Don’t Make Graduate Students Freak Out about Publishing

Sometimes the title tells you all you really need to know. But I did write a little more on this than just the one line, and the piece -- a draft of which I tried out here -- is now in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in the Chronicle Review. I'd like to thank the Chronicle editors for vastly improving … Continue reading Don’t Make Graduate Students Freak Out about Publishing

Letter to a Prospective Graduate Student

Why study history in graduate school? A promising undergraduate student asked me this recently, not quite in so many words. My answer was inadequate; despite my own advice on the subject, and despite everything going on at the moment in politics and academe, when sitting in my office and put on the spot I floundered … Continue reading Letter to a Prospective Graduate Student

Branding Is Not An Academic Priority

Again: university branding is not an academic priority. And to the extent that the improvement or broadcasting of a university's reputation is pursued as a matter of promoting a brand rather than reflecting or substantive academic achievements, university reputation -- including institutional rankings -- is not an academic priority either. This is not to say universities have no need … Continue reading Branding Is Not An Academic Priority

Truth, Freedom, and Productivity: When PR usurps scholarship

No one wants ill-advised assessment regimes imported into higher education. No one wants to see a single-minded, narrow emphasis on quantifying value. No one desires deeply flawed metrics being used to compare institutions and individuals. Nevertheless...[1] Quoting the above out of context is a little unfair -- the authors are talking about the need for … Continue reading Truth, Freedom, and Productivity: When PR usurps scholarship

Social Media and the Serious Academic

Should "serious academics" make time for social media? At least two recent commentators (I'm guessing there are more out there, but it may be hasty to speak of a silent majority) think not. Many -- naturally including a slew of "twitterstorians" and academic bloggers -- have responded, detailing the ways social media facilitates their work and lampooning their … Continue reading Social Media and the Serious Academic

Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

Our academic year begins in a couple of weeks, which means that this is the time for finishing, revising or at the very least updating course syllabi with the relevant dates. My teaching load is on the light side: two courses per semester, plus a moderate number of graduate and honours supervisions. (For the sake of comparison, a large, … Continue reading Back to School: Teaching, Research, and Regret

Academic publishing and graduate students: Thought for the day

My grandfather was born in 1909: not old enough for the First World War and too old for the Second, he served in the US Navy between the two. He had, I think, about three or four years of elementary school before leaving to work; though I remember him as prone to quoting Scripture and Shakespeare and singing lines of … Continue reading Academic publishing and graduate students: Thought for the day

Not that kind of doctor: questions about the history PhD from near-ground level

One reason that I feel free to try my hand at blogging all of a sudden after all these years on Earth is that a great weight is about to be lifted from my shoulders: the weight of being my department’s graduate program director. When I agreed to take on the job just over three years … Continue reading Not that kind of doctor: questions about the history PhD from near-ground level