five abiding academic fears

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Persistent thoughts (and fears) these days …


  1. The latest book manuscript disappears. It’s almost done and it would be unbearable to lose it. I can’t even comprehend coming back from theloss, having to rewrite it all. But it won’t happen. Itreally won’t. No, really. I have multiple copies, the publishers have a first version, as do reviewers, it’s in the cloud, it’s on my back up drive etc etc. Still I worry.
  1. My reference library disappears. One day I wake up and it doesn’t work anymore. Oh hang on, that has happened. That’s when the various platform developers don’t talk to each other… the new version of word doesn’t talk to the bibliographic software and the help line just says yes and the website says don’t trash your old copy of wordbecause you’ll need it for a while as we sort out ournew compatible version…. Yeah right. As it happens I didn’t trash the old version because…

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When It’s Almost the End


It is late so I am going to keep this short :-).

Image result for doctoral comprehensive exam

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that I have been a full time student since 2012. It has been a long journey. It has been a taxing journey. It has been a draining journey. BUT I am almost at the end … of this leg of the journey at least.

On next weekend, I will start what  seems to me like a seven-day, academic hazing process: comprehensive exams. The process entails – as I have been told – eight to ten hours of writing per day for seven days. I am not looking forward to it. Two weeks later, we are also required to successfully pass the oral component of comprehensive exams. And when it is all said and done, comps successfully passed, I will commit 100% to dissertation writing … another year or two of the process.

Last week as I reached what I was sure was my breaking point and realized that I needed to take a serious step back to give myself both a mental and physical break. After a few days off and some much needed conversations with a number of people, I approached this week differently. I am moving slightly slower. I am taking deeper breathes. I am taking it one day at a time. And tonight, I paused to recognize that while this process has been and continues to be taxing, strenuous, exhausting it is a process that I chose and I am doing what I love … on most days of the week ;-). For this I am thankful. I am on a path that I have chosen. I have made a significant sacrifice in my life that I have no regrets about. I am pursuing my passions and extending myself fully by using as many of my gifts that I am aware of. For this, I won’t complain.


An Editor’s Thoughts on the Peer Review Process

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Great article with food for thought as I submit reviews and am also being reviewed!

The Political Methodologist

[Ed. note: This post is contributed by Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa.]

As academics, the peer review process can be one of the most rewarding and frustrating experiences in our careers. Detailed and careful reviews of our work can significantly improve the quality of our published research and identify new avenues for future research. Negative reviews of our work, while also helpful in terms of identifying weaknesses in our research, can be devastating to our egos and our mental health. My perspectives on peer review have been shaped by twenty years of experience submitting my work to journals and book publishers and by serving as an Associate Editor for two journals, Foreign Policy Analysis and Research & Politics. In this piece, I will 1) discuss the qualities of good reviews, 2) provide advice for how to…

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