One thing I’ve typically managed to do in my activities over the last few years is convert those activities into written outputs. If you’re engaged in something (a workshop, a policy discussion, some informal research or whatever) you’ve already done a big chunk of work towards making a public written artefact. Often, you might want to try for peer reviewed outputs, but those are obviously more formal and involve more work. I’ve valued writing blogs, as (1) an artefact of the activity, and record (e.g. for evidence of professional development) (2) an anchoring spot to dump material related to the activity, both during (so I can get it out of my head quickly and move on to other things) and after the fact (dumping relevant links, etc.) and (3) as a draft of work, which can then be compiled, collaborated on, and composed into a more extended/formal piece of work.
It’s because of this I definitely recommend PhD students keep a blog (especially in first year where there’s so much going on, and you have the flexibility to blog!). I’d also recommend making it clear to people (supervisors, collaborators, potential collaborators) that you’re interested in working on papers and submitting to conferences early – the best way to learn how to do it really is to get on and try and do it (and get the initial peer review feedback – it’s always baffled me that we don’t give peer-review-journal style feedback to M-level research students who intend to go on to PhD, and want to engage in research long term, and even at PhD level this type of feedback is primarily via journals!).
Then think about:
- What are the key messages of each paper, what is its contribution, what claims is it making, and what message should people take away?
- What evidence or data are you using for each paper (and how do the range of possible papers fit with the evidence you have available) – also, who will you work with (and what skills do they bring), and what will the division be (I have had one awkward authorship discussion…)?
- What audience is the paper intended for, which journal (or other outlet)?; aiming for a particular venue/genre matters.
So, during my PhD I wrote a lot of blogs, edited Wikipedia, did other (paid) writing on EdFutures Wiki and OER, wrote some Nominet Trust blogs, KMi blogs, some policy based things (see my cv), and possibly some other bits and pieces, alongside conference papers, journal articles, organising workshops, and book chapters:
- My PhD kicked off with writing a paper for the LAK conference (best paper nominated), which we then converted to a full journal article on epistemology, pedagogy and assessment as a lens onto learning analytics. At that conference I met David Williamson Shaffer and Golnaz Arastoopour and spent a few weeks with them in Madison when I was over for LASI subsequently, producing a theoretical paper with analysis of some of my MPhil data
- We also very quickly wrote a kind of concept paper for on use of a tool to support Collaborative Information Seeking in education, and another on collaborative sensemaking around learning data – both for CSCW workshops. The first led to an ongoing collaboration with Chirag Shah’s group, as well as a further book chapter written with some of the other attendees; the latter is informing some ongoing work around human-data interaction.
- I was also working on ongoing papers from my MPhil thesis, and having got the first accepted in my first year (on exploratory dialogue in CIS), the second was accepted in my final year (focussing on epistemic dialogue); I also wrote some teacher tips based on this work (which were subsequently adapted into a book appendix)
- Being known for thinking and blogging about search from various angles, I was also invited to a conference in Amsterdam with a book chapter solicited for the Society of the Query reader.
- When I started at the OU, I was just finishing up a contract at Cambridge, and writing a book chapter on effective dialogue, a relationship from that led to another book chapter in the Handbook of Research on Teaching Thinking,
- Off the back of the dialogue work, and connecting that to learning analytics, Karen and I have had published journal papers on dialogue as data & discourse centric learning analytics (building off an earlier workshop paper)
- As my empirical work developed, I did some talks and presented a conference paper model for the outlining the conceptual-methodological design for the tasks
- More recently, then, I’ve outlined to the CIS community some of the issues I’ve faced with learning indicators and temporal analyses of information seeking data at the CIKM conference
Arising from my PhD thesis work:
Now the thesis is submitted, I’m considering how to slice and dice that work into publications, ideally with a range of collaborators and aiming for getting the high impact material out first. I’m working from a publication plan now which was written with consideration to the data available, collaboration expertise (and priorities), and building quality papers (over slicing to maximise quantity). I don’t want to pre-empt the publications (especially as they might be rejected!) but the broad plan is to: (1) publish 2 papers presenting the bulk of the empirical results and method developed, (2) develop a couple of current conference submission taking a novel analytic approach into a journal article (one on the text data, another using temporal analyses), (3) develop some of the theoretical elements into separate papers.