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!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Originality sin? Self-citation and self-plagiarism (Helen Young)

Photo by Brooke Lark | unsplash.com
Knowing what to do when it comes to referencing your own publications can be difficult, even for experienced researchers.

Self-citation is sometimes seen as a kind of self-promotion that ‘good’ researchers should not do. But the real issue when it comes to deciding whether or not to reference is audience, not authorship.

According to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) “researchers must ensure that they cite other relevant work appropriately and accurately when disseminating research findings” (section 4.6).

This doesn’t only apply to the work of others. If you have been working in a particular field for any length of time then it is extremely likely that you are building on something you have published already in current work. As Sam Cooke and Michael Donaldson have argued we can think of self-citation as “an inevitable outcome of a cohesive and sustained research program.”

Citations give credit where it is due, but they are also there for readers who want to follow up on, and understand more about, a particularly idea, set of data, etc.

Might your readers benefit from the citation? To quote the Code, is a publication “other relevant work?” If it is, then you should cite it, no matter who wrote it.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Your go-to career resource stash (Tseen Khoo)

Image by Jonathan Simcoe | unsplash.com
What are you doing with your life?

When you start thinking seriously about your career and where you're at, it often happens when the workshops that might've been helpful have already run, the people you want to talk to are away at a conference, and appointments with career advisors can't happen for a month.

It's also often in the middle of the night, you've had too much coffee, and you want direction and answers right now!

Well, this is what this resource stash is about.

Bookmark it.

When you realise you want to know all the things about careers - how working it out happens for others and how you might work your own out - come back here and browse the wisdom and strategies.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

What does industry want? (Interview with Greg Sheehan)

What is it that industry wants from graduates?

This question occupies a lot of air-time in higher education circles, and the push is on from the Australian government to foster closer collaborations among universities, industry, and graduate researchers.

You'd be right in thinking that not getting on top of these new research priorities could set your career planning back a step or two!

This week's 'Careers Month' post is an interview with Dr Greg Sheehan, Director and Principal Process Engineer with Hatch Ltd. Hatch is an international consultant engineering and project implementation company with offices in ten countries.

Greg graduated with his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Queensland.

"I graduated at a time when the engineering sector, particularly in my field of Chem Eng, was very different, " he said. "I got my first job at MIM Holdings straight after graduation, started at the company the following week, and was on-site in Mount Isa in a day! I've been with Hatch now for nine years."

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Growing into a career (Alex Lugg)

The useless tree  |  Image sourced from
http://www.conures.net/stories/tree.shtml
 
I help academics apply for and manage their grants.

This involves putting together a year-long grant development program for the highly subscribed Australian Research Council schemes, as well as providing ad hoc support for less popular schemes.

I work closely with College Associate Pro-Vice Chancellors (Research) to identify potential candidates for fellowship schemes and coax them into applying for them.

Our office also provides resources to assist academics write their funding proposals. Aside from that, there’s also a bit of problem solving- should anyone have misspent their funds, breached the agreement with their funding body or so on. It’s my role to help resolve these issues.

I didn’t set out to do this sort of work when I began my PhD.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Your PhD – Lasers and Pocket Knives (Geoffrey Guilfoyle)

Photo by Alvin Trusty | www.flickr.com/photos/trustypics
Shared here via CC BY-NC 2.0

CC BY-NC 2.0

I was recently talking with a new graduate researcher who was worried whether their intended research topic would get them a job.

I reflected on the number of research candidates I’ve met who focused on asking ‘What have I got by the end of my degree?’.

It’s reasonable enough to focus on the core of your research, and to wonder how many employers will be interested in the deep and narrow laser-beam of knowledge you’ve uncovered. It might feel a bit like having only one string to your bow.

In my experience as a careers counsellor, graduate researchers often expend a lot of energy worrying about only one side of the equation.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My Top 4 career tips, as an Early Career Researcher (Sam Manna)

Photo by Martin Reisch | unsplash.com
I have written a few blogs for the RED unit, but when I was asked to talk about the career decisions I'd made and provide advice, it really stopped me in my tracks!

I guess this was my Imposter Syndrome making me think I didn’t have anything significant to contribute to a such topic!

As I started writing, however, it became clear that I was going to have trouble sticking to 800 words!

Here are my Top 4 pieces of career advice, based on my recent experiences as an Early Career Researcher:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Things I’ve learned about putting together large grant applications (Rachel Winterton)


Elephant in knitted suit plus child | Photo by Kim Tairi
www.flickr.com/photos/angels_have_the_phone_box
Given that I work as a research-only academic, pulling together large grant applications is something that I do a LOT of.

When I started my job as a research officer back in 2009, my contribution was limited to chasing up bits and pieces for senior colleagues who were submitting grants. I was given tasks like adding up budgets and finding references.

Now, I lead my own grant applications (mostly Australian Research Council grants, but occasionally large tenders for industry or philanthropic grants). I collaborate with national and international colleagues, as well as industry partners.

I've had more failures than successes (which applies to just about every other researcher I know) but, regardless of the outcome, there are things I’ve learned over the years about making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Here are my key tips for your grant writing pleasure!

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?