Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Practical preparation for collaborative writing (Helen Young)

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash
In many disciplines co-authored papers are the norm, but collaborative writing is not always an easy process.

Sometimes, one person is mainly responsible for the writing itself, with others contributing ideas in planning and development.

In other cases, multiple people need to be very active in putting words on the page. Negotiating changes, editing, structure, and the direction of the argument can be complicated.

This post provides some practical tips for making the collaborative writing process easier.

It's a good idea to get these things planned and in place before you start writing so that you don’t have to retrofit your collaboration!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The 3rd LTU Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network Conference CFP

Save the Date & Call for Papers

Monday 25th September 2017 


Life as an ECR can be demanding and stressful as you find your feet as an independent researcher. Being plugged into an active research community can be vital to sustaining momentum, keeping up-to-date with information, and building your network of potential collaborators. 

This one-day conference has been designed by ECRs for ECRs with the aim of providing opportunities for networking, learning, and building a community of support for ECRs at La Trobe University.

What's on for this year’s conference?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

What’s your handle? (Tseen Khoo)

Sourced from www.publicdomainpictures.net
On social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter, one of the first things you'll have to set up is your username or 'handle'.

This can cause massive angst for researchers when they're grappling with developing their online identities.

Often, it's because people don't know where to start, or they may not have clarity about why they're building an online identity in the first place.

More often still, it’s because they don’t want to get it wrong. I would like to say that there's no way you can get it wrong because it's ultimately your choice what you want to call yourself, etc, but you can get it wrong, in professional terms.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The benefits of working ‘outside’ (Madeleine Kendrick)

Photo by Madeleine Kendrick
I need to start this post with a small disclaimer: I live in Perth, Western Australia.

It's a place that's often described as ‘relentlessly sunny’. The sunny days of mild weather and gorgeous sparkling water vastly outnumber the rainy days, and even the rainy days have their own noir-style charm.

Ever since I moved to Perth to live with my husband, I've been tempted time and again to work ‘outside’ despite growing up indoors, tethered to a desktop PC.

As an academic student, my definition of ‘outside’ is not quite as stark as, say, a fitness instructor. I still require some form of table, electrical outlet, and wi-fi to conduct my work, which limits me mostly to cafes (I’m not complaining at all).

Thankfully, Perth has these by the handful!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

An insider's view of pitching a project in a competition (Ismael Maclennan)

AMP pitch night participants, image courtesy of AMP Amplify
It was just another day for me, like many of the other days that passed before and perhaps no different from the days that were about to come.

Every day that comes and goes brings you closer to the end of your PhD journey, and during those final days you realise that you devote most of your time to perform one task: writing and writing and writing...

This day, however, was special.

Apart from receiving my usual weekly dose of spam calls, I noticed that someone had left a voicemail.

I was very excited to hear that my application for the AMP Amplify Ignite PhD competition was successful, and I was shortlisted for a phone interview with Jessica Chalker, the event organiser.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Should I have a website? (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by chrysics | www.flickr.com/photos/chrysics
Most people who know me at La Trobe realise I'm a zealot when it comes to social media and making research accessible.

There are many, many good reasons to give it a go - some people take to it, others don't. Still others like some aspects of social media but will run a mile from others.

And that's all good, as long as researchers keep an open mind about the channels and platforms that are available, and genuinely think them through for their own needs.

One of the common questions I get asked, and have fielded recently many times, is from early career researchers and PhD students: "Should I have a website?"

Most of the time, after having a quick chat, the answer is that it's worth setting one up.

WHY would I want a website? 

The driver to set up a website is usually a combination of these reasons:

1. Developing a profile for the researcher, a particular project, or research issue.
2. Being on - or almost on - the job market and wanting to present a good digital face.
3. Wanting a space to engage with non-academic partners and collaborators.
4. Anticipating recruiting for a research project (and building a base for it)

One of the most important things for emerging researchers is being able to present the strongest face possible to potential employers, funders, and collaborators. It can be hard to do this, for example, when your digital profile is split across several universities where you tutor and all you have on those staff pages is 'Casual tutor' or 'Sessional staff'. That's not the identity that most researchers want on the front foot, and having your own website means that you control that career story!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Industry mentoring? What's that about? (Marguerite Evans-Galea and Lara Bereza-Malcolm)

During Careers Month in May, we had the privilege of having Marguerite Evans-Galea (Executive Director, IMNIS) and Lara Bereza-Malcolm (La Trobe PhD researcher, Environmental Microbiology) as our guest speakers during a session focused on industry mentoring and graduate researchers' experiences of it.

The huge push across the higher education sector for industry collaboration means that these initiatives are more important than ever!

We interviewed Marguerite and Lara separately about their perspectives on the IMNIS industry mentoring scheme and the broader project of bringing academia and industry closer together to collaborate and learn more from each other.

Establishing these connections will also enhance opportunities for highly qualified professionals, with a PhD, in different industry sectors.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

How useful is Twitter professionally? (Jason Dutton)

Image from Esther Vargas
www.flickr.com/photos/esthervargasc
Shared via CC BY-SA 2.0
I’ll open this piece on using Twitter as an academic by admitting I’m not much for technology or computers.

I can hardly do email, and wish we were still allowed to just get up and deliver lectures by writing on a chalkboard.

But I have enjoyed getting on Twitter with a more or less professional focus and it’s given me several opportunities I might not otherwise have had. It's useful for your career to get on Twitter and actively use it.

How useful?

Well…more or less, depending. Some might just get a bit of amusement, but there are scientists I know of in Australia whose effective use of Twitter has made them a personality in the popular media, and this has made their career.

I am definitely towards the less impactful end of the scale, but mine is probably a more typical experience. I’ll start with some of the benefits I’ve experienced.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

What's wrong with the 'pub test'? (Katherine Firth)


Saloon Bar - Royal Hotel, Randwick
| NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive Sydney
Presenting research to a non-expert audience is really important.

Many highly technical fields of research are deeply significant to the every day lives of many people: from health research, to risk analysis, economic research, IT security, political sciences, and media studies.

Everyone is trying to navigate decisions about what medicine to take, whether to update their computer, how to save for retirement, how to make decisions when they vote, how to interpret the news, what book or film to watch and how to think about it when they do. 

Projects like The Conversation, 3MT (heats are on at La Trobe right now!), blogs, TV documentaries, academic Twitter, and mass media paperbacks like Twitter and Teargas, Doughnut Economics and Testosterone Rex, are all fantastic examples of ways to help non-specialists engage with cutting edge research and big ideas. (I have just read the 3 listed books, even though I’m not an information security expert, an economist, or a behavioral scientist, and, in fact, stopped studying any of these subjects half-way through high school).

The ‘pub test’ is an Australian term for the idea that expert or complex ideas that impact people’s lives need to be comprehensible to an ‘ordinary’ person. This is a longstanding tradition, like the early-twentieth-century legal idea of a ‘reasonable person’, also known as the ‘man on the Clapham omnibus'. This ‘man’ probably doesn’t have a higher degree, but is reasonably intelligent, a reliable worker, takes public transport, keeps up with the news, and is going about his daily business. In Melbourne, where La Trobe is based, this person turns up in legal decisions riding on ‘a Bourke St tram’.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The perks of being a PhD student rep (Anne Brouwer)

Photo by Howard Lake | flickr.com
Why would you become a student representative?

Let me rephrase that.

Why would you want to read 30-page policies? Why would you want to spend hours in meetings? Why would you choose to put yourself out there and speak up to higher management? Why would you want to deal with other people’s problems? Why would you want to be the one to open up a can of worms?

You won't believe this, but it's actually quite fun!