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Four | 2015

A selection of current news items for managers of Early Career Researchers.

Would research life improve if grants were awarded for overall research goals, not projects? The US’s Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award is testing the benefits of funding research programs instead of pre-defined projects. The program director and commentators believe it could increase stability and the flexibility for researchers to set more ambitious goals and pursue new directions. Other benefits could be a better distribution of funding and less time writing and reviewing grant applications.

Too many postdocs? This piece singles out two recommendations for changes: putting clear limits on the time researchers can remain in training positions; and expanding PhD training to encompass non-academic careers, an approach tested via a recent National Institutes of Health program in the US.

How and where do PhD students seek career advice? The journal Nature’s Graduate survey reveals a persistently strong focus on the academic career path, often encouraged by supervisors, despite the mismatch of supply and demand in the job market for academic positions.

Gender imbalance at the highest levels of academia remains a controversial topic. The issue of how best to tackle it led life sciences organisation EMBO to run a year-long study, 'Exploring Quotas in Academia'. The final report assesses the impacts of employing different kinds of quota in relation to hiring at senior levels, the makeup of committees and awarding research funding.

Future leaders in higher education need to be prepared for micropolitics. A UK research study has argued there should be open discussion about how HE leaders exercise power if micropolitics are to be legitimate and beneficial in practice. It suggests among other things that the study of power and micropolitical strategies, and their effects, should be core content in leadership development programs. More broadly, this collection of fascinating TED talks is a great source of practical ideas for leaders.

A new website provides guidance for researchers on where to publish. The Think. Check. Submit. website sponsored by leading publishers and libraries offers a basic checklist for evaluating journal options. This article profiles the site; it also highlights concerns about the quality of research output and a claim that the quantity of new data submitted is exceeding the capacity of the review system.

And finally - a selection of issues that crop up regularly in research territory...

  • Do you work from home at times? As this post explains, teleworking can have huge benefits but also comes with problems, such as ‘teleguilt’ and the inability to clearly separate home and work life.
  • Is organising productive and well-attended workshops and conferences a problem? The Research Whisperer has come up with an unconventional recipe for making sure you get the people you want and the productive discussion you need.
  • Are you reacting to work rather than proactively getting high priority work done? Here are some good hints to help you prioritise important tasks, and especially deal effectively with email.
  • Have you ever had to suffer an anti-management rant in research? An academic who's worked on both 'sides' of the management/researcher divide argues researchers only get space to shine if the complex institutions they are part of run smoothly… and that takes management.

PostdocTraining Update

In 2016 PostdocTraining will be available for on-site workshops on career planning and development, productivity and leadership for ECRs

  • in Europe: May - July
  • in Australia and Asia: February-April and August-December.

Our online programs, Career Control for Researchers and Postdoc Career Success, will run throughout the year, as usual.

We hope you find this brief news digest helpful.
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