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.


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.

The PhD Experience as an Apprenticeship into Academia

When I first started my PhD back in 2012 I wasn’t sure whether I would return to secondary school teaching afterwards or stay in academia, looking back I suppose I didn’t really know what it meant to be an academic. But throughout the three years of my PhD I had the opportunity to contribute to different research projects, to publish, and to teach; although it might seem like a bit of a cliché to say that the experience was an apprenticeship into academia, for me, that’s exactly what it was. It didn’t take long for me to realise that this was what I wanted to do with my life. So here are a few personal reflections on what I feel were the most influential factors in progressing from the PhD, to a postdoc position on the MEITS project, and ultimately into a lectureship.

Don’t Compromise: Nothing Less Than an “Enjoyable” Viva!

Just after submitting the soft-bound copies of my thesis, I started to feel anxious about my viva voce. I was worrying about the result I would get after five years of hard work for my PhD in Cambridge. But, almost everyone that I talked to seemed to have experienced a level of anxiety with regard to their viva examination as the situation could be difficult and quite unpredictable.

My #PhDshelfie: Michelle

Hi, my name is Michelle and if I have any special talent it is approaching burnout and staying on the brink of it for far too long. For those who don’t know, “burnout”  is a term coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, to describe the effects of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions, such as doctors and nurses. Today it is used to refer to the phenomenon in professions across the board, with main signs and symptoms falling into three main categories: exhaustion, alienation from work-related activities, and reduced performance. These signs can be both physical and emotional and are starting to be more recognized as a problem within academia.

Raising the Bar? Why PhD Students and Postdocs Publish and Perish, and How They Could Publish and Flourish Instead (Part 2)

I propose here that to publish and flourish the focus must shift from our obsessions with metrics to our contributions to knowledge. The metrics are merely (or at least should be) by-products of the research process. To flourish within this crude system, let me offer some tips on getting published frequently and publishing well to thrive in your first postdoctoral years in academia.

Raising the Bar? Why PhD Students and Postdocs Publish and Perish, and How They Could Publish and Flourish Instead (Part 1)

Publish or perish remains a popular maxim in higher education circles. Although it may ring of neoliberal institutional straight-jacketing or self-imposed bio-governance – and there is resistance against it by a number of academic groups – the experience for many scholars is that the mantra still holds true. It seems as though one must publish often in high-impact journals or expect to be relegated to a second-class citizen of the academy. The challenge is to face this situation without succumbing to the pressure. My task then in this short two-part blog post is to offer some tips from my personal experience as an early-career academic and recent graduate of the Faculty of Education in Cambridge on how to publish often and publish well.