Monday, 29 June 2015

The study takes over – the rise of anthropomorphism (Teresa Iacono)

Mask/photo by Joel Cooper |
There has been an insidious rise in an entity that, at one point in the history of academia, did not have  a life form of its own.

Now, however, with echoes of HAL 9000 from Arthur  C. Clarkes’ A Space Odyssey, it has pushed aside authors to take control and attribution of their work.

I refer here to the study, which previously was something that human beings designed, conducted, and reported.

Not so now!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Top five reasons to run a conference (Tseen Khoo)

Chalk trains
Photo by Ben Kraal |
Do you feel regularly exploited, wish you had more recognition for the things you did, or feel that your skills are being underutilised?

OK, first up, you realise you’re in academia, right?

More importantly, while these dissatisfactions are endemic to working lives in general, they seem especially visible in universities.

There are ways, however, of seizing opportunities and making them work for you.

This post presents you with the pros of convening a conference.

I’ve convened about ten major events and, while conferences are no doubt time-consuming, they were - for me - also the primary catalysts for establishing a research network and significantly boosting my academic profile.

When I suggest convening a conference, people often respond with fear and dismissal. Many people worry that they don’t know how to do it, or presume that it’s just grunt-work and no good could come of it.

Here are my top 5 reasons why you should convene a conference:

Monday, 15 June 2015

The writer on holiday (Jason Murphy)

Photo by Florian Klauer |
When I started my PhD while working full-time, one of the people who didn’t think I was completely mad told me that candidates who work full-time often complete their thesis in a timely way.

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’.

This gave me a secret hope that getting through a PhD would be like other major projects that I've experienced. I thought it would just be a case of choosing a direction, then forming a plan that worked backwards from the end goal: a completed thesis.

I’m now coming up to the full-time equivalent of two years’ candidature, so I can look back at these early assumptions and ‘test their validity’.

In short, it’s not that simple. If you’re working on your PhD or Masters, or any research for that matter, I’m sure you didn’t have to read this far to spot my initial naivety.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Preparing for post-PhD life during your PhD (Sam Manna)

Photo by Dietmar Becker |
Having just completed my PhD in October last year, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my experience.

While I was doing several things to prepare for my future career, I now see that there was a lot more I could have done. You may think “I’m too busy to worry about all that stuff right now!”, but during your PhD is the perfect time to do it!

In this post, I wanted to provide PhD students with a couple of tips to help you prepare for a career in research. Of course, research is not the only career option after your PhD, but the focus of this post will be on developing a research career.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Public Scholarship at La Trobe University (Chris Mackie)

Professor Chris Mackie conducting research on the archaeology
and history of the Gallipoli battlefield.

[Photo by Simon Harrington]
In March 2015, I was appointed as the inaugural Professor of Public Scholarship at La Trobe University.

This is a half-time role with a University-wide remit. Its purpose is to increase the dissemination of La Trobe’s academic knowledge and expertise into the wider community. It's intended to enhance our teaching and research – to give it a different dimension.

We certainly don’t want public scholarship to be just another thing to do for academic staff.

Projects that I have underway include reviewing the University’s public lecture program, and developing strategies around incentives for staff to be in the public space in addition to their many other tasks.

I'm particularly keen to assist staff and graduate researchers in creating a public dimension for their research.