Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Moving your research community to the next level (Jade Sleeman)

School of Education Research Society (SOERS) members at the inaugural conference
Photo courtesy of Jade Sleeman
Hooray for #SOERS15! For those of you who don’t know what SOERS is, read on.

Hooray for the Intellectual Climate Fund for graduate researchers! For those of you who don’t know what the Intellectual Climate Fund is, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!

The School of Education Research Society (SOERS) is a group of research candidates dedicated to encouraging networking, peer assistance, methodological discussion, and enhancement of skills and knowledge for those researching in the field of Education.

Or, in other words, a group of graduate researchers who want to make the journey through their research degree more productive and rewarding, and by making social connections - more enjoyable!

Our group was established in 2013 to promote all things academic for Education researchers, such as grant opportunities, conferences, and networking. These scholarly discussions happen at our monthly meetings, which take place in a conducive social and intellectual climate - The Eagle Bar!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What's your favourite academic writing text?

Photo by Horla Varlan |
Distributed under CC 2.0:
Writing is hard, and academic writing can be a particular kind of hard that can seem insurmountable.

Luckily, publications that help you get the words and structure down for dissertations, papers, books and journal articles are out there by the dozen.

The problem is, they're out there by the dozen.

How do you know which one is going to work for you and the kind of writing work you're trying to do?

This post focuses on precisely that question, and invites you to comment below with your faves. If you comment, you're in the running for a $50 Co-op Bookshop gift voucher!

To be eligible for the comment competition, you must:
  • be a La Trobe University staff member or graduate researcher
  • leave a comment with the following format - [your name] [discipline area] [book/s you recommend] [why you would recommend it/them].
To help you get those recommendation juices flowing, I asked several recent PhD graduates what they would count as their prime sources of academic writing wisdom.

Here's what they said:

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

My second life as a Wikipedian (Thomas Shafee)

Being generous, perhaps six people read my PhD thesis on directed evolution and evolvability.

Given the work I'd put in, it seemed a little disappointing at the time. I decided that I wanted to put my words to better use, so I edited a couple of Wikipedia articles related to my thesis topic. My very first test edit was adding a single sentence to the protein tag page. My second was fixing a mistake with my first! Over the next few months I added information and pictures to all the keywords in my thesis title (Evolvability of a viral protease: directed evolution of catalysis, robustness and specificity).

Since then, I've worked on a broad range of biochemistry and evolution articles. I’ve mostly focused on generating improved diagrams (I’ve had some experience from illustrating popular science books). The ability to create clear figures is a less common editor skill, so images are still a common shortfall of many articles. It's even been oddly gratifying to see one of my images plagiarised already!

I'm also part of a movement within Wikipedia to experiment with interactive images (for example Glycolysis ) as a way to better exploit the online medium.

I find editing Wikipedia uniquely satisfying because edits are instantly viewable to a vast audience. That article on my thesis topic directed evolution) gets over 25,000 views per year.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

SWIS - Supporting Women in Science (Oonagh Bodin)

A hot topic of conversation lately seems to be women in science or, more precisely, the lack of them at higher levels.

Recent research has shown that there's significant gender bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers with males dominating the fields (Beede, 2011).

While the gender gap is getting smaller, it's evident that women are present in fewer numbers in certain areas of STEM, and at certain career stages.

Women may dominate the life and social sciences during their PhD years, but their presence starts to diminish when we look at the higher levels, especially towards professorship. Noticeably, the areas in which women are least represented are those that are heavily mathematics dominated. They make up less than 20% of full professors in these disciplines (Ceci, 2015).

Women in science at LTU

What can we do about this, you ask? Or, more to the point, what are we doing about this at our own institution of La Trobe University?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

2015 #LTUacwrimo photo competition - "Inspiration/Perspiration/Motivation"

Kodak Six-16 Folding Camera
Photo by J.W. Sherman | www.flickr.com/photos/polymerchemist
La Trobe's Academic Writing Month is officially here! For the full program and registration details, visit the 2015 #LTUacwrimo page.

This year, the RED team is running an Academic Writing Month photo competition with a trio of themes: "Inspiration/Perspiration/Motivation".

This competition, with a fabulous prize of $150 worth of Co-op Bookshop gift vouchers, is open to all research candidates and staff members of La Trobe University who are signed up for the #LTUacwrimo challenge.

To enter, take a photo that aligns with one of the themes, and submit it via Twitter (full guidelines below). It's as simple as that!

The photo competition's judging criteria are:
  • the quality, composition, and aesthetics of the photo; and 
  • the photo's interpretation of the chosen theme from the trio on offer - "Inspiration/Perspiration/Motivation"
The more creative your interpretation of the themes, the better!

The photos will be judged by a panel of La Trobe staff:
  • Professor Sue Martin (Associate PVC Research, Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce)
  • Mr Mark Engel (La Trobe's Chief Marketing Officer)
  • Mr Rob Chong (Business Partner - Research, Alumni and Advancement)
  • Dr Tseen Khoo (RED team, Graduate Research School)
Entries for the 2015 #LTUacwrimo photo competition must be received by 4.30pm on TUESDAY 24 November.

Competition guidelines and conditions appear below.