Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Preparing for a media interview (David Cann)

Photo by Michal Czyz | unsplash.com

While opening your research up to the public through the media can be a daunting step into the unknown, there are plenty of potential benefits, including a broader audience, collaboration opportunities, and increased funding.

For researchers at La Trobe, there is a cornucopia of resources available for researchers looking to write for the public, write a press release, or broaden their audience. But preparing for a media interview – whether it be for print, radio or television – is a challenging task for any researcher, thanks in no small part to the unpredictability of interviews!

As an agricultural scientist, my run-ins with the media have been somewhat unorthodox, to put it lightly. From small town papers to state-wide radio, giving media interviews has given me opportunities to think about my research from different perspectives, and reframe it in ways that make it accessible to different audiences.

I am a long way from an expert in interacting with the media, but if you feel ready to start answering questions from journalists, you'll need to start asking yourself these questions first!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

What does it mean to manage your data? (Hannah Buttery)

Photo by Luca Colapinto | unsplash.com

My name is Hannah, and I am a Senior Officer for Research Data Outputs at La Trobe University based on the Bendigo campus. I help academics with their research data management plans, assess these as part of ethics applications and provide help with Researchdata.latrobe.edu.au (powered by Figshare).

Before I worked in the library, I was an orthoptist, an allied health profession involved in the screening and management of eye disease and vision problems. I’ve been involved in eye related clinical drug trials. This work sparked my interest in the use and requirements around data generated through research.

Research data is exactly what it sounds like: data generated through research projects, clinical trials and research higher degrees.

You may not be sure what is included as research data, but it can be almost everything that researchers study.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Getting people to talk to you during a poster presentation (Wade Kelly)

Interactive art | Photo by Wade Kelly
Without fail, whenever I give poster sessions or tweet the suggestion that we need to reduce text and clutter on academic posters, I get negative feedback. That feedback can be, more or less, summarised as, “that’s just not how it’s done”. So, it got me wondering, just how long have we been doing things as they’re done?

When did the tradition of academic posters emerge? If we’re this wedded to the format, it must go back to Plato or the Royal Society? Well, no.

According to Nicholas Rowe’s (2017) Academic & Scientific Poster Presentation: A Modern Comprehensive Guide, academic poster’s really only came into their own in the 1970’s. Post-WWII, as the number of academics increased, so too did participation in academic associations, which resulted in an influx of submissions for presentations at conferences. Organisations turned to posters in order to have more submissions accepted to the conference.

The academic poster is relatively new to academia — only becoming widespread in the last 40-50 years — yet it seems to have been decided what it must look and feel like. For early poster ‘presentations’, scholars were afforded a 15-minute window to present the contents of the poster. Generally, we’ve dispensed with that formality. Now, poster sessions take place in large halls, often accompanied by drinks and hors d’oeuvres for about an hour. For larger associations, there can be hundreds of posters arranged in rows filling the conference centre floor. If the point is to disseminate your research, how can you expect to stand out in the crowd?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Taming the beast (Lynda Chapple)

Photograph by Joel Herzog Unsplash.com 

Exciting news! Dr Lynda Chapple has started at La Trobe as an Academic and Language Skills Advisor in the Learning Hub. In this role, Lynda will have a particular focus on working with graduate researchers around their writing questions. Lynda is available for consultations in person (in Melbourne) and via Zoom. In this post, we invited Lynda to share some insights from her own doctoral experiences.


My PhD experience was, I suppose, like many other people’s: I was excited about intellectual engagement with an academic community and afraid I wouldn’t measure up.

I had been the first in my family to attend university and had a clear case of impostor syndrome. I was also an external candidate, living overseas and holding down a full-time teaching job at a university.

As so many others have noted, it was a lonely and isolating time. I visited my home university when I was on leave back in Australia, once or twice a year, but my main interactions with my supervisors were by email, and I while I had some contact with the broader academic community through my work, I did miss the stimulation that comes from being a student on campus. I had few people to support me or to talk to about my work on a daily basis.