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.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Are you in the loop? (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Evelyn Berg | flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
You think you have FOMO?

We also have FOMO - on your behalf!

One of the things that makes me the most sadface at work is hearing about disappointed researchers who have missed out on workshops or events because they didn't know things were on.

This is especially the case when we have special events that take place only once a semester, feature invited guests (that is, presentations that may be one-offs), or that we're piloting and would've loved to have more feedback on.

If you have ever been in this position, read on and be in that position no more!

If you want to save your friends, colleagues, and graduate research students from that anguish, point them to this post!

To know all there is to know about what's on offer at La Trobe in the research education, development, and training area, here's what you do:

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Recruiting people for your research project - plan ahead! (Sara Paradowski)

Photo by Connor McSheffrey | unsplash.com
So, you’ve got an idea for a research project.

You’ve probably reviewed some of the literature to help you focus and fine-tune your idea to a more manageable project to fit with the timelines you have.

You have had to constantly remind yourself that you are one person with limited resources and interviewing 5000 people isn’t going to be a reasonable expectation and that’s OK.

In the end, you decide that 32 participants will give you sufficient data to analyse and write about.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

2016 - challenges met (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Wu Yi | unsplash.com
It has been quite the year. And is still being quite the year!

In the tradition of RED Alert, I asked my colleagues for their input to this end-of-year post.

My brief to them this year was to reflect on the biggest challenge they've met this year.

This proved in itself to be quite a challenge because the team has implemented big changes and taken risks every year since it has existed!

Here are their responses:

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

About penguins and silent West Coast forests: Fieldwork experiences of an ecologist (Ursula Ellenberg)

Academia is just a lot of sitting around and thinking, right?

Not always! And if you’re a field ecologist, you get to become really dirty, too.

Ursula has recently returned from fieldwork on the Tawaki project, which explores the behaviour and ecology of New Zealand’s elusive forest penguins.

She has written about the experience for us here at the RED Alert.