Dipping toes in academic waters

Last week I told my SHU students to be shameless self-publicists. Now it’s my turn.

Having worked as a journalist for almost a decade it has been a struggle to get to grips with the very different life of being an academic.

For a start when writing academic chapters or papers sentences as a rule are much longer, far more convoluted and use lots of Big Words.

Second of all the pace of life is much slower. Instead, there are no deadlines, lengthy holidays and 3 years to write the word count that I normally wrote in half a year.

Third change of gear is from dumbing down to forming complex theoretical arguments, backed by empirical evidence and plenty of references.

But it is a great new challenge and definitely a different way of thinking, writing and presenting your ideas. I think the journalist inside of me will always remain – I was born a cynic after all – but I hope to be chameleon-like, switching between hard nose reporter and potential pensive professor.

So in that vein, this blog is about my academic achievements to date, albeit set out in a simple newsy fact file style:

1. I am currently 1.5 years through my PhD and have collected all of my data so am in a strong position. The task now is to make sense of it all. See this page for more detail.

2.  I have a book review of The Digital Journalist’s Handbook coming out in the journal Journalism Practice this year. I have also selected this tome as the course textbook for my Writing the Message Online module at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). It is exciting to have my first academic publication despite already having thousands of print/online publications in my life as a journalist.

3. I have been selected to present at not one, but two UK journalism conferences this year, one of which is highly competitive. I will be giving a paper at The Future of Journalism  conference in Cardiff this September and at the What Makes Good Journalism? conference at Westminster this June. Here is a peak at my abstract for both: Cardiff Conference Abstract. It is called: The journalist, the community reporter and the public: a model for collaboration in local UK newspapers

4.  A news story about my selection for the Cardiff conference is on the Sheffield University website, as that is where I am registered for my PhD.

5. I supervised dissertations at SHU last year and was particularly impressed with one student Philip Corker who did an in depth analysis of the Freedom of Information requests reported in the Sheffield Star since the Act begin in 2005. He discovered that the Star relied on outside sources submitting requests and there had been a 700% increase in FOI stories since the Act began in 2005. He also discovered that opposition politicians used the FOI Act to expose details about the Labour Government in power at the time. Click here to see the disseration in full: corker dissertation. Also check out his blog here.

6. I have joined the very useful #phdchat group on Twitter which is a great place to share experiences and moan with other PhD students about our hectic lives. We are not alone.

7. I also have an academic paper based on one of my PhD chapters currently going through peer review, hope to have more news on it soon.

Right, time to put my trumpet away…

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