Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Planning for recruitment before your ethics application (Jason Murphy)

Image by Pavan Trikutam
As a communications lead in the Graduate Research School, I'm often asked to support the recruitment of participants for research projects from within and outside of La Trobe.

With the majority of these requests, what has struck me is that researchers are limiting themselves to email and flyers posted around campuses when there are a wealth of communication channels at their disposal.

Contemporary society equals communication overload. We're all used to being time poor, and constantly assessing whether the deluge of information coming at us is relevant or of interest.

To have a chance of communicating effectively these days means you need to tell your audience very quickly what it is your message is about. If they're interested, they'll be willing to take further action, such as clicking through to a webpage for more information.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Theory by the tramload (Melissa Kennedy)

Inside the Theory Tram | Photo by Melissa Kennedy
How do you make social theory ‘social’?

This was the question our Planning and Social Theory Reading Group asked ourselves as we developed the idea for a social theory salon. This idea went on to be generously sponsored by the Graduate Research School and College of Arts, Social Science and Commerce's Intellectual Climate Fund.

Importantly, we wanted to ensure that the event would complement the purpose of our reading group, which informally gets together to discuss the application of social theory to our studies in a space where we can 'grapple-in-common'.

While modelling the event on a French Enlightenment-style ‘salon’ evoked an interactive setting for the discussion of ideas, would it be enough to spark broader interest in a social theory gathering?

And where could we hold it? Should it be on campus? What if we took theory ‘downtown’ and held it on a tram...? Would it be distracting, maybe a little too much fun? What if it all went off the rails (literally and metaphorically)? Do we just do it anyway?!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Finding the perfect image (Tseen Khoo)

Troop inspection | Photo by Pascal
Do you know how long I agonised over what photo should accompany this post about how to find photos to accompany posts...?

I know that's all a bit meta, but stay with me. I'm from the Humanities.

For the RED program, I run a series of workshops about creating and building a digital profile on social media, especially Twitter.

Many of you will have attended them. Many of you run research project blogs, PhD blogs, or regularly contribute to group research blogs.

Many of you organise research events for your colleagues and put together the promotional material for them.

Most salient to this post, many of you who do these things ask: “How do I find free images to use? What are the rules for using them?”

There are plenty of resources on the internet about finding images to use on blogs, image copyright and attribution, licensing, Creative Commons, fair use, etc. Here’s a search I prepared earlier!

What I’m doing with this post is not presenting a comprehensive handbook to online image searching, use, and attribution. I’m giving you my simple (hopefully not simplistic) insight into what I find to be good practice for sourcing and using images for non-profit blogposts and other non-profit projects and events.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Why litter? Not enough bins? (Lucie Semenec and Jen Wood)

 Everything looks better when there is no litter on the grass.
Our second Department-organised litter clean-up day was held at La Trobe University's Melbourne Campus on 13 May.

We'd spread the word a bit wider this time and were joined by litter-busting volunteers from across the Campus.

Volunteers included those from the Microbiology, Zoology and Ecology departments as well as some RED, and GRS team members. We were also joined by Craig Allen from the Environmental Operations Office, who provided some materials for use in gathering litter. 

This month, we focused on car parks at the University to see where the litter begins, as staff and students enter the uni to start their hard-working day.

The good news is we collected a lot of litter and really cleaned up the car parks. The bad news is, we collected a lot of litter.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Competitive Early Career Researcher grants - what did and didn’t work for me (Courtney Ennis)

Photo by Edgaras Maselskis | unsplash.com
With internal Expression of Interest (EoI) dates fast approaching for various major funding schemes, La Trobe Early Career Researchers (ECRs) may be weighing up their odds for success.

Considering the substantial time and effort expended in honing grant proposals, could this energy be better spent on, I don’t know, research and writing papers...? I know I had these thoughts.

Reflecting on the vacant application form that confronted me a few years ago, I'm pleased with my former self for saying, “Ugh, fine, I’ll do it!”.

This decision to forge on with the paperwork changed my career.

Taking shape around me today is a small, talented group of graduate researchers, shiny new laboratory equipment and even some modest funds locked in the research account.

And how did I get from staring at a blank application form to here?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Interview with Associate Professor Lisa Amir (Judith Lumley Centre)

Lisa Amir (left), Miranda Buck (centre) and new family at Royal Women's Hospital

This week, we interview Associate Professor Lisa Amir from the Judith Lumley Centre (JLC; on Twitter at @LTUJudithLumley).

The JLC is a multidisciplinary public health research centre with programs focused on mothers, parents and their infants.

It's great to see Lisa's enthusiasm for her topic shine through.

And the fact that she and her team tried five times before landing that big grant? A perfect demonstration of how persistence is as necessary in academia as expertise!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Reading, Writing, Supporting (Anthony Condon)

They say a PhD is a lonely road.

It’s all too easy to spend all day behind the computer, in the lab or deep in the archives. But we’re social creatures and even if we’re alone in our topic, it doesn’t mean we need to be alone in our shared experience.

Do you want to read, write and be supported in a group environment?

I’ve gotten a lot out of the two regular Shut Up and Write! sessions I attend at the Melbourne campus.

One's on Tuesdays 9.30 - 12.00 in the Postgraduate Study Area (aka The Qantas Lounge) on Level 2 of the Library and the other is on Thursdays 9.30 - 12.00 in the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC), room 114. I've also been a part of the 'how to write a journal article in 12 weeks' workshops (get in touch with Kirsty Duncanson to know when the next one will start up). I like the social aspect of sharing what we’re writing, as well as remaining accountable to a group to keep our work going.

It's for these two reasons that I’ve decided to start a reading, writing and peer support group (snappy name pending a group decision). This initially started out as a reading group. In the History department, we have many reading groups, but I wanted something where I could focus on what I was reading rather than something general. I also wanted to hear what other people in other fields thought about the things I was reading. In return, I thought I’d be able to offer the benefit of my context for other peoples’ reading and gain insight into a broader range of topics.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

INTERVIEW with Dr Emma Sherry (Centre for Sport and Social Impact)

Photo courtesy of Emma Sherry
This interview with Dr Emma Sherry shows that sport research is about more than just the sport!

Emma's research is a great example of engaged, sustained academic work that has outcomes directly applicable to improving various developing communities' quality of life.

As an added bonus, she sounds like she has a great time doing it all!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Get your butt off the lawn (Lucie Semenec and Jen Wood)

Some areas of our campus are still beautifully undamaged by our waste. Let’s make all of our campus look like this! (Photo courtesy of Oonagh Bodin)
Although we see litter on our Melbourne campus every day, it's probably not something we actively notice anymore.

Maybe we’re just too busy studying or socialising, or perhaps we’ve become desensitised to it because it’s always there. Or maybe we know it’s wrong but turn a blind eye because it’s just easier to think of it as someone else’s problem.

Those of us who create the litter may not fully understand the problems it causes, and those of us who just see the litter as a problem don’t really know how to go about fixing it! But surely we can all agree that it doesn’t look nice!

This is why like-minded individuals from the Department of Microbiology decided to take action on this litter problem and clean up our campus! This is the story of our experience and what we discovered.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mastermind groups: Creative tactics for thriving as an ECR (Marcella Carragher, Rochelle Fogelgarn, Hannah Robert)

Graphic conversation | Image by Marc Wathie
Being an Early Career Researcher (ECR) can feel a bit like being Red Riding Hood setting out into the dark forest.

We're armed with our basket of goodies (our research qualifications and experience) and we know where we're supposed to be going: heading for Grandma's house (i.e. working towards becoming an established and productive researcher).

But, like Red Riding Hood, the path is by no means clear or without hazards. That was certainly how we felt when we attended a RED-hosted ECR Career Planning day in 2014.

Little did we know that one of the strategies that emerged from that planning session, Mastermind groups, would become a central part of our own research career planning!