Book review: Writing for peer reviewed journals

The Thesis Whisperer

Here at the Whisperer we know you read a lot, so we try to do some of the reading for you. There’s a lot of books out there on doing a PhD and being an academic – which ones should you buy?

If you are a regular reader you will know that Pat Thomson and Barbara Kamler wrote one of my favourite books ‘Helping doctoral students write’. Last year they produced a book on writing for publication called ‘Writing for peer review journals: strategies for getting published’. Pat Thomson authors the fabulous ‘Patter’ blog and we collaborate on some mutual research interests, so it is fantastic that ANU PhD student Briony Lipton sent in this review and you can get an unbiased view!

Briony Lipton is a PhD candidate in Gender Studies in the School of Sociology. Her research explores the relationship between academic women, feminism and university leadership in…

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thesis know how – don’t write an essay


Examiners do not want to read a thesis that contains a lot of mini-essays. To understand the problem with the thesis-as-essay, imagine the examiner reading a methods chapter. It starts off badly. While not in these words, the writer basically says … first of all I’m going to tell you all about the differences between quantitative and qualitative research, then I’m going to tell you all of the possible methods I could have used for my research, then I’m going to tell you a lot of things about the interview…. at this point the examiner rolls their eyes and goes off to make a cup of tea.

The vast majority of examiners don’t want a summary of what you learnt in your methods courses. You passed the assignments right? So you don’t need to do them again. The examiner doesn’t want you to trawl the literatures. What they want to know…

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23 Things for Research. Thing 23


This has been a long journey, and finally, I made it in the last minute (SO ME!). From 1 (bad bad grade) to 10 (too perfectly good grade), I may say I got an 8. What do you think? LOL.

I will continue to keep the blog as this is originally my learning reflection. This blog will continue to record my whole PhD learning journey. Of course, I wish I can still keep in touch with the 23research team and participants through here, or the #23research on Twitter. It would be great to sharing useful online tool and make research/life easy. Definitely, I will try the other tools mentioned in this module.

I especially want to thank the efforts of the CreATE team from our Faculty of Education. Through this programme, I got the chance to make connections with the other great participants. I really enjoy the whole online conversation.


23 Things for Research. Thing 21

As shown in the pic below, my blog about position and emotion got the most hits. I guess it was because the topic was kinda debatable. Thank you for all who joined the conversation. This also reminds me that, blogging should be interesting and inspiring.


In terms of the readership, I was surprised about September. This may because of the very beginning of the whole 23 Research module. The number then remained steady till November.



23 Things for Research. Thing 20

I am introducing Tagxedo, a tool for generating the word cloud. The attached pic is specially for my blog here! Looks cool!!!


I remember when I was doing my MSc, in the teamwork presentation, I manually did a word cloud via MS PowerPoint. Now I just realised how silly I was!!! I actually used it as the very last slide of the presentation, showing the focus of our work. This idea was appreciated by my teammates and they found it can highlight where we were. Until today, I found Tagxedo, a great free tool to make it!!! Thanks CreATE team!!!

23 Things for Research. Thing 17

Note-taking… I have been using OneNote since I was working as a management consultant in May 2013. At that time, I find I need a place to take notes, gather information, and get inspired. It works nicer than taking notes via WORD as it saves automatically and works much faster. To be honest, it is a shining product in the MS Office suite.

I actually knew EverNote, and downloaded in my phone and PC. But, well, I just didn’t find why I need it. The iPhone already has the Reminder, Notes, and Calendar which is enough for my daily life micro note taking demands. The OneNote is already in my PC and yes, I don’t bother to download and familiarise myself with another software that has the similar functions. After all, it is totally free, no such ‘premium’ thing to classify customers.

I also like taking note on my iPad with OneNote, easy and making myself focus. But I really wish MS can enable the handwriting function one day.

I have copied the following three websites introducing the comparison between OneNote and EverNote, and hope you may find it helpful:

In terms of the questions proposed by the 23 Things for Research, here are my reflections:

  1. How could we use the notebook structure to compartmentalise notes about different aspects of our research?

I am more a visual person, and can find it easier to clear my mind by a drawing a map or graph for my research. And notes, are mostly about plain texts, easy to read and also easy to forget. If I really need to take notes while I am writing, I actually prefer to do it my to WORD documents, that is on my paper. I write and note in the same documents. Just simply highlight it with different colours. I know that most of my notes will be included to the paper sooner or later, so why not do it at the same docs at the same time? I only move the resting notes to OneNote when I finish writing. Just in case I may need it in the future.

Notebook structure, huhh, I guess the themes/sections function of OneNote helps. Again, I am not really rely on notes. Writing and noting seems work for me.

  1. Could we use a system of tags to index our notes and make them simpler to find? e.g. PDF, JPEG, MP3, and MP4?

Well, I have never done this before and really cannot make any comment. It seems to be a good idea, but I also consider that we may have done something similar in the referencing software. Besides, the searching function of the OneNote seems good enough to locate information, in my case. I have not used EverNote seriously so not sure how it works. Another thing that I am worrying is that, taking note, to me, should be a quick and easy thing, will the process of creating tags necessary and time-worthy? Of course, the non-text notes, such as pictures, audio and video, they need a brief text introduction.

  1. What sort of file types would be useful in our research to save as attachments to notes? e.g. PDF, JPEG, MP3, and MP4?

Well, saving as attachments to notes, huhh, I would definitely vote for images. I reckon I prefere to save PDF in my EndNote as reference. So far, I have not find any other audio or video files that needed in my research. iTunes U and TED Talk are already there for me.

  1. Who would it be potentially useful for us to share our notes with or who could we make a collaborator on a shared notebook and how would that be of use in our research?

In my case, I am not sharing any at this stage as the doctorate research is individual studies instead of a team work. I did share some meeting notes on some seminars with my colleagues.

  1. Is there value to using the email integration? For example what emails or files would it be useful to email directly into our EverNote notebooks using our personal EverNote email address?

If it is for sharing, the email integration can be helpful whilst copy-paste actually also works… Since all digital notebooks are cloud-based, I personally don’t need that now.

About Part B. I am not using EverNote now and still loving my OneNote, so I just simply skip it. OneNote, GO!

23 Things for Research. Thing 16

This thing is about my process for managing references. When I was doing my master, I used Mendeley, a free tool, to organise my downloaded PDFs. I didn’t realise the function that inserting references into an MS WORD document, so I simply created another reference WORD document and typed manually. It was really…yeah…old-fashioned. Need to check between documents carefully.

I realise the university recommends RefWorks, but seriously, I do not really trust web-based tools. We all know the internet here in NZ is not very reliable.

From my first day of doctoral studies, I taught myself EndNote. The reasons that I chose EndNote are: (1) it is recommended by some of my friends, and reputation matters; (2) it is quiet easy to use based on the instruction; (3) the desktop software well syns with my iPad Endnote app, and I can access the article with iPad (of course, I need to download the PDF on my iPad); (4) the full text finder function with the proxy setting is great and save time; (5) I like how it works with WORD documents as I can keep checking the use of references in my writing, and the moment seeing how the reference list being generated is just so great. But, one thing that I am not really like is that all reference need to be rechecked as the formats from different databases vary, especially the use of capital letters. It has to be fixed manually not automatically.

I just revisited the Mendeley website, and found it getting more functional than before. It seems to be very confident to compare itself with other products, highlighting its advantages and future improvement. Looks like worth a try again. Since my research is already built on Endnote, I may try it in another piece of research. Free products are always welcome 🙂

Data Visualisation via Gliffy

Bee Knees

The data visualisation tool that I am going to introduce is called Gliffy. This tool can be used to generate a diagram or a chart flow. Often we found in MS Office that the diagrams are limited, especially when  we would like to add some innovation to a diagram, it seems impossible. Here we have the tool which enables us create diagrams with our free will. Moreover, you can even upload a picture onto it if you feel it is necessary to add something more than a circle or a box. Another good thing about this tool is that you can save what you’ve created as a picture. More information about Gliffy can be found through the following youtube video. Enjoy!

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