RESEARCH METHODSWorkshop: Part 3 on adding value to your post-gradstudies28 January 2013
What added value?• Writing a Masters degree dissertation is a lot of hard work, but very little of it is visible.• You can read for days and then write only a paragraph or two.• The same is true for empirical analysis.• Even when you have finished up a chapter, only you and your supervisor know about all the effort that went into it.• The question is, is a Masters degree about obtaining certain knowledge and skills, or about signaling.
What added value?• It is probably a bit of both, but finishing up with the degree certificate and a book that 4 people have read may feel a bit disappointing.• Your supervisor will probably ensure that the knowledge and skills are developed, but you have to work at strengthening the signal.• There are a few ways to add value and also prepare yourself for the job market: • Make your work visible. • Become part of the academic community
Visibility• Why should you make your work visible? • You are in a process or reading, writing and revising. • In this process you are learning to analyse, synthesise and evaluate. • But you want to demonstrate these competencies long before the dissertation is finished. • Showing what you can do, and how you have done it, will make funding applications and the eventual job search much easier. • It also helps with sanity: sharing the progress, getting feedback will help you to keep going. • And it helps with becoming part of the academic community.
Visibility• How can you make your work visible? • You can talk about it with friends and family, or get them to read some of the stuff that you are writing. • But the best is to start a blog for your research: • Start with a basic page: what is your project about, why is it relevant, how will you tackle it. • Compile a bibliography – as you read papers, put them in a list and link to source. This comes a resource to share. • Link to news stories related to your topic – helps with showing relevance. • As you read and write, blog about it – say what it is that you are writing about, simply and in your own words. • Maybe you will develop a data set, or software code for a specific application – share it. • If you are presenting your proposal at a colloquium, share your slides.
Visibility• How can you make your work visible? • A blog is best: • It keeps you writing and that helps with thinking. • You dont need to have a whole chapter done before someone looks at it, you can post your thoughts on the paper you read last night. • You are establishing yourself as a voice in a certain field. • You can link to and share resources in one place. • You may get feedback. • Use Blogger, WordPress or whatever - the platform and the look matters less than the quality of the posts. • Then look for some examples of what is possible and get going • E.g. check out Mr Waits blog for his PhD. • Or Nic Spaul (at US) for his research blog.
Academic community• The second important step is to get out there and mingle: • Don’t sit on your own, working in the library all day, you have to talk to fellow students and staff to get ideas, share ideas and resources. • This means seeing you supervisor regularly. • Coming to the School for a cup of coffee with other staff members. • Attending the seminars – ask questions and comment. • Making a road trip to a seminar at UP, UJ, or Wits. • Maybe, apply for an ERSA workshop. • Or you can even attend the Economic Societys conference.
Academic community• There is also an electronic part to this: • Make the blog the first place where people find you and your work on the web. • What do prospective employers find when they Google you? • But dont forget to build your professional network on LinkedIn – connect with other researchers or practitioners. • You can use Twitter to follow people working in your field, to find and share resources. • Tweet smartly and establish your self as a voice in your field. • Again, look at how @RequierWait and @HenriBez is doing it.
Workflow• Finally, I think that you should integrate all this into an electronic workflow.• I recommend Mendeley and Dropbox: