Thursday, January 17, 2019

I am Paul Hanstedt, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Paul Hanstedt. He holds a Ph.D. in Victorain Literature and is currently the Director of Pedagogical Innovation and the Teaching Collaborative at Roanoke College, where he led the revision of a campus-wide general education program, developed an innovative writing-across-the-curriculum program, and coordinated the implementation of the college’s ePortfolio system. He is the recipient of several teaching awards, received a Fulbright to aid general education curricular revision in Hong Kong, and is co-recipient of a FIPSE grant for sustainable faculty development. He is the author of several books on faculty and curricular development, including General Education Essentials (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and Creating Wicked Students (Stylus, 2018).

Current Job: Professor of English at Roanoke College; Director of Pedagogical Innovation and the Teaching Collaborative; Consultant in Higher Education, specializing in General Education/Liberal Arts, Curricular Reform, and Pedagogical Development (I usually visit between 8-12 different schools a year)
Current Location: Roanoke, Virginia, though I live in Lexington, VA, home of the now famous Red Hen restaurant
Current mobile device: iPhone 9
Current computer: MacBook Air (but also an old old PC desktop that I use to write longer documents)

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I've been a professor at Roanoke College for 22 years. RC is a small liberal arts college of about 2000 students. For the last 14 years or so I've also taken on some mid-level administrative work, largely in the realm of curricular and faculty development. This coming year, for instance, I'll teach three courses, admin for the equivalent of 2, and use a sixth to pursue my own projects.

In addition, I visit between 8-12 schools a year, helping them with curricular reform and pedagogical development.

My current research is on developing course designs and pedagogical approaches to enhance student authority--that is, their sense of their ability to step into the world as thoughtful agents of change. This has nothing to do with my dissertation. In fact, I haven't used my dissertation work directly in the last 14 years.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
Honestly? I use an old PC desktop for all of my longer writing. I just like sitting at the desk, having that big keyboard clacking in front of me. I write on Microsoft Office Word (365). I don't use any other apps other than, occasionally, Safari to look up some random fact. I try and keep my phone away from my desk when I'm writing.

What does your workspace setup look like?

I have a fixed workspace in my home. It's the only place I do major writing. It's on the top floor, at the back of the house, facing over an old cemetery and some distant mountains. It gets the morning light. My desk is a huge old door set up on two filing cabinets. It's very cluttered, which is funny, since I used to be very tidy. Now I don't care any more.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Several things come to mind:
1) When writing, imagine a gracious and loving audience. That helps deal with anxiety about not "getting it right."
2) Allow yourself, in Anne Lamott's words, a "shitty first draft." Let it suck. Just turn off the editor/critic and get the words down. Then you have something you can revise.
3) Go for a run or do some form of exercise before you sit down to write. This will lower anxiety and stress.
4) Sometimes light music helps distract that critical nasty questioning part of your brain. I listen to CDs by The National when I write.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?

I keep a jotted list on my desk. I take great pleasure in crossing things off.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?

Hmmmmm . . . I guess I'm a communicator? I take pleasure in taking complex ideas and finding ways to make them meaningful/understandable for various audiences--be they students or the resistant faculty member at the back of the room.

What do you listen to when you work?
I love that you ask this! Anything by The National, including SLEEP WELL BEAST, HIGH VIOLET, TROUBLE WILL FIND ME, and BOXER. I also listen to GIVE UP, by the Postal Service

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I am currently reading Rory Stewart's THE PLACES IN BETWEEN.

Until this last sabbatical (that I'm currently coming off of), I did a terrible job of finding time to read. But this year I've read probably more books than in the last 22 years! I'm hoping to keep this going as the school year begins by: a) reminding myself how healthy reading is, that it slows down the heart rate and relaxes the breathing, focusing the mind (much like meditation); and b) putting down books that don't grab my interest. I'm getting older now. I don't feel obliged to read through something that doesn't interest me anymore.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I appear to be an extrovert, but really am an introvert. I need time by myself to clear my head, read, mull, daydream, write. I can face out and perform, but it is a performance.

Realizing that much of my public work is performative has actually been freeing. I've learned to turn it on and be public when I'm in public, being gracious and out-going, knowing that, eventually, I'll retreat to my lair and recoup.

What's your sleep routine like?
Shoot for eight hours. Take more if I can get it. Try and avoid less if possible. Naps are lovely.

What's your work routine like?

Two to four hours in the morning of writing. But that only happens when I'm not teaching. When I'm teaching, all bets are off and life just becomes task task task.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Be gracious to yourself. Forgive your flaws and mistakes and errors of judgment. Once you do that, it's easier to be gracious to others.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I am Lauren Drogos, and This is How I Work

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lauren Drogos for the academic parents edition of the "How I Work" series. Dr. Drogos is an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Calgary in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. She received a B.S in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology – Division of Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Illinois Chicago. Her research across the past decade has focused on the effects of steroid hormones on cognition and mood, with a focus on women’s mental health.

This time, I tried something new - we did the interview through Skype and recorded it for publication on the blog. Let me know how you like this form of the interview series!

Here's the interview - in which we talk about tech tools, Lauren's research work, and parenting twins:

(PS: I had my questions on my other screen - that explains my constant looking away from the camera, sorry!)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Meditation in academia

I recently ran a poll to see if meditation is popular for academics. We've seen the research that it's good for us, so it seems, as slightly more than half of the respondents meditate at least every now and then. I used to have a good habit of meditating daily, but momlife has made this more difficult - I need to find how to get organized in a better way (but let me first get through the toddler years).

Here's the wake of the poll:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I am Andrew Watson, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Watson for the "How I Work" series. Andrew is a second year Doctorial Researcher at the University of Glasgow. By day Andrew is a Data Analyst for an Insurance Provider and by night is researching peoples bodily and sensorial engagement with Neolithic funerary monuments.

Current Job: I work full time as a Data Analyst and study part time for my PhD in Archaeology
Current Location: Somerset, UK
Current mobile device: LG K8
Current computer: Dell Inspiron

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I’m a part time PhD student in archaeology using a phenomenological approach to understand peoples bodily and sensorial engagement with Neolithic long barrows. I’m interested in how much of our experiences today could be similar to that of people in the Neolithic.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I don’t use any fancy tools, apps or software. I have a word document that I update whenever I study and start a new one weekly. It has numerous headers including things to be done this week, things to be done in the future, what I plan to do, what I actually did, upcoming deadlines and things to work on when I have spare time(!).

What does your workspace setup look like?
I’m a distance learning student so I study at home primarily and sometimes visit a local university library. With the arrival of my son my workspace has diminished somewhat from a big desk in my spare room, to a smaller desk in the living room, to one in the bedroom, to now using my laptop with a second monitor on the dining room table and tidying it away each time.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Break tasks down into smaller chunks and work towards these first. Ultimately for me if what I’m working on will not help me finish my thesis then is it a priority? Do I have time to be working on a side project? Sometimes the answer is yes, and this is fine, but other times you need to say no to things or put them to one side until the key deadline is met.
Managing time well is key for a part time and distance learning student.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
My trusty notebook and weekly to-do list!

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Not that I can think of.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
While I wouldn’t class myself as an academic yet, as I don’t have my PhD, I believe I am self-motivated, determined and have good time management. As I’ve studied from my Undergraduate degree via distance learning I’ve had to find ways of keeping myself motivated and focused over the almost 10 years!

What do you listen to when you work?
While not my usual cup of tea, dubstep is quite good when I need to focus. I think this is because it’s quite repetitive. Rock music too like Iron Maiden or AC/DC is good too!

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
You can’t write before you’ve read… well at least for your literature review. Reading is important, not just books or papers written previously but it’s also important to keep on top of new papers being published. There are many journal notification emails that I’ve signed up to but it’s important to set some time aside each week to read and keep on top of things.
What am I reading now? Numerous things on qualitative and phenomenological research as my fieldwork is due to take place in a few months!

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
While I potentially come across as an extrovert, I believe I have become an introvert over the years. I’m confident in my research but sometimes wonder if my ideas are quite abstract and fear negative peer-feedback and how that may knock my confidence.

What's your sleep routine like?
Sleep is important. As a dad, full time employee and part time student it is important to get enough rest! I tend to aim for around six hours a night. Any more and I feel less productive the following day, any less and it usually catches up with me a day or so later.

What's your work routine like?
Since the birth of my son I’ve struggled to motivate myself at the end of a busy day either being a dad or working in my (sometimes) mentally draining job. The thought of sitting down to a few hours of work was not appealing. Equally, if my son had a bad evening, didn’t settle or woke up late into the evening I couldn’t get things done. Instead I’ve found getting up around 4:30am allows me two hours to work while everyone else is asleep and then I can get ready at 6:30am to get into the office to start my day. This then allows me the luxury of sitting down some evenings and having time to myself!

What's the best advice you ever received?
Pace yourself and set realistic goals. I’ve previously agreed to take on too much or set very ambitious targets and not reached them. This can be most disheartening. Setting realistic goals, which only you know what you can achieve, will help you have a more positive experience!
Oh… and share your ideas at an early stage! I’ve mulled over and stressed about ideas wondering if they are worth sharing and when I finally do they are usually well received and supported by colleagues.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: Open Access Publishing

This post is part of the series PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: posts written for the Dutch academic career network AcademicTransfer, your go-to resource for all research positions in the Netherlands.

These posts are sponsored by AcademicTransfer, and tailored to those of you interested in pursuing a research position in the Netherlands.

If these posts raise your interest in working as a researcher in the Netherlands, even better - and feel free to fire away any questions you might have on this topic!

You may have heard that a number of countries in Europe recently signed Plan S - so I'm here to help you navigate what this means, and how this may impact your research.

Over the past few years, more and more researchers have criticized the traditional model of publishing, where the author transfers copyright of his/her work to a publisher, who will then charge subscription fees to libraries or individual users so that they can access the contents. One of the largest for-profit publishers, Elsevier (annual revenue for 2017 was 2.48 billion pounds), is often the target of academic protests. Negotiations between Elsevier and the University of California system aren't going to well. The largest boycot to Elsevier is "The Cost of Knowledge". I personally stopped submitted my work to and reviewing for Elsevier journals after receiving take-down notices for PDFs privately stored on my ResearchGate for sending them in private messages to colleagues - which, in my opinion, is the same as sending an email to a colleague and not a copyright infringement.

Certainly, Plan S is not without criticism, and the most notable is this open letter from researchers. My main point of criticism is that it's not very clear what is expected from researchers now - this may be because most of the time I'm outside of Ecuador and have simply missed out on the requirements, but I am missing some sort of handbook for researchers on how to follow Plan S now. For "slow" journals in my field, it takes up to 3 years to go from submission to publication - so that could be a hurdle in starting to publish open access on January 1st 2020.

What is Plan S?
Plan S means that from January 1st 2020, all scholarly publications resulting from public research funding must be published in Open Access journals or on Open Access platforms. So far, 12 countries are supporting Plan S: Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, the UK and the Gates foundation from the USA. China is planning to join soon, it seems. See here for official communication of Science Europe.
Note that "for books and monographs, the timeline may be extended beyond 2020".

What does Plan S mean for academia in the Netherlands?
Research funded by NWO, ERC, and EU Horizon 2020 falls under Plan S. Any work from other funding bodies does not.
However, in addition to the efforts of NWO, many universities have set targets for reaching a certain % of all publications as Open Access publications. For TU Delft, that target for 2018 was 60%, and will be higher for 2019.

How to select the right Open Access journal for your work

As always, you should make sure that your work fits within the scope of a journal - so read the aims and scope of the journal, and check if they have article collections or special issues that may be particularly of your interest. If you don't know where to start, check recent papers in a journal of your interest, or check where the papers you most recently read and cited are published. You can also check the editorial board of the journal. In case of doubt, write the editor with your abstract to see if the journal would be interested in your work. Check if the journal is not a predatory journal.

A main feature of Open Access publishing is that the authors have to pay for the cost of publishing through an APC (article processing charge) - a cost that otherwise would be covered by the subscription fees. According to Plan S, "publication fees should be covered by the funders or universities, not individual researchers", and "such publication fees should be standardized and capped". Also note that Hybrid open-access solutions (such as an Elsevier journal asking you to pay an APC to make your article open access) are not supported by Plan S. You will find that some countries, such as the Netherlands, have agreements with publishers to cover the Open Access costs, and that some universities (for example, TU Delft)have agreements with Open Access publishers so that the university is charged directly and not the authors. If the journal of your interest is not covered by such an agreement, you can either ask the publisher for a waiver, or see if there are any additional funds at your university (such as an Open Access fund) to cover such costs.

Only some OA journals, that typically have a university sponsoring them, such as ACI Avances en Ciencias en Ingenierias of which I am the editor in chief (shameless self promotion) and which is funded by Universidad San Francisco de Quito do not charge an APC.

Since most OA journals are rather new, many of them are working on getting indexed in search engines such as Web of Science / ISI and Scopus. You may need to check where the journal of your interest is indexed to see if there may be a limitation there (for exmaple, if your institution only counts your papers that are published in Scopus-index journals).

An important aspect of Plan S is that authors should remain the copyright of their work, so when research should be published under plan S, you should check if the journal you plan to publish in requires a copyright transfer to them, or if you keep your copyright (open licensing model, creative commons). Check for the CC license on recent papers from the journal of your interest.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Exercise in academia

I ran a poll to see how fit academics are. The poll received a fair number of votes, and I'm glad to see that more than half of all respondents work out at least once or a few times per week!

If you want to make a commitment to exercise this year, go for it! Today is a perfect day for getting started. Make a plan, and stick to it :)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The 10 best books I read in 2018

As every year, I present you with a list of the 10 best books I read over the past year. I don't make a list of the best books of the past year, since I read both recent and not-so-recent novels.

As I track my reading on Goodreads, I've learned that the number of books I read per year varies, but the total number of pages I read per year is rather constant (between 11000 and 12000 in 3 of the last 6 years; 2 years I read more, in 2017 the infant empress made me read less).

Here are my 10 favorites that I recently read:

10. You must be very intelligent - the PhD delusion - Karin Bodewits

I received this book as a review copy, and literally laughed out loud a number of times (I may have actually woken up or disturbed the infant empress in the process).

9. Your are not like other mothers - Angelika Schrobsdorff

The rise and fall of Else Kirschner: from a good young Jewish girl in Berlin, to a starved young mother during WWI, to a society figure in the rolling 20s, to a poor woman in exile in Bulgaria.

8. The Turner House - Angela Flournoy

I'm late to the bandwagon of the Turner house (which was published in 2015), but nonetheless deeply enjoyed reading this family saga. This is the kind of book that makes you enter a different universe for days on end.

7. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done - Laura Vanderkam

Those of you who've been following my blog for a while know that I'm a fan of Laura's work - and her latest book, based on research from actual time logs, is everything I love in a nonfiction book: well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking, and actually making me change the way I do things.

6. Hunger, a memoir of my body - Roxane Gay

A book for every woman who has a body and has thoughts about that body.

5. Educated - Tara Westover

The autobiography of Tara Westover is fascinating. She grow up without receiving any formal education, and went on to get a PhD. The added value of this book for educators is clear too.

4. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

I listened to this audiobook, and for weeks on end I was caught up in Jane's story during many long nursing sessions. A classic for many reasons.

3. Het goddelijke monster - Tom Lanoye

Tom Lanoye takes us to the underbelly of Flemish society in the 1990s. For those who read Dutch, the Flemish Dutch of Lanoye is quite an experience to read, and the insight in Belgium/Flanders is unlike what other authors manage to sketch.

2. Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

Disclaimer: I am a huge Saunders fan, and have liked every single piece of writing by Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo is his first novel, and deals with the topic of grief and loss of a child (the son of president Lincoln in this case). While it took me some effort to get used to the writing style (a chorus of voices from the dead and living), this book touched me deeply.

1. Het hout - Jeroen Brouwers

In Dutch - the latest (and perhaps last) book of Jeroen Brouwers shows life inside a boarding school operated by priests, where pedophilia and abuse reign. A claustrophobia-inducing book about good and evil, and the choices we make in life. I hope for those who don't read Dutch that an English translation is coming soon.