Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Grading with shorthand allows me to grade papers quickly. This is great for me, of course, but —more importantly — it’s great for students. Using grading shorthand means that students get prompt, consistent, and constructive feedback.

I’ve included the key to my grading shorthand below. I’ve also included the printer-friendly, PDF version of the key that I give to students. You are welcome to use and adapt the shorthand, including the PDF, however you see fit — it’s in the public domain. And you are more than welcome to share your own shorthand with me in the comments, on social media, or by contacting me directly. Happy grading!  Continue reading Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Plans for 2017

Now that I’ve been admitted to candidacy for my PhD, I’ll be focusing my energy on writing a dissertation and on publishing hitherto unpublished projects. I will regularly post bits and pieces of that on the blog.1

I’ve also become more interested in how my reasoning research relates to politics — ergo the recent posts “Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?” and “Third Party Voting: A Wasted Vote?” So I might also write about how my research relates to US and international politics.

So if you’re interested in this stuff, then stay tuned. More specifically,

  • subscribe to the blog (in the menu) to find out when new posts are published.
  • follow me on social media to find out what I’m reading, thinking, and doing.

Here’s to the best possible 2017 — whatever that would be.

  1. I share my research on the blog for two reasons: First, to get your thoughts on it; Second, to make academic research available to more people.

30+ Online Resources For Studying & Teaching Philosophy

Below is a list of online resources for studying and teaching philosophy. Feel free to share it and/or add your own suggestions. Continue reading 30+ Online Resources For Studying & Teaching Philosophy

How I Learned To Love Academic Reading

When I read visually, I tend to read very slowly. Like really, really slow! A 30-50 page text can take an afternoon if I’m not terribly motivated and also distracted. Of course, my job requires me to do hundreds of pages a week. So I cannot do all of my academic reading visually. Fortunately, there are other ways of reading. I’ll discuss them below.

1. Visual Reading

When I have a text in front of my eyes, I am very tempted to take my time, read very carefully, and look for ways to appreciate the sections that would otherwise strike me as unimportant. Giving in to these temptations can be foolish. To explain consider a few questions.

  1. Can I finish all of my reading if I take my time?
  2. Does this allegedly important text deserve a careful reading?
  3. Is this allegedly important text actually important?

For much of my academic reading, the answer to at least one of these questions is “no.” In other words, usually…

  • I cannot finish all of my reading if I take my time…
  • it’s not clear that a text merits a careful reading, or…
  • it’s not clear that a text is important.†

Don’t get me wrong, the visual reading method is sometimes crucial for academic reading. If you really want to (try to) understand the nuances of a text (or a series of texts), then careful visual reading, with intermittent breaks for note-taking is probably worthwhile.

But visual reading is not well-suited for every situation. For instance,  Continue reading How I Learned To Love Academic Reading

My Sit-stand Desk

I am often thinking of ways to improve my desk setup. But I’m cheap, so I have held off on buying anything. Instead, I’ve MacGyvered a few desk setups mostly with redundant university stuff (see “Office Space: Desk Setup“). But I recently gave in and bought something to upgrade my desk setup: an adjustable sit-stand desk attachment.


I can’t afford an entirely new adjustable sit-stand desk. Fortunately, there are sit-stand desk attachments. They are made to be used with traditional sitting desks. And some of them are affordable.

Sit-stand workstation

Sit-stand desk attachments are affixed to or just placed on top of your desk. The attachment allows you to work in either sitting and standing positions. Sit-stand desk attachments come in many forms. They vary in size, versatility, cost, etc. I looked through LOTS of sit-stand desk attachments before Continue reading My Sit-stand Desk

Peer-review: should we get rid of it?

There are way more manuscripts than opportunities for respected peer-reviewed publications (Sinhababu 2016). So many good manuscripts might never be properly reviewed (or published). This would be bad. In this post, I’ll mention a few potential solutions. Then I’ll briefly evaluate one: eliminating compulsory peer-review altogether. 

1.  Peer Review Is New

I learned from Kate Norlock that peer-review is a relatively recent thing.†

… the surprisingly short history of what we now think of as peer-review [Times Higher Ed.] … the Google ngram on peer-review: [Google ngram article] …. suggests that academics have only been so fixated on it as the measure of our worth since the 1970s.

2.  The Current Form of Peer Review Isn’t Obviously Optimal

One reason for peer-review might be that it inhibits bias. And there is some evidence that anonymous peer-review reduces bias (Budden et al 2008). However, a review of 17 studies Continue reading Peer-review: should we get rid of it?

4 Ways To Maximize My Daily Routine

Last summer I accomplished less than I had hoped. I want to do better this time around, so I am looking for opportunities to be more productive. The first step involves looking at my daily routine.

Daily Routine: The Ideal

First, I find that I am most productive and satisfied when I fit work into the 8-to-5 (ish) schedule.

Second, I find that I do my best work when I leave the house.

So my best days look like this: I go to the office as early as possible, work as much as I can until around 5, exercise, and then leave.

Achieving The Ideal

Obviously, I have to deviate from Continue reading 4 Ways To Maximize My Daily Routine