Opportunities and resources

These lists are useful for the PhD researchers I work with most frequently. Sign up for those you find interesting and please email me with others I might add.

Opportunities listings
is an electronic information service distributing selected e-mail announcements related to contemporary visual arts. e-artnow is an artists’ initiative Users create their own announcement online: e-artnow sends it out.
Subscribe here

axisweb is a UK-based resource but features international opportunities. Has many resources and showcases artists work via pages that are easy to set up. Useful if you don’t have a website. It requires a paid subscription for opportunities

Artists Newsletter a-n is anotherUK-based resource but features international opportunities. Stimulates and supports contemporary visual arts practice and affirms artists’ value in society. With over 19,000 members, we focus on conversations around the critical and professional environment for the visual arts, bringing together artists, art students, producers, arts professionals, researchers, arts organisations and universities. Jobs and opportunities are found here.

The Leonardo Network Newsletter is sent out via email twice a month and includes news, information about upcoming events, calls for papers, announcements about projects, opportunity listings and more. Sign up to receive the Leonardo Network Newsletter.

How to develop your art career
Artquest shares the resources, networks and opportunities you need to develop your visual arts practice. See the opportunities listings here which is updated every day. See also the ‘how to’ guides for every part of an artist’s career. From exhibiting, to earning money and more. Everything you need to know about sustaining a career as a practitioner is here.

Academic career in the arts
The biggest organisation in US is the College Arts Association. Its annual conference is useful for US networking and getting a paper there is a good move if you plan a US job search (but no published conference proceedings)

Business cards
moo.com business cards with one text on the back and up to 50 different designs on the front. Great for artists who want to make cards with different images of their work

How long is a piece of string? Or, how long should my thesis be?

Image “How long is a piece of string?” by Flickr user izzie_whizzie. Used under Creative Commons License.

The first 20-30 pages are a strong indicator of the strength of the candidate.  The abstract and introduction are very important indicators of what is coming next and I read them a couple of times before progressing. usually this is followed in the thesis by a literature review or ‘state of the art chapter’. Get this right and then write a good method chapter and most examiners are confident and relax into the examination of the thesis.

How many chapters?
Elsewhere I’ve talked about applying one of the principles of flower arranging (using odd numbers of blooms) to the number of studies to include in PhD research. The computer science supervisor, Christopher Clack thinks this applies to the number of chapters in a thesis and recommends, “An odd number of chapters, between 5 and 9.”

How many pages? 100-300 pages of double space single-sided text
First, check your university guidelines. If they do not specify a length then assume 100-300 pages and check with your supervisor(s)/committee. In my experience the 100-300 pages holds true but it is also backed up by anecdotal evidence from other examiners and supervisors. There’s also some more data-driven evidence for the 100-300 pages. That is double spaced and single sided pages with a one inch margin all around and 12 point Times font.

All of us who examine PhDs have probably hefted the weight of an especially heavy thesis and groaned. It’s not about the ‘thud’ factor.

Pascal: “I would have written a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time”
Clack, writing about non-compilation theses in computer science says, “Average, good, size for a thesis is 150 pages all in. Perhaps up to 50 extra pages for a big appendix and bibliography. Beware of the trend to write long and boring doctorates […], improve your communications skills.” In response Steve Wilbur comments, “Over about 100 pages of the body of the thesis I seem to note the strength of the work is inversely proportional to the length. […]. I find 120 pages at usual university layout standards about the limit for good to best theses.”

I sometimes read theses of 350 pages but that is really only acceptable when a LOT of images and diagrams are incorporated. An over long thesis often indicates an lack of focus which in turn makes the contribution to knowledge harder to identify. Good writing is about precision.