Tuesday, 20 March 2018

To edit, or not to edit? That is the question… (Dan Bendrups)

Image by Tseen Khoo
In my work in the RED Unit at La Trobe University, graduate researchers and their supervisors approach me with all sorts of questions about graduate research candidature.

Recently, I’ve been fielding various questions about thesis editing.

On the one hand, this is a really good sign - a number of our candidates must be nearing completion.

On the other hand, these can be tricky questions to answer.

They can generate even more questions: How much should a supervisor contribute to the editing of a PhD? Is it acceptable for a candidate to pay an editor to help them? Where do you even find an editor?

One candidate wondered whether the university might have editors on staff. Another wanted to know how much they should expect their supervisor to help correct their grammar.

The answers to these sorts of questions can reflect a range of different factors.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Why 'Shut up and Wiki'? (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Alex Wong | unsplash.com
I'll admit it. I am a latecomer when it comes to things Wiki.

It's not like I've never used Wikipedia, linked to it in blogposts, talked about entries to others, or donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

I've done all these things, sometimes compulsively, multiple times.

But it never occurred to me that I could actually contribute to it in a more substantial way.

Until I met Dr Thomas Shafee here at La Trobe, and listened to him speak on this topic a couple of times.

It was a revelation to hear from someone who was so au fait with the Wikipedia ethos and how it worked. I had not realised how strong the infrastructure for the platform was in terms of verifying and strengthening evidence bases for statements and details. I had assumed - very wrongly, it seems - that it was a bit of a free-for-all because, y'know, crowdsourced information.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Getting your research into the media (Claire Bowers)

Professor Chris Sobey's work on stroke recovery received great coverage. 
Full story from Today can be found here: 
Since starting at La Trobe as media manager a few months ago, my team and I have been fortunate to work with some incredible academic talent on a range of high impact, headline-grabbing stories that have really helped lift the University’s research reputation.

From the latest advance in stroke treatment and Professor Jenny Graves winning the prestigious PM’s Prize for Science, to Victoria’s first driverless bus trial, these are stories that generated significant metro and national coverage.

But stories don’t have to be as big as this to attract media attention!

Sometimes, a strategically placed piece in the right media outlet can not only reach exactly the audience you want to speak to but also spark more media interest.

We also encourage more researchers to write opinion pieces – we can help you with this – as well as become media commentators on relevant topics in the current news agenda.

I suspect there are more of you out there with research that will be of media interest. We want to hear from you!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

How heartbreak took me to Italy (Nicholas Anthony)

Taking a selfie in Genoa, as you do.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Anthony.
It seems like only yesterday that I was talking about my great experience using Career Ready in a blog post I cunningly called “How I became Career Ready”.

I ended that post with a throw-away line about getting a job.

What I didn’t say was, even with Career Ready, getting a job isn’t that straightforward.

So, let me tell you a bit about my experience.

I left my Career Ready appointment with two things. The first was a list of things to fix in my CV and cover letter, and the second was the confidence to apply for two jobs I desperately wanted.

To me, these jobs were perfect; they were at a well-known research institute, used the skills I’d developed in my PhD, and matched my interests perfectly.

So, not wanting to waste the motivation, I sat down that afternoon, did my edits, and enthusiastically sent off my applications, dreaming of the job that would soon be mine.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Building a research network: La Trobe's Violence Against Women research Network - LAVAWN (Ingrid Wilson)

Image sourced from Pixabay
We all know that an important part of being a researcher is about connecting with others in our field. 

We often do this through attending conferences, going on study trips and communicating through social media.

Another way is to join a research network.

Or you can do what I did: build one yourself.

In the beginning

I started my PhD with La Trobe University in 2012 at the Judith Lumley Centre. My topic was alcohol-related domestic violence and I was supervised by Professor Angela Taft, a leading public health researcher in the area of violence against women. The issue of violence against women is a public health and human rights issue affecting the health and well-being of women across the globe.

My motivation for starting the research network was both personal and strategic. I was keen to connect with other researchers within La Trobe University, particularly other PhD students, and to learn from them and build a sense of community.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Finding your way as a researcher

Photo by Barby Dalbosco | unsplash.com
Research at universities is always breaking new ground.

This could be through conceptual advances, new technologies, moving into new areas, changing funding and policy situations, or the more obvious transitions of starting a research higher degree, moving institutions, or getting a promotion.

Universities are large and complex places, and independent research means you need to find your way through collaboration, technology, permissions or policies for your project.

Guaranteed, things will change, or you'll miss information the first (or second) time around. It can be challenging to be confidently in the know. This lack of knowing how to find the help you need may be holding you back from being able to do what you want.

The start of a new academic year can be a good moment to reflect on this, and find ways to address the gaps in your institutional or researcher knowledge. It's a great chance to orient yourself, which means learning about where you are, then working out how to get to where you'd like to go.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

What makes a good colleague? (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Andre Freitas | unsplash.com
Many people lament the growing scarcity of collegiality in our working lives. Many declare, in varying shades of purple prose, that it has been sacrificed on the altar of economic rationalism and for the missions of our managerial universities.

Research stars and groups get imported into institutions, often breeding resentment and discomfort from those who are already there.

Scholars who are already excelling gain more for their work; those who aren't considered as such do not, and often find themselves without support to increase their research capacity.

Despite the rhetoric about collaboration and partnerships, the imperatives for outputs lead many to declare that collegiality and scholarly citizenship are under threat. This seems particularly true when people minimise any commitments that don't directly produce outputs.

The oil that smooths the machine of scholarship is not only what people write, analyse, and publish. It's not only presenting at conferences or supervising a higher degree student. Most of all, it's not what promotions people have had or grants they've won.

There is a whole raft of intangible, essential, labour-intensive work that goes into a healthy research ecosystem. In an almost-metrics way, this work includes being a good critical friend to colleagues and students, especially those who aren't directly in your area; reviewing for grants, book manuscripts, and papers; convening events that set the stage for a field or cohort to develop and progress; mentoring someone without having to... the list goes on.

At a totally non-metrics level, this kind of work encompasses supporting each other and providing encouragement, the social work of building connections between groups and individuals, being good communicators, and that most difficult element of bringing people together because they want to be together. This is the invisible (often feminised) labour of any workplace.

This post examines what makes a good colleague.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Write it down! (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Kaizen Nguyễn on unsplash.com
Welcome to the first post of 2018!

Are we feeling fresh and rejuvenated? Popping with ideas and plans for this year? Filled with resolve and determination for the things we want to get done?

Well, I am! Mostly. When I'm not wilting with the heat and contemplating moving to a snow-bound locale for the remainder of the Melbourne summer.

Despite the wilting, the thing that's energising me at the moment is the idea of journalling. It is, after all, a key New Year resolution-ising activity! Here are 14 ways to make journaling one of the best things you do in 2018! How could you resist? I know I didn't!

Journalling means to keep a diary or journal on a consistent basis. It could be a catch-all for your thoughts and ideas across the facets of your life. Alternatively, you can choose to keep a focused research journal, or one that is attuned to your career. It can be private and only for your reference, or you can post your journal online as a tracking and collaborative exercise (many personal blogs started off as online diaries, remember?). Journalling is very different from the craze of 'bullet journaling', a.k.a. 'bujo', which leans much more towards the productivity/to-do list end of things.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

2017 - why we're thankful (The RED team)

Photo by TN Nguyen | unsplash.com 

It's that time of year when people's thoughts start turning to lazy days at the beach, spending time with loved ones, or generally taking a break from the everyday.

As is the RED Alert blog tradition, we're ending the year with a post that features the voices of the RED teaching team.

Our theme for this end-of-year post is 'what we're thankful for'.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My social media strategy for sharing research (Jane Kelley)

I work on a parasite that infects dairy cattle called liver fluke.

It reduces production and compromises the welfare of the animals. Due to the negative health effects of liver fluke inflections for dairy cattle, our research must be communicated to farmers, veterinarians and industry in a timely manner.

In the last post I discussed how I created a project website. In this post, I discuss the use of Twitter and how we intend to blog our findings.