We’re FIVE!

Cake by Kong Hian Khoo, Jan 2015 | Photo by Fooi-Ling Khoo
Cake by Kong Hian Khoo, Jan 2015 | Photo by Fooi-Ling Khoo

Research Whisperer turns five on 9 June 2016. Five years is a long time on the internets.

We started our blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts at the same time. So, we were at zero for all metrics five years ago.

Now, we have about 4900 blog subscribers, 23K Twitter followers, and over 3000 Facebook page ‘Likes’.

Even though we know that numbers aren’t everything, they are a useful rough guide for whether people are interested in the stuff we write about and share. It seems that many are, which is both fun and affirming!

In the time that Research Whisperer has been running, Tseen has gone from being a research grant developer at RMIT University to a lecturer in research education and development at La Trobe University. She would like to think her writing for the blog has improved dramatically from the earlier style of ‘uptight academic trying to sound like an engaging blogger’ to something more flowing and engaging.

Tseen’s learned that writing posts sharing her insecurities or hesitations do not bring down a rain of hellfire and scorn. In fact, people like knowing about vulnerabilities and messy narratives because that’s really the norm. Linear academic career paths don’t happen that often, and it’s a powerfully gendered, classed, and racialised issue.

In five years of RW blogging, the five posts that Tseen has had the most fun writing are:

  1. Networking and other academic hobbies – This is one of my very first blogposts ever, and still one of my favourites! It started life on my now-defunct “Academia 101” blog, which was kind of what Research Whisperer has become.
  2. Open plan, not working – Anyone who follows me on social media will know that the topic of open plan offices still has the power to make me #headasplodey, especially when applied to academic contexts.
  3. Academic fandom – There are too many people in academia who take themselves too seriously. I figure, if you can’t have an #intellectualcrush and share it with other fansters, what’s the point?
  4. Life, death, and collaboration: How to find research friends – I’m very opinionated about what kinds of research collaborations have a chance of working. This post gave those opinions wings.
  5. Your word count means nothing to me – This is the most recent of my favourite posts, and friends and colleagues are still brandishing various phrases from it at me. I’m choosing to see that as a good thing.

Note that these are the ones that she had the most fun writing, not necessarily the ones she thinks are the most applicable or ‘useful’! That would be another list!

Jonathan, on the other hand, has stayed exactly where he is, a grant developer at RMIT University. His posts are still often fuelled by rage, born of the ‘If I see one more application without a time line’ sort of frustration. He is eternally thankful that Tseen is there, patiently taking the worst of the heat out of those posts.

Jonathan hasn’t yet learned to open up like Tseen has. His posts tend to be more instructional. He likes public speaking, so the ‘sage on the stage’ mantle comes easily to him. Also, mansplaining.

Jonathan’s top five for five would be:

  1. How to make a simple Gantt chart. The little post that could. Sometimes, you write a post that seems pretty straightforward, and it becomes a crossover hit. This post has had over 130,000 views, which is about 3 times more than our next most popular post.
  2. Five reasons research rocks! My paean to research, and why I love my job. This was one of the earliest posts I wrote. It is still all true today.
  3. Welcome to Grant Camp. Research Whisperer gives me the confidence and the space to experiment with new ways of doing things. With the development of Grant Camp, I feel like I’ve made a lasting contribution, as other people are now running their own Grant Camps.
  4. How the Whisper Workshop works. We are running our second Whisper Workshop later this year. It provides me with a space to connect to the extended Whisper clan, to talk about what matters and generally to geek out. Mostly, though, it brings the #CircleOfNiceness into the room. We spend so much time at a distance from one another, it feels great to be face to face again.
  5. Why the hell am I doing a PhD? I’m looking at crowdfunding in universities, and I’m still a bit shy about it. This was my ‘coming out’ post. So many people were so kind. Thank you, all.

We love the community that’s grown around the Research Whisperer. We particularly love it when people write for us because they are trusting us with their stories and experiences.

So, to mark our 5th birthday, and express our thanks for your lovely prose and enthusiastic embrace of what RW set out to do, we’ve decided to give you a present.

By ‘you’ we mean one of our guest posters, randomly drawn from a hat, and by ‘a present’ we mean a $100 gift voucher. We’ll draw it on Friday 24 June, when the Research Whisperers will next be together in the same place!

Thanks to all our writers, readers, tweeters, likers and lurkers. You can’t imagine how much the Research Whisperer has given us over the last five years.


  1. Congratulations Tseen and Jonathan on your 5th birthday – your blog has been helpful on many occasions and has often pulled me from the gloom of messy grant applications. Cheers from a lurker.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to say as someone who directs a research centre that is at times an outlier to the fields covered in this blog, most entries have offered something amazing. Sound advice, ideas, thoughts and a very positive and edifying take on so much related to this very quickly changing area. I also want to reflect that you provided quick and genuine help when we were looking for a new research colleague. 5 down, another 5 or 50.


  3. Congratulations on an amazingly informative and entertaining research development blog. It’s been so helpful in my role as research support & development…


  4. I appreciate having your blog regularly ping into my inbox and nudge me to think a bit more about the research process and the hurdles and ways to get over them that we all need. Happy 5th Birthday!


    • Thanks for the lovely and supportive comment, Jo! It’s always great to hear that people find our blog useful, and relate to the topics and angst! 🙂


  5. Congrats on such a big milestone. I just went and read Tseen’s Academic fandom post which I hadn’t seen before – a great read. I also work in grant development and it really helps to know others are going through the same things…no time lines 🙂 Your posts are always helpful and interesting. Thanks!


    • Thanks, Sarah! I had a lot of fun writing that Academic Fandom post. So lovely to know that you find RW helpful and, hopefully, also a bit of fun at times. Nothing worse than people who take themselves too seriously…! 😉


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