The ProQuest Graduate Education Program is pleased to announce the Roger K. Summit Scholarship is once again open to all graduate students studying library and information sciences. From the ProQuest website:
The Roger K. Summit Scholarship, awarded annually by ProQuest, was established to honor Dr. Roger K. Summit, the founder of Dialog, a ProQuest business, for his outstanding contributions to the field of information science.
The scholarship is open to all LIS students worldwide. The award is the equivalent of US $5,000 and is presented at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Conference.
Visit here to learn more about this scholarship opportunity, and download a copy of the application.
In celebration of Black History Month, ProQuest is offering FREE ACCESS to the following databases throughout the month of February:
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers - Black Newspapers - The voice of people, culture, politics and issues in communities that too often received little to no attention from other papers. They give students the complete story with nine full-image titles that are cross-searchable with other ProQuest Historical Newspapers, ProQuest Civil War Era, and with the Black Studies Center. Access it free now.
- Black Studies Center- Start here...for primary and secondary sources for Black or African American studies. It includes the only periodical resource focused exclusively on African and African American studies, two historical Black studies indexes: the Marshall Index to Periodicals and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s Index to Black Literature, and the full Chicago Defender newspaper from first issue to 1975. Access it free now.
- ProQuest Civil War Era- Comprehensive full-image primary source materials, previously unavailable digitally, cover a vast range of topics including the formative economic factors and other forces that led to the abolitionist movement and the emancipation of nearly 4 million slaves. Access it free now.
- ProQuest African American Heritage- Groundbreaking digital resource that not only brings together records critical to African American family research, but also connects to a community of research experts. See the video. Access it free now.
We encourage you to take advantage of these databases, and visit here to learn more about ProQuest resources that illuminate the Black Experience.
I wanted to take this opportunity to let our GradShare readers know about another resourceful blog aimed at helping grad students -- Branching Points. The blog is written by Liza Shoenfeld, a "neuroscience grad student at the University of Washington who feels strongly that grad students need to be exposed to more models for successful careers outside of academia."
Liza was generous enough to contact GradShare and share some of her blog posts with us. The posts offer insight into different professional career paths from the perspective of grad student. She also has a series of helpful tips on how to properly conduct informational interviews.
I encourage everyone to visit Branching Points and take a look at Liza's posts; her mission is admirable, as she is truly a grad student that is helping her peers succeed.
Elliott Hauser, a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been awarded the 2012 Roger K. Summit Scholarship. The scholarship is named in the honor Dr. Summit, the original founder of Dialog, for his contribution to progress in the field of information science.
Elliott is currently studying information science, and he specifically focused on the problem of data description -- "accounting for the sources, transformation and analyses that data have undergone during the research process." The award was presented to Elliott at the SLA Annual Conference in recognition of his outstanding performance and interest in electronic information services.
ProQuest Vice President of Global Training, Anthea Gotto, noted that "Elliott's research has the potential to change the information services such as ProQuest can support serious researchers and their quests for new knowledge."
To learn more about Elliott and his research click here.
The word "scientist" can conjure up many images. Some might envision an individual with lab goggles, a pristine white lab coat, a pocket protector jam packed with pens, and a look of complete concentration on their face as they hold a bubbling beaker with forceps. Others might picture a man with untamed gray hair, scrawling complex formulas across a chalk board, darting to and fro to search for their data in a room overflowing with notes and books -- somewhere between Albert Einstein and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future . Entertaining stereotypes aside, every scientist and researcher has certain things in common; they need to organize their data, collaborate with their peers, and publish their work. For those very reasons, every scientist can benefit from LabArchives.
LabArchives is a web-based electronic notebook designed to help scientists manage large amounts of information. With the data secured on a "multiply-redundant network of servers," users can safely store or retrieve their data at anytime, no matter where they are in the world. The tool also facilitates collaboration, allowing users to share data with an entire laboratory or an individual peer. "There are enormous problems with using analog technology in a digital world," explains Earl Beutler, LabArchives President & CEO, "with this in mind we formed LabArchives as a powerful and inexpensive solution to these problems." Paper notebooks filled with research notes can instead be digitally organized in a central location. Reliance on email as a means of collaboration is no longer a necessity when you can share specific information across the globe using an online lab notebook. Research data can be collected and organized in a more efficient manner, making the process of getting information to publishers more streamlined. Scientific research is constantly shaping our future, by using the latest web-based technology LabArchives is ushering in a new era for scientific data management.
Created in 2009, LabArchives is the brainchild of several experts in web-based technology and scientific computing. Among them is the aforementioned Earl Beutler, former CEO and co-founder of RefWorks. He is joined by a technology team headed by Kirk Schneider and Steve Maybo, both of whom were also responsible for the creation and early success of RefWorks; together they boast several decades of combined expertise in the fields of information technology and web-development. Although their experience is a valuable asset, there are still bound to be bumps in the road when developing a product that uses cutting edge technology. However, Beutler notes, "the biggest challenge has been getting [scientists] to change the way they've been doing things for years. Almost everyone recognizes this is the way to go, but it's not always easy to change."
Regardless of the challenges they've faced in the areas of development and marketing, their efforts are clearly paying off. As Beutler points out, "There has been an incredibly enthusiastic response from the user community. Many scientists, especially in academia, had been waiting for an affordable solution like LabArchives, and they tell us it has greatly improved their productivity and organization in the lab." The basic version of LabArchives is free, while an upgraded Professional version can be purchased, offering more storage space per user. In addition, there is a new Classroom Edition that is "being adopted by many colleges (and high schools) for use in undergraduate laboratory courses." Beutler also touches on the fact that they are open to working with universities to offer site-licenses; this means that if you're a graduate student in the sciences, now is the time to start encouraging (or badgering) your department and institution to invest in a product that can make your research exponentially more efficient.
One of the most significant areas of impact has been the ability to share information with peers, as well as publicly. "The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently mandated that all NSF funded research data must be made publicly available, a trend that seems to be expanding to other funding agencies," explains Beutler, "with this functionality in LabArchives, compliance is greatly simplified for many investigators." LabArchives is also working with leading software companies, such as GraphPad Software and Tree Star Inc., in order to integrate their offerings. Recently a mobile version was released, allowing users set up an account and access LabArchives via their mobile devices. Through improving data organization and management, working with leading software companies in the industry, and staying relevant by utilizing the latest technology, LabArchives is quickly becoming the hub of the laboratory work-flow.
Visit their website to learn more about the benefits and features of LabArchives.
The life of a graduate student is not the first storyline that comes to mind when we think of entertaining movies. However, Jorge Cham challenged that notion with The PhD Movie, a film based on his long running comic strip Piled Higher & Deeper. Jorge brought his comic to life with this entertaining look into the academic balancing act we've come to know as graduate school.
The film focuses on the lives of four graduate students as they navigate the tricky world of post-graduate education. The setting and cast has an authentic feel; there are no sound studios or green screens required. The movie was shot at the California Institute of Technology, and most (if not all) of the actors are actual graduate students. This works in the movie's favor because the actors are believable; no one is going to win an Oscar for their performance, but it's evident that have had real-life experience with the quirky nuances of higher education. You believe the look of angst on the face of T.A. Cecilia (Kristin Dilworth) when students ask for needless extensions, or when she grades stacks of lackluster papers that leave her questioning her confidence in the future generation. The casting was done so well that the movie felt like an extension of the comic strip. This is especially evident with the main character, The Nameless Grad Student (Raj Katti), who is constantly overwhelmed by his workload, in an underfunded department, where his unpredictable advisor seemingly views him as just another face in the crowd.
The pace of the movie is perfect, with a run-time of just over an hour. It actually leaves you wanting a little bit more. Perhaps there is a sequel in the pipeline. Judging by the success of the independent film that has been screened at 450 universities and research centers around the world, that seems quite possible. The movie resonates with current and former grad students, a dynamic in academia that is often overlooked. There are some great lines throughout the movie, such as when The Nameless Gradaute Student explains to his father, "I'm basically paying the university so I can do free work for them." The target audience is of course students that can identify with grad school life; however, the humor, quick pace, and convincing acting ensures that the film can appeal to just about anyone. You don't have to be in a fraternity to enjoy Animal House or Old School, and you don't have to be pursuing a Ph.D. to appreciate The PhD Movie.
One added bonus to the film was the soundtrack. It was cohesive with the style and pace of the film, and it nicely complimented both main scenes and transition scenes. Once again, the producers didn't go all Hollywood and cram in top 40 hits that will be irrelevant long after the movie debuts. Instead the soundtrack is comprised of mostly bands from the California Institute of Technology and the surrounding area. It is a nice touch, and it adds some texture to the film.
Struggling with a work-life balance, uncertainty about the future, and deflated expectations are all parts of life that we have to deal with. Add in an unimpressed advisor, failing lab equipment, and a lack of academic job openings, and you're talking about grad school. Sometimes the best ideas arise when we are distracted, so the solution to your problems could be a bowl of popcorn and The PhD Movie. Enjoy.
Here is a link to The Ph.D. Movie website, where you can stream the film for $10.
Book Review - The Teaching Assistants' (T.A.) Bible: Guide for Graduate Students, Adjuncts & College Instructors, by Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.
"Oh, crap." Those are the words you utter to yourself as you enter a room full of undergraduate students on your first day teaching class. You're a few minutes late because you weren't familiar with the location of the classroom. Some students, merely a few years younger than yourself, carry on personal conversations and text, as if you're invisible. The jeans and t-shirt you are wearing isn't exactly a professorial ensemble. You've seen a handful of the students at the bars that you frequent, and you're not sure how to handle this awkward realization. Should you be the classroom dictator or the cool professor? Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High , or Mr. Shoop from Summer School ? Questions and off-color jokes swirl around the room. You're unsure of how to begin your introductory lecture, and the students smell your fear; they envision a semester of cutting class, disputing the syllabus, and negotiating grades.
Meanwhile, across campus a fellow T.A. is strolling into a similar classroom. Wearing a sport coat and khakis he appears comfortable, yet academic. Writing his name on the board, proceeded by the title "Mr." -- he gives off an air of authority. After calmly asking the students to get settled and handing out the syllabi, he outlines the class requirements, grading policies and his office hours. Some students are chatting in the back, the T.A. stops mid-sentence and makes eye-contact with them. Feeling awkward, they quiet down, and the rest of the class understands who is boss. After a brief exercise that helps students get to know one another, the class is dismissed. The students appreciate that he let them out early; however, they walk away with a clear picture of the course requirements and an understanding of the T.A.'s mature demeanor.
What's the difference between you and that other T.A.? The other guy read The Teaching Assistants' (T.A) Bible: Guide for Graduate Students, Adjuncts & College Instructors by Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. After reading the book, it becomes clear that preparation is the key to success as a new teacher/professor. Dr. Akil is well-versed in dealing with graduate education; he has Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Florida State University, he's currently an Assistant Professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, and he has numerous other publications. If being properly prepared helped him to accomplish such a great deal, new T.A.'s can clearly benefit from his advice.
Early in the book Dr. Akil advises that new teachers, "Never wing it! Even though you may know the subject cold, it is best to practice your lecture a few times before teaching it to your class." Being prepared and professional will help new teachers "build credibility" with the undergraduate students. Furthermore, Dr. Akil stresses the importance of mentally visualizing potential problems/questions, as well as visiting the classroom beforehand to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. These words of wisdom seem simple; however, these exercises can "increase the probability of you conducting a relatively trouble free class."
The book also introduces potential T.A.'s to several common scenarios that can arise in the classroom. Various issues with students, complaints about grades, or questions for which you have no answer -- how are you supposed to handle these situations? If students are often tardy, or exhibit rude behavior that disrupts class, "a good way to handle these transgressions so that students understand that your classroom is an orderly environment is to address the issues immediately." In addition, Dr. Akil stresses the importance of relying on the syllabus. It's not necessary to "re-invent the wheel" when it comes to the syllabus, but it is important to clearly list office hours (and stick to them), as well as grading policies that are in accord with the standards of your department. These steps are solutions to problems that can arise throughout the semester; however, there will always be a question for which a you have no immediate answer, and that's okay. "Simply admit that you do not know [the answer] and and that you will find out for the student or class...the class will sniff you out if you try to fake a response."
Although the book isn't quite prophetic enough to be described as a "bible," it's at least a T.A. "catechism." The chapter titles read like FAQs, and they're followed by answers that can lead you toward T.A. enlightenment. The bottom line is that this book offers simple answers to questions that people often over-complicate. The value of being prepared and professional is clearly outlined by Dr. Akil, and he supports his lessons with real-life scenarios. If you think back to when you were an undergraduate, you can recall what separated the good professors from the bad professors -- and if you've forgotten, this book will undoubtedly jog your memory.
Stephanie Feldman, Manager of Web & Outreach at the American Council of Learned Societies, recently informed me about the ACLS Public Fellows Program; the program places 13 Ph.D.s from humanities and humanistic social sciences in two year staff positions at partnering government and nonprofit organizations. This could be a great opportunity for some lucky students -- below you can find Stephanie's description of the program:
"The program, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy. Applicants must have received their degrees in the last three years and aspire to careers in administration, management, and public service by choice rather than circumstance. In 2012, ACLS Public Fellows will join Carnegie Mellon University, Consumers Union, Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Forum on Education Abroad, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Human Rights Watch, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Conference of State Legislatures, Newberry Library, New York Public Library, Oxfam America, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Applications must be submitted through the ACLS website by March 21."
Complete information on the program is available here: http://www.acls.org/programs/publicfellows.
GradShare is looking for current graduate students that would like to be guest bloggers. We're interested in hearing about the challenges and experiences that grad students face during post-graduate education. Our blog provides a platform for students to write about:
- Work-life balance
- Writing a thesis or dissertation
- Dealing with advisors/advisory committees
- Adjusting as a foreign or non-traditional student
- And much more!
We welcome new perspectives and diverse content about the graduate school experience, regardless of your discipline. Being a guest blogger on GradShare means that you will have published writings online -- but more importantly, it allows you to share information, lessons, and ideas that will help your fellow graduate students succeed.
If you are a graduate student that is interested in being a guest blogger on GradShare please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, February 16. Simply provide your name, institution and preferred email address, and we will follow-up with you about the opportunity to be a guest blogger.
So, are you content with your bachelor's degree -- or do you just think that you can't afford grad school? Perhaps you're convinced that your grades aren't up to par, or that you won't do well in a certain program. The application process seems too daunting, so you've decided to forego the opportunity to attend grad school, and roll the dice in the job market. Don't settle for that entry level job just yet; there's a book you should read before you make up your mind about postgraduate education.
Graduate School: Winning Strategies for Getting In, by Dave G. Mumby, was originally published in 1997. At that time it was one of the few books on the market that offered advice about applying to graduate school. Fast forward 15 years and we have the second edition. The title has been edited, the role of modern technology in the application process has been addressed, a few key sections have been added, and the book now works in tandem with the website http://mygraduateschool.com/. However, one important element has not changed with this edition -- the content of the book remains an asset to "undergraduate college or University students who are either currently planning to apply to graduate school or professional school, or who have not yet made that decision but eventually will."
Information is only as valuable as its source. Much of the advice and insight throughout the book comes from professors and faculty members, interpretations of other books that offer similar advice, and of course, Dave G. Mumby himself. As a professor at Concordia University, and a supervisor to undergraduate honours and graduate students in psychology, Mumby has direct experience with assisting students that decide to pursue or have pursued postgraduate education. Moreover, he is keen on what selection committees look for when evaluating potential grad students, because he has personally served on such committees.
Experience aside, Mumby's words come across in a calm and direct tone; it's a good lecture spliced with an in-depth conversation during office hours. There is a sense that he genuinely wants to help potential grad students. Several books that offer grad school advice have a chapter near the beginning about, "why you shouldn't go to grad school." Instead, this book includes a section entitled, "Find out what grad school is all about." In fact, that sentiment was the motivation for the introduction to this review. It's not often that you hear (or read) the phrase, "grad school is more rewarding than most people think." It's education, romanticize it if you choose, but the point is that Mumby is helpful, honest, and positive. The positive part is especially refreshing.
Don't get too giddy, the book is just as much realistic as it is positive. You don't want a letter of recommendation from just any professor, regardless of whether you hold he/she in high esteem, or vice versa. You're good grades don't guarantee you'll be successful in grad school. Do you even understand how the application process works? And how can you afford grad school? All of these topics are covered. For example, chapter 11 covers "financing your graduate studies," and the entire fourth chapter is dedicated to a discussion about grades -- "two common misconceptions are that one must have outstanding grades to get into grad school, and that outstanding grades are all one needs."
Early in the book Mumby persistently proclaims that "this book explains it all." Initially, that type of statement was repetitive, but that feeling faded as he delivered on all of his promises. Couple that annoyance with the fact that the book's title ends in a preposition, and those are the two biggest flaws of the book. The information is more than valid -- Mumby not only provides advice on various facets of the application process, but he also invites you into the mind of someone on the selection committee. For instance, "one of the first questions that almost any admissions committee will consider is whether the applicant's goals and interests match the objectives and specialties of the program."
Graduate School: Winning Strategies for Getting In doesn't promise that you will get accepted if you decide to apply; but don't count yourself out until you've given the book a good read. It can help you make important decisions about your future in academia, and regardless of the outcome, you'll come away knowing that you were well informed, thanks to this book.
Winning Strategies For Getting In
Author: Dave G. Mumby, Ph.D.
Proto Press Publications
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