Archives for posts with tag: communication

Most people have some form of digital footprint these days; it’s an occupational hazard in almost all lines of work.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked to connect via LinkedIn, and looking after the @ThinkAheadSheff twitter handle means I’m always on the lookout for people/organisations to follow.

Having an online presence as a researcher is a great means of raising your profile; it facilitates global networks and can generate new collaborative partnerships.  An online profile can assist you in promoting your research and reaching a wider audience – with specific social networking sites such as ResearchGate there are a whole host of opportunities open to you.

socialmediaicons

Your digital profile is now often the first thing that someone encounters about you – it’s your brand and it should be carefully cultivated.  If you have a personal account on any social media platform and you also used for work purposes, you might want to think about what image you’re portraying with your posts.

I was recently in contact with a researcher who had their twitter handle in their email signature.  Being curious, I checked out their profile to see what they were working on.  Their bio listed their employer and area of research, but all the tweets I could find were complaints to various retailers and service providers and it left me feeling a little disappointed.  There were no retweeted posts or articles relating to their research field, let alone anything sharing their specific research interests.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using twitter to expedite complaints processes – after a colleague experienced faulty teabags which exploded on contact with water, a quick tweet resulted in replacement teabags and all the ginger tea she could consume. But posts like that should be the exception rather than the rule.

If you advertise your social media platform of choice within a work context it’s reasonable for a person engaging with it to expect some work related content.  Equally you want your audience to connect with you as a person; striking that balance between work-related posts and other interest posts can be difficult, but it can be achieved.

At Sheffield there are a number of resources available to support you with your online profile.  Here are just a few:

There is also a #vitaehangout tomorrow (Tuesday 20th June 2017) on the topic of navigating your digital profile.  It promises to cover a range of topics from creating your own digital identity, to effectively using online platforms to promote your research.

9e46e897a7450e44f4d99b034b08fac7.jpgAbout every other day I see a piece on Twitter or a blog, or a similar about attitudes to leaving academia. It’s part of my job to consider these attitudes, especially when they may prevent people from freely accessing events, internships and mentoring designed to broaden researcher career horizons. I wrote about it in this post on silence and stigma in leaving the academy, where I make the point that supervisors and PIs have a responsibility to make sure they don’t prevent people engaging. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone tells researchers that they need to get their research “out there”.  They should be promoting themselves and engaging with the public via YouTube, twitter, blogs and the like.  Some researchers can crack on with this and take to it like a duck to water, especially the written format.  But videos…well for some that’s an entirely different matter.  In an age where it can seem like every 10 year old is a YouTuber, what do you do if you’re not confident on screen or if you haven’t got the first idea of what makes a good video? Read the rest of this entry »

So how do people normally think about professors? eccentrics who are entirely focused on their research who are unorganised, work into the night with no social life, get frustrated at not being understood, lack interpersonal skills, intolerant, moody….I think you get the picture! I’m sure not all professors are like that but as your academic supervisor gained their position mainly due to their research skills, it should be no surprise they just aren’t that fluffy.

Eccentric

Image 1

In fact you may think if you cried in front of them they would ‘take those tears, freeze them, and throw them in a glass of whiskey and drink it … to increase their spirit-crushing abilities’ (Quote 1)

So how are you going to manage your relationship with your supervisor so that you can get your PhD with minimum pain? In conversations with students I have found that one area that often causes problems is the supervisory meeting, so here are some top tips gleaned from those who have been willing to share their ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

Building rich research and expansive networks is a core aspect of a successful academic career. Similarly, if you’re looking to move beyond academic research, breaking into professional networks and getting to know who’s who and what they do, is also crucial for getting the vital stats, and a foot in the door.

Researchers are always, and very modestly, telling me they’re really bad at networking… but that’s not what I observe of them. Maybe it’s the old definition of the corporate schmooser that’s confusing the issue. I don’t think academic networking is about elevator pitches and popping on your pushy pants, and I’m not going to reduce it to a ‘skill’ that you can perfect in 10 top tips. Read the rest of this entry »

key

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has just launched Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry; maintaining the UK’s leading position in life sciences, which is an update of its 2008 report on the skills sought by employers in the UK’s pharmaceutical industry.

One piece of good news from the report is that demand for people with a PhD has increased within the industry since 2008.

In particular, the report highlights a number of scientific/technical fields in which firms are having difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified people. Most of these involve the application of mathematical and computing skills (e.g. bioinformatics, health economics, health informatics, statistics). So, if you have expertise in one of these areas, now is a good time to look out for opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector

However, the report states that

~90% of respondents had found it difficult to recruit people with adequate communication and team-working skills.

In 2008 only about 70% of respondents had reported difficulties in relation to these skills. For researchers this underlines once again the importance of being able to identify the key transferable skills gained from carrying out research and being able to provide evidence of these in applications and at interview. Although this report focuses on the pharmaceutical industry, the same goes when applying to employers in any other industry.

If you haven’t yet started to think systematically about these things, two useful starting points could be VITAE’s publication The career-wise researcher and AgCAS’s University researchers and the job market. Both publications explain in depth what employers mean when they talk about particular skills and show how you can draw effectively on your experience as a researcher to provide evidence for these.

The full ABI report can be downloaded here.

You’ve just finished your conference presentation and breathe a sigh of relief.

resized_creepy-willy-wonka-meme-generator-no-please-i-would-much-rather-stand-here-answering-questions-than-be-at-home-ddadf5 Well done, you made it through to the end without anything going wrong.
Then you realise the worst of it isn’t over.
You say those fateful two words “any questions?”
You can’t breathe and time seems to stand still, as you wait for people so start asking the most awkward questions ever, with the joint aim of showing off how good they are and making you feel stupid. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s my turn to blog this week and I have a complete lack of inspiration. I selflessly stepped in and took an extra turn in the blogging schedule a couple of weeks ago and now I have nothing to write about. I’m completely stuck for inspiration and even my lovely colleagues are failing in their attempts to assist!

lightbulbIn a cunning way of circumventing the lack of a current “hot topic”, I thought I’d write about the blog itself. The Think Ahead blog has been active for around a year now and at the beginning the Think Ahead Team made a pact to be the ‘core bloggers’, each taking a turn on a Monday (or, if you’re tardy like me, a Tuesday – sorry!). The aspiration was to enable the blog to belong to researchers and colleagues at the University of Sheffield and beyond. So far there have been 75 posts and 6376 individual visitors! Best of all, we’ve had 26 guest bloggers sharing some amazing guest posts, covering a whole range of topics including perfection, influencing policy, being an effective researcher and complex cauliflowers. Read the rest of this entry »