Advice on Selecting a Prospective Thesis Supervisor

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Although this blog is primarily aimed at technical communications – I am open to posting advice on other academic topics of relevance to university and college students. Today’s post comes at the request of one of our readers – who asked:

“I was hoping that you could do a post/ advise on what prospective students (Masters, PhD, etc) should consider before picking a supervisor. Read the rest of this entry »

In-Text Citations and References Sections

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Today I’m very excited to bring you our first guest post on this blog.  It was written by my colleague Dr. Evan Davies and it’s all about how to handle your citations and references correctly in a formal report or thesis.  I’m sure you will find this information extremely useful!  Thanks Evan for sharing this great advice with us!   Read the rest of this entry »

Effective Presentations – Part 3 – Delivering Conference Presentations

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Last week I gave some advice for preparing a great conference presentation; this week I’m offering tips on how to deliver that conference presentation effectively. This is the third in a series – so if you’ve not seen any of the earlier ones, I suggest you go back now and read those two earlier posts.

Here are the 5 most common mistakes I see people making when presenting at a conference…

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Effective Presentations – Part 2 – Preparing Conference Presentations

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A big part of academic life is attending and presenting your research at conferences. Depending upon your specific discipline, presentations may be passé and poster sessions are the norm. I’m sorry to say, that’s not the case in my field. Why am I sorry about that? Because I, like many engineers and scientists, have an extremely low boredom threshold. The thought of being trapped in a room for 2 to 3 days, passively watching and listening to tediously bad presentations for hours and hours, is truly unbearable. And, let’s face it, most of them are bad… very bad… So, in the interest of self-preservation, here’s my advice for preparing an effective and engaging conference presentation…

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Referencing (or how to avoid plagiarizing)…

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One thing I encounter consistently and frequently, from undergrads right up to PhD students, is general confusion about properly referencing source material. Whether it be an assignment, conference presentation, or term paper – students repeatedly present photos, graphs, tables, prose, and concepts painstakingly collected and/or developed by others, with absolutely no acknowledgements to the people who actually own that intellectual property. These students don’t (all) intentionally plagiarise, they just don’t seem to realize that copying the thoughts, ideas, or products of someone else’s efforts actually constitutes plagiarism. So if you’re a college or university student, read on and learn how to get it right…   Read the rest of this entry »

Résumé tips for the new (or soon to be) graduate

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It seems unfair but, after years of hard work slaving over the books and suffering through lectures, labs and exams, the new grad then has the onerous task of finding a job so that s/he can join the workforce.  This can be an especially discouraging endeavour if the job market is highly competitive in your chosen field.  Since nobody gets a job without an interview, and most potential employers decide who to interview based solely on the résumés and cover letters they receive, it pays to do a really super job on both of these documents.  My experience has always been that everyone thinks that their résumé and cover letter are both already awesome (and it’s usually not).  Nobody ever seems to think that a weak resume or cover letter could be the reason why they’re not getting calls and interviews. However, chances are, that is at least part of the problem.   Read the rest of this entry »

How to request an academic reference

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Most students need an academic reference sooner or later.  Perhaps you are applying for a job or a scholarship – or maybe you are trying to get into a graduate program?  Maybe you’re applying for professional certification or registration as a licensed professional; whatever the reason, getting an academic reference can be notoriously frustrating, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while.  Most professors dislike doing them, primarily because they’re time consuming and it can be quite frustrating trying to come up with sufficient information to do them well.  As a result, it’s not uncommon for professors to procrastinate on these, or to avoid them completely.  If you’re a student seeking an academic reference, my advice is to make it as easy as possible for the professor to do it quickly and effectively.  To help you do this, here below are some tips for getting a high quality academic reference.  Many of these tips also apply when requesting other types of references.

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