Research initiative: Week 1

WEEK 1: DESIGNING A PLAN FOR WRITING

Dear SAACDHE colleagues

Welcome back to the 13 Week Research Support Initiative, where we will focus exclusively on writing an article for publication in the SAACDHE journal (JCDHESA). As a reminder, please have a look at the proposed schedule below.

The layout for the 13-week writing for publication cycle:

  • Designing a plan for writing (this article)
  • Creating a layout and structure for writing
  • Formulating the argument
  • Understanding the SAACDHE journal guidelines
  • The literature review
  • Revisiting the layout and structure
  • Presenting the body
  • Openings and endings
  • Editing, editing, editing …
  • Wrapping up
  • Crossing the chasm: Submitting your paper
  • Responding to feedback
  • Looking back to go forward: The after action review

This week we will focus on designing a plan for your writing initiative.

Where does time go?

In the 1990s BarOne ran an advert where they suggested that having one of their delicious, albeit sugar-filled candy bars would give us a 25-hour day. I am sure we can all do with a 25-hour day more often than not. But, the time-gods only chose to provide us with 24-hours a day, and as Robin Williams so poignantly reminded us in Dead Poets Society, we must make the limited time we have available count towards something meaningful.

The first step in any endeavour focussed on proper time management is to determine how we currently spend our time. Wendy Belcher shares the idea that most persons working in academic environments have a spare 20 to 25 minutes to engage in research and writing – even though I can bet my bottom dollar you wholly disagree with me right now.

Nonetheless, what I am asking you to do this week is to track how you are actually spending your time. Keep in mind; I am not asking how you plan or wish to spend your time. Instead, keep an accurate record this week of what you are doing. Download the  Track my time Excel file and complete the first sheet (My time study)  to start keeping track of your time.

Spending time wisely

Academics have long lamented the lack of time available to engage in writing and research. This is a fact – unless the notion of a 25-hour BarOne day turns into reality. But, as academics, we should ask ourselves what is within my circle of control? In other words, how can we, in spite of restraints on our time, still contribute to the literature that guides much of what we do?

The second task for this week is to evaluate the results of your time study. Be honest and assess what time you have available to spend writing and researching. Use the second sheet – Reflection – in the Track my time Excel file to do so.

Once you have a firm decision, move over to the third sheet – My plan – in the Track my time Excel file.

My weekly writing plan

You will find a weekly timetable on the third sheet in the – in the Track my time Excel file. Use this timetable to indicate when you will engage in your weekly writing activity. Keep in mind that there are no set time limits. But, if you want to participate in this writing initiative, you must write for at least 25 minutes per day, or 150 minutes per week (6 x 25-minute sessions).

A structured approach to writing

The last activity for this week is to familiarise yourself with the notion of the Pomodoro strategy. Try it out this week to help you focus during the time you have to write. Explore the option of downloading an app on your phone to help you keep track of your Pomodoro activities.

Week 1 tasks

That is it for week 1. Five simple responsibilities:

  1. Conduct your time study.
  2. Assess how much time you have available – or can make available – for research and writing.
  3. Schedule your time in the timetable.
  4. Familiarise yourself with the Pomodoro method.
  5. Keep your reflection log up to date.

Progress with this 13-week programme

  • Designing a plan for writing
  • Creating a layout and structure for writing
  • Formulating the argument
  • Understanding the SAACDHE journal guidelines
  • The literature review
  • Revisiting the layout and structure
  • Presenting the body
  • Openings and endings
  • Editing, editing, editing …
  • Wrapping up
  • Crossing the chasm: Submitting your paper
  • Responding to feedback
  • Looking back to go forward: The after action review

If you have decided to make 2019 your best research year ever, send me an email (masonh@tut.ac.za) so that we can connect and collaborate. My hope is that we can build a community of psychologists who are dedicated to doing their work through a scholarly lens.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Chinese Proverb