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!


Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Creating a great relationship with your supervisor (Keaton Crosse)

Photo by Jake Noren | unsplash.com 

To all the graduate research students out there: There’s no doubt about it. Graduate research study can be very tough.

So, how do you make sure you are getting the most help from your supervisor along the way?

I am a 3rd year PhD student in the School of Life Sciences undertaking a molecular microbiology research project.

Throughout my candidature, I've developed an appreciation for past students who take the time to share their experiences, so I feel it is only right for me to pass on my top 5 tips that have really worked for me to establish and maintain a prosperous relationship with my supervisor!

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

International graduate researchers: You are not alone! (Kiran Shinde)




This week’s blogpost is written by Kiran Shinde, who recently gave a workshop called 'International PhD students: Identifying and overcoming hurdles' at the last College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Commerce (ASSC) Higher Degree Researcher Retreat. 

Kiran’s post builds on other RED Alert contributions by international researchers at La Trobe, Shawgat Sharmeen Kutubi and Lynna Feng.

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For an international student, pursuing a Higher Degree by Research is a multifaceted growth opportunity. It is now widely recognised that international students “represent a high-achieving and highly motivated group” (Russell, Rosenthal, & Thomson, 2010) as they choose to pursue their dreams for higher study in a sociocultural and educational environment that is different from their own.

But these journeys are also full of challenges.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Going beyond comfort zones (Ashley Ng)

Photo by Mia Anderson | unsplash.com
When I first received the email, I thought it was a scam.

It was from a someone who claimed they were from a media production company telling me that I had been selected to potentially be part of an SBS TV series with a well-known health journalist who would host the show. The project was vague, and I knew of the journalist they mentioned, but I wasn’t a big fan of their ideology and methods.

We had a zoom meeting where the media production company wanted to get a sense of who I was and the work I’ve done previously. Throughout the conversation, I was up front and honest with my opinions about the journalist’s work and approach to health. In fact, I was pretty blasé about the whole thing and tried not to think of the TV aspect as it made me anxious. Being a fairly introverted person, a TV appearance was not on my list of career aspirations.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Applying for an internal grant (Amy Kong)

Photo by Shane Aldendorff | unsplash.com

"What do you do for the Social Research Assistance Platform?"

This is a question I often get asked when I tell someone where I work.

My quick answer is always: "I help give out internal funding to researchers and provide a match-making service for researchers and research assistants".*

The next question is usually: "How do I get this internal funding?"

So, here's the post about winning an internal grant!

I must start of with a disclaimer: I don't claim to be an expert in this but what I am sharing is based on my years of experience with the platform and its funding rounds, and my own observations. The RED team runs a great session on grant writing called the '5 Rules of Grant Club'. If you have not been to one, I highly recommend that you do! [We didn’t make Amy say this - we promise! But here's the next session on 22 October, if you're interested!]

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

When a radio interview terrified me (Brooke Huuskes)


Brooke on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania | Photo courtesy of Brooke Huuskes
I love talking. So, it might come as a surprised that I used to be terrified of talking in front of people. I hated public speaking at school, yet my report card always said, "Brooke would be a good student if she didn't talk as much."

Getting over the fear of talking in large public spaces really came when I stumbled into the spotlight to talk about a topic that I knew the best – myself. Yes, back in 2011 I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a cause, and I felt the cause was so important that I put all my fear aside and promoted the heck out of it. This meant that I had to be the face of the cause, which involved comment for newspaper articles and multiple radio interviews. Side note: I was eventually on live TV talking about the same cause but got there through winning best film at a film festival...

In summary, I have had a bit of experience with the media.

It was really no surprise, then, when I started entering public speaking competitions throughout my PhD. The 3MT (three-minute thesis) and FameLab were amazing experiences that really allowed me to passionately express my research in a forum that I love (talking) and developed my science communication skills. And I did alright, too! I won a few awards, including audience choice awards at FameLab (which I was pretty stoked about considering my microphone fell off. Maybe they just felt sorry for me? Anyway...).

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Top tips on designing infographics (Danilo De Oliveira Silva)


Photo by Gareth Harper | unsplash.com

How many people are reading the research you publish?

Let’s make it a bit more interesting and ask: how many people outside academia are reading the research you publish?

We live in a world where most of our research articles are inaccessible for non-academics due to our jargon and the fact that much of it is behind paywalls. I always find myself asking if we are doing and sharing research only for researchers, or do we want to share with the general community as well? If we want to make our research more broadly available, we are doing it wrong!

But let’s stop the criticism for a moment and offer some solutions instead.