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One | 2017

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


Management matters

‘Research excellence’: not so excellent? This article identifies major problems with the notion of excellence in research, and argues for an alternative and more meaningful rhetoric.

What should uni faculty look like? A new book includes the results of an extensive survey about the future structure of faculty and explores options for improvements.

Pre-empting 'mid-career malaise'. A recent US study seeks to capture the mind-set of mid-career faculty and suggests ways to help this key group in the academic workforce.

Polished proposals. The tough funding landscape means professional grant writers and editors can be a worthwhile investment for researchers and their institutions.

Early feedback boosts research impact. A collaboration study has examined how impact increases with each instance of feedback and whom researchers should ask for comment.

Managing impact. Research groups can usefully follow the lead of film by adopting an 'Impact Producer', to plan engagement and bring research to the attention of the right audiences.

The art of balance. A specialist on work-family conflict in academia insists we stop viewing it as a "women's issue" and suggests options to benefit all involved.

A challenger to the Journal Impact Factor? CiteScore is Elsevier’s new open-access index based on Scopus that counts all journal items as citable, so dragging down the scores of journals carrying non-research pieces. Analysis and comparisons abound.

Open embrace. Two champions of open-access publishing highlight its role in expediting development and collaboration. A US-based group of leading foundations has also been created to push the cause of open sharing of research outputs.

ORCID blooming. Publishing house Wiley has become the first major publisher to announce it will require submitting authors to provide ORCID identifiers. Registering for an ID is quick and free.

Images of integrity. Infographics can be a effective way of summarising guidelines on responsible research practices and handling misconduct. The US Office of Research Integrity produces a range that supervisors and PIs might find useful.

Issues in early career research

Creativity losing out to real-life constraints. Results emerging from a 3-year study of the attitudes of early career researchers in 7 countries suggest innovation in academia and transformational research are being stymied by systemic restrictions and precarious employment prospects.

Permission to 'pivot'. Breaking new ground sometimes requires a change of tack, but the research environment discourages risk-taking. Four 'new gen' researchers discuss the need to enable more innovation.

Answers - or just more information? Launched in January 2017, the US Next Generation Researchers Initiative seeks to identify new options for creating more sustainable career pathways for scientists.

The future of facts. It may be early days for the new US administration, but this sobering editorial on the effect of political trends globally suggests now's the time to be "a partisan for science”.

The price of politics. Uncertainty triggered by the US's travel restrictions continues for PhD students and postdocs, despite a temporary stay confirmed by the courts in early February. A draft order on foreign worker visas (including bridging Optional Practical Training permits used by PhDs) could compound problems.

The whys and hows of research volunteering. Looking for ways to broaden the skills and experiences of early career researchers? This article argues that volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, typically deliver benefits more quickly than traditional research projects, and add breadth and depth to researchers’ profiles.

Personal press

Building a research brand. A career development specialist shares her tips to help researchers make their work memorable, with a method of marketing that leaves space for 'staying humble’.

Managing mentor relationships. Seven founding principles of effective, mutually beneficial mentor-mentee relationships, building on the business concept of 'managing your boss' and the powerful role that proactive mentees play in successful relationships.

Is comfort for the over-cautious? A celebrated performance coach claims there are 10 ways to make minor discomforts pay in major ways.

Cultivating awkwardness. Making the most of one-to-one conversations takes practice, and this development coach argues the best value comes from being ‘awkward'.

Lessons in loss. If you know someone who's losing a job they love, this meditation on how to cope offers practical ideas and advice.

Serious Research

The ‘Journal of Alternative Facts’. The post-truth world just got its own publication: any bets on an impact factor?…!

PostdocTraining Update

Our next Career Control for Researchers program starts on 29 May 2017. Designed for PhD students and early-stage postdocs, the 8-week program focusses on practical tools and advice to help ECRs become strategic about their career goals and next steps.

The digital, on-demand course allows for scale and extra reach, including remotely-located trainees. It emphasises direct interaction with us at PostdocTraining as the course leaders, as well as other program participants.

Examples of participants’ views include:

I really enjoyed the program and it was great that the GradSchool made it possible for me to participate. It gave me a clear structure of how to plan my phD, how to create the goal on what comes after that, how to identify and value my strength and a reason why I should complete my phD.”

The step by step pace led to some in-depth soul searching and helped me focus on what I am good at. I have totally changed my expectations of career post-doc and feel very relieved that there are a lot more options out there for when I finish.”

If your PhD students or early-stage postdocs would benefit from taking more control of their careers, contact me on kerstin@postdoctraining.com to discuss how the program could work for your institution.

We hope you find this brief news digest helpful.
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