Posted in Collegiality, Professional development and Identity, Recap

Recap: #ECRchat on International networks, 12 September 2013

Hosted by: Dr Ellen Boeren (tenure track in education) – University of Edinburgh (UK)

This chat on the 12th of September was about establishing and maintaining international networks. You can read the tweets here. As usual, we had an interesting mix of ECR’s, of whom some already had international networks in place, while others were still working towards setting up international circles. Nowadays, in a globalised world, ECR’s are under pressure to become world leading scholars and expectations are that work gets published and presented within international circles, mainly through peer reviewed international journals and leading conferences.

During the chat, we explored this issue of international networks based on a specific question list:

Q1. How would you describe your current international networks and how did you get the opportunity to establish them?

Q2. How important is having an international network for you, in your current field of research? Can you name concrete benefits you achieved through having an international network in place?

Q3. How much is your current university encouraging you to go to conferences or to go abroad for a visiting scholarship?

Q4. Is travelling still needed in times of the world wide web and social media, what about networks without meeting irl?

Q5. Does the focus on internationalisation in academia disadvantage certain groups of academics, e.g. those constrained to travel etc.?

Q6. What will be your concrete action to establish or maintain your international networks?

Below is a brief overview of answers to specific questions, but the entire chat can be consulted in Storify.

Q1. How would you describe your current international networks and how did you get the opportunity to establish them?

The nature of work seems to be related to having an international network in place. Scholars working (or having worked) on international project, e.g. cooperation between various partner institutions, or by researching ‘objects’ or ‘respondents’ in various parts of the world, got opportunities to establish international networks. Other ways of establishing and maintaining networks is done by going to international conferences, working as a visiting scholar in another country or taking up a post-doctoral fellowship or new job in another country. Joining international societies is also being mentioned as being helpful in setting up international networks.

In general, it seems that ECRs might feel overwhelmed by meeting new people at conferences and that interactions in small groups might take away the shyness to interact with international colleagues.

Q2. How important is having an international network for you, in your current field of research? Can you name concrete benefits you achieved through having an international network in place?

There is a general consensus that having an international network in place is regarded as important and helpful. There does not seem to be a significant difference between scholars in different countries or different fields. Benefits mentioned include: working with the best people across the globe, access to larger pool of data, having contacts that might be of help in landing a new job, co-authorship on publications, being able to put international references on job applications, name being recognised among readership.

Q3. How much is your current university encouraging you to go to conferences or to go abroad for a visiting scholarship?

Travel budget is mention by various chat participants, although some ECRs seem to have a bigger budget for going to conferences than others. Quite often, travel budgets are included within grant budgets, which might make it difficult for those who are not involved in externally funded research, as internal university budgets are often limited. Apart from going to conferences, Erasmus teacher mobility grants are mentioned, as well as the added value of doing a stay as a visiting scholar at another university abroad. Apart from going abroad ourselves, several ECRs mentioned attracting visiting scholars or international guest speakers to the home university. It is also worthwhile to explore whether conference organisors have travel bursary’s in place for ECRs.

Apart from discussing financial opportunities in going to conferences, discussions were going on about the type of conferences ECRs should attend. In general, chat participants seem to balance between bigger general conferences versus smaller subject specific meetings.

Q4. Is travelling still needed in times of the world wide web and social media, what about networks without meeting irl?

There was a general concensus that meeting in real life is still important and is an added value on top of maintaining contacts through social media. These social media might be a starting point in deciding who to meet or a follow-up medium in keeping the ball rolling after initial face-to-face contact, but establishing common ground or kicking off ideas might still profit from having face-to-face meetings. ECRs also mentioned that #ECRchat is functioning as an international network in which people have never met in real life.

A few chat participants mentioned that online conferences are being held within their field. Furthermore, the idea of using hashtags at conference is encouraged.

Q5. Does the focus on internationalisation in academia disadvantage certain groups of academics, e.g. those constrained to travel etc.?

Specific research topics are limited to specific local contexts, which might make it more different to disseminate research output in international circles such as conferences and journals. Also those who are not very proficient in English are probably disadvantaged, and especially those in developing countries. Furthermore, the group discussed the gender imbalance at conferences and warnings are sent out in how the lack of travelling and maintaining international networks might be penalised in promotions etc. On the other hand, online environments give more opportunities nowadays to follow what is going on your field of research.

Q6. What will be your concrete action to establish or maintain your international networks?

Most ECRs had actions planned, such as attending international conferences, workshops or meetings. Others mentioned maintaining profiles on international network sites such as academia.edu. Moving to another country to start a new job was mentioned as establishing a new international network as well.

In general, this was a successful chat with participants from various backgrounds. All seemed to accept the need of having international networks in place, preferably with some face-to-face elements included, while social media are valuable in establishing and maintaining these networks as well.

-Ellen

Advertisements

Author:

Academic, political tragic. Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s