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Flourish: An Electronic Newsletter for Scholarly Writers December 2007

vol. 3, no. 11

The final month of 2007 may be a time to think about whether you have reached your writing goals this year. Have you been writing steadily? Have you been sending material out for publication? If you can’t think about that now, I don’t blame you, December is a crazy month. But come January, expect me to be asking some questions about what your plans are for the new year in terms of writing. Meanwhile, to help start the cogitation, here are three interesting studies on the academic animal.

Morning v. Evening Person

A new study has appeared about a subject dear to the hearts of many academics: Is there a real difference between the personality of a morning person and an evening person? What does it mean if you like to get up late and work late rather than get up early and work early?

Juan Francisco Díaz-Morales decided to find out by giving personality tests to college students in Spain. He found that there was a difference in the way that “diurnal types” think and behave. Previous studies had found that morning types tended to be introverts with healthier lifestyles and that evening types tended to psychopathology and political radicalism. Perhaps Díaz-Morales is an evening person who didn’t care for these results because his study recasts evening traits in a more positive light.

He found that morning people had a “thinking style based on trusting direct experience over the use of inference or abstraction, and also related to a preference to process knowledge using logic and analysis rather than feelings and personal values.” In lay terms, morning people tend to be more logical and less innovative. Morning people also had a “behaving style characterized by self-control, and a tendency to relate to authority in a respectful and cooperative manner and to behave in a formal and proper way in social situations.” In lay terms, morning people also tend to be dutiful and conservative. By contrast, evening people were more imaginative, innovative, and unconventional. In short, evening people are creative free-thinkers, morning people are boring robots! (Did I mention that I’m a morning person?)

Actually, I’m probably not a morning person and you may not be either. The study found that most people do not fall into either extreme of being an evening or morning type, since 62 percent of women and 50 percent of men are “intermediate” types. The study cannot be the last word (at least partly because 75 percent of the sample was women) but I find it a useful reminder to listen to your own instincts (and internal clock) when building your writing schedule. If you know that you are an evening person, perhaps you shouldn’t try to force yourself to get up at 5:00 am to write. It also may be a reminder to strive for balance and not become too much of either a morning or an evening person. Or is that my morning side speaking? Díaz-Morales, Juan Francisco. 2007. "Morning and evening-types: Exploring their personality styles." Personality and Individual Differences 43(4): 769-778.

Imposter Syndrome

Feel like an imposter? You are not alone! The Chronicle of Higher Education had an interesting article titled “You’re Not Fooling Anyone.” It describes Valerie Young’s workshops to help students get over the feeling that their failures are due to “a stable, inner core of ineptness” and their successes are due to “just so many confidence jobs.” Read more at Young’s webstie.

Time to Degree

Recently, university administrations have become obsessed with decreasing the number of years that graduate students take to get their doctorates. The push to “Shorten the Ascent to a PhD” has even reached the pages of the New York Times, which published an article on National Science Foundation statistics. The average graduate student in the United States takes a little over eight years to complete the doctorate and 50 percent of those who start graduate school drop out. Universities are trying various tactics to decrease time: increasing financial aid, providing more emotional and professional support, and simply kicking students out. Read the article to find out more.

Notes from the Editor

I have had a wonderful fall of nearly full time writing. I could get used to this! My various projects are moving along, although never quite as quickly as one had hoped.