Research Writer Interview With Rita
Ancient Philosophy and Entrepreneurship
First of all, thank you for joining us, Rita. As you know, we interview the most talented research assistants out there to better understand what makes them tick. Let start out with the basics: where did you go to school, what did you study, and how did it prepare you to be an independent research assistant and scholar?
Thank you Gary for having me; it certainly is an honor! I did my undergraduate degree in Philosophy at the University of Oregon (where I graduated with honors) and then continued on to get my MA (also in Philosophy) from the University of Memphis and my Ph.D. from Stony Brook University. These are all top programs in European Philosophy, and I got to do some really interesting work in Ancient Philosophy and Feminist Philosophy. But also, these are all large, public school, and if you are not focused an independently motivated at this kind of institution, it is easy to flail or fall through the cracks. I’ve always had an independent spirit, as evidenced by my forays into Entrepreneurship...
Yes, we can talk about this in a little bit.
Yes, great. I think I thrived in these programs because of my natural drive and singular focus. I also had mentors who were very hands off, so I learned how to do research (mostly from research librarians – thanks to all librarians out there, you rock!) and how to develop a solid, academic voice the best way – I figured it out by making use of the great resources I found at these institutions.
Great! Can you tell out readers a little bit about what you think makes you (and anyone else) a great research writer?
Well, I am a person that enjoys learning new things, so doing research is really pleasurable for me. If someone does not enjoy research, I can’t see them being a good research writer or lasting long in this vocation. Of course, part of what makes doing research pleasurable is that I know how to do it efficiently, so I don’t get frustrated the way some people might who encounter a library or a mountain of information. I was lucky to have worked at the research desk as an undergraduate, and this is how I learned to really do research, and that I enjoy it immensely. Today, I advise that young scholars and students go see their reference librarian first, when they are starting a project. They will save themselves time and potentially a lot of frustration if they learn to do this early on in their careers. Of course, a lot of things are now on the internet, but even in this area a research librarian in as important as ever, since academic materials are not always organized the way a regular internet user might expect.
Yes, I totally agree. This is a key point!
Yes, indeed. The second most important thing is knowing how to write, and enjoying that process, which (as we all know) can be difficult. I don’t get writer’s block but I do know what it is like to feel uninspired and have to create anyways. I think part of what makes me a good...
You’re more than good! You’re being modest!
Well, thank you! The reason why I’ve gotten recognition as a research writer is that I am able to push out a clean, professional product consistently, and I am able to do this because writing for me is a serious, daily practice; I am not at all casual about it. But then, I am a person who will get things done early rather than get right up against a deadline. I know how to manage my time, and don’t take on more than I can handle.
Speaking of time, I think we’ve run out of it, but do you have any last words of advice for those starting out in this vocation, or maybe you want to touch on your entrepreneurship?
Sure. Even while I was teaching (I only stopped teaching recently), I always had side entrepreneurial projects, including: a line of vegan cookbooks that I sell on Amazon; philosophy salons (discussion) that I ran locally; a series of courses that I’m designing for Udemy; and of course, my commercial photography venture. I love having these “side” projects, and this entrepreneurial lifestyle is what being an independent scholar and research writer enables me to do. I was never one who was going to fit neatly into the academic mold (even though I’ve worked at some pretty amazing institutions), so I’ve found my own way to thrive doing all the things I love.
To the aspiring research writers I would say: if you love research and writing but don’t fit the academic mold, then this is a great outlet for you to make some money doing something you already love.
Random writer: /writer-meli