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Mentoring graduate students, part 2

Randall F. Clemens

Discovery is central to graduate education. Students explore new ideas and challenge old beliefs. They practice complex skills and interact with an array of scholars. But, from reading a professor’s trenchant feedback to narrowing your dissertation focus, the process is not always glamorous. Here are a few resources to ease the journey:

Purdue Owl APA Formatting and Style Guide

Let’s start with some basic facts: APA guidelines are weird, quirky, and illogical. Here’s another fact: Every paper you submit should conform to the conventions. They provide the template for social science papers. When students deviate, professors notice. If you submit a paper that looks like an e.e. cummings poem, it won’t end well. I promise.

APA publishes a style guide. However, there are plenty of free resources. Purdue’s Online Writing Lab provides the best.

Tips: First, use the search box to find topics. If you’re looking up the rules for three levels of headings, rather than navigating through menus, search for “headings.” Second, check out the sample paper. It provides examples of some of the more unique conventions, like running headers.

Education Commission of the States (ECS) and Politico Morning Education

ECS and Politico send daily emails. ECS aggregates news reports. Politico reviews policy news. Read both to stay informed and to think about possible dissertation topics.

Tip: Many schools, along with research associations and divisions, distribute updates via email. For instance, USC provides several news related updates. AERA’s Division J (edited by Pullias’ very own Dan Maxey) sends news about jobs, fellowships, and publication opportunities. Subscribe.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle serves two critical functions. First, the site provides a great mix of news and opinion about higher education. Second, it publishes job listings. Check the news to stay up-to-date. Read the blogs to learn from experts. And, peruse the job listings to get a sense of the current market.

Tip: The Chronicle uses paywalls. To obtain full access, login through your university’s library portal.


Many, many years ago (like five), Bill and I incorporated Twitter into our qualitative methods class. Some students wondered about usefulness. Back then, the social networking site felt a little bit like a high school Dungeons and Dragons party. The cool kids were few and far between. Now, Twitter feels more like a college house party full of unique and diverse people. Twitter is an essential tool for graduate students. Participate in chats. Communicate with top scholars. Follow people and organizations. Receive news and updates. Conduct research. Share findings. Extend your reach.

Tips: Choose a professional name. Tweet regularly.