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Coming Up: #ECRchat on Leadership and the ECR, 13 Nov 2014

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!

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Coming Up: Transferable Skills for ECRs

The next live #ECRchat is Thursday 2 October at 11:00-12:00 in the UK (BST), 12:00-13:00 in Europe (CEST), 20:00 in Sydney (AEST). This chat will be hosted by Kerstin Fritsches (@postdoctraining)

You hear it a lot: “researchers need to develop transferrable skills” – but what exactly are transferrable skills and which ones do you need for careers within academia and outside? How do you go about developing these skills and demonstrate to prospective employers that you have them?

Join us for the live #ECR chat on Thursday 2nd October to find out and share your thoughts on the subject.

Host Biography

This #ECRchat will be 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 early career researchers around the world. Kerstin blogs on her company’s website and can be also be found on Twitter @PostdocTraining and on LinkedIn.

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What should the topic for 21st August’s chat be?

The next #ECRchat is on Thursday 21st August at 20:00-21:00 in the UK (BST), which is 21:00-22:00 in Europe (CEST), and 15:00-16:00 in New York (EST) and Fri 7am Auckland (NZST). This chat will be hosted by Donna Kridelbaugh (full bio below).


Please vote for your preferred chat topic (topic descriptions below):


The poll topic will be decided on Monday 18th August.

Donna Kridelbaugh (@science_mentor) holds an advanced degree in microbiology with over five years of postgraduate research and teaching experience in academic and government labs. Last year, she leaped over the institutional walls to start her own communications consulting business, providing writing, editing and career matchmaking services. In her spare time, she advocates for and writes about self-mentoring as a process for early-career professionals to learn how to be proactive and take charge of their own career management. This fall, she will also work for circus peanuts as an adjunct instructor but the value of expanding young minds is priceless. Learn more at http://ScienceMentor.Me.

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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 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:


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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.

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.