Do you remember the pleasures of scholarship? Uninterrupted time to read and mull over meanings, the slow unravelling of a complex train of thought, the thrill of an insightful new perspective? Remember when you took time to ponder, to stare into the distance while the ideas sank in? Remember thoughtful conversation, sharing new discoveries, debating and finding connections? Remember the pleasure of coaxing an idea onto paper, the luxury of careful re-writing to get it just right?
Slow scholarship, like slow food, is about valuing the process rather than the product. Reclaim scholarship! Take time out from the madness of students and managers to spend a week on that pile of reading; to becoming reacquainted with your thesis or your book. Use the time to explore a new area of research, to plan a sabbatical or just to breathe and daydream a little. Remember why you wanted to be a scholar.
Slow scholarship week at Better is time to savour the delights of old-fashioned scholarship. Each day will include a conversation about scholarship, time to work on your own stuff, time to share what you have read or are working on, and time to write.
Monday: slow scholarship in a fast-scholarship age
Tuesday: the pleasures of reading
Wednesday: mapping and talking about knowledge
Thursday: asking interesting questions
Friday: crafting a meaningful research agenda
The week will be facilitated by Judy Backhouse, an Associate Professor in Information Systems with a research interest in postgraduate education. She has run research writing retreats, postgraduate training and staff development workshops at Monash South Africa and at Wits.
Better is a beautiful space with warm rooms to write in, a sunny balcony and a large garden. Find your favourite spot, grab the free WiFi and settle in. There are snacks, good coffee and a wide range of teas whenever you want them.
Where: Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold (entrance in Englewold Road)
When: Monday 27 November to Friday 1 December, 9am to 5pm
Cost: R550 to attend for the week. Add R500 to have lunch provided each day or bring your own if you prefer.
You are thinking about getting a PhD, but you are not sure about what is expected, how to go about it and whether it’s worth it. This workshop will help you to decide, and to prepare an application for PhD studies.
Many people want to get a PhD, to wear the red gown and to earn the right to be called Doctor. But it’s not an easy process. Doctoral education takes three to six years so it’s a big commitment. Many start, but few complete.
This workshop will help you to …
Decide if a PhD really is for you
Understand what a PhD is and is not
Choose a PhD program
Find a supervisor and persuade them to supervise you
Choose a research topic
Prepare your application
Prepare a research proposal
Increase your chances of acceptance into a program
Plan for your life as a PhD candidate
This workshop is a great way to start you PhD studies and make sure you succeed.
Who is it for?
All kinds of people do PhDs. This workshop is for you if…
You are employed at a university and are under pressure to get a PhD
You want to get into an academic career and need to improve your qualifications
You are employed outside of academia and want a PhD to differentiate yourself
You are retired and now have time to explore an area of knowledge in depth
You want to reflect on and consolidate your experience and knowledge in a field
You have a long-standing personal dream of being a doctor
You have applied for a PhD before and been rejected
You don’t have friends and family with PhDs to advise and guide you
How does it work?
The workshop takes place over two days. You must attend both days. It is held at Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold in Johannesburg. We can recommend accommodation nearby for people travelling to Johannesburg (not included in the fee).
The first day of the workshop will be spent learning about the PhD, how doctoral education works and analysing your reasons for wanting to do a PhD. We discuss how to choose a program and supervisor and go through a detailed process for deciding on a research topic. The day is very hands-on and we will have plenty of time to talk about your specific circumstances. We work through exercises examining what the information we share means to you.
At the end of the first day you will be set homework to do that evening, collecting information for and preparing your application. On the second day we will review your application and discuss how to strengthen it. Then we will spend time writing your proposal, discussing your proposal and improving it. This process also gives you a taste of what PhD study is like. We end the workshop by discussing how you are going to adjust your life to accommodate a PhD.
Two days with an expert on doctoral education answering your questions
Detailed information about what to expect from doctoral education
A checklist of questions to ask when choosing a program and supervisor
A detailed procedure for approaching a supervisor
A template for preparing a short proposal for your application
Insight into how to find and use academic literature to guide your choice of topic
A taste of what academic research and PhD learning is like
A personal review of your CV and academic transcript to identify strengths and weaknesses
A worksheet that helps you plan your life as a PhD candidate
About Judy Backhouse
Judy Backhouse wrote her PhD on Doctoral Education in South Africa, graduating in 2009 from Wits University. She has run workshops for postgraduate students and academic staff on academic writing. She has also run workshops for postgraduate supervisors at Wits University and at the University of Venda. She has worked as the convenor of a PhD program, including screening and interviewing PhD applicants. This course is a result of seeing a lot of bad applications and wanting to help applicants to improve their chances in applying.
Participants in some of Judy’s workshops have said:
“Judy has an amazing ability to create a safe space. Academic writing can feel so scary, and yet she made me feel that I could do it and that I didn’t have to be afraid of asking stupid questions.”
“This workshop gave me so much direction and clarity. I now know what I need to do next.”
Dates: The course will run in January, July and September 2018 Times: 8:30am to 4:30pm Venue: Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold (entrance off Englewold Road) Cost: R3850 Booking: Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Better is a place for people who do creative work that is often solitary, to get together to work, share and relax. This makes it an ideal place for academics to escape from the bustle and interruptions of campus, to focus on research writing.
Working together with other writers makes writing easier because
there is camaraderie,
there is some social pressure to sit down and write
it’s inspiring to work with other writers
there are fewer distractions – you can’t go and stack the dishwasher
and when you get stuck, coffee and a chat can help you to get unstuck.
Better has been put together by Judy Backhouse, based on her experiences of running writing retreats for academic writers, and in response to the difficulties of writing on university campuses.
Think of Better as your permanent writing retreat, a place to drop in and write at any time. You could use Better
once a week to make a habit of research writing
for a week or two when you have a paper to prepare
for two or three days when you are chasing a deadline
every day to make the most of your sabbatical
to attend a workshop to inspire you now and then
to run a workshop, on a writing theme
Better has cosy rooms with tables and chairs to work at, armchairs to read in, free Wi-Fi, books and curated information on research writing, as well as other resources for writing. The venue is homely, warm and welcoming, with a large garden. There is free tea and coffee. Lunches can be ordered in, or taken at a leisurely pace at one of the many nearby restaurants. It’s located along Oxford Road, between Killarney and Rosebank.
Better supports slow scholarship, the idea that, like slow food, good writing (and thinking) must be “carefully prepared, with fresh ideas, local when possible, and is best enjoyed leisurely”. The process is respected here, more than the product. There is aso a programme of workshops and events for learning and sharing.
To ensure that you have access to this environment all year round, become a member. Memberships are monthly, with no contracts. Visit us to see the place or get in touch.