting advice), and JJC at In the Middle (don't miss the discussion in the comments). This is the post that started the debate (this time around, anyway).

On a similar theme New Kid has just put up this post on developing a professorial persona and at what point in the grad school process this kicked in for her.

Awards you'd probably rather not be receiving:

The award for the worst experience of a committee playing games with a student's sanity goes to Anastasia, who summarises what she has been going through in this post here, but has plenty of other horrifying (and some positive) accounts of the whole experience and thought-provoking reflections on it.

Disgruntled Julie wins the award for commitment (or possibly insanity: you decide) with this post about a long day in the lab.

1B* wins the "d'uh" award for discovering that grad students like snacks :)

And one of her colleagues wins the "interesting theory but totally tactless" award for her suggestions about a deeper meaning behind how grad students select their advisors.

To wrap this carnival up, I thought I'd include a few recent posts by people about different stages of the grad school (and, fine, post-grad-school) experience:

Queen of West Procrastination posts the story of how she ended up in grad school.

Honeybee at Life Science is starting to panic about her upcoming qualifying examination.

Liz at Revisionspiral is getting closer and closer to finishing.

Everyday Scientist has big plans for after graduation.

And Postdoc at Post Doc Ergo Propter Doc has some advice for anyone considering going on to do a post doc.


* As it is, the majority of the posts here were collected by me rather than submitted by other people, since I'm not getting enough submissions to make up a carnival yet, so apologies if I missed good posts or if the carnival is too skewed towards the blogs I read on a regular basis.


BrightStar said...

Nice job putting this together!

Ignatius Rhetorica said...

Great job putting this together - I just stumbled about your carnival, and really enjoyed reading through some of the blogs.

Anastasia said...

I won! I won!

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, doesn't that make it all totally worth it? :)

Jana said...

Huge job to put all of this together, Styley! It was very useful.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Nicely done, Styley!

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks, everyone!

Kristen said...

I am thrilled that I've found this carnival! You've collected some really great posts here, and I look forward to reading more in the future!

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