Writing Academic Abstracts Made Simple

By Maria Tsapali, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

It is a common occurrence in academic circles to encounter vague and ambiguous abstracts both in journal articles and conference papers. It is easy to fall in this trap but we need to resist the temptation and make the abstract as little abstract as possible. But how can we actually achieve this? In this post I will share my personal abstract rules that I developed through my extensive experience with academic writing and reviewing.


Makin’ gainz: The epistemology of the gym and the classroom

I was told that the most important thing a PhD student can do whilst finishing their thesis (aside from writing, of course) is to do some form of regular physical activity. Hours of writing can be incredibly sedentary; tea breaks can easily turn into tea and cake breaks. And how many of us work with a bowl of chocolates within an arm’s reach?

Conversely, the multifaceted benefits of working out for our physical and mental wellbeing are well documented. Aside from keeping weight, blood pressure, and waistline in check, exercise provides a jolt of endorphins. Even a brisk 10 minute walk has significant benefits.

The Realities of Our Lives, Syrian to Syrian

 In this blog entry, Hiba Salem shares the complexities of being a Syrian researcher studying the voices of Syrian students. Hiba discusses her fieldwork, where she researched the experiences of Syrian refugee students aged 13-16 in Jordan’s schools. She provides a rare insight into the realities of being a Syrian refugee student in a segregated school, where access is highly restricted for researchers. 

How Do We Manage Digital Distractions During a PhD?

I’m incredibly interested in the push and pull of digital distractions that we encounter during virtually every waking hour of our everyday lives. It can be quite easy to fall into certain patterns of behaviors and social media habits, and this is very much by design (for example, this recent article from The Guardian: “Social media copies gambling methods ‘to create psychological cravings”). And once they become habits, they are much harder to see them for what they are — hopefully this post can be a reminder and a refresher to check what is and isn’t working for us.

Distractions are very much a part of life and can be perfectly fine and enjoyable in the right circumstances — but here are some tips and strategies on how to cope with digital distractions when they might feel a little too disruptive for our liking. With the right motivation we can certainly re-train our habits.

Want to Make Your PhD Better? Hang Out with an Animal

If you go around asking people in academia for things that would make students write higher quality PhDs, I doubt many people’s first answer would be a furry friend.  I doubt it would even be present on most people’s list.  I may be a bit biased (ok, I’m totally biased), but I’m here to say that it should be! Here are five reasons why pets are an excellent way to give your PhD a boost. Disclaimer – this post might just be an excuse to look at cute pictures of furry PhD assistants (but it’s still all true).

Dealing with Journal Rejections as an Early-Career Researcher

 Among the many encouraging positive comments I received at the BERA-BAICE Writing for Publication Workshop, a persistent message conveyed by other early career researchers was this: it was important for them to learn about not only my successful publication experience, but also my vulnerability in the face of rejections. Given space constraints, in this post I will focus solely on how I dealt with rejections. For other sharing of my publication experiences, please refer to this post and my upcoming posts on the BERA blog and BERA Research Intelligence.  

Over and above all, I want to demonstrate that, IT IS POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH, for somebody like me, who is not particularly gifted in writing, who does not know many grand English words, who does not speak English as a first language and whose article manuscripts kept getting rejected.