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!
The Social Research Assistance Platform provides specialised social research assistance to researchers and higher degree research students from anywhere in the University. 

Whether you are doing research on linguistics, archaeology, education or nursing, the main goal of the platform is to provide you with specific and specialised research support to facilitate effective completion of your projects. 

Because the platform offers university-wide support to researchers, you can imagine how diverse a skill-set is required to be made available to service our researchers! We work on discipline-specific archival research, data collection or processing; conducting interviews or surveys and process the preliminary outcomes; transcribe documents; translate articles; set up media for data collection; literature searches; non-traditional research outputs such as filming and, of course, there is a lot of editing, proof reading and indexing.

A list of areas that the platform supports is available on our website. The list is not exhaustive, so anyone can get in touch with us to discuss the support that they need. If granted funding, the platform assists with recruiting, identifying and paying for appropriate research support. Researchers can leave the tedious administrative work to us and spend their valuable time completing their research! 

But when should it be used? This is a common question that applicants ask about. 

If you think the platform might be able to help you finish your project, consider this: 
  • Is the support you need better served by a co-author or a researcher from another discipline? (It may be, just ask us!) 
  • Does it fill a resource gap? The research support staff should be providing specialised support and not filling a knowledge gap.
  • Have you explored other options available from your school, supervisors, the Research Office and the Library? See if there are available resources that you can utilise. The support provided through this platform should be secondary support.
  • Do you have clear objectives for the support needed and a clear idea of the outcomes? 
  • Will the research support help you to facilitate effective completion of your project?
  • For higher degree research students: consider whether the support requested is part of your learning requirements for your PhD. If it is, the work should be done by you and not a research assistant.
  • Finally, value the input or assistance provided by the research assistant. It is more than just a transactional relationship. Some of the research assistants are students and the opportunity to assist on a project provides them with an invaluable experience 
The next funding application round will be open from 15 March, and we look forward to receiving applications from the RED Alert community! If you would like to find out more, feel free to contact me via email or phone (03 94791935).

The platform is also looking for specialised and experienced Research Assistants. Please express your interest via the University’s Jobs at La Trobe site. If you have the experience and skill sets that a researcher is looking for, we will forward your resume for consideration. We are always keen to provide opportunities to our students. 

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Amy Kong is the current Social Research Assistance Platform Coordinator at La Trobe University. 

She has worked in the higher education for nearly 10 years coordinating programs and projects, university compliance, analysing student lifecycle and advisory service to staff and students. 

Through the years, she has developed a broad view of university functions.    

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