Posts

How to escape perfectionism as an excellent researcher

If you want an academic career, you have to excel at so many levels. First and foremost you must show an excellent publication record, with many articles preferably in A status journals. Then there is teaching and supervising students: requires high quality lectures, committed availability, personal feedback, but hardly the time to prepare and deliver. Not to mention being the nice, helpful colleague (or partner, or parent). If you are not up to par with these standards, you fail. At least that is how many early career researchers think.

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A Taoist tip for doing research

Sometimes when you are trying to focus on a research puzzle, or when you open up a document to write that methods section you have been avoiding for a while, you may notice your mind flittering everywhere in stead of concentrating at the task you sat down to do. This constantly happened to Chris* as he was finishing his thesis. So he came to me and asked: “How can I create more focus and improve my motivation in this final thesis stage?”

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How to take a punch like a Stoic in academia

Doing science is about researching and then going public with your findings. If you keep your findings to yourself, you are just privately musing, but not doing scientific research. However, going public with your research can be daunting, especially for PhD’s. What to do when you are scared to show your first piece of writing to your supervisor? When you dread nasty questions about your presentation at a conference? Or when you feel ready to quit because you just received stinging criticism from a reviewer on that article of yours with the top results of your research? Here is a bit on how to face criticism without letting it take you down.

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On supervisors

Inevitably you will experience moments during your PhD where things between you and your supervisor do not go as smoothly as you would like. Small wonder: a PhD is a pretty intense project in which you yourself go through a considerable personal development and in which your supervisor has to balance two roles that are hard to combine, that of coach and that of examiner.  Most supervisors know exactly which role to adopt at a given moment, but there will be a day, or days, where e.g. you receive fierce criticism while you actually badly needed a pat on the back.

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Schrijfblokkade of afrondings-angst

Als Marieke (niet haar echte naam) bij me komt, zit ze vast bij het schrijven van haar masterscriptie. Ze ervaart hoge tijdsdruk door de deadline en prestatiedruk omdat het een eindwerkstuk van haar opleiding is. Dat herkent ze van haar bachelorscriptie. Ze reageert net als toen door chaotisch bezig te zijn: ze springt van links naar rechts in haar tekst en schrijft her en der stukjes  zonder overzicht van het geheel, zonder duidelijke structuur. Ook vlucht ze weg voor deze moeilijke klus. Ze vindt allerlei uitvluchten: van de boodschappen tot de was, van een kopje thee tot internet. Vervolgens baalt ze van zichzelf omdat ze niet gedaan heeft wat ze zich had voorgenomen. Ik raad haar aan om elke dag eens stil te staan bij wat er wel goed ging: waar is ze tevreden over?

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