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  • Julie T. Kinn 4:34 pm on August 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: constructive criticism, , ,   

    Happy birthday blog: Revisiting the first post, “Start Your Own Writing Group” 

    In celebration of this blog’s one-year anniversary, I’m reposting the first item. Oh, how young we all were!

    –JTK

    Want some nerdy fun that can help advance your career? Start your own writing group! You have several options, including:

    • A group of random writers from a variety of disciplines. Check out Meetup to see if there are already any groups meeting regularly in a cafe near you. These are fun if your goal is to meet new folks or work on your personal goal setting. However, you may not get a lot of useful feedback on your paper about neural network architecture.
    • A group of peers at work. Good times if you actually like your co-workers (yes, I fall into that category). You can either start a formal group (invite everyone) or informal (just ask around and let it grow organically). The danger in a formal group is that if you are in a leadership position, your invitation can come off more like an expectation. No one likes feeling voluntold.
    • A virtual writing group. There’s no reason you need a group in vivo. There are scads of ways to meet online using a FaceBook page, google docs, virtual teleconferencing or even Second Life. This is especially useful if you are one of a handful of folks studying your particular fascinating fungus. If there seems to be a lot of response to this blog, maybe we can set up something in this forum.

    Okay, so you and a bunch of like-minded others have pens, paper and lattes. What’s next? Again, you’ve got some choices:

    • A real feedback group. Group members provide drafts and get constructive feedback. Not just “this is great!”. Good when you don’t have other sources of feedback.
    • A fake feedback group. Group members share drafts and are told “this is great!”. Pretty annoying if you are expecting constructive feedback, but everyone needs unconditional love once in a while.
    • A goal-setting group. This is my personal fave. Hold regularly-scheduled brief meetings (30 minute tops) to go around the group and state progress on goals and set new ones.

    Any other formats I’ve neglected? What works for you?

     
  • Julie T. Kinn 5:30 pm on January 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: constructive criticism, edit, ego, , , , track changes   

    Constructive Criticism Part II: Taking It 

    Last week I blogged about ways to provide feedback. This week is all about receiving feedback from others.

    If you are currently a graduate student or a recent Ph.D., then you likely have a low enough ego to easily accept constructive criticism (please refer to Figure 1). However, it can still be difficult to wade through pages of red ink, tracked changes and blinded reviewer feedback.

    Criticism can hurt. We work hard on our writing, and sometimes a paper represents the culmination of years of work. As we point out in Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles, you are much more than just your writing. It’s crucial to understand that other academics aren’t trying to put you down by offering you feedback. This is just part of the process of improving our work and developing our skill sets.

    In graduate school I used to fantasize that my dissertation chair would return a pristine draft of my proposal with only the comment, “Spectacular!” Instead, I always received pages full of comments, questions, and nearly indecipherable scribbles. It took me a couple revision cycles to realize what an incredible gift those edits were.

    When you receive edits from a talented writer, don’t just make the changes: Think about the changes. Well-thought out revisions are like a lesson in improving your writing skills using your own product as a case-in-point.

    Those undergrads will learn soon enough.

    Figure 1. The distribution of writing ego across career path.

     
  • Julie T. Kinn 12:43 pm on August 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: constructive criticism, , ,   

    Start Your Own Writing Group 

    Want some nerdy fun that can help advance your career? Start your own writing group! You have several options, including:

    • A group of random writers from a variety of disciplines. Check out Meetup to see if there are already any groups meeting regularly in a cafe near you. These are fun if your goal is to meet new folks or work on your personal goal setting. However, you may not get a lot of useful feedback on your paper about neural network architecture.
    • A group of peers at work. Good times if you actually like your co-workers (yes, I fall into that category). You can either start a formal group (invite everyone) or informal (just ask around and let it grow organically). The danger in a formal group is that if you are in a leadership position, your invitation can come off more like an expectation. No one likes feeling voluntold.
    • A virtual writing group. There’s no reason you need a group in vivo. There are scads of ways to meet online using a FaceBook page, google docs, virtual teleconferencing or even Second Life. This is especially useful if you are one of a handful of folks studying your particular fascinating fungus. If there seems to be a lot of response to this blog, maybe we can set up something in this forum.

    Okay, so you and a bunch of like-minded others have pens, paper and lattes. What’s next?  Again, you’ve got some choices:

    • A real feedback group. Group members provide drafts and get constructive feedback. Not just “this is great!”. Good when you don’t have other sources of feedback.
    • A fake feedback group. Group members share drafts and are told “this is great!”. Pretty annoying if you are expecting constructive feedback, but everyone needs unconditional love once in a while.
    • A goal-setting group. This is my personal fave. Hold regularly-scheduled brief meetings (30 minute tops) to go around the group and state progress on goals and set new ones.

    Any other formats I’ve neglected? What works for you?

     

     
    • Fiona 12:57 pm on September 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It’s hard to do constructive criticism correctly. People’s feelings can get hurt so easily. But I still want to give good feedback,.

      • Julie T. Kinn 9:37 am on September 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Howdy Fiona,

        Good point! I’m currently working on a two-part series for the blog… Constructive Criticism: Giving it (Part I) and Taking it (Part II). Thanks for the good idea!

        Julie

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