Transitioning from Student to Scholar

Contact: Gwen Glazer
Phone:  (607) 254-8390

Transitioning from Student to Scholar
Library’s Immersion Program Aims to Help Graduate Students in the Humanities

ITHACA, N.Y. (Nov. 1, 2011) – Nationwide, fewer than half of all doctoral students in the humanities finish their PhDs within 10 years, and they take longer to complete their degrees than their peers in the sciences.

At Cornell, however, the numbers are more encouraging. The average time to complete a humanities degree is 6.7 years, and the Library wants to help make the path even smoother.

Together with several campus partners, the Library will hold an immersion program for graduate students in the humanities during the upcoming winter break. Thanks to new funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the session will bring together Cornell’s resources to offer practical advice and help foster a sense of community for humanities doctoral students in the second and third years of their programs, as they transition from traditional student roles into independent teaching and dissertation research.

The Cornell Graduate School and the Knight Writing Center are partnering with the Library to host the program, in addition to other campus units involved in the active collaboration. Faculty members will also participate, addressing the question of what it means to be a successful graduate student and researcher.

“In the humanities, second- and third-year graduate students stand to benefit from participating in a community of scholars as they begin serious research on their dissertations,” said Barbara Knuth, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. “The Library’s program will help coalesce resources from across Cornell that these students can draw on as they move forward in developing their scholarship.”

The idea for the immersion program grew from a user-needs study conducted by Cornell and Columbia University Library as part of the innovative 2CUL partnership. Researchers conducted interviews and focus groups with graduate students at both institutions, and they identified five themes that showed how libraries can contribute to their success: providing space, fostering community, providing access to deep research collections, providing research assistance and nurturing the development of scholars.

“The Library is in a perfect position to pull these different strands together. We can support graduate students’ research and create a sense of community for them,” said Kornelia Tancheva, director of Olin and Uris libraries and the Library Annex and the PI on the grant.

“The Library sponsors and participates in an incredibly wide array of programs, and we were fortunate to earn funding for many of them this year,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “All these projects are worthy of further exploration, and their diversity shows the range of activities — from expanding arXiv to archiving digital data to helping graduate students in the humanities — that the Library undertakes as a vital part of intellectual life and innovation at Cornell.”

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The Library’s new immersion program aims to help graduate students in the humanities