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Two | 2016

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


Management matters

Fundraising: dollars and sense. A former VC advocates engaging with potential donors to secure benefits well beyond the money raised, including having to articulate a clear vision and strategy, and increasing an institution's influence.

Philanthropy extending its reach. A new partnership between US, UK and Portuguese private funding giants illustrates the way trans-national philanthropic programs are evolving, and offers significant funding opportunities for early career researchers.

What makes institutional ties work? The lead author of a study on the reasons for selecting partner universities and success factors in these relationships concludes that strategies for creating institutional links need to take personal intuition and emotion into account.

When managing researchers gets rough... The authors of a guide for research administrators and managers of researchers acknowledge the value of many idiosyncratic academics, but add some insurance with their 7 rules for managing the most challenging personalities. To minimise stress and damage from managing behavioural problems and terminations, managers and researchers also need to know their options, use the support available and follow the rules of hiring and firing with care.

Social media - something for everyone. The Guardian's HE Network has come up with a list of its favourite blogs and Twitter accounts covering life in academia. Whether you need reassurance ('You're not alone...'), a good laugh or updates on university matters, there's something for you here.

Issues in early career research

Hedging career bets. The results of a US-based longitudinal study of 6000 PhD students suggest a big proportion of PhDs accept postdoc positions by default or as a holding step, and despite widespread awareness of the limited prospects of securing faculty positions. The authors argue there needs to be more active career planning from much earlier in researchers' careers, and better data in areas like researchers' aspirations and the value that non-academic employers attach to postdoctoral training.

Doctoral training back under the lens: A review of Australia's research training system has highlighted a need for reforms to post-graduate training to deliver more support for developing transferable skills and industry placements, following initiatives pursued in countries like the UK and Canada.

Postdoc outcomes study aims to be a model. The Uni of California has claimed a 'first' with a study of career outcomes for its postdocs, initiated in 2014. UC says the report offers "solid data to inform (postdocs') career decisions" and shape career development programs, and provides a methodology for others to adopt.

Structuring the research workforce for long-term sustainability. Recommendations are crystallising in the US about how to tackle 'hypercompetition' and a lack of career opportunities for aspiring researchers. The relatively conservative front-running ideas - including shorter training periods, more use of staff scientists and better career training - focus on the biomedical workforce but are just as relevant in other disciplines.

The case for full-time faculty. The UK's University & College Union has challenged the heads of higher ed. institutions over the increasing casualisation of staff, calling it "a source of shame for our universities" and seeking negotiations to improve conditions. Another contribution to the discussion explores one US university's success in using only full-time staff to teach first-year students. This builds on a lively wider debate about the pros, cons, integrity and practicalities of using non-tenure and part-time teaching staff, characterised by the catchphrase, 'my working conditions are students' learning conditions’.

Personal press

Are you a multipotentialite? Relief for those (many of us...) who struggle to find the ‘one calling’ in our careers. This Ted Talk and associated website explain why it’s perfectly OK to settle for many, rather than just one, calling.

The benefits of job-search buddies. A postdoc-turned-career support administrator explains how getting together with another 'lone wolf' delivers valuable structure and practical support for a successful job search.

Is it possible to manage email by engaging with it just once a week? This blog post of a busy person in a leadership position explains why and how. It might not work quite as he describes it in your role, but it looks like a worthwhile step in the right direction!

PostdocTraining Update

The second cycle for 2016 of our 8-week online Career Control for Researchers program is underway. This course helps early career researchers create a detailed, personalised career plan and includes a range of ‘virtual’ live events and interactive components to help identify career opportunities, clarify choices and focus on transferrable skills. It is particularly well suited for institutions with several campuses and students who cannot readily attend workshop-style training.

Please get in touch if you are interested in exploring the program for your own PhD students or early career researchers. The last cycle for this year starts on Monday 12 September 2016.

We hope you find this brief news digest helpful.
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