Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Bridging research cultures: A reflection on graduate researcher orientation with an overseas cohort (Dan Bendrups)



In this post RED team member Dan Bendrups reflects on his recent trip to Manila where he worked with a new cohort of La Trobe graduate researchers. 

Every year, the La Trobe University research environment receives a new injection of energy from the arrival of international PhD candidates from all over the world. Some are supported by home country scholarships, while others have been successful in obtaining funding from Australian sources, but for the most part, they come here individually, joining our research programs and finding their feet. We often know very little about their home research environments to begin with, but contrasts and comparisons inevitably emerge over time, and these discussions become part of the international PhD experience.

This year, a new element was added to this mix. Under the terms of a new collaborative agreement with Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, a group of six PhD candidates joined La Trobe as a cohort. The agreement means that their candidature time will be shared between Ateneo and La Trobe , thus, their home research environment will pay a bigger role in their doctoral experience. Their supervision is also shared between La Trobe and Ateneo, with a supervisor at each end.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Musings on Open Access and fairness (Jenny Fafeita)








Next week La Trobe University will be celebrating Open Access Week along with researchers all over the globe. From 21-27 October there will be a series of conversations, workshops and online offerings which are all about open access, and the questions of fairness that arise when thinking about accessing knowledge. Check out the activities here!   

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with library staff to coordinate a series of activities for Open Access (OA) week (21-27 October). ). This international event is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the meaning of OA and what it means for us as members of research communities.

The theme of this year’s OA Week, “Open for whom? Equity in open knowledge”, is timely as many La Trobe students are graduating and will no longer have access to research and educational resources sitting behind paywalls. How will they get access in the future?  


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Research in the regions (Ruth Hardman)





"Great, you’re doing a full-time PhD. But don’t you live in Mildura? Isn’t that really isolating?"

This is a response I have had from many people when they find out what I'm up to. 

My answer is "Well, actually, no..."

I’m doing a PhD in the School of Rural Health on an industry scholarship, and I have just completed confirmation. I’m writing this blog to challenge a few assumptions about what research on a regional campus looks like.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

What is a literature review? Imaginings and re-imaginings (James Burford)

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

A desk that has become overgrown with piles of paper.

Puzzle pieces, some of which are currently blank.
Idea bubbles that are linking and sometimes looping back.

This week I have been coordinating workshops that encourage researchers to think about writing literature reviews.

Somewhere in the middle of each workshop I have asked participating researchers to pause and reflect on a question or two: “What does a literature review look like for you? What comes to mind when you think about it?” The sentences you see above are just some of the many images that researchers conjured at these workshops. On the back of these descriptions, I want to use this blog post to think about how we might imagine literature reviews, and the lessons these imaginings might teach us.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

When research collaborations go bad (Tseen Khoo)

Stuff happens | Photo by Kim Tairi
Released under CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0
One of the toughest things to do gracefully in an academic relationship is to end it, or even question it.

Sometimes, even though you try, there isn’t a ‘good’ way to do it. Perhaps that's why issues around collaborations - particularly what to do with bad ones - persist so strongly.

A lot of angst can be saved by early discussion about expectations from all team members – who’s doing what, when, and how. As mentioned in this co-authoring post, the division of labour doesn’t have to be equal, it just has to be clear.

On an academic risk management note, make sure you can tick these boxes before embarking on a collaborative project:

  • I’ve had at least one research conversation with the collaborator(s) I will be working with.
  • We’ve talked about division of labour and timelines for the project.
  • I feel comfortable facing my collaborator(s) first thing in the morning to talk about project and publication work. [This is a golden rule with me - ymmv]
  • I’m confident that my collaborator(s) bring relevant and appropriate levels of intellectual value to the project.
  • My collaborators communicate with me in a timely and constructive manner.

If you can tick off that checklist, it should mean few misunderstandings and disappointments.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Managing a social media community (Tseen Khoo)

Photo by Brian | unsplash.com
I've been invited to give a workshop in October, focused on how to start and manage a social media community (or group).

I have so many things to say! And it's probably most usefully said in a blogpost that I can point people to in the future.

Creating and managing a strong online community requires extremely high level communication skills and can bring great value to your professional life. Being a group or community manager can sometimes be stressful and daunting.

This post addresses basic online group creation and management so you can start as strongly as possible in that role!

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

3 PhD life hacks for the remote researcher (Caroline Baker)

Photo by Andrew Neel | unsplash.com 
To embark on a PhD can be a big life decision. To do it remotely may be an even BIGGER one!

More and more, Universities and technology are opening opportunities to learn flexibly and remotely. What does this mean for you as a PhD student?

Can PhD students successfully make progress and complete their study remotely (i.e. be interstate/international/regionally-based from their University)? Can the learning experience be rich and rewarding?

I'm currently a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre for Research Excellence in Aphasia Recovery and Rehabilitation, La Trobe University, and I say YES to these questions!

But I'd follow up with a proviso that it does depend on your research field and you need to navigate the terrain!

People say PhD research can be isolating in the first place, so why choose to be remote?

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

A PhD as a career path: expect the unexpected (Jade Sleeman)

Photo by Stephen Leonardi | unsplash.com

As I near the end of my PhD studies, I’ve been reflecting on where this journey has led me, and have realised that even though my career goals were not exactly strictly laid out at the start, I am still surprised by how it has helped me end up where I am today.

Now that may be surprising to those of you who know exactly where you want your higher education studies to take you. But for me, I have never really had a clear idea of exactly where I wanted to go, I just knew I wanted to go somewhere.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Researchers on retreats: The value of being away together (Silvina Sanchez Mera and Esther Desiadenyo Manu-Barfo)


Many of us take significant private pleasure in becoming researchers.

We whittle drafts away in the wee small hours or sneak a moment here or there to read a book or article. But finding time to just be a researcher can be tough, especially for those of us who have busy work lives or heavy care responsibilities. It can be challenging to get large stretches of time to sink into researcher mode.

Retreats away from the hustle and bustle of ordinary life can offer us these opportunities. In addition to the practicalities of giving us time, many of us find that there is something magical about being away together.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

On the value of research partnerships (An interview with Maria Platt)

In this week's RED Alert, we interview La Trobe alumna Dr Maria Platt, who started working in the GRS as a Senior Project Coordinator in 2018. Maria shares her research background and offers some great advice to graduate researchers on engaging with industry. 

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Photo by Alfons Taekema on Unsplash

Can you tell us about your research journey and your career trajectory?

I have always had a thirst for knowledge, even as a kid. In my undergraduate degree in Public Health I realised that there was this thing called 'research' and you could find out lots of interesting stuff, and you got to read articles! That was the bit that I really found quite exhilarating. When it came to knowledge, I really enjoyed the chase. Then I did my honours, and that took me in more of an anthropological direction, looking at the lived experiences of women with Hepatitis C. After this, I took some time out and started doing some research jobs. During this time I realised that I needed to do a PhD in order to advance in my research career further.

I undertook my PhD at La Trobe in the Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS). Initially, my research was going to be focused on HIV prevention programs in Indonesia, but then it morphed into looking more at how women negotiated their way in and out of marriage without any formal level recognition of their martial status. So really, I was on an exploratory journey without a grand plan!