Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mastermind groups: Creative tactics for thriving as an ECR (Marcella Carragher, Rochelle Fogelgarn, Hannah Robert)

Graphic conversation | Image by Marc Wathie
Being an Early Career Researcher (ECR) can feel a bit like being Red Riding Hood setting out into the dark forest.

We're armed with our basket of goodies (our research qualifications and experience) and we know where we're supposed to be going: heading for Grandma's house (i.e. working towards becoming an established and productive researcher).

But, like Red Riding Hood, the path is by no means clear or without hazards. That was certainly how we felt when we attended a RED-hosted ECR Career Planning day in 2014.

Little did we know that one of the strategies that emerged from that planning session, Mastermind groups, would become a central part of our own research career planning!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Interview with Dan Bendrups (Research Education and Development (RED))

Image: Rapanui dancers at the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts, Honiara (Photo D. Bendrups) 
In this week's RED Alert, we interview Dan Bendrups, who recently started with the RED team at Bendigo Campus. Dan talks candidly about his research background and offers some great advice to Early Career Researchers.

1. How did you end up researching in the field you're in?

I’d love to say that it was all part of a well-planned career strategy, but to be honest, my transition into a research career was part serendipity and part pragmatism. Like many current HDRs, I entered research from an industry or ‘practice’ background. My field of practice was music performance. When the opportunity arose to do a PhD with a scholarship (something quite attractive to a struggling musician), I took it, but without much thought for where it would lead. My doctorate considered the role of music in cultural sustainability on remote Easter Island (Rapanui). This led to further engagement with music and culture in the Pacific region, especially in Polynesia and Pacific-rim Latin American countries, where I already had some language and cultural knowledge. My emerging profile in this area led to my first real academic appointment in New Zealand, where Pacific-focused research is strategically significant to the nation’s cultural and research agendas. I maintain a specific interest in Rapanui as a primary research field, however, I have also been able to extend this to include topics in which Rapanui (and, for that matter, music) is perhaps more peripheral. At present, this is reflected in my work concerning trans-Pacific cultural phenomena, especially those that connect Oceania with Latin America.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Isolation (Nicholas Anthony)

Photo by Erlend Ekseth | unsplash.com
“I work with lasers.”

These four simple words regularly save me when some poor individual gets stuck talking to me at a party and makes the mistake of asking what I do.

I’ve tried to give the real answer, that I’m a PhD researcher developing a new technique that uses focused laser light to image materials and biological samples to high spatial resolution.

But who really wants to hear about that when you could imagine I'm on par with supervillains from James Bond movies?!

To my dismay, working with lasers isn’t as glamorous as the movies would have you believe.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The 101 on grants for graduate researchers (Clare McCausland)

Photo by Thomas Hawk
As the manager of the Graduate Research School (GRS), I’m keenly aware that one of the topics we’re often asked at the GRS is around grants and additional funds: "how do I find what’s out there and how do I actually get paid?"

We know that research can be expensive!

Apart from fees and basic living expenses, costs associated with research can add up. You might want to travel overseas to conduct your fieldwork, purchase useful equipment to get your project underway and, at some point, you’ll almost certainly want to attend a conference to present your research.

You can also work with your colleagues to build a better intellectual climate – invite a guest speaker, set up a Wiki, or run a well-catered (and therefore well-attended!) reading group or seminar to support the efforts of graduate researchers across your discipline.

Sometimes, it seems like there are floods of cash available for doctoral and research Master’s candidates, but finding it and then seeing the dollars materialise can take more effort than the research these funds are intended to support. That’s not the intention.

I’ve put together some questions and answers here in an effort to shine a light on the sources of funding available and what’s involved in getting paid.