What we’d like to learn in 2016

A Christmas tree with a sign that says "Please do not place presents under the tree".
Please do not place presents under the tree | Photo by Jonathan O’Donnell

Welcome to the end of the year! This is a time when we take a short break from the hectic world of research whisperering.

With time to breath and sit down for a minute, it’s an excellent time for reflection.

We’ve been publishing and tweeting Research Whisperer since 2011. We still love it! For the last three years, we’ve published little reflective pieces at the end of each year.

This year, we thought we would look forward to 2016 and work out the things that we want to learn in the coming year.


In 2016, I have to learn how to be a part-time post-grad student. I’ve worked on a bunch of research projects, and even written some papers. However, I’ve never had to do everything myself. Someone else always did the ethics submission, for example.

I’ll also need to improve my work / work balance. My work / life balance is fine, and I’m not to worried about that at the moment. But my work / work balance is a mess.

In theory, I work four days a week at RMIT, and have Mondays for research. However, it doesn’t always work that way. RMIT work creeps into my Mondays way, way too often. That isn’t sustainable.

Thankfully, Research Whisperer is under control. It would be nice if I could learn how to queue up more than one post at a time though.  I keep a folder of ideas for posts. It looks like this:

A listing of files dating back to 29 October 2012, listing potential blog posts
Posts I plan to write…

That last file, “11-Methodology, again.odt” is dated 29 October 2012.  I’ve been ‘thinking’ about that post for three years! Maybe I’ll get to it next year.


For 2016, I’d like to learn how to better compartmentalise my time, particularly when I’m using social media channels or queueing material for various accounts.

I am a social media zealot. I run four twitter accounts, three Facebook pages / groups, two and a half blogs (the ‘half’ is a network newsblog so posts often aren’t original material), and a couple of websites. I’ve gained so much from being online and connecting with a big, generous network of professionals, scholars, and fun random people that posting and conversing with the various groups is very much embedded in the fabric of my everyday working and social life.

I don’t tend to cordon off ‘social media’ time because it has become indispensable work time (especially in terms of developing our university’s researcher cohort identity), as well as fulfilling my own various research and academic service activities.

But I recognise that it’s easy – too easy – to wander off the task at hand, and into the curious and shiny fields of Everything Else. I need to stop this kind of meandering. It’s not a killer and it can still be very useful, but it reduces my overall productivity in terms of finalising tasks during a working day. It means that the duties I have on social media leak consistently into my after hours life and compromise my ability to disengage with work. Posting a tweet or link here or there doesn’t take long, but add all of it up across those accounts and, in any given week, it starts stacking up.

So: more focus on the concrete tasks at hand, less following of shiny (and often useful but not necessary) tangents. This holds for both the social media aspects of my working life, and my research activity more generally! More of the getting things done, less of the shiny.

Thanks for being with us

Thanks to everybody who read us, tweeted us, liked us, and generally got something out of what we did. You are the community that makes the Research Whisperer project maintain its momentum, fun, and insight.

An especially big thank you to all our guest posters – you are always awesome!

We’ll be back next year, starting on 16 January 2016.

Stay safe, do some deep breathing, and have a great break!


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