On Thursday 21 May, Beth Hellen (@phdgeek) ran an #ECRchat about acquiring new skills. The topic elicited a lot of discussion around the subject, with lots of good general peer to peer advice about the skills needed as a Phd student, postdoc and further on into an ECR’s caareer.
The storify can be found at https://storify.com/PhdGeek/ecrchat-on-aquiring-new-skills
The next live #ECRchat is Thursday 21 May at 20:00-21:00 in the UK (BST), 21:00-22:00 in Europe (CET), 15:00-16:00 in New York (EST), 12:00-13:00 in Vancouver (PST). This chat will be hosted by Beth Hellen, a postdoc at the University of Sheffield. You can find out more about her from her academia.edu account.
Learning is something integral to our lives as Early Career Researchers, but once your formal education is over, how easy is it to identify and learn new skills?
This #ECRchat will explore the types of skills we think it is important for ECRs to learn, how easy it is to access ways to improve these skills (information, courses, mentors etc.) and whether we can do anything as a community to help each other learn new skills.
A small but enthusiastic chat took place on November 13th on the topic of Leadership and the ECR. After coming up with a very long wish list for what it meant to be a leader in academia, we thought about the qualities that our leadership models displayed, and what this meant about the variety of possible leadership styles. There was less clarity about how ECRs can / should move towards leadership roles in different disciplines, especially given the need to balance individual research with other activities at the crucial early career stage. It was generally agreed that we could benefit from a further #ECRchat with someone already in a leadership position, for example an AHRC Leadership Fellow. Most interesting of all, though, was the observation that – based on the low number of participants – ECRs seemed uncomfortable talking about the desire to lead in such a public forum: if we really are expected to display leadership at every stage of our career, this is surely something that we need to address.
#ECRchat on Leadership and the ECR was lead by Jess Goodman. A storify of the chat can be found here: https://storify.com/GoodmanJess/leadership-and-the-ecr
The next live #ECRchat is Thursday 13 November at 20:00-21:00 in the UK (GMT), 21:00-22:00 in Europe (CET), 15:00-16:00 in New York (EST), 12:00-13:00 in Vancouver (PST). This chat will be hosted by Jess Goodman, a Junior Research Fellow in French at Clare College, Cambridge. She can be found on Twitter @GoodmanJess, and you can learn more about her research here.
Leadership and the ECR
As a doctoral student, I undertook what I considered to be ‘leadership’ activities: organizing postgrad seminars and conferences, sitting on committees, and so on. Eighteen months out of my PhD, and now a ‘grown up’ researcher at Cambridge, I’m starting to take on similar tasks, but the stakes seem altogether higher: those with whom I’m interacting are senior academics, there’s not always a supervisor to turn to when I’m making a decision, and as leadership becomes yet another ‘desirable competency’, it seems we’re only expected to display more and more of it in order to secure that elusive permanent post.
I’m interested in thinking with fellow ECRs about what it means to be a leader in academia, how research leadership might differ from management or administrative leadership, how the ECR can negotiate the transition to a position of leadership, the pitfalls of working within multiple hierarchies, the extent to which these questions vary between disciplines, and the sort of guidance or training that is available on this issue.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this and more – see you then!