Posted in Engagement, Recap

Recap: #ECRchat 20 February 2014 on Public Engagement

This discussion focused on “Public Engagement and the ECR” and was hosted by Deborah Brian and Tseen Khoo.

In this chat we covered the following questions relating to public engagement

  1. There’s been a lot of attention on academic engagement lately – do you think academics do enough to engage the public?
  2. Given the general consensus that there needs to be more quality engagement, what are your best tips for effective engagement?
    2a. What’s the best way for an ECR to get started in public research engagement?
  3.  Should ECRs be required to engage, and what might some of the barriers be to this?
  4. How do you balance time spent on public engagement with imperatives for more traditional forms of academic ‘productivity’?
  5. How do you start to engage from early on and learn skills?
  6. What do you see as the best outcome(s) of academic engagement?

You can find the answers to these questions and lots more discussion in this Storify of the chat.

Posted in Recap

Recap: First #ECRchat of 2014, 6th February

This week’s chat was hosted by Katie Wheat, co-founder of #ECRchat. Katie is a former postdoc in the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University and now works as a project manager at Vitae.

This week, #ECRchat returned after a long winter (summer for those down under) break. In a very bust chat, we were joined by postdocs, independent researchers, research fellows and more, to chat about plans and worries for the year ahead. You can view the #Storify summary of the chat here.

We will be resuming the usual #ECRchat schedule of fortnightly chats, alternating between the UK morning/Australia evening chat time and the UK evening/USA daytime chat time. You can view the full schedule in our Google calendar. We are also looking for hosts and topic suggestions to fill the calendar for the coming weeks and months, so please consider becoming an #ECRchat host!

Looking forward to chatting with you all again on 20th February.


#ECRchat will be back on February 20 (new fortnightly schedule here). That’s 10:00-11:00 in the UK (GMT), 11:00-12:00 in Europe (CET), and 21:00-22:00 in Australia (EDT).

Posted in Professional development and Identity, Recap, Support and healthy working

Recap: Work-Life Balance – a joint ECR Network and #ECRchat event, 5 December 2013

For this event we teamed up with ECR Network by RiAus (@Ri_Aus) an Adelaide-based series of ECR-specific events, covering professional development and career topics specifically for early career researchers, to discuss one of the most often requested topics for ECR Network – how to manage a work-life balance in research.

We heard from two high profile researchers who have navigated the work-life balance, Tanya Monro and Corey Bradshaw.

You can watch their discussion here:

And view the storified tweets here.

Posted in Recap, Support and healthy working

Recap: #ECRchat on how to find and utilize a mentor, 21 November 2013

The full recap blog is available as part of this storify by Dr Joanne Kamens, Executive Director of Addgene, a nonprofit dedicated to helping scientists around the world share plasmids. Before joining Addgene she worked for 15 years at BASF/Abbott and 4 years in biotech at RXi Pharmaceuticals.  Dr. Kamens has been raising advocating for diversity in science since 1998 upon realizing that an entire week had gone by at work and not one other woman had been at any meeting she attended.  She founded the current Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science and served as Director of the Healthcare Business Women’s Boston Group Mentoring Program for 3 years.  In 2010, Dr. Kamens received the Catalyst Award from the Science Club for Girls for longstanding dedication to empowering women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  In 2013 she became a Fellow of the Massachusetts Academy of Science and was recognized as a PharmaVoice 100 Most Influential.  She speaks widely on career development topics in person and via Webinar to STEM trainees.

Posted in Recap, The job search

Recap: #ECRChat on The Academic Job Search, 7th November 2013

Today’s chat was hosted by Claire Evans (@bookworm_29), who is an early career researcher who completed her PhD at Cardiff University in March 2013.  The chat was about ‘The academic job search’ and aimed to demystify the process of applying for academic jobs and potentially generated ideas for #ECRchats in the future. 

Q1: What do we mean by an ‘academic job’? What types of jobs do finishing PhDers & ECRs look for?

  • The main two types of jobs discussed were lectureships and post-doc positions, with one participant commenting that the lectureship is the dream job, but any research position will do!
  • There was some debate as to what type of job was more dominant following the completion of a PhD, with the suggestion that it might (as often is the case) depend on the discipline.
  • Mention of jobs outside of academia (i.e. independent researcher opportunities and jobs in industry) is a reminder that post-PhD, people need not limit themselves to academia

Q2: How do you find academic jobs? Does anyone have any recommendations for good sources?

Several options were suggested by chatters including:

  • University Career/HR Pages and RSS feeds
  • Specialist mailing lists
  • Social networking sites (e.g. Twitter)
  • Professional forums
  • Developing and tapping into relevant networks
  • Taking on part-time positions in departments to broaden your chances and networks

Q3: What sorts of issues do ECRs face when looking for academic jobs? Does anyone have any stories they are happy to share?

Participants raised the following points/questions as part of the discussion:

  • Geographical location (willingness/ability or not of being able to relocate)
  • Family commitments (inc. difficulty of your partner to find employment as well if you were to relocate)
  • In the current climate there are simply not enough jobs for completing PhD students
  • Importance of having a good track record, being known and demonstrating potential
  • Three key questions that arose in the discussion were:
  1. Where to start?
  2. To consider what your long-term aims are in academia (as this will influence the types of jobs you will be looking for)
  3. How to turn part-time employment into a full-time career?

Q4: So let’s say you’ve managed to find an opening: What are some of the ‘do’s and don’ts when making an application for an academic job?

This question generated a lot of ideas from chatters including:

  • Be sensitive to the culture around you (one participant said that this might be especially relevant in cultures where being modest is important; see point below)
  • Balance being humble and selling yourself.  Some chatters talked of the importance of selling yourself to potential employees and being honest about your success.
  • Tailor the application to the job and selection criteria
  • If you are unsure of the above, one participant suggested that you could directly ask employers what they are looking for and how you will be evaluated at interview.
  • Email and ask ‘nice questions’ before applying
  • Understand and acknowledge the expectations of the university, potential collaboration, and where your research fits in with research groups in the department
  •  Be clear about your career path and ‘let them know who you are and what motivates you’
  • Publish
  • Don’t lie

Q5: Lot’s of great advice here. Before we end: Are there any other unanswered questions or ideas that you have about the job hunt?

At this point in the discussion chatters continued to discuss Question 4, but three particular points/questions that arose were:

  1. Keep an eye out for opportunities even if you are not specifically looking for a job (it’s always good to know what is out there)
  2. How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
  3. When should you start applying for opportunities?

One response to this was that, if the right opportunities arise then it is always worth applying.

Thank you to everyone for such an engaging chat and to the #ECRChat team for letting me host.  The full conversation, including many useful links that were shared, is available via storify.