Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Writing habits of an early career academic (Troy A. Heffernan)

Photo by Lakerain Snake | unsplash.com

At a recent event, I overheard an aspiring graduate researcher ask a colleague, ‘Is doing a PhD hard?’.

After a little thought, my colleague replied, ‘Yes. It’s really tough and takes more thinking and work than you’d believe, but what’s really hard is if life gets in the way’.

I thought this was a very succinct assessment of what completing a PhD can look like, but also of academic writing more generally.

My writing habits as an early career academic began while I was completing my PhD. I achieved what I had to during the initial twelve months of my PhD journey to be ready for my first milestone, but there was no pattern or regularity to what I was doing.

I was fortunate enough to be lecturing early on in my PhD, which was good for the experience, but not so good for my writing. Teaching meant that some weeks a lot would get done, and some weeks very little would get done if marking or other work duties had to take precedence.

When I reflect on the first year of my PhD, I know I’m quite lucky that period went smoothly. It mostly happened because I was fortunate enough that the good days outweighed the bad.

The turn in my writing habits came in the second year of my PhD.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Keeping life visible: Balancing all we have to do (Mandi Cooklin)

Image by kosmolaut | www.flickr.com/photos/helico/404640681

Researching parenting and working.

Researching, parenting and working.

Different emphases, but the same idea – I am an academic researcher who does research about work and parenting while parenting and working.

While this is my location (‘woman’ ‘parenting’ and ‘working’), most of us who produce academic work have non-work responsibilities (and, hopefully, some fun and downtime in there, too). These all need to find a balance with the demanding nature of academic productivity.

How do we do this, in an sector that doesn’t always recognise or reward the non-linear stuff of life?

This is a saturated topic, but this post shares a few notes from reading, researching and talking about this (still! again!), which may spark next ideas and conversations.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

How do I write? (Pam Snow)

Photo by Dan Dimmock | unsplash.com

Being asked to reflect on my approach to writing is probably like asking a cyclist to explain the process of riding a bike.

There’s quite a bit about the business of writing that is so automatic for me that it’s difficult to unpack. Other aspects, though, are under my conscious control and reflect idiosyncratic preferences and habits established over many years.

I consider myself fortunate in the sense that writing is something I enjoy doing and, from a young age, it was one of my strengths (I am very pleased this invitation did not involve me having to reflect on my maths skills….). My late father was extremely well-schooled in spoken and written language and his enthusiasm for words and their meanings was a bug I caught early and have never lost. While this enthusiasm for, and ease with, the written word were a great asset in my early years as an academic, I still had much to learn about the academic voice and adapting my writing for different audiences.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Building 'Take 5: Research Rumble' (Wade Kelly)

Competitors from the inaugural Take 5: Research Rumble event during Research Week, Sept 2019. 
Photo from La Trobe University.

Recently, La Trobe University held our inaugural 'Take 5: Research Rumble' event. It's a 5-minute research staff competition.

Like 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) before it, we gave our academics one slide but, with our staff having established research track records, we thought we’d give them a few more minutes. So, 5 minutes, 1 slide, and a little terror.

We put out the call and weren’t sure if what the appetite and interest would be.

We underestimated the excitement for the competition (perhaps it was the $3000 up for grabs?) and ended up receiving dozens of submissions. In order to demonstrate a wide swatch of the research being conducted at La Trobe University — and make it interesting for the audience — the committee ensured there was gender balance and representation from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Those who weren’t in the first edition (during Research Week) were asked to participate in our second edition, which is on Tuesday 26 November (register here).

Back in September, we were starting from scratch and had to consider everything from the program and timing, to the food, judges, AV, room, and on and on. As it was our first stab at this event, we decided to offer guidance to staff on formulating their presentations. The hope was that it would help them produce high quality talks that were accessible to a generalist audience.

How’d it go? Overall, we are thrilled with how things came together.