This blog comes to you from the interdisciplinary Researcher Professional Development team at the University of Sheffield. We’ll be updating on researcher issues, national news and trends, key achievements for the team, and other things that research staff, and staff development professionals will find of interest.

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Senior Managing Editor, British Dental Journal (@The_BDJ) and BDJ Open, Springer Nature

Approximate salary range for your type of role: ~ £35 to £50k. Starting salary in scientific publishing: around £27-32k depending on role level

Ruth Doherty headshot.jpgI never knew what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’ – to be honest I still don’t! But when I had to make decisions along the way I always found it difficult to narrow down to just one thing – so for example, in my Leaving Cert in Ireland I chose a mix of humanities, business and science subjects to keep my options open. When I have been forced to focus, for example during the latter stages of my chemistry degree, I really missed learning about different things. I think that’s why I enjoy working in publishing – no day is the same. My current role provides me with the opportunity to use lots of different skills, to keep learning and also to meet interesting people.

How did I get here?

I did a PhD in organometallic chemistry (on complexes with phosphacyclahexones in case you are desperate to know) in Bristol, finishing in the lab in 2006 and submitting my thesis in 2007. At the same time as writing up I was lucky enough to get a graduate position at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Cambridge as a Technical Editor, working on a number of different journals. Publishing meant that I could use my chemistry knowledge and training outside the lab. The role involved working on all the stages of a journal article following acceptance, right through to publication. I was predominantly copy-editing physical and inorganic chemistry articles, and applying journal style to them, as well as publishing issues.

Next, in the same year, an opportunity arose to make a sideways move to become an Assistant Editor on the inorganic chemistry team at the RSC. This was around the time I submitted my PhD thesis allowing me to get my evenings and weekends back which was a relief. As an Assistant Editor I was responsible for the pre-acceptance stages in the life of an article. This meant commissioning content, attending conferences to promote the journals and meet authors, choosing referees for articles once submitted and making decisions on whether or not they were suitable for publication on the basis of the reports. I also dealt with Associate Editors, academics based externally who were making decisions on papers and running the peer review process for a proportion of submissions. I really enjoyed the people side of things and there was a nice mix of strategic work and more routine tasks, which can be therapeutic!

It’s worth saying at this point that the way in which journals are run and the particular roles within publishing vary greatly. So even those that have the same job title, e.g. Assistant Editor or Publisher, can vary greatly in the day-to-day work involved and levels of responsibility. It all depends how the journals are set up – so a Production Editor role may involve copy-editing and even layout of an article on a page at one journal, and at another it might have a more administrative/managerial emphasis whereby you find yourself supervising the outsourcing of article editing to a team based overseas and organising the processes etc. on how this is done rather than doing the editing yourself. These roles can vary even within a particular publishing house, not just between companies. So I’d advise that you keep an eye on the job description and tasks, not just the title, in job adverts so you can make sure the role appeals to you.

After a year and a bit as an Assistant Editor, I was promoted to Deputy Editor of the same journal portfolio. The promotion opportunity came via a maternity role and I would always advise someone to take advantage of temporary opportunities such as maternity cover and secondment roles to help you to get higher level and/or different experience. I found this really helped me to advance my career, particularly as I didn’t have quite enough experience to move to the next step on a permanent basis at that time. As a Deputy Editor I still handled manuscripts but dealt a lot more with Editorial Boards and worked closely with the editor on the strategic development of the journals. This involved making commissioning plans, carrying out market analysis, delegating tasks, and working more closely with other teams in the company, e.g. marketing. It was really at this time when I realised how much variation was available to me through publishing.

After five years at the RSC, I moved to Nature Publishing Group (now Springer Nature) in London to become Managing Editor at the British Dental Journal, the official journal of the British Dental Association. I made this move mainly because I wanted to gain experience in working for a different publisher. It was also a promotion that allowed me to move to London, where I had always wanted to live, for a while at least. This new position allowed me to continue working in publishing but also to try out a completely different subject area: dentistry. This was a challenge but I was amazed to discover just how much of what I had learnt at the RSC was transferable. This role involves people management – and all the recruitment, training and development involved there – as well as even more strategy and policy work, editorial board management, gap analysis and setting up new journals. I’m incredibly lucky with the BDJ that we have the chance to try out new things – so recently we have been experimenting with video content, and the extensive front half in the journal affords me the chance to write occasionally too. It’s the sort of job I like as it provides me with the freedom to make it my own.

Some career tips for publishing from me:

  • Grab your chances but equally you don’t have to say yes to everything! Take on what you enjoy when it’s possible.
  • If you want to move in to a field or move up within it, speak to colleagues or peers doing the jobs you might be interested in – they might give you more of an idea of what you would be doing and how to get to where you want to go. Sometimes they might even think of you when they are recruiting and give you a leg up!
  • Technology and marketing skills are increasingly important in publishing and media. It will certainly help to have some insight into these areas.

Best of luck for the future!

Where can researchers look for jobs like yours? Publisher’s own webpages and jobs boards (The Guardian, Nature Jobs), publishing recruitment agencies (e.g. Atwood Tate, Morgan Healy, Inspired Selection. etc )

 What professional/accrediting bodies, or qualifications are relevant to where you work? Generally for STM Publishing a science or medical degree (often PhD) required. Association of Learned and Society Publishers (@alpsp) and the International Association of STM Publishers (@STMAssoc) might have useful information.

‘Talking shop’ has probably never had a pleasant connotation. Think of those people who can’t let work go at non-work events; or situations or organisations where lots of talking takes place but no decision is ever made and nothing gets done.  Talking shop or “professional conversation“, to give it a more scholarly gloss, is an invaluable – and often overlooked – source of learning and development in our careers.

Um picture

A little preparation can make conversations more constructive and less awkward. Photo: M. Gillie, Port of Hull.

Conversation is a little like breathing –  so involuntary, so necessary to life that we usually never stop to think about it. Take a moment now to reflect on an unplanned professional conversation you’ve had with someone in your department recently – a grabbing-a-coffee, caught-in-corridor or standing-in-the-photocopier queue chat.

Who was it with? What was the topic? Which of you introduced it? Did it involve a story with a critical incident*? Does anything stand out in terms of the language used, emotions expressed (or held back), tone of voice? What was the balance of listening, speaking and questioning between you and your colleague? Were there any digressions or changes of subject? What were the implications of these? Looking back, do you think the conversation had an impact on your thoughts about the topic? Do you think there were missed opportunities to learn something or help your colleague to learn?

Conversational analysis has a formal, rigorous research methodology of its own; these questions are simply to stimulate reflective thinking about how professional conversation fits into your working and learning life. For those in mentoring or management roles, becoming more reflective and self-aware of professional conversation can support and strengthen these relationships – helping others to become better at learning from ‘talking shop’.

To find out more about having better more effective conversations at work, start with these:

Vitae (2015) A brief guide to career conversations with research staff. (seeing it from your supervisor’s/PI’s/mentor’s point of view a can help you become better at managing conversations, too).

Haigh, N. (2006) Every day conversation as a context for professional learning and development.  International Journal for Academic Development.10 (1), 3-16.

Hirsch, W., Jackson, C. and Kidd, J.M. (2012) Straight talking: Effective career discussions at work. CRAC.

Sarangi, S. and Roberts, C. (1999) Talk, work and institutional order: discourse in medical, mediation and management settings. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

*This page is due to be replaced soon, but it’s probably the most helpful definition of a critical incident I’ve ever come across: http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/medicine/reflective/2.xml

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job Title and Company:  Regulatory Affairs & Product Registration Officer, Randox Laboratories Ltd.

Approximate salary range for your type of role: Negotiable, relative to experience. The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) has a useful salary calculator that you can use as a starting guide.

Dr Amber Glanfield.jpg

Towards the latter half of my PhD candidature I had become fairly sure that a career in academia wasn’t something I wanted to pursue long-term. I enjoyed lab work and being a part of the scientific process but I didn’t harbour dreams of being a Professor and wasn’t so keen on the grant funding-cycle battles that seem part of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Periodically, I mention on this blog the University’s HR Excellence in Research Award.

As an institution, this is our collective statement and plan of action in regards to continually enhancing the research environment, particularly in relation to research staff.

One of the actions in the institution’s HR Excellence in Research Award action plan, mirrored in the University’s Athena SWAN action plan, is that Unconscious Bias workshops are made available across the institution. Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Research Information Analyst, Research Services, University of Sheffield

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £30 to £42k

IMAG5648.jpgGrowing up, I had decided that I wanted to become a medical doctor; however, work experience stints in the local A&E and nursing home showed me that I was actually more interested in the underlying science of medicine. This led me to read Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, further cementing my love of science, and inspiring me to undertake a PhD to get right to the cutting edge of scientific research. Read the rest of this entry »

You might already  know that next Tuesday, October 10th, is recognised by the World Health Organsation as World Mental Health Day, and this year the focus is on mental health in the workplace.

Academic research can be both enormously rewarding and enormously challenging;  82% of researchers who responded to the 2017 Postgraduate Researcher Experience Survey stated that they were satisfied with their research degree programme, yet research by RAND Europe found that more than 40% of postgraduate students felt depression symptoms, emotional or stress-related problems or high levels of stress. Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Challenge Driven Support Manager, Research Services, University of Sheffield

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £40-£54k

Like many people of my generation, my career pathway feels more like a dandelion seed wafting about in the breeze waiting for a gust of wind to find a place to settle before pushing out roots. Undoubtedly this doesn’t sound like a well-planned venture by my younger self and even now I’m a tiny bit embarrassed to admit just how I landed in my current role. I’ll start with a description of what I do between nine till five(ish) and highlight some of the reasons why I’m now not an academic. Read the rest of this entry »

In the last few weeks, university staff who are members of the USS pension scheme have faced further uncertainty about the future of their pension. A somewhat contentious valuation by USS has led to talk of a significant deficit and the need for increased contributions from members and employers, a possible reduction in the benefits and perhaps ultimately, the loss of the defined benefit element of the scheme (the bit that means your pension is based on your salary and the number of years you’ve paid in rather than how well a pot of money has performed in the markets). Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Doctoral Training Partnership Manager, and Graduate School Manager

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £30-£42k

Emily is on LinkedIn and Twitter @DrEmilyG

20170920_083843.jpg Read the rest of this entry »

As a rehea logosearcher developer I often support early career researchers who are interested in applying for a fellowship with the Higher Education Academy which allows an individual to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism to learning and teaching in higher education. A key challenge researchers have is to understand all the different opportunities that count as relevant experience that can be used in an application. Many initially think that teaching experience is simply standing in front of a lecture theatre full of undergraduate students and that if they haven’t previously gained that experience then they can’t demonstrate teaching in a University. This isn’t the case as relevant teaching comes in all forms for a HEA fellowship including delivering tutorials, seminars, small group facilitation, research supervision, essay setting and marking, mentoring, online module development etc. etc. Read the rest of this entry »