Sites to help you on your path
I hope that these site descriptions will help you wade through the vast morass of web resources available for aspiring academics.
In my experience, there are dozens of great sites for graduate students, in contrast with very few useful web-based sources of peer advice for post-docs or professors. I find it fascinating that there is so little support for academics once they've gotten their degrees.
Please let me know what you think of these online sites and send suggestions for additional links. I would also appreciate being notified if any links become inactive.
Learner Associates is the first place to turn for help with grant proposals or dissertations. The author, Joe Levine, a professor at Michigan State University, has provided an invaluable service to graduate students, post-docs and faculty working in any field and at any career phase. His guide for writing doctoral dissertations is impressively comprehensive and chock full of pragmatic tips you won't find elsewhere. His overview for writing funding proposals will be helpful for anyone writing grants - including those in nonacademic circles. These compendia of practical tips are written in clear, accessible language and include reviewed lists of other web sites and books to try.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is a journal that every academic would be wise to read, or at least skim, on a regular basis. My favorite columns are part of the career network sections that can be accessed without having a subscription. Every academic would be wise to read and chuckle over Ms. Mentor's musings. If you are job hunting, the Career Talk column will be helpful.
Tomorrow's Professor is a Listserv and web site created by Stanford Engineering Professor Richard Reis. He has also written a useful book by the same name (see my references) and writes regular articles for The Chronicle of Higher Education. The listserv is a twice-weekly email newsletter of articles about professional development for academics. It has been "published" for 5 years and reaches more than 17,000 academics at more than 500 institutions in over 100 countries. Wow. There is an organized archive of past listserv articles at the website. Subscribe today and find out what your Dean has been reading.
PhinisheD is the most popular support group for graduate students. It provides access to everything from chat rooms to peer-reviewed links to other sites. Because it is so comprehensive, you can spend hours wandering its pages. Some students confess that it can become an addictive form of procrastination. Take the risk of getting hooked and check it out.
Bedtime Reading for People Who Do Not Have Time to Sleep is a document whose tone is summed up in the title. It is a clever exposition of editorial suggestions for dissertation writers compiled by the Computer Science department at Purdue University. Giggle while you avoid poor writing.
How to Write a Thesis Statement describes the components of a powerful thesis topic, and shows how to create a summary of your main hypothesis in a sentence or two. Written by people at Indiana University, this succinct site is helpful not only for students trying to craft their dissertation topic, but for professors clarifying themes for research articles or grant proposals.
The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has put together a huge group of handouts for students about academic writing. One of the most helpful handouts for doctoral students is Writing Your Dissertation. I suggest browsing through the Index to seek sections particularly applicable to your situation.
The Dissertation Proposal Workshop, put together by the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, is actually a site about writing research and grant proposals - the examples are actual proposals for Fulbright Fellowships and to the National Science Foundation. Start with the site map to find the sections that will be most useful to you. Before leaving the site, be sure to read George Orwell's humorous article examining the pitfalls of jargon, cliches and stilted language. His warnings are as relevant now as when he wrote the piece in 1945.
Online Resources for Writers provides links to sites that help writer's with style and grammar, as well as content. It is a huge compendium of resources created by Charles Darling, a Professor of English at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. Darling has created many great web pages, but they are unwieldy and quite difficult to navigate. It is well worth the effort, however, if you want to improve your writing.
Ron Azuma's Graduate School Survival Guide is a fun and honest look at the doctoral degree process. Azuma received his Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now works in California. His advice is sage and his style engaging.
Eddie's Anti-Procrastination Site is a great page to read when you are avoiding work. He sums up his advice as follows: "Don't get distracted. Keep writing. That's all." He's right.
Networking on the Network is a 67,000 word treatise about how to network in academia by Phil Agre, an Assistant Professor in Information Studies at UCLA. Some of his tips are savvy and he provides many e-etiquette suggestions.
Academic Ladder is the site of dissertation and faculty coach Gina Hiatt, Ph.D.. Like me, Gina is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with academics. Be sure to sign up for her helpful weekly newsletter and try some of her fun assessments.
The Thesis Handbook is the official guide for writing dissertations provided by the Telecommunications Program at SUNY Institute of Technology. It provides practical suggestions that should help many doctoral students, especially those who want suggestions for how to communicate with committee members. This is a guide that every graduate department would be wise to emulate.
How to Write a Ph.D. Thesis includes highly specific information that is especially relevant for students in scientific or technical areas. It has been developed by Joe Wolfe, a Physics Professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
Grad Resources is a nonprofit organization sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ International. Although it is a faith-based service, the group's stated mission is to help all students, whether or not they are interested in the religious message of the sponsors. The unique service of Grad Resources is its Crisis Hotline - 1-877-GRAD-HLP - a 24 hour, confidential telephone counseling service.
PhD: First Thoughts to Finished Writing is a site put together by student support services at the University of Queensland. It is well-organized and covers many topics, although I find the quality of its advice somewhat variable. It is among the top-ranked sites on the site "PhinisheD" which is an important accolade. The page of recommended sites is outdated: many of the links are now inactive.
Eminent Quotables is another great site by Charles Darling of Capital Community College. You can look up hundreds of comments by famous writers about writing.
The Transition from Graduate Student to Assistant Professor is targeted for beginning academics and provided by the Career Center at Berkeley. It covers some basics that may be useful for students who are getting close to graduating. However, if you're already on the job market, or already have an academic job, you're unlikely to discover anything new.
The All But Dissertation Guide, is an e-newsletter that has been published since 1998. It was begun by clinical psychologist and marketing maven Ben Dean, who now spends most of his time running the Mentor Coach Program, a profitable organization that trains mental health professionals to become "virtual" coaches and thus to help clients via telephone an Internet. As Dean has focused his talents on the personal coaching movement, the quality of his newsletter for graduate students has declined significantly. Recently, however, he has found another psychologist to edit the newsletter, and solicited outside articles from other clinicians. The fresh input has revitalized the service.
Wanda Pratt's Personal Page of Advice was last updated in 1997 but is still relevant. Dr. Pratt is currently an Assistant Professor in Information and Computer Sciences at the University of CA.
Dan Horn's Personal Page of Links has been helpful to many doctoral students. He created the page while a post-doc at the University of Michigan School of Information. It has not been updated since 2000.
Preparing Future Faculty: Useful Resources is yet another site of links, this one prepared by a nonprofit organization for future professors.
Graduate Student Humor compiled by About.com. is a commercial site where you may also sign up for a weekly newsletter (that I've found to be rather mediocre). The web page of humorous links is my favorite service of the site. (Check out all of the humor pages on PhinisheD as well.)
Write What You Know is the web site of my colleague Lisa Collazo. She is a licensed clinical social worker and professional coach for writers, including graduate students working on their dissertations. She also teaches workshops which would be especially appropriate for doctoral students struggling with writer's block. Her rates for individual coaching are more affordable than many dissertation coaches and she provides a free initial consultation.
The Procrastination Research Group is a great site to read research and get tips for overcoming your tendency to procrastinate. The director of the project is Tim Pychyl, Ph.D. an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa.