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  • Dr Catriona Ryan

Enhancing PhD Research/Academic Writing Practice via Positive Mind-Management

As an early stage PhD researcher in 2006 I realised I needed to take on two key projects. The first is the intellectual dimension of the research journey which includes the research process and writing a thesis. The second project is more subjective. I discovered the best way to develop a positive mindset for the PhD journey is through the practice of self-compassion. This strengthened my awareness of my thoughts and feelings. It enabled me to discern and transform the negative impact self-criticism was having on my academic productivity. As a consequence I was able to deal with writer’s block more positively and even prevent it from occurring. The strategies I learned from this realisation transformed my PhD experience in terms of enhancing mind-management skills around the research journey and within the research process itself. As a result I developed new stress-reducing methods in the practice of research, including academic writing. The three workshops I deliver, ‘Academic Writing: Reduce Anxiety, ‘Stress Reduction Techniques in Research’ & ‘Creative Thinking in Research’ are basically all new anxiety-reducing strategies in the practice of the research and academic writing. The most popular being the ‘Academic Writing: Reduce Anxiety’ workshop. In this session PhD researchers write their chapters with me using my anxiety-reducing, 7-step method which focuses on the discursive analysis. The average feedback stats from this PhD researchers who attended this workshop have resulted in 25-30% increase in confidence in the practice of academic writing. The practice of self compassion is an important aspect of the PhD Journey and is key to fortifying resilience. This practice is also a lifelong endeavour.

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