Blog Articles 11–15

Academic Portfolios

A stack of files.
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

A few years ago, early in my first faculty position, I wrote about how I tracked academic work. I still implement the core ideas of that piece, but most of the details have changed; I thought now, after working on my first annual review after applying for tenure, would be a good time to write an update.

What Is a Dissertation?

A loose manuscript.
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

If we can aggressively simplify for a moment, earning a Ph.D has three primary components:

  • Do research.
  • Write it up in a dissertation.
  • Convince a committee of faculty that what you’ve done and presented is worthy of a research-based terminal academic degree.

There are some other things in each program, such as courses and qualifiers, but this is the heart of what earns the degree.

But what is that mysterious “dissertation”?

Yay Reproducibility

An assembly line of VW bugs
Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

One of my projects this year has been to refactor and upgrade our Book Data Tools to be easier to work with. Along the way I found some bugs in the original data integration, and the process of finding these bugs and assessing their impact forms a useful case study for some of the principles I teach in my data science class.


Whiskey and my notebook

Ritual is a powerful tool for navigating life. David Allen, in Getting Things Done, promotes a weekly review to take stock of your current Next Action lists, identify projects that need to be moved up (or down) the stack, and plan what’s next.

Regular rituals are an important part of my work management, linking together my notebook, runway, and self-care. My particular practices are modeled most closely after the tactical practices of implementing Michael Linenberger’s One Minute To-Do List on paper.