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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Spring 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer, Shawn Warner-Garcia
Monday: 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to noon
Friday: 10 a.m. to noon

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer, Ryan Dippre
Monday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Monday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 2 to 4 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.



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The Power of Politeness

While there is certainly plenty of research about politeness – and even a whole international conference devoted to the study of it – one may be hard-pressed to find genuine and sustained acts of politeness in higher education. The pursuit of truth and creativity may lead many academics to eschew the practice of politeness, but scholars would do well to understand the power of strategic and persistent politeness. Paul Ford recently wrote a brilliant essay on politeness that examines some of the ways in which the sustained practice of politeness can yield positive results, both professionally and personally. Not only is the essay charming and full of good humor, as one would expect, it also contains some very valuable reflections on the power of politeness, such as:

"Politeness buys you time. It leaves doors open."


"The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don't have to make a judgment."

Politeness may be about manners and morals for some, but it can also be used to a strategic advantage, particularly in professional settings. Being polite can put people at ease, soften criticism and complaint, and show deference - and all of these things come in handy in academia when dealing with institutional red tape, less-than-helpful faculty, or vexatious colleagues.

Credit: PegabovineIn an article for the Chronicle, Jason B. Jones also argues for the importance of having a "flexible memory" when practicing sustained politeness in academic settings. While this doesn't mean ignoring bullies or harassers when they pose a threat to one's person or career, it does mean "giv[ing] people some space for self-reinvention." Instead of using every little difference as an opportunity to tally up someone else's deficiencies or to bring up past grievances, it is generally more productive to give people the benefit of the doubt. This can often result in renewed understanding, empathy, and even "a sense of overwhelming love and empathy," as Ford suggests.

However, Jones is quick to point out that an endorsement of politeness is not (intended to be) a type of social control, such as tone policing. While some of Ford's experiences with and advocacy for politeness may come from a position of relative privilege, politeness should not be used as a means of squashing dissent. As one blogger points out, "Marginalized people often do not have the luxury of emotionally distancing themselves from discussions on their rights and experiences." However, the precepts of politeness may be used to strategically create common ground and promote common decency.

When politeness is used to encourage civility and equality – particularly among individuals whose access to social and institutional power might otherwise put them at odds with each other – then it can truly have transformative potential.


Battling Sexism in the Ivory Tower: A Field Guide for Male Academics

Credit: J. Howard MillerIn recent decades, there has been an increase in the awareness of institutional sexism in both academia and industry. A few recent victories have highlighted the achievements of women in the traditionally male-dominated areas of math and science. Despite the research and resources devoted to helping women overcome the glass-ceiling (or glass-house) handicap, the writers of the blog Tenure, She Wrote point out the other side of the gender-equality coin: "[G]ender equality has to be a collaborative venture. If men make up the majority of many departments, editorial boards, search committees, labs and conferences, then men have to be allies in the broader cause of equality, simply because they have more boots on the ground." In their article "Don't be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic," they provide a field guide for how to battle sexism as a male in academia. Below are some highlights from their list of advice:

  • Don’t comment on a woman’s appearance in a professional context. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are; it’s irrelevant. Similarly, don’t tell someone they don’t look like a scientist/professor/academic, that they look too young, or they should smile.
  • Don’t talk over your female colleagues. There is a lot of social conditioning that goes into how men and women communicate differently. You may not realize that you’re doing it, but if you find yourself interrupting women, or speaking over them, stop.
  • Make sure your department seminars, conference symposia, search committees, and panel discussions have a good gender balance. If you find that someone turns you down, ask them for recommendations for an alternative; don’t give up. Recognize that if there is a minority of women in your program or discipline, they may be disproportionately burdened with invitations to serve on committees or give talks. Be sensitive to this!
  • Learn about benevolent sexism.
  • Learn what mansplaining is. Guard against it, and be quick to derail it when you see it in others.

Read the full list of tips here.


Setting the Standard for the Peer Review Process

Credit: EjayEducators frequently use rubrics in order to lay out expectations and to help students meet them. Rubrics are particularly helpful in the writing process as they help focus the scope and content of a paper and provide accountable measures by which it is graded.

It makes sense, then, that the usefulness of rubrics can and should extend beyond the classroom (and the teacher-student relationship) to other parts of academic writing, such as the peer review process. A recent GradPost article discussed how to survive the peer review process as a writer, but what about as a reviewer?

In an article on Medium, Adeline Koh writes about the potential power of using rubrics in the academic peer review process. She provides the following rough outline of what an Academic Peer Review Rubric might look like:

  1. Summarize the author’s main argument in two sentences, and indicate at what point the author puts forth his or her argument in the manuscript.
  2. What steps does the author take to support his or her argument? Please indicate page numbers, and evaluate the effectiveness of each step and the overall framework of the argument. How could this argument be improved?
  3. What is the field that the author is intervening in? Please summarize some of the texts that are instrumental to this field and the contribution that the author is making. Drawing from text contained within the manuscript and some of these other texts, give some concrete suggestions for how this contribution could be improved.
  4. What is the theory or methodology used by the author in this manuscript? List examples of either of these used in this field and/or in others. What are some of the competing theories and methodologies? Does the author’s chosen theory/method support the argument made? What suggestions would you have to improve this support?
  5. If suggesting sources that need to be cited in this manuscript, please provide an annotation for each source summarizing its argument and how specifically it would help improve particular aspects of the manuscript.
  6. Are any of the sources you suggest citing written by yourself? If so, please add a sentence or two per source justifying why these citations are necessary, and how this work adds to the quality of the piece.

Whether or not an editor insists on or provides a rubric for peer review, these guiding questions will help peer reviewers become more concise and helpful.

To read the rest of Koh's article, click here.


Teach For America Seeks Applications for 2014-2015 School Year

Background: Teach For America is a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates, graduate students, and professionals who commit to teach for at least two years in urban and rural public schools. This year 5,300 individuals joined Teach For America's 2014 corps. As a result, in the 2014-15 school year, more than 10,600 first and second-year corps members will teach in low income classrooms in 49 states and the District of Columbia, while nearly 37,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity for all.

Position Information: Full salary and benefits. 2 year commitment. Potential educational funding. All majors and career backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Application Information: Visit the Teach for America website, or sign up for a time to speak with Teach For America's UCSB’s campus representative, Andres Perez.

Application Deadline: Friday, August 22, 2014


The Anatomy of a Book Review: When and How to Do It

If this is your first book review, it’s a major journal in your field, and it's a book you need to read for your orals, then go ahead and write the review. - See more at:

Credit: Lin Kristensen from Timeless Books

In two recent posts on Vitae, Karen Kelsky, creator of the website The Professor Is In, addresses the topic of book reviews.

First: Is Writing a Book Review Ever Worth It? The short answer is not really, but there are circumstances where it can be helpful for getting your foot in the door. Some take-away points:

  • If this is your first book review, it’s a major journal in your field, and it's a book you need to read for your research anyway, then go ahead and write the review.
  • However, a book review carries very little weight, and counts for almost nothing toward a competitive job-market (or tenure) record.
  • The important thing is that you don’t write any more reviews. The problem with book reviews is opportunity cost. While you’re writing the review, you’re not writing the peer-reviewed publication that will actually count.
  • In general, ABDs and new Ph.D.s should list no more than three book reviews on their CVs.

Second: How To Write an Honest but Collegial Book Review. Kelsky reminds book reviewers (who tend to be young scholars who have not yet published a book themselves) that they should not write a critical review because they are "supposed" to and that "shredding" a book is rarely appropriate. Most books have value of some kind, and it is important for reviewers to point out both the strengths and weaknesses of the book. Kelsky also provides a helpful template for writing a book review.


University of Michigan Seeks Applications for Society of Fellows

University of Michigan is seeking applications for their 3-year postdoctoral fellowship program. See below for more details.

Background: The Michigan Society of Fellows was founded in 1970 through grants from the Ford Foundation and Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies for the purpose of promoting academic and creative excellence in the humanities, the arts, the social, physical, and life sciences, and in the professions. In 2007, the Mellon Foundation awarded a grant to add four Mellon Fellows annually in the humanities, expanding the number of fellowships awarded each year from four to eight. The objective of the Society is to provide financial and intellectual support for individuals holding advanced degrees in their fields, who are selected for their outstanding achievement, professional promise, and interdisciplinary interests. We invite applications from qualified candidates for three-year fellowships at the University of Michigan.

Eligibility: Candidates should be near the beginning of their professional careers. Those selected for fellowships must have received the Ph.D. degree or comparable artistic or professional degree between June 1, 2012, and September 1, 2015. This is not an artist-in-residence program but rather an opportunity to develop one’s work in conversation with fellows from a range of disciplines during the three years of the fellowship. Applications from degree candidates and recipients of the Ph.D. or comparable artistic or professional degree from the University of Michigan will not be considered.

Program Details: Fellows are appointed as Assistant Professors in appropriate departments and as Postdoctoral Scholars in the Michigan Society of Fellows. They are expected to be in residence in Ann Arbor during the academic years of the fellowship, to teach for the equivalent of one academic year, to participate in the informal intellectual life of the Society, and to devote time to their independent research or artistic projects. Eight Fellows will be selected for three-year terms to begin September 1, 2015. The annual stipend will be $55,000.

Application Process: Applications will be reviewed by Society members and University faculty.  Final selections will be made in late January by Senior Fellows of the Society.

Application Deadline: September 30, 2014

The online application and additional information is available here.


UCSB’s Graduate Division Seeks Student Input on Schedule for Fall Dissertation Writer’s Room


This summer, the Graduate Division has hosted a Dissertation Writer’s Room, a quiet workspace for UCSB’s graduate students to work on their dissertations. Strong student turnout thus far indicates the need and value of this resource, so we plan to continue it during the fall quarter.

If you are a UCSB graduate student, please take a moment and complete this brief survey. Your responses will help us to plan a schedule that works best for you.

For more details on the Dissertation Writer's Room, visit this announcement. For a look at this space, visit this link.

If you have any questions about the Dissertation Writer's Room, or other career and professional development resources, please email Robert Hamm.


How to Survive the Peer Review Process

Credit: PhD Comics

Many graduate students dread the peer-review process. Not only can it take a dauntingly long time, but anonymous reviewers are notoriously characterized as vicious, unhelpful, and snide. Alas, it appears that peer review is here to stay in academia (at least in the foreseeable future)! Read below for more on how to survive the process and perhaps even produce a paper that you are proud of and that people will read.

The ins and outs, ups and downs

Peer Review in Academic Publishing. We all know peer review is important, but why? Mary Bucholtz tackles that issue and gives 10 tips for dealing with reviews.

The Really Obvious (but All-Too-Often-Ignored) Guide to Getting Published. Columnist Kirsten Bell spells out some of the basics, including learning how to write a good paper in the first place (contact our writing peer for personalized help!), nominating your own reviewers, and being persistent.

The Peer Review Jerk Survival Guide. It's inevitable. You will encounter jerks in the peer review process. Rebecca Schuman tells you how to handle it with poise and a sense of humor.

Take the Hit and Move Forward. Learning life lessons from peer reviewing takes humility and patience, but it's worth it. Erik Schneiderhan and Tricia Seifert provide encouragement for when peer review makes you want to throw in the towel.

Also check out Vitae's discussion forum on scholarly writing.

Feeling optimistic? How to fix the peer review process

Revise and Resubmit! In a column for Slate, Rebecca Schuman explains why the peer review process is the way it is and how to fix it.

Why You Gotta Be So Mean? Columnist Erik Schneiderhan calls on peer reviewers to ease up a little bit and suggests that perhaps there is a place for public shaming of particularly mean reviewers.


Finding Your Yoda: The Importance of Mentoring in Academia

Credit: Shawn Warner-Garcia"Mentoring" has become something of a buzzword in academic circles these days. Many graduate students and faculty are realizing the mutual benefits of creating and cultivating a positive mentoring relationship.

The Chronicle and Vitae websites have recently published several articles addressing this very issue. Here is a brief rundown of the current conversation.

Making the most of advising relationships

Trouble Finding Mentors on Campus? Go Online

Many interdisciplinary scholars or underrepresented and marginalized students may have trouble finding traditional mentors at their academic institutions. David Leonard offers advice on how to tap into online resources and social media in order to assemble a community of mentors to critically engage with and elevate your scholarly work.

Spotting a Bad Adviser - And How to Pick a Good One

Leonard Cassuto gives pointers on how to choose a good adviser. Some qualities to look for include: the adviser treats you like the CEO of your own education, the adviser's expectations evolve as the student develops through his or her graduate education, and the adviser is interested in your career - whether it's within or outside of academia. Take-away point: know what you want and expect what you're entitled to.

Mentoring Is a Business. Don't Fear It.

Many in academia see mentoring as a necessary (but usually unpaid) aspect of the job. Kerry Ann Rockquemore argues that mentoring as a paid, professional service (often outsourced from the university) can be more effective than overburdening senior faculty members. She also prompts mentees to think extensively about 5 important questions to ask when seeking a mentor relationship.

Mentoring from a faculty perspective

What Mentors Often Miss

Providing advice and guidance are typically the primary role for academic advisors. But Tracey Lewis-Giggetts also points out two things that many mentors miss or undervalue: caring for their mentees and listening more than talking.

The Difference Mentoring Makes

Beth McMurtrie talks about the importance of developing mentorships between senior faculty and junior faculty. She points out that open-door policies, downplaying competition, and investing for the long haul are all ways to make mentoring count. However, she also notes that contingent faculty can get the short shrift of otherwise successful university-wide mentoring efforts.

Other resources

The Worst Advice Grad Students Get

"#5: It doesn't matter who your advisor is."

Vitae Discussion Forum: Advising in Academia

Should advising be done by faculty or staff?

Giving and Getting Career Advice: A Guide for Junior and Senior Faculty

Over a dozen topics of discussion, including how to get grants, what types of service work to take on, the tenure-and-promotion process, family issues, and how to plan a career trajectory.

Also check out these GradPost articles on advising:


Easy and Rewarding Ways to Maximize Your Summer as a Young Scholar

Many scholars dedicate their summers to writing, researching, and recuperating from the school year. But summer is also prime time for graduate students and other young scholars to catch up on some professional development projects. Josh Boldt of Vitae offers eight easy and rewarding ways to maximize your summer, including:

  • Create a personal website. Read this GradPost article about more ways to manage your digital reputation.
  • Join Twitter and use it. Learn more about how to use Twitter to create a personal learning network here.
  • Write guest posts for websites (such as Vitae or the GradPost!). This is a great way to build a professional network and increase the audience for your research.

Read the full list of summer to-dos here.

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