Academic Communications

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 »

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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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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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Creating Effective Presentations – Part 1 – Overview

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There are many types of technical presentations that you may be called upon to do.  Perhaps you have to prepare one for a graduate course term project, to impress a client or a prospective employer, to teach something to a group of people, or to present your paper at a conference.  There are important design and content features specific to each of these types of presentation.  However, there are a few basic tips that apply to all presentations and these are what I’ll be discussing in this post.   Read the rest of this entry »

How to write to a prospective PhD (or Post-Doc) supervisor

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I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people make their way to this site while searching for advice on how to write to a potential PhD supervisor. I’ve also noticed that many of the letters/emails that I personally get on this topic are actually irrelevant to me, poorly written, or both. So, I figured it might be a good idea to put a little bit of advice out there to help students who are trying to get into a PhD (or Masters) program. All the same principles also apply for those seeking post-doc supervisors.

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