Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Three minutes and not a second more (Kelly Farrell and Jason Murphy)

Jen Wiltshire. 2015 La Trobe Competition winner.
A graduate researcher with a story to tell. An audience primed to hear it. Three minutes and not a second more.

One of the University’s premiere research events, the Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) is on again in 2016!

Started by the University of Queensland in 2008, this unique competition asks graduate researchers to flex their research communication muscles and present a clear and engaging account of their thesis to a non-specialised audience.

No jargon. No disciplinary double-dutch. And all in under three minutes.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Single quotation marks - for quoting ‘Mr Nobody’ (Teresa Iacono)

When I was young, I had a grandmother figure – that is, she acted like my grandmother, I loved her like she was my grandmother, and she took me to many places as though bent on imbuing a grandchild with cultural experiences.

As a result, I am probably the only person alive who reached the age of 6 having seen Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music three times!

This grandmother figure and I had no blood ties. She taught me a great many life skills, such as how to make a decent cup of tea (much needed for a first generation Australian of Italian parents who knew only how to drink stove-top coffee) and how to make lovely doilies using pin-point needlework (a great skill for a budding academic – not).

Even now, I can still remember how to blanket-stitch, even though I have never had the need to stitch blankets. Take note, ECRs, this is not a life skill, nor the first rung on the academic ladder to success, but it could be good practice for when…actually, I can’t think of any reason to practice this skill.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

What is 'Shut up and Write!' at La Trobe University? (Tseen Khoo)

Shut up and write in progress (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
‘Shut up and Write!’ (SUAW) is a series of weekly facilitated writing sessions designed to help researchers get their writing done.

They are open to all researchers, hosted by the RED team and other researchers across the La Trobe network, and use the Pomodoro technique of focused writing interleaved with short breaks.

Many scholars find that SUAW sessions have become essential parts of their research practice – here are 5 great reasons to try SUAW out for yourself.

Regular La Trobe sessions take place at many campuses, including Melbourne, Franklin Street, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, and online.

How does it work?

  • Each week, people arrive and set themselves up with their gear. 
  • At the session start time, the host begins the first pomodoro (25 minutes). You can shut up and write, or edit, read or analyse. It's up to you - the session gives you focused time with whatever stage of your research needs attention.
  • After 25 minutes, there's a break and everyone can chat, get coffee or tea, or go for a quick walk.
  • Then we write again for another 25 minutes.
  • Rinse and repeat until the end of the session.
SUAW can vary slightly in format from campus to campus but the basic components are the same -  especially needing the coffee.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Can you actually enjoy a PhD? Notes from someone who did (Merryn Sherwood)

Photo by 301+ Kim |
The PhD roller coaster - it’s a much-used analogy to describe the ups and downs of graduate research life.

As a just-finished candidate, I have happily realised my ride at the doctorate carnival was actually a ferris-wheel. There were a few places where I couldn’t see ahead clearly, or it momentarily stalled but, overall, it was pleasant and even enjoyable.

On reflection, the key to avoiding those terrifying climbs and drops was a simple mind-trick: I changed how I thought about the PhD.

When anyone asked me why I was completing a doctorate, my response became:

“I’d like to be a journalism lecturer, I need a PhD to get there.”

This re-positioning of the PhD from something steeped in awe and fear to something perfunctory, a 'trade certificate' to practice in academia perhaps, helped in multiple ways.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

What you need to do before you go to a conference (Jo Byrne)

Photo by Calum MacAulay |
Conferences can be awesome!

You get to listen to the latest research, rub shoulders with the people whose work you keep citing and you’re surrounded by people doing some really exciting work.

What’s not so awesome is the planning and prep-work that you have to do, on top of your already busy schedule!

This is a quick guide for interstate and international conferences that will hopefully take some of the worry out of it for you.

3-4 months before the conference:
  • Did you get an email? Great! Read it. Every word. Then read it again. The emails you get from the convenors of the conference will provide a wealth of information – timetables, prerequisites and sometimes even discounts on accommodation. These are all extremely useful when you’re planning your stay.