Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Keeping life visible: Balancing all we have to do (Mandi Cooklin)

Image by kosmolaut | www.flickr.com/photos/helico/404640681

Researching parenting and working.

Researching, parenting and working.

Different emphases, but the same idea – I am an academic researcher who does research about work and parenting while parenting and working.

While this is my location (‘woman’ ‘parenting’ and ‘working’), most of us who produce academic work have non-work responsibilities (and, hopefully, some fun and downtime in there, too). These all need to find a balance with the demanding nature of academic productivity.

How do we do this, in an sector that doesn’t always recognise or reward the non-linear stuff of life?

This is a saturated topic, but this post shares a few notes from reading, researching and talking about this (still! again!), which may spark next ideas and conversations.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

How do I write? (Pam Snow)

Photo by Dan Dimmock | unsplash.com

Being asked to reflect on my approach to writing is probably like asking a cyclist to explain the process of riding a bike.

There’s quite a bit about the business of writing that is so automatic for me that it’s difficult to unpack. Other aspects, though, are under my conscious control and reflect idiosyncratic preferences and habits established over many years.

I consider myself fortunate in the sense that writing is something I enjoy doing and, from a young age, it was one of my strengths (I am very pleased this invitation did not involve me having to reflect on my maths skills….). My late father was extremely well-schooled in spoken and written language and his enthusiasm for words and their meanings was a bug I caught early and have never lost. While this enthusiasm for, and ease with, the written word were a great asset in my early years as an academic, I still had much to learn about the academic voice and adapting my writing for different audiences.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Building 'Take 5: Research Rumble' (Wade Kelly)

Competitors from the inaugural Take 5: Research Rumble event during Research Week, Sept 2019. 
Photo from La Trobe University.

Recently, La Trobe University held our inaugural 'Take 5: Research Rumble' event. It's a 5-minute research staff competition.

Like 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) before it, we gave our academics one slide but, with our staff having established research track records, we thought we’d give them a few more minutes. So, 5 minutes, 1 slide, and a little terror.

We put out the call and weren’t sure if what the appetite and interest would be.

We underestimated the excitement for the competition (perhaps it was the $3000 up for grabs?) and ended up receiving dozens of submissions. In order to demonstrate a wide swatch of the research being conducted at La Trobe University — and make it interesting for the audience — the committee ensured there was gender balance and representation from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Those who weren’t in the first edition (during Research Week) were asked to participate in our second edition, which is on Tuesday 26 November (register here).

Back in September, we were starting from scratch and had to consider everything from the program and timing, to the food, judges, AV, room, and on and on. As it was our first stab at this event, we decided to offer guidance to staff on formulating their presentations. The hope was that it would help them produce high quality talks that were accessible to a generalist audience.

How’d it go? Overall, we are thrilled with how things came together.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Accelerated Completion program: Helping researchers plan their way toward the finish line!

The Semester Two 2019 ACP crew at the finish of the program
The Semester Two 2019 ACP crew at the finish of the program 

There’s no way to put it without understatement: finishing a PhD is just hard yakka.

At the start of our degrees we often see a vast expanse of time ahead, and the day-to-day of a research degree often feels different as we pick up and spin all the plates and learn all the things!

After years of dedication and careful work, the end sometimes creeps up on us. The end stages of a doctorate are often some of the richest intellectually (if not always financially!). For many of us, the end is a time of crystallisation where the small parts of our research begin to add up to a bigger picture. So, the end is not only an exciting time for a doctoral project, it is also an exciting time for the doctoral researcher, as we observe ourselves stepping over the threshold from novice to expert knower.

This special time is also one where we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, and who we need to be for ourselves in order to finish significant projects, like a PhD.

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!