I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

super sexy wednesday 4

Posted in history,scholarship,tips by Rae on 31 May 2006

From Tomorrow's Professor Blog, "Are You a 21st Century Library-Ready Instructor?" looks at how to make campus libraries more attractive and useful to students and faculty.


"The Future of Free Information" (PDF) by Lawrence M. Sanger. (via Open Access News)


So sad: UK educators shun Israeli academics. I agree with Jim Davila's sentiments. When will they learn that these actions only put egg on their own faces and harm academic freedom?


Home Schoolers Learn A B C's of Keeping Fit:

Six years ago, when she became their teacher, Ms. Massey, 36, easily got up to speed in math and science, but the fundamentals of physical education left her stumped. "I didn't feel adequate enough to teach them myself," she said. Although her children, the oldest of whom are 8 and 11, played backyard soccer, she wanted them to understand that there was more to fitness than just kicking a ball. "P.E. is just as important as academics," she insisted. "I want my kids to understand how heart rate works and how you can get a good workout even if you can't go to the gym."

Do people think kids learn that in public or private schools? As someone who spent time in public, private, and home schools, my level of physical fitness and knowledge of the body and excercise didn't vary from one to the next. My firm belief is that lifestyle habits like good eating and exercise are learned at home, anyway.


There is a technique for researching in Russian libraries: How to Get Past Face Control at the Library. (via Rare Book News)


Inside Higher Ed has a smart article, titled "Stop Chasing High-Tech Cheaters."

Outside the classroom, cell phones, PDAs, PocketPCs, Internet access is everywhere because we need it and use it in our information driven lives. But inside the classroom, the very skills humans need to succeed are discouraged and viewed with alarm. So schools do not teach effective use of Google, of text-messaging, of instant-messaging. They don’t teach collaboration. They barely teach communication outside the stilted prose only academics use. No wonder students are prepared for nothing except more school.

I suppose everyone assumes kids know how to use all the popular technologies, but those students mostly (only?) use those tools in a social milieu. I agree with Ira Socol (the article's author). I also think that colleges need to make courses on how to network mandatory for all students. Every job and opportunity I've been offered since college has resulted from networking, but I only realized that in retrospect. If I had known that it really matters "who ya know" during my undergrad years, I'm convinced I could have made better use of my time then and after.


A new blog: Digging Digitally – Archaeology, data sharing, digitally enabled research & education.


one step forward, two steps back

Posted in progress,thesis by Rae on 25 May 2006

At least that’s how it felt. I had a particularly frustrating email interaction with a librarian at my university this past week. Here’s how it went (I paraphrase):

Me: Do you have this newspaper on microfilm with an index for the years 1915-1918?

Librarian: We have the newspaper, but no index for those years.

Me: Is there any way I can get a copy of the index from another library?

Librarian: No. Libraries need to keep the index with the microfilm.

Me: Is there any way I can get a *copy* of the index from another library?

Librarian: No. We do not have an electronic copy.


I gave up trying to find a way to induce this librarian to help me (God forbid). Considering I had gained no additional knowledge from her second and third responses, it was obvious that route was a lost cause. Surely I’m not the only person to have encountered unhelpful librarians. Maybe she would have helped me if I had said I was a professor.

I also emailed another university about a different newspaper because I was trying to arrange a research trip. I still haven’t heard back from them, but no matter as that newspaper (The Jewish Chronicle) now has a digital archive! Now I can conduct my research in my preferred anti-social manner and in the comfort of my own home – and by that I mean in my pajamas!

I’ve also managed, with some help, to pare down my topic a bit more so that it’s more manageable. So really, one step back, two steps forward. Now I’m feeling good.

super sexy wednesday 3

Posted in history,tools by Rae on 24 May 2006

First, the news and info:

John Willinsky's keynote address at the Learning Free of Boundaries conference is available for download. (via Open Access News)


Nazi crimes archives set to open.


PaleoJudaica has a nifty post on pseudepigrapha:

JOHANN ALBERT FABRICIUS (1668-1736) was an amazingly prolific polymath who published, among other things, vast histories of Greek and Latin literature (the Bibliotheca Latina and Bibliotheca Graeca), an edition of New Testament Apocrypha (the Codex Apocryphus), and the first scholarly collection of Old Testament pseudepigrapha: Codex pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti (1722-23).


Siris features Ancient/Medieval history blog stuff in Carnivalesque XV.


The Yale Press blog remembers Jaroslav Pelikan.


From Tomorrow's Professor Blog: The Scholarship of Engagement: What Is It?


The Onion reports that "Heroic Computer Dies To Save World From Master's Thesis":

A courageous young notebook computer committed a fatal, self-inflicted execution error late Sunday night, selflessly giving its own life so that professors, academic advisors, classmates, and even future generations of college students would never have to read Jill Samoskevich's 227-page master's thesis, sources close to the Brandeis University English graduate student reported Monday.


Scan This Book! – the New York Times on the universal library.

Now, the tools:

A convenient tool for grad students: find free wireless internet access in the U.S. with ilovefreeWiFi. (via Lifehacker)


Something to make good use of while working on your thesis/dissertation project is the Thanks. No. website. It'll tell all those people who are constantly sending you forwards and other time-wasting email to shove it, but in a wordier, less rude way.


If you're like me (and, of course, you are), then you probably email lots of files and upload lots of photos on a regular basis. Check out this Mozilla add-on that allows you to drag, drop, and upload (or email). (via Lifehacker)

In Memory of Jaroslav Pelikan

Posted in history by Rae on 22 May 2006

From the New York Times: Jaroslav Pelikan, Wide-Ranging Historian of Christian Traditions, Dies at 82.

Pelikan was an esteemed and highly-regarded scholar. Everything he wrote was top notch, including his book The Idea of the University: A Reexamination (published in 1992). A few years ago when I was writing a bibliographic essay titled, "Literacy and Aurality: The 'Reading' of Hebrew Texts in the Second Temple Period," I found these portions on bibliographic essays (on pages 116-117) to be particularly helpful:

[T]he bibliographic essay, if prepared with just the right blend of thoroughness and imagination, can serve at least two major purposes simultaneously. It can be a necessary prolegomenon [preparatory work] to research, by means of which scholars are enabled to locate their new discoveries or insights in the context of the total state of the art. Thus scholarly and scientific readers can, with a minimum of slippage, see where their new research has truly done something new, and can therefore begin to assess its significance. Conversely, the new research may also have achieved its results through a dangerous oversimplification of problems that earlier scholars had recognized in their full complexity, and the well-written bibliographic essay can provide a scholar with perspective also on that issue. Beyond that function, however, the bibliographic essay is an important chapter in intellectual history, especially when it deals with an aspect of one of those seminal issues that systems of human thought and belief use over and over to identify themselves. By this means the scholar's own research points beyond itself to the continuing tradition of study and debate. Few enterprises are more fundamental for the future of university research than this.

As anyone who has ever attempted it will testify, however, preparing a bibliographic essay of that kind is not for the feint of heart. For unless one is committed to some party line, be it political or philosophical or theological or literary, such a report on the state of the art has the moral obligation to report and summarize the historical development and current status of the research with . . . objectivity.

Only if the research scholar begins to have some of the qualities of the bibliographer and if the research librarian is a philologist [a humanist specializing in classical scholarship] of sorts can research in all fields begin to acquire literature surveys of the quality it ought to have for scholarship to thrive.

May his memory be a blessing.

getting organized

Posted in thesis,tips,tools by Rae on 19 May 2006


Note: These are not my books. My book piles are very neat. 

May 12's PhD comic summed up the organizational difficulties a lot of graduate students (and everyone else, for that matter) face. But there are solutions for managing the chaos that is undoubtedly your life, and I'm going to share some of the effective tools I've stumbled across.

There are several books about getting and staying organized, but the one that has the largest and still-growing cult following is Getting Things Done (known affectionately as GTD) by David Allen. Unfortunately I came across this one a bit too late to fully implement for my thesis, but it's changed the way I think about being organized and my productivity has improved. Two very helpful websites on GTD are the 43Folders wiki and Steve Lawson's "Lunch and Learn" tutorial.

Good email management is also important. Steve Lawson recommends reading these two guides: Ole Eichhorn's "The Tyranny of Email," and Mark Hurst's "Managing Incoming E-mail: What Every User Needs to Know." I've read them and refer to them in conversations all the time. I especially liked the concept that it takes three solid hours to get something done. To get in "the zone," you need to eliminate the distractions. Eichhorn tells you how.

I find to-do lists and calendars particularly helpful. I've tried Mozilla's various calendar applications and wasn't crazy about them. I'm generally a list person, so I use Remember the Milk. I can create my to-do lists and have them emailed to me every morning, plus they show up in my blog reader (Bloglines) via an RSS feed. Google Calendar is very popular, but for calendars I prefer a Moleskine. I bought the limited edition one in Commie Red last week and can't wait for 2007!

On Wednesday I linked to an article on overcoming procrastination. A few days ago, Gadgetopia posted that sometimes procrastination can be confused with thinking. While motivational articles and speakers often make me want to strangle someone due to their over-the-top postivity, motivational phrases can be useful without enraging.

Sure, a number of the above links are geared towards programmers and related geeks, but my readers are probably nose-in-book types and can therefore appreciate them just the same. 

Do you have ideas about getting and staying organized at work, school, or home? 

super sexy wednesday 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Rae on 17 May 2006

Another site that will turn the webpage of your choice into a PDF file. (via Library Stuff)


Ever come across quotes that are worth saving and sharing? Well, my father sent me this one last year, and I saved it for such a day as this (and such a reader as you).


Steve Pavlina has written a bunch of motivational/productivity articles. They tend to leave me feeling overwhelmed and a bit inadequate, but this one on overcoming procrastination has several useful tips.


The Shifting Paradigm of Scholarly Publishing. (via Open Access News)


In April, a grad student announced a cover design competition for his dissertation. The entries are in and it's time to head to the polls to vote. (via Foreword)


History Carnival 31 is up at Airminded.


How To Proofread Your Own Writing. Alternatively, you can hire a proofreader/copyeditor like moi (though sadly I can't accept more work until mid-July).

super sexy wednesday

Posted in tips,tools by Rae on 10 May 2006

I've collected a number of miscellaneous links of possible interest to graduate students and researchers, so I've created "super sexy wednesday" as a platform for sharing those links. I'll do this every week.


Most researchers are probably familiar with Google Scholar, and Microsoft recently unveiled their Live Academic Search. Elsa Wenzel offers a quick comparison of the two here.The New York Times published an article today on Microsoft and Google's apparent collision course: Microsoft and Google Grapple for Supremacy as Stakes Escalate. (via Open Access News)


Announcing the official Inside Google Book Search blog.


You've probably heard about the Cornyn-Lieberman Bill. If not, it' a proposed bill that would make federally-funded research into open access research. I see it as aiding the intellectual and research community, but not everyone's enthusiastic. The Association of American Publishers issued their protest yesterday. Click here to read more about it and what open access proponents are saying in response to the publishers' concerns.


The Chronicle has a piece on the problems posed by multimedia dissertations. My project is a plain, ol' words on paper kinda thesis, so this is not a problem I'm facing. Still, it's food for thought.


Tomorrow's Professor Blog has a useful post that

looks at some practical suggestions for choosing the right dissertation topic in the humanities and social sciences. It is from Chapter 4 Finishing the Doctoral Degree in a Timely Fashion: The Dissertation as a Key Factor in the Humanities and Social Sciences, by Cynthia Verba, in Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development During the Graduate Years.

Check it out.


A possibly handy tool for grad students: ExpressPDF lets you convert online Word, Excel, web pages to PDF for free.

(via Library Stuff)


The 5th edition of A Pocket Guide to Writing in History by Mary Lynn Rampolla will be released in July.

thesis outline

Posted in jewish legion,progress,thesis by Rae on 9 May 2006

This outline lays out my thesis topic. All titles are tentative, but accurately represent the subject matter.

The Finest Idea: Formation and Recruitment of the Jewish Legion in World War I


1. Zionism (Jewish and non-Jewish) and its Proponents





2. Zion Mule Corps

Palestine and Egypt


3. Establishing the Jewish Legion

a. Political





b. Social

Steed/The Times

Scott/Manchester Guardian

Greenberg/London Jewish Chronicle


4. Recruitment





I'm still formulating my thesis question, but I know it will pertain to the recruitment efforts. So, most of the paper will be the background and build up to recruitment: Zionism, the Zion Mule Corps at Gallipoli, politics, and social issues. Then I'll cover the actual recruitment efforts in the various countries.

Tomorrow I'm meeting with the professor I mentioned last week. We'll discuss my thesis topic in general and the section on Zionism specifically. I'll need to revamp my Zionism bibliography today, plus gather together everything I've written on Zionism in the past.

I'm hoping to start yoga next week.

thesis schedule (starting yesterday)

Posted in progress,thesis by Rae on 8 May 2006

I drew up my tentative thesis outline and schedule last night. After creating my outline, I determined how many weeks I have before my thesis defense (13 weeks), then I subtracted three weeks from that date to determine my thesis "due date." Next, I determined how much time I could use on each chapter by working backwards from the due date to the present, and I figured out how many pages I needed to complete each week.

Here's the schedule as it currently stands:

WEEK 1 (May 7-13): Zionism (10 pages)

WEEK 2 (14-20): Zionism (10)

WEEK 3 (21-27): Zion Mule Corps (15)

WEEK 4 (28-3): Political Steps (5) – I'll be in Austin for my brother’s wedding from the 25th-29th, but I'll certainly have some work with me.

WEEK 5 (June 4-10): Political (5) – My sister is moving to Miami this weekend and I've agreed to help her, so that'll take me away from writing for a few days.

WEEK 6 (11-17):Social Steps (10)

WEEK 7 (18-24): Recruitment (15)

WEEK 8 (25-1): Recruitment (10) – My 5th wedding anniversary is this weekend, so my husband and I will be taking time to celebrate.

WEEK 9 (July 2): Write conclusion (10) and intro (5).

WEEK 10 (9): Wrap up loose ends and FINISH THESIS (by end of week).

WEEK 11 (16): If worse comes to worst, I can finish my thesis this week. My husband won a free trip to Montana, so we'll be gone from the 14th-17th.

WEEK 12 (23): Sit on my tuffet.


This probably sounds like a huge amount of work for such a short time, but there are a few factors that make all of this less stressful (but certainly not stress-free): I've been researching this topic for over a year, I've written numerous papers on these subtopics, and I've done more work than this in less time in the past (while also working full-time). I'm currently planning on a total of 95 pages, and I estimated that I've already written between 30-40 pages.

There are two books that came in handy while creating my writing schedule:

Writing the Doctoral Dissertation: A Systematic Approach (2nd Edition) by Gordon B. Davis and Clyde A. Parker – Instead of reading the whole book (I can easily spend all of my time reading), I just focused on two chapters: The Dissertation Time Schedule and Budget (Chapter 9) and Management of Dissertation Activities (Chapter 11). Obviously I'm not working on a dissertation, but because Master's students are often overlooked when it comes to these kinds of books, I'll take what I can find. And anyway, a lot of the advice is generic and adaptable to my (and just about anyone's) particular situation.

Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish: Psychology and Related Fields by John D. Cone and Sharon L. Foster. This is another book that's not a perfect fit because the information is geared towards psych and social science people and not history people. But still, there's useful stuff here, especially the following chapters: Starting Out: Assessing Your Preparation for the Task Ahead (Chapter 2) and Time and Trouble Management (Chapter 4). This book presents the reader with lots of self-directed questions; questions one may not think about until it's too late.

I'll post my outline tomorrow.

a community of shared ideas

Posted in collaboration,thesis by Rae on 3 May 2006

A few weeks ago, the Word Choice blog posted about the desire to produce amazing research versus solid research:

i tend to find myself always in search of the “new,” the “exciting,” the “totally innovative and creative” interpretation that will do amazing things in my field….for me, fox was a reality check that good history occurs in a community of shared ideas. yes, its incredibly important to acknowledge our intellectual debts, but i appreciate his realistic approach that encourages a focus on what is happening as ideas circulate as opposed to what happens when they sit alone in our brains.

I've dealt with this in my own research. I want to produce totally original work (which isn't required for a Master's) plus I want to find the sources that no one else has. Finding cool stuff like that is great but not necessary to produce great work. Your work needs to be your own, but that doesn't mean it needs to be far off the beaten track. After all, that beaten track (also known as a literature review to doctoral students) is there for a reason.

And it's true that "good history occurs in a community of shared ideas," which is why it's terribly important to attend a school that has a strong focus on your area of research. If it doesn't, you have to scrounge around for faculty guidance and your fellow students won't know what the hell you're talking about.

On another note, there is a faculty member at my university (he's not in the History department) who's interested in my research and knows something about my topic. He responded to a paper I presented at a symposium in March, and we're planning to meet some time during the next week to discuss my research further.


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