Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Authorship and Publishing: a recap of the Research Integrity Forum (Dan Bendrups)

Photo courtesy of Barbara Doherty
On Thursday last week, as part of Academic Writing Month, La Trobe held its first Research Integrity Forum (organised by the Ethics, Integrity and Biosafety team and the RED Unit).

The theme of the forum was ‘authorship and publishing’, which taps into important questions around issues such as plagiarism, appropriate attribution, authorship.

The discourse of academic integrity is a fixture in the twenty-first century university, and has particular nuances when considered in terms of research.

On the one hand, codes and rules exist to govern and promote research integrity, largely aimed at protection from (and prevention of) harm arising from research. However, research integrity is also an approach or state of mind; something arrived at by free choice, rather than compulsion. As Bruce Macfarlane states in his book Researching with Integrity (2009, p.3): “Developing an understanding of what to do is always a more challenging prospect than issuing edicts about what is not right.”

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What to do when the reviews for your manuscript arrive (Teresa Iacono)

Photo by Dustin Lee on Unsplash
As a researcher, the satisfaction of completing a manuscript and sending it off for review through the manuscript central portal can’t be underestimated.

You have reviewed the literature, conducted the research, written and edited numerous versions after exchanges with your supervisors or other co-authors, and now you have sent it on its way. Sigh of relief, followed by reward (bubbles in a hot bath, shiraz in a glass, and a trashy novel are amongst my favourites and preferably simultaneously).

The best part is that you can maintain that feeling of self-satisfaction for at least 4-6 weeks.

And then it comes in. You recognise the journal name sitting in your email Inbox. You stop breathing for a moment, your pulse quickens and there is a squeamish feeling in the pit of your stomach as you contemplate opening the email. My advice to you is … don’t.

Well, not before you go through some mental health first aid! Let me explain through an anecdote.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Cross-pollinations (Alexis Harley)

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
I’m no scientist (alas), but I am an obsessive reader of scientific literature from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

It’s a literature I read as much for what it suggests about the culture in which it was written as for its scientific revelations, many of which, while ingenious, have slipped ignominiously from the canon of contemporary scientific belief (here’s looking at you, phrenology, phlogiston, and the gemmule theory of inheritance).

But it’s also a literature to be read for its stylistic innovation.

It’s hard to imagine a modern botanist writing serious scholarly work on the reproductive mechanisms of eighty-three plant species, based on original botanical research, extensive reading and correspondence – as an epic poem, in heroic couplets, with the plants personified as polyamorous demigods. But in 1789? Find a rhyme for stamen, stat.

One of the reasons why scholarly writing could be so polymorphous in the eighteenth century was that scholarship was still becoming disciplined. Writer-researchers often worked in multiple areas of enquiry, some of which weren’t even named, let alone demarcated and institutionalised. That allowed for a discursive cross-pollination that would be frowned upon if practised a hundred years later, even if some of the mainstream disciplinary discourses of the twentieth-century had originally been hybrids themselves.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

November is LTU Academic Writing Month

Academic Writing Month starts on Wednesday 1 Nov (with a workshop and afternoon tea launch) and runs through to Thursday 30 November (with a closing afternoon tea with the Graduate Research Students Society (GRSS) and the Student Union).

In between there will be a number of special events focusing on academic writing by researchers, including:
You can sign up for the newsletter, or drop in and chat with us on Twitter at the end of each week to let us know how things are going and get set up for the next week at #LTUacwrimo. Here on the blog we will feature La Trobe researchers talking about their writing each week.

But the other really important thing about #LTUAcWriMo is the way it allows us to highlight the support that La Trobe offers for academic writing throughout the year.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Open Access Afternoon report (Helen Young)


It's International Open Access Week!

Just yesterday, La Trobe held its second Open Access Afternoon, and this report is for those who want to re-live the excitement - or who couldn't make it on the day.
DVC - Research Keith Nugent opening the event
Photo by Tseen Khoo

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Keith Nugent opened proceedings by emphasising La Trobe’s commitment to Open Access as a key tool in the University’s engagement and impact agenda. Open Access is an important way of making sure that people know about our work and are able to use it. Major funding bodies, including the ARC and NHMRC, prioritise making publicly-funded research openly available. As Keith said, it's important for the future of the university as an institution and for the future of research.

Simon Huggard, Deputy Director of Research and Collections at the Library, then spoke about the purpose of the week, giving an overview of current issues and initiatives around Open Access. The increasing monopolies of major journal publishers are a significant challenge for libraries and researchers. Australian libraries pay more than $200 million for journal subscriptions, a major outlay of resources. Publishers often ‘double dip’ by charging authors to publish Open Access without reducing subscription fees to the same journal.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Open Access – A Race Half Run (Keir Strickland)


Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash
Next week (October 23rd-29th) is the 10th annual International Open Access Week, a global event which aims to promote the benefits of Open Access to researchers and academics through events and activities both on- and offline. A week to extol the virtues of Open Access, to celebrate how far we’ve come in the last decade and, arguably, a week to recognise how much further we still have to go!

Open Access has come a long way in the last decade, even further since the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) declaration calling for “free and unrestricted online availability” of academic literature.

There are now Open Access journals in disciplines from A-Z – from archaeology (my own discipline) to zoology, and most subjects in between. Perhaps most importantly, for effecting change, major funding agencies such as our peak research councils (NMHRC and ARC here in Australia, or RCUK and HEFCE in the UK) have recognised the importance of Open Access to publicly funded research.

In the next UK ‘Research Excellence Framework’ (similar to our own Excellence in Research for Australia), all research outputs will be required to have been deposited in Open Access repositories within three months of their online-publication. Here in Australia, both ARC and NMHRC have well established Open Access Policies, requiring research outputs from publicly funded projects to be made “Openly Accessible”.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Academic Writing Month (#LTUAcWriMo) at La Trobe turns 5!

Since 2013, the RED team has created a month-long, multi-campus and online program to enable and encourage academic writing: with events, blog posts, workshops, and conversation on Twitter around the #LTUacwrimo hashtag. In the last 5 years, papers, books, chapters and theses have been completed and people have built great habits, gained new insights into what works for them as writers, and enjoyed the camaraderie of writing together.

Since 2015, Academic Writing Month has culminated in a three-day writing retreat. We are delighted to offer this program again, but book in early, it is very popular and spaces are limited! (Read about Jason Murphy’s experience of attending the retreat.)

 If you would like to make significant progress on your academic writing, with like-minded colleagues, then this month-long festival of writing is for you. Academic Writing Month has been developed for all researchers at all levels (including graduate researchers), at every campus and externally. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Research impact (Helen Young)

If you’ve been to one of the Research Roadshows in the past few months you will have heard that La Trobe took part in the ARC Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot. Next year it will be the real thing, with an Engagement and Impact 2018 companion to the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) exercise.

We might be used to thinking about ‘impact’ in terms of our disciplines or academia more broadly, with measures like peer-reviewed publications, journal rankings and citations, but those things are assessed under ERA.

So what is ‘impact?’ The ARC gives this definition:
Research impact is the demonstrable contribution that research makes to the economy, society, culture, national security, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond contributions to academia’.

So, the big question for researchers is: ‘what has changed because of my research?’

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Reflections on supervision (Helen Lee)

As the September graduation approaches, I look forward to seeing one of my graduate researchers get her degree, after persevering for nearly 15 years to finish her thesis.

Her case is unusual, as she had three periods of maternity leave and other long breaks for a range of reasons. But she was determined to finish, and I’m so proud of her!

It leads me to reflect on my experiences as a supervisor since she was one of my earliest graduate research students.

I’ve now supervised more than 50 postgrads and it’s one of my favourite roles as an academic. The close intellectual relationship that develops between supervisors and graduate researchers is always mutually beneficial and in some cases even leads to enduring friendships.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My year as President of the LIMS Fellows Society (Rohan Lowe)

Image courtesy of Kha Phan (LIMS Fellows Society)
An interesting thing happened to me in the winter of 2016. Our institutional postdoc society decided it was time to get organised and elect a president.

A distinct lack of volunteers was apparent. I was nominated by another member and, emboldened by their vote of confidence, I agreed I would stand for president.

No other nominations were made, and I quickly became the president of the LIMS Fellows Society.

I’m not a career politician. I may have enjoyed watching House of Cards and loved a good political power move on Survivor, but my election to president of the LIMS Fellows was not in my career plan.

I don’t like to turn down opportunities, however, so this blog post is about my year as president of the LIMS Fellows Society.