Tuesday, 18 April 2017

iThenticate - it's here to help (Helen Young)

Photo by Jimmy Chang | unsplash.com
We all know not to plagiarise, but managing ethical publication isn’t as simple as saying ‘don’t copy’ like we got told in primary school tests.

Anyone can make a mistake, get a reference wrong, or forget to put quote marks in their notes and think the passage is a paraphrase months later. And what about quoting and citing yourself?

In this day and age of impact and engagement, we often write about the same research more than once as we try to reach the biggest audience we can. It can be hard to find new words to do it in, especially when time is a commodity nobody has enough of.

So, what’s a time-poor researcher to do?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The real reason I engage in scientific outreach (Charles Gray)

My best friend is a high school teacher and the question he gets asked the most is “What am I ever going to use this for?”

I would wager that the subject that gets this question the most is mathematics.

As a PhD student in mathematical statistics, I know that problems of today and the problems of tomorrow, such as climate change, income inequality, and cancer, cannot be solved without the mathematical sciences. But high school students don’t necessarily know this.

It’s this message that I, as a careers ambassador for the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s Choose Maths campaign, have been sharing with high school students around Australia.

In March 2017, we toured the country screening the movie Hidden Figures, a chronicle of three extraordinary female mathematicians who worked in the space program at NASA in the 1960s, to high school girls. At each event, we have women who work in mathematics-related fields speak and share their journey. This role developed from my work as a student affiliate with Women in STEMM Australia, for whom I curated a feature series on women studying STEMM last year, and various similar projects.

Why would I do something like this?

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's the Statistics Consultancy Research Platform? (Xia Li)

The consultancy offers statistical advice about research methods, experimental design and data analysis to improve the quality and impact of research outcomes. Services are available to La Trobe researchers and graduate research students across all campuses, as well as external organisations.

In this week’s blog, Xia Li (Statistics Consultant) shares with us some of her work on the platform, and the experiences of a researcher and student she assisted.

The RED Alert will feature posts on the experiences of each of the new research platforms over the coming weeks. These have been created to bring together capabilities, expertise and technology from across the university under defined structures to enhance how La Trobe researchers do their work, so we hope you enjoy learning about them.

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As the Statistics Consultant, I’m supported by a team of statisticians: Dr Leila Karimi, Dr Graeme Byrne, Dr Jerry Lai, and Dr Masha Fridman.

Our aim is to raise the quality of research by providing advice on experimental design prior to the conduct of research, as well as the analysis of data, so that more of the results are publishable.

We have experience in a broad range of statistical methodologies, and offer support across all disciplines of research.

Since the launch of our platform in September 2016, we’ve assisted researchers and students across nine schools.

Here's a breakdown of what we can do for you:

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Beer and Ideas: Presenting research to a general audience (Sarah Hayes)

Before the microphone at the pub
Photo by Marcella Carragher
As a historical archaeologist it's very easy to get stuck in the past. Being included in the ‘History Matters’ series for Melbourne Free Uni was an opportunity for me to reflect on the current relevance of my research and share it with an interested audience over a glass of wine.

But talking to a general audience was a new experience for me, and the preparation turned out to be quite different to my previous academic papers!

Suddenly, I found myself thinking much more about the audience, hooks, and narrative.

About unleashing my academic third person distance from what I was discussing and putting myself in the picture.

About being a little creative - gasp!

I thought I'd share a bit about my experience here.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

3 ways to fix those meetings (Tseen Khoo)

(Image origin unknown)
Every academic I know loathes meetings. Loathes them.

They view meetings as obstacles to (rather than elements of) work, wasted time, forced upon them, and – even worse – as forums for awful colleagues to showcase their awfulness.

Having attended many meetings in my academic and other professional lives, I can’t rally much of a defence for meetings. They are the bane of many working lives, academic or not.

Now, I’m not talking in this post about getting together with collaborators, new colleagues, or catching up with buddies under the guise of ‘meetings’. These could turn out badly, but they’re more likely to be energising and fun events. And they’re often by choice.

However, no-one’s ever said that of the majority of work meetings, particularly those regular committee and staff ones.

Despite initial appearances, this post isn’t just another long whinge about meetings!

This post is about how to try to fix the main things that are wrong with meetings. I want to help you help others make meetings useful. Yes, useful. As a baseline, you should be observing meeting etiquette no matter how cheesed off you are that you have to attend.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

From documenting live art in Rome to copyediting books: Research experiences with the Social Research Assistance Platform (Amy Kong)

Documenting live art performances in Melbourne and Rome; archiving endangered languages that are accessible to the wider language community and linguistics researchers; reading and analysing key texts written in old Romanian; contributing to an open-access archaeology database; copyediting a book for publication with Oxford University Press; and entering and coding data on NVivo. 

These are just some of the many projects that the Social Research Assistance Platform has supported since its inception in May 2016.

In this week's blog, Amy Kong (Platform Coordinator) shares with us her work on the Social Research Assistance platform, and some of the experiences of researchers who've used it so far.

The RED Alert will feature posts on the experiences of each of the new research platforms over the coming weeks.

These have been created to bring together capabilities, expertise and technology from across the university under defined structures to enhance how La Trobe researchers do their work, so we hope you enjoy learning about them!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What does La Trobe's Proteomics Platform do? (Matt Perugini)


Proteomics at La Trobe
The Comprehensive Proteomics Platform provides postgraduate students and senior researchers with priority access to contemporary technologies for identifying and quantifying proteins, determining protein structure, and looking at how proteins interact.

Essentially, it is a “one stop, proteomics shop” that brings together specialised technologies and expertise in gas, solution and crystal phase protein analyses that complement the La Trobe Genomics and Biostatistics platforms.

In this week's blog, Matt Perugini (Platform Director) shares with us his work on the Proteomics platforms, and some of the experiences of researchers who've used it so far.

The RED Alert will feature posts on the experiences of each of the new research platforms over the coming weeks.

These have been created to bring together capabilities, expertise and technology from across the university under defined structures to enhance how La Trobe researchers do their work, so we hope you enjoy learning about them!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Challenges and rewards of submitting your paper to an academic journal (James Kirby)

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla | unsplash.com  
In October 2016, I won a $500 prize for best peer-reviewed article at the Victorian Community History Awards.

The award was given for a piece I had published for Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria. My research was a case-study of the post-World War One soldier settlement on Ercildoune Road, near Ballarat.

By showing both the benefits and challenges of publishing my first peer-reviewed article, I hope to encourage fellow students to submit to academic journals.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Homeward Bound: Recipe for a transformative leadership program (Sam Grover)

Photo by Sam Grover

Collect 76 highly motivated women scientists from all over the world, 8 talented teaching faculty, a few dozen humpback whales, and a couple of hundred thousand penguins.

Mix together in a small ship in Antarctic waters for 20 days. Stir thoroughly, agitate regularly, shake occasionally. Dip regularly into the icy waters all around. The mixture will separate, sometimes disintegrate then, with careful tending, reform into something new, something truly transformative.

The Homeward Bound alumni are courageous, newly equipped with the vision and tools to enable them to make a difference to the world.

I was lucky enough to participate in the inaugural Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica in December 2016. I arrived in Ushuaia at the end of November, jetlagged but excited, anticipating gruelling seasickness, stunning landscapes and empowering leadership and strategy training. Homeward Bound exceeded all of my expectations.

This was a truly transformative leadership program. The insights and connections forged during the 20 days at sea will support me to grow and develop as a leader and scientist for the rest of my career.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The research foundation for creating Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (Roz Ward)

In the past year Australia has witnessed an explosion of negative media directed at Safe Schools Coalition. 

Safe Schools Coalition Australia
| safeschoolscoalition.org.au
This attention has focused on what many have described as ‘ideological’ elements of the program's content, or on fabricated stories about what actually goes on in schools. 

Despite efforts to discredit the research-base on which the program was founded, the evidence has been crucial in defending the program against these attacks.

The research journey began in 1995 when the Federal Government commissioned the Centre for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases at La Trobe University to conduct a four-year national research program, the National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR), on adolescent sexual risk-taking and wellbeing. This was in response to the HIV pandemic. Its purpose was to find out what marginalised young people needed to do to keep their sexual lives safe and what factors were contributing to risky behaviours.