Hello!! Today’s exercise builds on some work we did in my last post about articulating what you do. Go back and check it out, or jump right in because today we are going to write your ONE SENTENCE.

(When I write ONE SENTENCE in ALL CAPS try to hear Darth Vader reading it. Ha.)

Why spend time on exercises like these? How will it help you publish more? I’m SO glad you asked:

  1. Hone your focus: One of the problems with academia is that there is just so much that can pull your attention. Committees, projects, classes, and, oh yea, your LIFE. If you develop a very focused mindset, you can stay on track, choose projects that help you reach your goals, and write (and therefore publish) more.
  2. Feel less stressed: By writing out your focus, you actually create a system for decision making. Where to publish? Where to present? What to do next? Check your ONE SENTENCE. This eliminates a lot of stressful day-to-day decision making.
  3. Develop writing you can use again: You are actually developing a bank of what marketers call “copy” about you and your research as you do the writing exercises I teach on my blog (see this one and this one). You can then draw on this already-written “copy” for grant proposals, letters, emails, presentations…and you don’t have to come up with new writing to describe yourself from scratch every time.

OK, this exercise is super short but REALLY important. In my last post you already wrote a page, a paragraph, and your elevator pitch. Now you are going to get even more specific. You are going to write your ONE SENTENCE that explains exactly your niche.

This is very much like writing a thesis statement for a 5-paragraph essay (shout out to all those first year comp teachers!). Here’s a formula that you can use to start, but don’t feel like you have to be locked in:

I use [methodologies/theoretical frames] to study [population] [phenomenon] [context] in order to [change you want to see in the world].


I use ethnography to study translanguaging in Puerto Rican schools in order to develop students and teachers who can use bilingualism as a resource.

Now it’s your turn! Write your ONE SENTENCE and post it in the comments below!!

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve defined your niche! Again, this might take a few tries to get right, and that’s OK. Once you’ve got it, though, write it down and hang it up in your workspace. This is your North. It will guide you as you make decisions about your time and work on presentations and publishing.

Comment your sentence below and I’ll give you feedback!

Best (just kidding–that sounds SO academic ;)),



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