Archives for the month of: February, 2017

Dear doctoral supervisor,

“I was blissfully unaware how long it would take me to write up. To be honest I would have preferred a more clear marker from my supervisor, or from the department, saying stop doing experiments now and write! I was expecting someone to say when I had enough data, because I never felt I did, so instead I kept going much longer than I needed in the lab because I didn’t know how much was enough. I feel pretty annoyed about that.”

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s 246 days ‪until the 31st of October. I mention this date as we have around 1100 third year doctoral students whose theses are due on that date*. With 8 months to go, now is a perfect time to make sure that your thesis writers know it’s time to spend some time each week — an hour a day, every day? — writing. 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 Services Librarian, University of Sheffield

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £25,000 – 30,000

@OpenAccessShef

Beth.jpgIn a world of fake news, and politicians trying to supress scientific information for their own agendas, I can’t think of any job I could be doing that would be more important than working to promote open access to research, which is what I do as a Research Services Librarian. Our department used to be split into open access librarians and data management librarians, but we’ve recently all taken up the same title to create a cohesive front in scholarly communications. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest post on the University of Edinburgh IAD4RESEARCHERS blog

iad4researchers

This is our first guest post on iad4researchers and I’m delighted that Dr Kay Guccione (@kayguccione) at the University of Sheffield took the time to share her perspectives on the valuable role postdocs play in supervision. Unless there are factual errors I won’t be making any edits to our guest posts, so their views are their own.

Postdocs view experience in supervision, teaching and learning as core to scoring that academic career (Akerlind 2005). And post-doctoral research staff are actually very active in teaching and learning*. I believe that post-docs are a really important but often under-recognised group of teachers in research intensive universities. Development of an academic sense of self is in part a result of having the right formal institutional responsibilities and resources (McAlpine et al., 2013) yet, post-docs aren’t often included directly in university Learning & Teaching strategies, or seen as key assets with specific skills, position, and the right experience…

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I was appalled by two recent reports in the news of women treating other women appallingly. Women in very professional roles behaving very badly!

Mother ‘told to prove lactation’ at Frankfurt airport

A top police officer mocked a colleague’s ‘boob job

Yes the ‘mean girls’ are alive and well and now employed in roles with authority! 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: Volunteering & Participation Director, National Trust

@HelenTimbrell @nationaltrust

Company web page: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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I decided to do a PhD some way into my career which until then had broadly covered learning, development and community volunteering. I did the PhD as a career development opportunity, but mostly because I had a genuine curiosity about the research area. I also wanted to do it as a personal achievement and to cross it off my bucket list. Read the rest of this entry »

On 6 February 2017 a group of university researchers ventured out into the Peak District but this was no ‘walk in the park’. This was one of the biggest cement research groups visiting the biggest cement plant in the UK.

HOPE Cement Works is situated in the centre of the Peak District National Park (Derbyshire) it is currently part of the Breedon Group and employs 165 people. It produces approximately 1.5 million tonnes of cement per year(approximately 0.05% of the world’s cement production!). Cement manufacture is the world’s third largest contributor of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which promote climate change by gradually warming our planet; these industrial emissions are exceeded only by electricity generation and deforestation. Cement production has such a high carbon dioxide count mainly because cement is the second most consumed commodity in the world after water (which is also mixed with cement to make it set and harden). Due to this large demand for cement, there is a lot of pressure on the industry to reduce its environmental burden. Read the rest of this entry »

If you are a researcher in the early stages of your career and you want to pursue a career in academia, you’ll need to start thinking about building your funding profile.  Starting off with small pots of money gives you the confidence to navigate the application processes and also gives you a track record of your ability to win money.  This will be of benefit to you in the future when you are looking to write larger grant proposals.

With this in mind I’d like to share with you how the Think Ahead: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (TA:SURE) scheme can assist with enhancing your funding profile.  I’ve previously written about how the scheme is designed to give early career researchers the experience of managing a project from start to finish.  Part of this process is recruiting an undergraduate student and then working with the student to apply for externally funded vacation bursaries.  The student receives a valuable income over the course of the summer project and the ECR, in their role as supervisor, achieves funding which can be highlighted on their CV. 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: National Fuel Quality Manager, Stobart Biomass Products Limited

image1.jpgAround 6 months before I finished my PhD, I knew that I wanted to do something different once I had finished. I wanted a faster pace of work, more defined targets with timescales, more structure to my work. I had also spent a long time at University and I just wanted to experience something else. I hadn’t had the best supervision experience towards the end of my PhD and I probably let this cloud my judgement more than I should have – I really thought “life would be greener on the other side”, I specifically remember thinking that all the machines in all the laboratories in industry wouldn’t need fixing the whole time! Read the rest of this entry »

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In May 2016 I posted about the launch of a research project I am collaborating on with Billy Bryan (@BillyB100) looking into perceptions of value in the PhD.

The study has progressed really well over the last 9 months, we have now completed two phases: our survey for current PhD students got 200+ responses, and we also did 22 in depth interviews with PhD graduates across a range of career types.

Analysing all this, we are beginning to characterise and understand some concepts of value that apply to doctoral study, and the factors which affect how value is judged. We wrote about it here in an article for Research Fortnight, which in summary says:

Post-Phd, graduates looking back on their time studying tend to value the professional competencies they gained (e.g. critical decision-making, resilience and negotiation), the friendship and professional networks they built, and their personal capacity to understand the world, far more highly than they value the technical research specialisms they gained. Graduates who had pursued a range of experiences and extracurricular activities perceived they got more value than those who hadn’t, and people keep using their PhD networks to their advantage even after leaving the academy.

Based on these early exciting findings we are adding an additional data collection phase — an online survey for doctoral graduates in all career paths, who are up to 10 years post-PhD — and we would like help circulating the call to participate. Please invite your friends and colleagues.

This new survey asks about value of the doctorate over time since graduation and focuses in on personal accounts of value at work, social value, personal value e.g. how we interact with the big questions, the problems, and challenges we face. The survey link is here and the participant information sheet (showing we have ethical approval) is here.

The survey will take around 10-15 minutes to complete  (depending on how much you want to tell us!) and responses will be anonymous so participants cannot be identified.

Ultimately, we hope that the findings of this work will raise awareness of the emerging issues affecting satisfaction with the doctoral learning experience even beyond the PhD. We aim to provide meaningful new guidance and support for students, supervisors, and universities.

Please spread the word and share this post!

 

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the post tags 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.

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Job title and company: Senior Performance Analyst, Department for Work & Pensions

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £30,000 – 40,000

Ed on LinkedIn. Ed on v i s t a mentoring.

My early career was pretty uninteresting as academic backgrounds go, moving directly from my degree in Microbiology, to a PhD, to two post-doc contracts. I did relatively well academically but I stayed at The University of Sheffield for my whole career, only moving departments for my last contract. Obviously going against the pressure to move around constantly in your work. Read the rest of this entry »