Inger Mewburn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Inger Mewburn
Born1970 (age 53–54)
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne (PhD)
RMIT University (Bachelor of Architecture (Hons.); Master of Architecture)
Known forResearch on doctoral education, research student experiences, post-PhD employment pathways, and digital scholarship.
Notable workThe Thesis Whisperer blog; How to be an academic; How to fix your academic writing trouble

Inger Mewburn (born 1970) is a Professor and Director of Research Training at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.[1] She has published on academic identity, writing, and digital scholarship.[2][3] She is known as "The Thesis Whisperer" on social media,[4] and has been named as an "Australian social media influencer in higher education."[5] Mewburn uses social media to provide commentary on researching student experiences (particularly with thesis writing), researching student supervision, and post-doctoral employment pathways.


Born in Hobart, Tasmania, and raised in Melbourne, Victoria, Mewburn completed her schooling at Croydon High School in 1988.

Mewburn's undergraduate degree was from RMIT University and she was awarded her doctorate from the University of Melbourne in 2009 for her thesis, "Constructing Bodies: gesture speech and representation at work in Architecture classrooms."[6] Her dissertation was awarded the John Grice Award for Best Thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.[7]


Mewburn was a Research Fellow at RMIT University from 2006–2012, and worked with research higher degree students and their supervisors as a research education and development scholar. Since 2013, Mewburn has been Director of Research Training at the Australian National University.

She undertakes research on post-graduate research within higher education, and is an influential voice on social media on this topic.[8] In 2010, Mewburn started The Thesis Whisperer blog. Her work on this blog, grounded in her academic research, has earned her global recognition as an expert on topics in doctoral education and academic cultures. She is frequently invited to work with cohorts of research students around the world. Mewburn is committed to sharing her knowledge to help others during their thesis process.[9]

Mewburn regularly writes for and provides expert opinion on doctoral issues to peak publications and higher education forums such as Nature,[10][11][12] The Conversation,[13] The Guardian,[14] Times Higher Education,[15] Campus Review,[16] and the London School of Economics Impact Blog.[17][18][19] She has mentored and supported the establishment of other scholarly development blogs, which are influenced by her successful model; these include the DoctoralWritingSIG[20] blog, Mademoiselle Scientist[9] and The Research Whisperer.[21]

In 2015, Mewburn ran a massive open online course, How to Survive Your PhD. The bulk of the content was organized around the emotions experienced by most PhD students: Confidence; Frustration; Loneliness; Fear; Curiosity; Confusion; Boredom and Love.[22] The course was designed to cater for students' families and supervisors, as well as the students themselves. Mewburn said that it was "... really heartening to see mums, dads, partners and even children of Ph.D. students are so interested in learning about the emotional parts of the journey."[23]


Academic identity and workload[edit]

Mewburn's research has focused on the process of becoming an academic. In 2010, Robyn Barnacle and Mewburn published an influential paper[3] showing that scholarly identity is distributed and is performed through both traditional and non‐traditional sites of learning.[24] In 2011, she built on this work, and on material published on her Thesis Whisperer blog, to argue that PhD student ‘troubles talk’ in everyday interactions form an important aspect of identity formation.[25][26]

In 2013, Mewburn and Pat Thomson published an influential paper[3] on why academics blog. They positioned this activity as a community of practice primarily written for other academics.[27] In 2017, Deborah Lupton, Mewburn and Pat Thomson edited a book on the digital academic, which bought together accounts of using digital media and technologies as part of academic practice across teaching, research administration and scholarship.[28]

In 2019, Adrian Barnett, Mewburn, and Sven Schroter published a paper analyzing the submission of manuscripts and peer reviews, to understand the amount of work undertaken outside of standard working hours.[29]

Academic employment[edit]

Over time, Mewburn's research has come to focus on the challenge of employability of PhD students in Australia.[30] In 2016, Rachael E Pitt and Mewburn published an analysis of advertisements for academic positions that sought to understand what graduate attributes universities were seeking from PhD candidates.[31] In 2019, Mewburn published Becoming an academic: How to get through grad school and beyond. One reviewer commented that Mewburn's approach allowed her to engage with "...topics that are only discussed in conversations hidden in the office kitchenette."[32]

In 2018, Mewburn, Will J. Grant, Hanna Suominen and Stephanie Kizimchuk used machine learning and natural language processing to analyze the content of non-academic Australian job advertisements to understand what proportion of positions would be suitable for PhD graduates. In 2020, Mewburn, Chenchen Xu, Hanna Suominen and Will J. Grant launched the PostAc tool, a real-world instantiation of her research that aims to help research degree graduates find employment. It aims to make the market for advanced research skills more visible to job seekers.[33][34][35]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Mewburn, Inger. Becoming an Academic: How to Get through Grad School and Beyond. Baltimore, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019. ISBN 978-1421428802.[36]
  • Mewburn, Inger, Katherine Firth, and Shaun Lehmann. How to Fix Your Academic Writing Trouble: A Practical Guide. London, UK: London Open University Press, 2019. ISBN 978-0335243327.[37]
  • Mewburn, Inger, and Pat Thomson. “Why Do Academics Blog? An Analysis of Audiences, Purposes and Challenges.” Studies in Higher Education 38, no. 8 (October 1, 2013): 1105–19. DOI:10.1080/03075079.2013.835624.[27]
  • Barnacle, Robyn, and Inger Mewburn. “Learning Networks and the Journey of ‘Becoming Doctor.’” Studies in Higher Education 35, no. 4 (June 1, 2010): 433–44. DOI:10.1080/03075070903131214.[24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 2020: Special commendation for leadership, Australian Council of Graduate Research.[38]
  • 2019: Admitted as Vitae Senior Research Developer Fellow.
  • 2017: Grant from the Discovery Translation Funds, Canberra Innovation Network, to develop the 'PostAc' application (AUD$150K).[39]
  • 2017: Vice Chancellor’s award for innovation and excellence in service, Australian National University.[40]
  • 2015: Grant from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for "Tracking Trends in Industry Demand for Australia's Advanced Research Workforce: Pilot Study" (AUD$90K; with Will J. Grant).[41]
  • 2014: Grant from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment for "INSIGNIA: An open badge system for research training and supervision at ANU" (AUD$40K).[42]
  • 2010: John Grice Award for Best Thesis in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Director (Research Services Division). "Professor Inger Mewburn". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  2. ^ "Inger Mewburn - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  3. ^ a b c "Inger Mewburn | Semantic Scholar". Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  4. ^ Onsman, Andrys. "Book review: "How to be an Academic: The Thesis Whisperer Reveals All" (AUR 60 01)". Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  5. ^ Anyangwe, Eliza (2011-09-28). "10 Australian social media influencers in higher education". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  6. ^ Mewburn, Inger. (2009) "Constructing Bodies: Gesture, Speech and Representation at Work in Architectural Design Studios." University of Melbourne, Australia.
  7. ^ Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. (2010) "Dean’s Honours Awards 2009: Recognizing Student and Teaching Excellence and Innovation." Atrium 14: 22.
  8. ^ "In Conversation with Dr Inger Mewburn". Archived from the original on 2020-06-29. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  9. ^ a b Scientist, Mademoiselle (2015-09-22). "Mademoiselle Spotlight Feature: The Thesis Whisperer/Dr. Inger Mewburn". Mademoiselle Scientist. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  10. ^ Gould, Julie (2019-12-05). "Working Scientist podcast: The PhD thesis and how to boost its impact". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-03773-0. S2CID 213915724.
  11. ^ Kwok, Roberta (2020-03-30). "You can get that paper, thesis or grant written — with a little help". Nature. 580 (7801): 151–153. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-00917-5. PMID 32231285. S2CID 214696310.
  12. ^ Fleming, Nic (2019-10-08). "Don't miss your PhD deadline". Nature. 574 (7777): 283–285. Bibcode:2019Natur.574..283F. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-03020-6. PMID 31595080. S2CID 203929284.
  13. ^ Mewburn, Inger (14 June 2012). "What's up with universities – Whackademia or just grumpy old academics?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  14. ^ Thomson, Pat; Mewburn, Inger (2013-12-02). "Why do academics blog? It's not for public outreach, research shows". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  15. ^ "Academia and the gig economy: how to survive in the post-golden age". Times Higher Education (THE). 2017-11-19. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  16. ^ Smith, Loren. "An ANU Associate Professor on the traps of success". Campus Review. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  17. ^ "Running a successful academic blog can make you feel like a rock star: authenticity and narrative are essential for forging your own digital identity". Impact of Social Sciences. 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  18. ^ "The Elsevier petition is the academic equivalent of the Hollywood writers strike, and I applaud the senior members of our community who are providing leadership and showing the way". Impact of Social Sciences. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  19. ^ "Academic blogging is part of a complex online academic attention economy, leading to unprecedented readership". Impact of Social Sciences. 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  20. ^ Guerin, Cally; Carter, Susan; Aitchison, Claire (2015-07-03). "Blogging as community of practice: lessons for academic development?". International Journal for Academic Development. 20 (3): 212–223. doi:10.1080/1360144X.2015.1042480. hdl:2440/93693. ISSN 1360-144X. S2CID 145162332.
  21. ^ Khoo, Tseen (2014), Lemon, Narelle; Garvis, Susanne (eds.), "Right Back Where We Started from", Being “In and Out”: Providing Voice to Early Career Women in Academia, Rotterdam: SensePublishers, pp. 57–67, doi:10.1007/978-94-6209-830-5_6, ISBN 978-94-6209-830-5
  22. ^ "How to Survive Your PhD". edX. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  23. ^ Mewburn, Inger (2016-05-01). "Interview with Dr Inger Mewburn". Journal of Arts Writing by Students. 2 (1): 7–11. doi:10.1386/jaws.2.1.7_2.
  24. ^ a b Barnacle, Robyn; Mewburn, Inger (2010). "Learning networks and the journey of 'becoming doctor'". Studies in Higher Education. 35 (4): 433–444. doi:10.1080/03075070903131214. ISSN 0307-5079. S2CID 145398249.
  25. ^ Mewburn, Inger (2011). "Troubling talk: assembling the PhD candidate". Studies in Continuing Education. 33 (3): 321–332. doi:10.1080/0158037X.2011.585151. ISSN 0158-037X. S2CID 143893315.
  26. ^ "Whingeing Wednesdays and bitch buddies". The Thesis Whisperer. 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  27. ^ a b Mewburn, Inger; Thomson, Pat (2013). "Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges". Studies in Higher Education. 38 (8): 1105–1119. doi:10.1080/03075079.2013.835624. ISSN 0307-5079. S2CID 143337179.
  28. ^ The digital academic : critical perspectives on digital technologies in higher education. Lupton, Deborah, Mewburn, Inger, Thomson, Pat. Abingdon, Oxon. 2017. ISBN 978-1-138-20257-3. OCLC 975372928.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  29. ^ Barnett, Adrian; Mewburn, Inger; Schroter, Sara (2019-12-19). "Working 9 to 5, not the way to make an academic living: observational analysis of manuscript and peer review submissions over time". BMJ. 367: l6460. doi:10.1136/bmj.l6460. ISSN 1756-1833. PMC 7222960. PMID 31857333.
  30. ^ "Women in Innovation: Dr Inger Mewburn - Startup Stories & Profiles, Women in Innovation". Canberra Innovation Network. 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  31. ^ Pitt, Rachael; Mewburn, Inger (2016-01-02). "Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions". Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. 38 (1): 88–101. doi:10.1080/1360080X.2015.1126896. ISSN 1360-080X. S2CID 155694016.
  32. ^ Le, Ai Tam (10 September 2019). "Becoming an Academic: 4 reasons why you should read Inger Mewburn's new book". ECHER. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  33. ^ Dean, CECS; (2020-01-17). "PostAc launch event: life after academia". ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  34. ^ "Large 'hidden job market' for PhD graduates unearthed". Campus Review. Retrieved 2020-06-26.
  35. ^ Xu, Chenchen; Mewburn, Inger; Grant, Will J; Suominen, Hanna (2019). "PostAc : A Visual Interactive Search, Exploration, and Analysis Platform for PhD Intensive Job Postings". Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations. Florence, Italy: Association for Computational Linguistics: 43–48. doi:10.18653/v1/P19-3008. S2CID 196205914.
  36. ^ Mewburn, Inger (7 May 2019). Becoming an academic : how to get through grad school and beyond. Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-4214-2880-2. OCLC 1076461560.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  37. ^ Mewburn, Inger (21 December 2018). How to fix your academic writing trouble : a practical guide. Firth, Katherine, Lehmann, Shaun. London. ISBN 978-0-335-24332-7. OCLC 1083337403.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  38. ^ "ACGR Awards for Excellence". ACGR. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  39. ^ "Awarded Projects DTF 2.0 | ANU Connect Ventures". Archived from the original on 2020-06-14. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  40. ^ "Vice-Chancellor's Award for Innovation & Excellence in Service 2017 recipients - Staff Services - ANU". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  41. ^ Director (Research Services Division). "Tracking Trends in Industry..." Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  42. ^ Director (Research Services Division). "INSIGNIA: An open badge sys..." Retrieved 2020-06-14.