Insider Information Blog

Happy New Year

Insider Information Blog

Happy New Year from the H-Grad editorial staff!

Along with resolutions to eat healthier, sleep more, and exercise regularly, many of us are also making a vow to read and write more effectively, become better teachers, and pursue new opportunities, such as conferences and academic journal submissions. H-Grad’s site is continually growing, with ideas to help you begin, and follow through on, your resolutions throughout the year.

Spring Breaks

Insider Information Blog

            For many graduate students, at least in the United States, March usually brings some form of a scheduled break. Whether in the middle of a semester or in-between terms, Spring Break has become a regular event in the academic calendar. (Why a similar break does not typically exist in the fall is up for debate.) In the United States this break often equates to fantasies of sunny beaches and palm trees.

Maintaining a Healthy Brain

Insider Information Blog

In the very demanding world of academia it is important to find time to decompress. Having a hobby, a group of friends outside of work or your department, or designating a daily quiet-time is extremely important. Psychologists recommend spending several minutes’ everyday thinking about something other than your work. It is important for your mental health, and in a profession that requires extensive use of our brains, it is important to maintain a balanced life.

Your Online Presence

Insider Information Blog

Whether you know it or not, all graduate students have some kind of online presence. Maybe you have a Facebook profile, signed up for Linkedin at some point, or created your own website and have Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other number of social networking sites that you use every day. Perhaps you filled out your profile on H-Net or have the option, like I do at my University (Florida State), to have a profile on your department’s website.

Teaching Tips

Insider Information Blog

For August, the insider information blog topic was tips for teaching. The following tips have been pulled from different blogs/websites and are by no means tried and tested (or at least not by me!). Hopefully, this blog will be a starting point for those who may be teaching for the first time or those who wish to add some variety to their seminars and lectures.

Maintaining a Source Database - Part II: Best Practices

Insider Information Blog

In Part I, we started to dive a little deeper on the choosing software for creating and maintaining a source database.  After deciding on your software, it can be somewhat intimidiating to actually organize all those readings you have done and will do.  First I will share some basic practices I have come to use, and then turn to discussing categories and tags as they pertain to your database.

Maintaining a Source Database - Part I: Choosing Your Software

Insider Information Blog

Grad School is, among other things, a monumental challenge of organization. The previous three posts in the Insider Information blog gave tips for getting the most out your time spent reading.  But what do we do with all that information and how can we easily recall it when we actually need it? Even the best memory will often forget an important argument or source.

Reading Advice Part III

Insider Information Blog

The Introduction/Prologue/Preface can offer a lot about the direction, framework, and argument of the book. Read through these sections very carefully, and make sure you do not skip the Acknowledgement section. Acknowledgements give the reader another clue about where the author studied, who informed their research, and who guided the direction of the project. As you should know by now your advisors and mentors have a tremendous influence on what you read, how you write, and the way you think about your discipline.

Reading Advice Part II

Insider Information Blog

Reading in graduate school demands a strategy. It is a skill that has to be learned, because the tremendous load can very quickly overwhelm you.

The organization of the book can give you many signposts as to what is the argument, how the author present’s their evidence, and how you can strategically understand the book in a few short hours.

1. Start by looking at the book’s organization

Reading Advice Part I

Insider Information Blog

Part I from Nathan Kuehnl:

For comprehensive exams, the best advice offered to me when I started grad school was to a) keep a list of all the books I read, and b) write one-page summaries for each text. This minimizes the time you have to spend recalling texts and revisiting their arguments as you organize reading lists and prepare for the exams. The one-page summaries get you in the mindset of noting only the important aspects of each book, too.

For more ideas, the University of Washington compiled a good list of helpful tips for comprehensive exam preparation.

Time Management

Insider Information Blog

Grad school can overwhelm the best of us, but often in ways we didn’t anticipate. The intellectual rigors -- research, writing, teaching -- come as no surprise, but we rarely consider the day-to-day routine when imagining an academic life. The struggle of managing when and how we work tends to elude us. We blow through mealtime, skip sleep, and wave goodbye to hobbies as if these are requirements to graduate.