As part of the second instalment of our ‘author in focus’ blog series for 2021, Beans provides some great advice about how to construct an argument.
How did you come to the topic for your History in the Making article?
This was originally one of the essay topics in the Master of History by coursework that I completed through the University of New England. It’s gone through considerable refining and restructuring since then, but certainly still strongly resembles that original piece of work.
What’s your writing process?
It’s become a very structured recipe over the last few years of Master’s study. I start with reading and notetaking, until I can identify some key themes – which then become the basis of my work. I re-read and take further notes with particular focus on these themes. By this time, I have a reasonably clear idea of what my argument is going to be. I use a pretty detailed, colour-coded scaffolding, and copy and paste relevant sections from articles into relevant sections in my work, often adding my own rough notes and ideas. Then I work on drafting each section. I always have too much material, and I save the cut sections in another file in case I need them in future.
At this stage, I’m ready to refine my argument, and make sure it is plotted visibly through the research at strategic points. I also like to add signposts for the reader! Next comes my introduction, and finally my conclusion. I use a scaffolding for both of these as well, and if I’ve done the previous job well, they are pretty straight-forward tasks.
What advice would you give to someone considering submitting an article to History in the Making?
Getting published is all a part of the path to becoming an academic. A student journal like HITM is potentially a much less daunting way to begin this journey. Having said that, be ready for some constructive criticism, check your ego at the door, and get the job done. It will only make the next time easier. BTW – in real life, when asked for advice, I love to quote Roxie Hart (from Kander & Ebb’s Chicago): “Look, I don’t give no advice and I don’t take no advice. You’re a perfect stranger to me and let’s keep it that way.”
Do you have any advice for history students trying to study and conduct research during 2021?
If you don’t already have it, moving forward, work on your ability to self-direct and self-motivate. The infrastructure of our universities is changing quickly. We need to be able to adapt, roll with the punches, and drive our own work. Failing that, see my previous note from Roxie Hart….
Where would you like to take your research next?
I have secured scholarship funding to commence my PhD in July 2021. I haven’t quite settled on which institution that will be at, but my subject area is around ideas of gay and queer men’s identities, and how we were represented on Australian television in the later part of the twentieth century.