Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Communicating your research: the complex language of science (Ebony Monson)

PAM HDR Student Society at their ICF funded ‘Showcase Symposium’

[Back row, L to R] Keaton Crosse, Troy Raglus, Ellyse Noy & Stephanie Lynch
[Front row, L to R] Jemma Gasperoni, Ella Johnston, Louise Pham, Jordyn Thomas & Ebony Monson

Not only is it important to ask questions and find the answers, as a scientist I felt obligated to communicate with the world what we were learning.” ― Stephen Hawking
As a PhD researcher, you’re often focused on a very niche research area with loads of technical jargon, complex ideas and concepts that can be difficult to communicate to researchers from different fields.

Why is it important to be able to communicate your research?

While your main focus as a graduate researcher might be to write your thesis, you need to be able to communicate effectively in writing and orally for a range of audiences (academic journals, media, industry and the community).

The idea of translating our academic interests into simpler, more engaging words can seem daunting, but it all helps share our work, widen the range of potential collaborations, and create new opportunities.

In research, the ability to succinctly convey your ideas to other researchers and to the public is one of the most important skills you can gain, yet the opportunities to build these skills are often scarce.

That’s why, at the end of 2017, a group of graduate researchers (including me) founded the Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology (PAM) HDR Student Society with the aim of nurturing social relationships, promote networking and provide platforms to enhance educational experiences, and therefore promote positive outcomes for individuals within the department.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Upskilling: learning to code in R (Erika Duan)

Image by Erika Duan
I learnt to code in R out of necessity.

First, part of my research involved the exploration and visualisation of extremely large datasets.

Second, it never hurts to learn a new job skill.

R is a programming language used mostly by statisticians, bioinformaticians and data scientists (due to its vast library of statistical, data exploration and visualisation tools). Code is written via a program called R studio. As a beginner, I found the R studio environment very friendly, as it allows you to write code, test it in small segments (or ‘chunks’) and quickly visualise your results.

When I first started learning R, I had no experience with coding and was utterly clueless. My first coding session happened at an introductory workshop held by Research Bazaar (ResBaz) in 2016. ResBaz is an annual research fair, held early in the year at the University of Melbourne, which promotes computer literacy and digital research. Although I emerged from the workshop only slightly more knowledgeable than before, the biggest impact of attending ResBaz was its introduction to online research communities via Twitter. This allowed me to connect with different data science communities and researchers, and their posts have led me to useful resources for learning how to code.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Writing together (Kylie Mirmohamadi)

Sue Martin (L) and Kylie Mirmohamadi | Photo courtesy of Kylie
Kylie Mirmohamadi (HuSS) participated in the panel convened by James Burford about 'writing together' during #LTUacwrimo in 2018. 

The presentations from all participants were thought-provoking and reflected the diverse ways that researchers collaborate (or not!) when writing. 

Kylie generously wrote this post for us, based on her panel notes. 

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What follows is a reflection on the practice of collaborative academic writing, and the way that I have experienced it in my work with Professor Sue Martin (College of ASSC's APVC-Research).

For this post, I’m going to leave aside the much larger issue of how collaborative writing is perceived and received within the politics of academic publishing.

I’ll begin with a few observations from other people that illustrate the often-unacknowledged personal dimension of writing together, and also its gendered aspects.

For me, and I’m sure also for Sue and for Katie Holmes (with whom we have also collaborated), writing together academically is a gendered and a feminist activity. Although this is not always the case with collaborations, ours have been productive of, and pursued within, patterns and modes of female friendship. Those friendships that Kayleen Schaefer sees as captured in women’s late-night request to each other to ‘text me when you get home’, which she shows is not only about safety, but also about solidarity, affection, connection, and holding an ongoing conversation with each other (Text me when you get home, 2018).

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The pleasure of values (Interview with James Burford)

In this week's RED Alert, we interview James (Jamie) Burford, who started with the RED team in July 2018. Jamie talks candidly about his research background and offers some great advice to graduate researchers.

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Jamie and his co-blogger Emily |
Photo courtesy of Jamie
How did you end up researching in the field you're in?

My primary research field is higher education, with ongoing dabbles in gender and sexuality studies. And it is fair to say that I sometimes feel surprised to find that I have arrived in this space.

One way to answer this question is to say that my arrival was unplanned. I followed my curiosity and it led me here. There are also some other answers. My BA was in political science, my Masters was in Development Studies and I came to my PhD via youthwork, community development and diversity education. These histories continue to shape the way that I think about research.