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One | 2018

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


Management matters

Managing the odds. A coalition of US universities is publishing job outcome data to help manage PhD student/postdoc expectations, given so few will get a tenure-track position. The Chancellor of one of the unis insists it’s not about putting people off research careers: “We want you. We need you. But you need to start planning your career earlier.”

Taking the 'cult' out of academic culture. "Most PhDs don't become professors, but that's only a problem if we teach them to feel like failures when that happens"; plus a personal challenge to the establishment to reconsider how it shapes graduate students' perceptions

PhD-powered career diversity. The American Historical Association's initiative to promote thinking and training that prepares PhDs for diverse careers is attracting cross-disciplinary attention.

Wanted: more academic engagement in policy. The former director of a unit responsible for communicating research to politicians argues academia and funders should do more to encourage researchers and projects focused on informing government policy.

Tackling foul play, in three parts. A US-based commentator assesses the health of processes to deal with misconduct in academia; a voice on the effects of faculty bullying; and doubts persist about self-regulation of research integrity in the UK.

Integrating integrity. An Australian university describes its experience of remodelling training in research integrity by wrapping it into courses for researchers on authorship, publication and peer review.

Parent and professional. Generous parental leave can be surprisingly beneficial for both parent and institution, contributing to longer-term research productivity and professional development.

Reward for review. An argument for a concerted push towards charging publishers for peer reviews, explaining why and how payment would work, and the implications for universities.

Impact of evaluation on research quality. Performance assessment deadlines could better reflect the variability in the pace of research across disciplines - but do assessment cycles themselves result in more inferior research and publications?

DORA takes aim at JIF. There's growing support internationally among research councils, funders and publishers for alternative models of research assessment that don't rely on journal impact factors.

Issues in early career research

Postdocs examined. 'The Postdoc Landscape' (Jaeger & Dinin, 2018), explores the landscape for postdocs, and offers ideas for organisations and individual supervisors to help postdocs achieve their potential. The US National Postdoctoral Association has also weighed in with its suggestions, especially on appointment processes, benefits and training, based on feedback from 130 postdoc employers.

Extending expertise. Models like BALSA and many university-linked consulting networks globally are demolishing perceptions that researchers seeking off-campus work are failed academics. Further case studies show what freelancing can offer researchers, often through online platforms.

The invisible supervisor. An erstwhile victim of a neglectful academic adviser speaks out on the widespread problem of 'fostering' graduate students.

All join hands? Interdisciplinary projects may be attractive to funders and essential to tackling large-scale research questions, but they bring challenges that can increase risks, effort and the demands of the publishing process.

Crowd-funded communication. Online magazine Lateral aims to give early-career researchers internationally a platform for developing their research communication skills, and pay them to do it.

Handy References

Online resources for mentors and mentees. A useful reference site drawing on mentoring-related material from across the Nature network.

Juggling journals. Choosing where to publish can be a bewildering process, but a new generation of web tools and services offer data to help researchers find a suitable, credible fit.

Personal press

Open to career success. Growth mindset, coachability - call it what you will, just don't ignore it.

Let go, and learn. The 'growth mindset' isn't magic, but it works - and there's too little of it in research, say the authors of a new book on happy academics.

The value of negative feedback. We're happier and perform better if we focus on our strengths, but knowing and confronting weaknesses may be the thing that keeps a career on track.

Growing by design. It is such a simple idea but so many successful people swear by this small addition to their schedule.

Serious Research

Groping for positives. Who’d have thought that dissertation acknowledgements could give so much away?!

PostdocTraining Update

Are you looking to add career planning to your institution’s training for PhD candidates? Would you like to run a pilot to see whether our Career Control for Researchers program would suit your candidates? 

We have developed an easily implemented pilot process to test Career Control quickly and cost-effectively, and get your students’ own feedback on this training’s value and suitability.


We hope you find this brief news digest helpful.
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