Recap: #ECRchat 26 June 2014 on Planning your Career

The live chat on 26th June 2014 was hosted by Kerstin Fritsches. After a 12-year research career in neuroscience, Kerstin now runs PostdocTraining, an independent organisation specialising in career development and mentoring for early career researchers, including hands-on support with career planning. She blogs on her company’s website www.postdoctraining.com and can be also be found on Twitter @PostdocTraining and on LinkedIn.

As an early career researcher, how do you plan your career? Given short-term contracts and tough competition for jobs and funding, do you even bother to develop a plan? The questions posed in this #ECRchat focused on finding out people’s approach to planning and good ideas to use for your own planning. You can read the full discussion in this storify, but here is the discussion in a nutshell:

Q1. Do you have a career plan? Why? Or why not?

The extent of participants’ plans varied, but a number of people mentioned that they did not plan because they were trying just ‘to stay alive’ and were frustrated by their plans having to change due to circumstances. ‘Planned happenstance’ was mentioned as a desirable strategy where, with a good idea of your strengths and preferences, you can recognize or create opportunities and ‘lucky‘ breaks.

Q2. How long do you plan into the future and what’s your reason for your chosen timeframe?

A range of timeframes between 3 and 5 years were mentioned, but people also used external timelines such as those determined by the Research Excellence Framework (UK) or project deadlines. Others had just achieved a milestone or changed career direction and were holding off planning the next step for the time being.

Q3. A. What tools or processes do you use to help you plan? B. Who do you turn to for help with planning?

Again, the UK’s Research Excellence Framework as well as funding guidelines were mentioned as guiding tools, as well as institution-specific success indicators.

Finding mentors was a big part of the discussion and there were some great examples of finding unexpected mentors, such as a journal editor who proved to be a great help. Going outside your immediate environment to look for mentors was mentioned and the advice here was to build a mentoring team, with a range of supporters helping with different issues. Another important point was that mentoring relationships do take time to develop.

Q4: What set-backs have threatened your plans and how do you deal with them?

Not getting funding needed and not having contracts extended were mentioned as the main set-backs for ECRs. The main coping mechanism was to take a little time to get over the shock and disappointment and then move on and try again. There was resilience in spades among those on the chat!

Q5: How do you decide on a ‘plan B’ in case ‘plan A’ does not work out?

The only concrete Plan B mentioned was teaching, but several people made the point that you need to think very thoroughly about what you like and what matters to you when deciding on a plan B.

This tweet was a great final word on the topic:

 

Coming up: Live Grant Writing Workshop by @RiAus on #ECRchat, 24 July 2014

Be the grant writing star: Grant Writing Workshop

Thursday 24 July, 5:15pm ACST (5:45pm AEST, 8:45am BST, or convert your timezone)

One of South Australia’s most successful scientists reveals the secrets of grant writing in this interactive and hands on workshop. With Tanya Monro, Dale Godfrey and Jeremy Thompson

Tanya Monro (Director of IPAS, University of Adelaide) and colleagues return for this year’s Grant Writing Workshop. It’s one of the most requested subjects for ECR Network events, and it’s one of the most important parts of moving towards developing and advancing your research career. Be the grant writing star.

As with all 2014 ECR Network events, this event will also be livestreamed and will be discussed on twitter using #ECRChat.

http://riaus.org.au/events/grant-writing-workshop-2014/

ECR Network events are held at the Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide, and are supported by University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Recap: #ECRchat 12th June 2014 on Publishing as an ECR

The topic of this discussion was Publishing as an ECR, led by Claire Evans

Publishing’ regularly crops up in #ECRchats so I thought it might be useful to have a chat dedicated entirely to this topic and the idea paid off as it turned out to be a very lively discussion. You can revisit the chat in this storify, but to recap the main highlights:

Q1: When to publish? What are the advantages/disadvantages of publishing during a PhD versus after a PhD?

• One of the main disadvantages discussed was the time it takes to publish, but advantages included having support of your supervisor, feedback and career development.

Q2: How do you select a journal? What should you consider?

• Tips included checking the scope of the journal and previous editions. This includes metrics of the journal, such as, but not limited to, impact.

• Also, use articles that you have referenced as a guide.

Is open access something that should concern me as an ECR?

• Open access should be considered, especially in the UK, but the cost may need to be factored into any research plans.

“publishing is entering a scholarly conversation”

Q3: What are editors/reviewers looking for in a journal article?

Q4: Those with experience of publishing, how long has the process taken and is there anything you would have like to have known beforehand?

• The main thing learned about publishing is that it takes longer than expected. Usually up to 2 years from submission of abstract to final publication.

• Variable reviewer comments, but more often than not constructive.

• Reviewers in the chat reminded us that papers are reviewed in with good will and as part of the civic academic service, so it’s not surprising the process takes so long.

Q5/6: Future plans for publishing? Any further questions?

• Further questions linked to gaps in the chat, such as writing a book and further information about open access.

• Finally everyone shared their own plans for publishing.

Host biography:

This chat was hosted by Dr Claire Evans (@bookworm_29), who is currently an independent researcher working as an Associate Lecturer for The Open University in Wales.

Coming Up: #ECRchat on ‘Planning your career’, 26 June 2014

The next live #ECRchat is hosted by Kerstin Fritsches. After a 12-year research career in neuroscience   Kerstin now runs PostdocTraining, an independent organisation specialising in career development training and mentoring for postdocs. During her time as an ECR she became a big convert to the ideas and tools involved in being strategic about a research career. Career planning is now an important part of the training she provides, both online and in workshops she is running in Australia and Europe. Kerstin blogs on her company’s website www.postdoctraining.com and can be also be found on Twitter @PostdocTraining and on LinkedIn.

#ECRchat topic 26th June 2014: ‘Planning Your Career’

How do you plan your career as an Early Career Researcher? Is it even possible to plan effectively, given the low success rates for funding applications and competition for jobs? How do you strategize for what can feel as random as a lightning strike – for example that elusive opportunity to win your next job and to move on from the transitional postdoc stage?

What steps do you need to take to be strategic and create a career plan that works for you, whether it is within academia or beyond? What are good tools to use and who do you turn to for help with planning? How do you deal with set-backs and road blocks that threaten to ruin your plans? And do you have a ‘plan B’ in case ‘plan A’ does not work out?

Come and share your experiences and thoughts, and hear from others on this topic at the #ECRchat on Thursday 26 June, 8pm UK time (BST).

I look forward to hearing from you!

Kerstin

Recap: #ECRchat 29th May 2014 on Building and maintaining networks

The topic of this discussion was Building and maintaining networks as an ECR, led by Dr Lizzie Towl, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.

Building and Maintaining Networks

In the current research environment, it seems that “who you know” is becoming as important as “what you know.” Those special opportunities that might make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful job or funding application are often only accessible through networks. Networks are also very important for less material forms of support, too, and for finding out about the unwritten rules of research and academia. In this week’s ECR chat we discussed building, managing and maintaining networks. You can catch up with the chatter in this Storify.

Host Biography

By day, Dr Lizzie Towl assists PhD students with their professional development and research skills at Victoria University of Wellington, NZ; by night, she conducts research into Middle English literature and manuscripts. She aims to swap the two occupations around someday soon.

The next chat is on Thursday 12th June, UK/Aus timezones, hosted by Claire (@bookworm_29) on Publishing as an ECR.