Archives for category: Lucy Lee

stress laptopWorking in academia, most of us don’t have the ability to hand work over to someone else when we need to take a break so that it all keeps ticking along. Typically after taking a week off with the kids for half term, I then get hit on the back of the head with a freezer block and get a lump the size of an egg and 2 days later come down with a throat infection as soon as I start back in the office.  In the time you are away the emails ridiculously build up and the to do list is getting longer and longer. We take breaks to avoid stress but in the process it often feels worse when you come back then when you went away. How on earth do you catch up on all this and not just end up rocking in the corner as the stress builds up? Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership is one of those Holy Grail skills that all researchers aspire to develop but often struggle to leadershipdemonstrate and give evidence of leadership experience on job applications or in interviews. There are lots of different ways to lead and just because you line manage someone, doesn’t mean you are acting as a leader. Other forms of leadership include; leading up (i.e. leading your supervisor, which in research is a very regular occurrence as you are the person who knows your research area as well as, if not better than your PI), self-leadership (which is self-explanatory and something researchers do on a daily basis) and lateral leadership which I want to cover below. Read the rest of this entry »

o-new-years-resolutions-facebookHappy New Year to everyone from the Think Ahead Team!

New Year is the time when many of us make those New Year resolutions. We aspire to put things in place to be better versions of ourselves, be it to start that diet (…again!), do more exercise so sign up to a gym, stop drinking/smoking, save money…

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jigsaw-missingThe 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 »

olympics imageI thought it was particularly apt with the current fantastic success for team GB at the Rio Olympics that I talk about ‘Going for gold’. Only I’m not talking really about how we can win Olympic gold medals, but actually awards for improving the research environment for our early career researchers at the University.

All this talk of ‘winning gold’ at the moment had me wondering how many of our researchers actually realise the huge amount of time and effort some of their colleagues are giving to improve the research and career environment for them both at department and university level.

When I say the words ‘research environment’ many people often think about the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 which contained an assessment of the research environment via a narrative containing information on a unit’s research strategy, people (staff and students), income, infrastructure, facilities and collaboration. But this isn’t the only process a University is involved in to recognise and encourage development of the research environment… Read the rest of this entry »

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Back in the day as a PhD student (and postdoc) I would often supervise students in the lab or act as lab demonstrator for undergraduate practicals, but when it came to my CV my formal experience of teaching and the range of teaching I had experience was never well described or recognised. In my new role as a researcher developer in 2007 I knew this was something I wanted to help researchers improve in this area which ultimately led to me and Martina Daly developing the Think Ahead: SURE (Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience) paving the way for the development of the University of Sheffield (TUoS) wide SURE scheme later the next year. TASURE gives PhD students and research staff the opportunity to be primary/sole supervisor of an undergraduate summer research project and ultimately have formal teaching experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve recently read a journal paper by Nasriri and Mafakheri (2015) in Studies in Higher Education which nicely reviews the last 10 years of research into the challenges faced by academics and students faced with research supervision at a distance. It also goes on to offer strategies used to try to overcome some of the difficulties which I thought might be nice to share on here so that any of our readers, whether you are academics or students in this situation might benefit from it. Read the rest of this entry »

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I often get asked by new researchers, generally when starting to complete their training needs analysis, which skills do I think they need to spend time to develop. This question doesn’t have a straight forward answer as everyone is different, coming to research with a range of experiences, different preferences for the kinds of activities they would enjoy focussing on and often different career pathway intensions. So obviously there isn’t a standard answer to this question (hence the purpose of completing a training needs analysis) however, if I’m really pushed to pick just one, then the choice for me is communication of your research.

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girls in rainWalking to work this morning, in the rain, I was trying to think of something to write for my blog post and the phrase ‘when it rains, it pours’ kept playing over in my mind. For many of us, it really does seem to be the case at work especially that your workload is not a steady flow but a torrential downpour of tasks. You find yourself rushing to finish that presentation for the conference in a couple of days’ time, when a journal review lands in your inbox that you know you can’t say no to. You also have that paper that still needs finishing, portfolio to finish for your Higher Education Academy submission, a million actions to complete from a variety of committee meetings and that’s on top of balancing your ‘day job’ work. If this isn’t enough, home life seems no less hectic. Your kids have such a busy social/hobby/homework demands they could do with their own PA, someone in your extended family isn’t well, you foolishly decided to have some renovation work done to your house and you daren’t open the spare bedroom door for fear of being consumed by the tidal wave of ironing threatening to engulf you. It’s enough to make you feel like dropping all the juggling balls and running in the opposite direction. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was thrilled when earlier this year my Faculty (Medicine, Dentistry and Health) agreed to the Early Career Group’s idea of holding an annual ‘Early Career Researcher Prize Scheme’ to celebrate the outstanding contributions that contract research staff make to the Faculty. Read the rest of this entry »