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Organizing Grant Reimbursement Materials with Help from an Archivist

Organizing Grant Reimbursement Materials with Help from an Archivist

A bit late on my part, but here is my June post for GradHacker:

Congratulations! You’ve gotten a grant to travel to a conference or to conduct research! No matter its size or function, that’s a big deal!

So, now what?

Most of these travel grants require you to pay up front for your trip, including airfare, mileage, hotel or room, library fees, visas, and food. You are only reimbursed after the trip. For poorly paidgraduate students, the economic burden of this type of grant is heavy, making it potentially risky; however, it is often the only way for us to get any work done.

A lot of my research and travel over the last few years has been made possible by some sort of grant, but I have also made several costly mistakes along the way—lost receipts and frantic last-minute form submissions. These mistakes could have been avoided if I had approached my grant like an archivist.

Read the whole thing over on Inside Higher Ed’s GradHacker!

A Fair Use Primer for Graduate Students [GradHacker]

A Fair Use Primer for Graduate Students [GradHacker]

In my latest post for GradHacker, I tackle another aspect of copyright law: fair use.

When I close my eyes and try to imagine what a Campbell’s Soup can looks like, I am not sure if what I see is the actual object or one of Andy Warhol’s famous works. These iconic cans, regardless of their importance to modern art and American history, are a tangle of popular culture, artistic expression, and copyright litigation, all of which knot around the concept of fair use.

Fair use is a designation within US copyright law, which recognizes that certain people under certain circumstances are allowed to use copyrighted materials without obtaining permissions or licenses in advance. Whereas Creative Commons makes materials available with minimal protections or none at all, fair use provides a few legal exemptions for copyrighted materials. There are limits to these exceptions, but they cover most forms of “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

If Campbell’s had decided to sue Warhol for copyright infringement, his defense would have most likely been based on fair use. He may have argued that his appropriation of popular culture constituted a criticism of it and that his intentions were to create art (not cash). Although tenuous, given Warhol had to settle a later copyright dispute out of court, this example illustrates the flexibility of the doctrine of fair use.

Although we, as graduate students, frequently employ materials under this provision, I find we rarely take time to understand exactly what it entails. I have come across professors and other instructors who span the gamut on this issue. Some seem to think that anything is covered under fair use, like a copyright carte blanche to do what they want with others’ materials; others interpret the flexibility as a constant threat looming over them, so they avoid utilizing copyrighted materials at all costs…

For the rest of this post, check it out at GradHacker!

[Image by Flickr user Ben Mason and used under the Creative Commons license.]

Mentoring as a Graduate Student [GradHacker Post]

Mentoring as a Graduate Student [GradHacker Post]

In my most recent GradHacker post on Inside Higher Ed, I discuss how mentoring an undergraduate changed the way I see myself as an academic.

Honestly, I had no intention of becoming anyone’s mentor. I was deep into the “make it work” stage of my academic career: my dissertation was stagnating, I was teaching a new course in a new discipline, my partner had gotten a job across the country, and I was having health problems.

Nevertheless, despite my being lost in the fog of graduate school, an undergraduate found me and turned me into a mentor. And I am thankful every day that she did.

Oddly enough, I was never even C’s teacher; she was never my student. I was an intern archivist, she was a student assistant, and we shared a basement workroom in the library. Chatting to keep our minds occupied while processing a collection and keep our bodies from freezing, we became good friends over a mutual interest in history, archival management, and Ryan Gosling memes.

To read the rest of this post, check it out here.

[Image from Flickr user Ivan T, modified by Heather VanMouwerik, and used under Creative Commons License.]

A Creative Commons Primer for Graduate Students [GradHacker]

A Creative Commons Primer for Graduate Students [GradHacker]

My March post for GradHacker is all about the Creative Commons and how you can use it in graduate school!

Summers in North Carolina were always long, boring, and hot. In order to survive the humidity, my sister and I would spend the morning at the community pool and the afternoon stuck inside. While Kristin preferred to play with her Little People, I would take over the kitchen countertop, covering it with crayons, colored paper, scissors, eight kinds of markers, two kinds of colored pencils, glitter, beads, magazines, and cool leaves I found in the yard. Then I would take a giant piece of construction paper and create these elaborate collages, displaying all of my little treasures by gluing them together.

I still love collages, but I don’t really have the time to create glitter-covered art anymore. Instead, as a graduate student in a visually uncreative field (history), I seize every opportunity to do creative work–making posters, adding pictures to my dissertation, writing lectures, and building websites. I love riffing on preexisting art, borrowing images from the internet and either using them as-is or mixing them into something new.

Images from the internet–any work of art, photograph, graph, or any digital visualization–is the property of the original creator and under copyright protection. In order to stay on the right side of law, I make sure that all of the visual materials I use as a graduate student are posted under a Creative Commons license and are properly attributed.

Read the rest of the article over at GradHacker!

[Image by Flickr user Naomi and used under Creative Commons license. I recommend taking a look at the rest of her collages, because they are beautiful!]

The Importance of Female Friendship in Graduate School [GradHacker]

The Importance of Female Friendship in Graduate School [GradHacker]

My most recent post for GradHacker is a #gradschoolgalentines love letter to all the women who have helped me get where I am today!

I cannot remember the context, but sometime in high school, when I was sixteen, living in the suburbs, and hopelessly devoted (obsessed?) with the latest music, I was asked whether I prefer male or female singers. As I was answering–something about how men sang more interesting songs–it dawned on me: I was full of shit! How many female-led bands had I actually heard? When was the last time a radio station had played a song from an all-female band? How many songs by women could I name that were not about men or love? Until I could answer these questions, until I sought out bands that featured women prominently and changed to radio stations that were more inclusive, until I could understand the ridiculousness and the misogyny of the original question, I could not truly love female singers or female-led bands.

Being into female singers in the late nineties required work. I had to switch radio stations, go to random concerts, make different friends, and talk often to music shop employees. Nowadays I can more articulately explain the reasons behind the gender inequity in the music industry. But the fact remains that in order to fully appreciate the variety and mind-blowing badassness of women in music, you have to put in the leg work and seek them out.

Just like working for your music, in graduate school female friends are not necessarily easy to make or maintain, especially if you are a women in a male-dominated department. Towards the beginning of my second year as a history student in a Ph.D. program, I was overwhelmed, stressed out, lonely, and flailing about for focus and a purpose. I had a couple of great male friends, one of whom I am marrying later this year, but, since most of my professors and classmates were men, I often felt as though my problems were not all that important. And sharing these feelings just wasn’t a normal part of the history department’s culture…

To read more and leave your own #gradschoolgalentines letter, check it out on the GradHacker blog!

[Image from Flickr user Amy Gizienski and used under the Creative Commons License.]

Lowering the Stakes with Online Writing: A Case Study [GradHacker]

Lowering the Stakes with Online Writing: A Case Study [GradHacker]

In my latest post, I walk you through how I solved a pedagogical problem using a digital tool…

I have written several posts on digital literacy and pedagogy for GradHacker, many of which suggest ways to incorporate digital components into undergraduate courses. The overarching theme to all of my advice is simple: start with clearly articulated learning goals, and then find the right digital tools to achieve them. Not only does this help you focus on the learning objectives instead of being distracted by shiny new technologies, it also ensures that your students understand the value of the digital assignment and that you are not overwhelmed with troubleshooting.

So, today, I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of giving more advice along these lines, I wanted to walk you through how I approached and eventually solved a pedagogical puzzle with a digital tool. The rest of this post will walk you through how I developed a successful low-stakes online writing assignment for a beginning English Composition course, which might helpful for graduate students designing their first college course or more seasoned instructors who want to incorporate a little digital into their preexisting classes…

To read the rest, check it out at GradHacker!

[Image provided by Flickr user Alan Levine and used under a Creative Commons license.]

Three Books that Changed my Dissertation [GradHacker]

Three Books that Changed my Dissertation [GradHacker]

In this month’s post on GradHacker, I discuss Stephen King, Anne Lamott, and… Julia Child!?!

Writing is hard.

It can be isolating, messy, frustrating, mentally taxing, and a constant exercise in self-discipline. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either riding a great wave of creative productivity (which will eventually recede) or is trying to sell you something (like a new irreplaceable productivity tool). Occasionally though, when you are able to perfectly express yourself on the page and block out your negative inner voice, it can be transcendent.

Nevertheless, these moments of transcendence aren’t the only reasons why most of us in graduate school write. We have to write seminar papers, syllabi, abstracts, grant proposals, and, eventually, a giant dissertation—all utilitarian forms of expressing ourselves which can be creatively liberating or a terrible burden.

Five months ago, I decided that it was time to devote myself completely to finishing my dissertation. Although I still don’t have a complete chapter, I am inching closer to my goals day-by-day. But it is a constant struggle for me, someone who has difficulty writing everyday, who can’t help editing as she writes, and who would often rather clean the entirety of her apartment than write a paragraph.

During a particularly bad bout of procrastination when I decided that I could not write a single word until all of my books were reorganized, I discovered a stash of memoirs and how-to books that I had collected in my early twenties. Some of them were rather famous—Strunk and Whites’ The Elements of Style—and others were cute and esoteric.

Queen of self-delusion, I reasoned that reading books about writing was the same as actually writing, so I started to read. And I am thankful that I did! The overriding message of all of theses books is the same: writing is hard work, you are not alone, and you can write whatever you set your mind to. This message turned out to be the exactly what I needed to hear.

In the spirit of this holiday season, I wanted to share with you the three books that have had the largest impact on me and my dissertation in the hopes they might inspire you, too.

To read the rest, click on over to the original post!

[Photo from Flickr user Lidyanne Aquino and used under the Creative Commons License.]

Reining in Your Metadata with Help from an Archivist [GradHacker]

Reining in Your Metadata with Help from an Archivist [GradHacker]

Now up on GradHacker, a little advice for effectively employing metadata to bolster your research:

Every book we read, every source we mine, and every number we collect has a history, has a life that precedes us and will continue long after we are gone. It is easy to forget this when we are frantically collecting materials for our dissertation. This legacy is rich but, in the hustle-and-bustle of research trips, exam prep, and writing, it is often neglected or even forgotten.

One of the most important parts of building an archive is capturing this legacy by recording an item’s dimensions, condition, material composition, origin, and provenance. In so doing, an archivist generates a vast amount of metadata, or information about an item irrespective of its content. Not only is this information useful in categorizing and storing the item, it also enriches the context of the archived item for researchers and facilitates use of the collection as a whole.

Metadata, though, isn’t reserved for the hallowed halls (or cold, windowless basements) of an archive. It is also a vital part of any researcher’s personal database.

Check out the full article up on the blog!

[Photo is courtesy of Flikr user Forsaken Fotos and used under the Creative Commons.]