The start of the academic year is a good time for those of us who support the development of researchers to ask you ‘What’s missing?’ in the provision provided for training and career development support on offer.
If you’re a new PhD student just settling in then you’ve probably been thinking about what skills and experience you need to develop as part of your training needs analysis. If you’re later on in your PhD studies then you may well have been creating a new development plan for this academic year. For those of you who are further into your research career and are staff members you’ll most likely have had an annual appraisal recently where you were expected to highlight your development needs for the coming year. Read the rest of this entry »
Via twitter (@kayguccione) I came across this anonymous article yesterday. It adds to a growing recent batch of articles in various places about the value of a PhD for life outside the academy. It describes very well the stats on the likelihood of working in academia permanently, and makes a clear call to reposition the doctoral degree as preparation for whatever should come next (like your UG or Masters is), rather than an academic gauntlet to be run where only the fittest (most stubborn, and most burned out) survive. I am all for this, in fact it’s part of the work I do, getting researchers to broaden their awareness of careers beyond academia — see v i s t a, and v i s t a mentoring (alternatives are available in other institutions). However, yesterday’s article offers the opinion that people aren’t talking about this issue, describing a “universal silence on non-academic career options.” Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been working as an insider in research and academic staff mentoring programmes for a good fair bit now, and I’ve tried to anchor my work in the idea that mentoring is for any and all people who see a benefit to being part of the programme. There are also people for whom mentoring is not the right approach right now: perhaps it’s not the right time, maybe they haven’t got enough time to dedicate to such an involved form of development, or maybe they need a more specialist conversation (e.g. specific funding expertise, english language support, software training, careers service consultation, disability services, counselling services, HR specialists, occupational health etc). It’s my job to facilitate this understanding, and to signpost to alternative/complementary services.
Not signing up to the mentoring programme is therefore ok with me. Similarly I count it as a positive outcome if a potential mentee changes their mind after attending the induction session and decides that mentoring is just not what they thought, or not for them. Properly engaging people in their development is not about coercing them. No-one needs to be guilted into 3-6h critical career evaluation over a 6 month period. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been thinking a fair amount over the years about the writing process, whether in preparation for PhD sessions or through my own struggles. During the last couple of weeks, we have been running PhD inductions across the Faculty of Science, inviting some academics to share their experience of the writing process and receiving contributions from Katherine Clement, who is one of the new writers in residence working with undergraduate and PhD students, Postdocs, fellows and academics from the biological disciplines in our faculty.
“Becoming a researcher is…becoming a writer”
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The gang were stumped. Researchers kept joining the university and then vanished into thin air!
Was there some dark laboratory in the basement where they were all held captive and never saw the light of day again? It appeared some of them seemed to be able to escape to attend various development sessions but sadly some never did. Read the rest of this entry »