Being a PhD researcher in a digital world

Carolyn Leslie is a PhD researcher in the Department of Creative Arts and English at La Trobe University, Australia. She is doing a creative-led PhD by writing a novel for young people about girl internees in Changi during World War II who made a quilt in secret, as well as an accompanying critical component. Carolyn is also an accredited editor and an author of works for young people and adults. 

She can be found @carolynleslie on Twitter. Her ORCID is 0000-0001-7622-1975.

Note: Carolyn wrote this post before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. Because so much has changed in the intervening time, she has written an update that addresses some of the challenges that these restrictions are having on higher degree researchers. Her update appears at the end of this post. This post is simultaneously cross-posted on La Trobe University’s RED Alert blog. 


Photo by Mike Erskine | unsplash.com

 

During last year, I found myself drawn to attend several workshops run by the research education and development team at my university. They had topics such as blogging and developing a digital profile. My interests sprang from a desire to get my research and writing on girl internees in Changi during World War II – and my wider interests in the editing and publishing worlds – out into the wider world.

However, I kept coming up against an existential blockage: what sort of ‘me’ did I want to be when I’m out there in the digital world? And who did I want to connect with? Who did I want to share my work, words and thoughts with? Read more of this post

Looking like a scientist

Dr Emma Beckett is an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow and Lecturer in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

She is also a passionate science communicator, aiming to empower consumers to make evidence-based decisions.

She can be found @synapse101 on Twitter, @DrEmmaBeckett on Facebook and @emmie_101 on Instagram. Her ORCID is 0000-0002-8888-3789.


Photo courtesy of Emma Beckett.

Photo courtesy of Emma Beckett.

I have a wardrobe full of food-print dresses, hundreds of pairs of food shaped earrings, a collection of food-themed hair accessories, and even a handbag shaped like a lemon wedge.

If you follow me on social media, you will see a new combination of foods multiple times a week. But I’m not a fashion account –  I’m a Food and Nutrition Scientist and Science Communicator. I say, “Come for the food fashion, stay for the food science!”

I didn’t deliberately set out to “build a brand” or become a caricature of myself, but when I stop and reflect on how I ended up here, I’m not sad and I’m not surprised. I am living my best Ms Frizzle life and loving it.

I’m an identical twin

Having a genetic clone, I’ve always used hair, makeup, clothes and accessories to reduce confusion and set myself apart from my sister.

After I finished my PhD and started my fellowship, I went through a phase of “dressing professionally” as I tried to mimic what I saw in the workplace around me. I felt like I lost myself for a little bit in that time, looking in the mirror I didn’t see me, I saw my twin sister. Read more of this post

A sting in the tail: The poisonous uncertainty of Australia’s research grants process

This guest post has been written by the ARC Tracker. We don’t know who they are, but we like what they are doing.

ARC Tracker is part human, part bot. The human part tracks Australian Research Council funding outcomes, and the bot checks the Council’s website for outcome announcements every minute. ARC Tracker is not an official part of the Australian Research Council system. You can find @ARC_Tracker on Twitter.


'Rejected' - the ARC Tracker's avatarImagine you’re running a small business. But imagine you only have one customer, and there’s only a one-in-five chance of getting a contract with them each year.

Obviously, you plough huge, disproportionate effort into getting that contract. But you’ve missed out for a couple of years. Will you have to lay off staff? Can you stay in business? Amidst this pressure, imagine the customer delays: “maybe I’ll let you know sometime in summer”.

Summer comes and goes. Nothing. The uncertainty is too much for key staff, and they leave. You can’t hire anyone to replace them, and the weeks drag on. You’re desperate.

All Governments recognise how such massive uncertainty kills businesses. Yet the Australian Government subjects its top researchers to this every year.

Uncertainty is fundamental to research. Without it, research wouldn’t exist. But just like in business, uncertainty in funding is poison. Research is done by people, and this uncertainty poisons their planning, competitiveness, collaborations, motivation for research, personal lives and mental health.

This poison runs through Australia’s research grants process from start to finish. But the finish is venomously uncertain, and for no good reason. My Twitter account tries to construct a tiny bit of certainty in these often desperate, delirious months of uninformed chaos.

But the real antidote is so simple and easy to administer. Read more of this post

Getting your crowd-funding project off the ground

Lauren GawneLauren Gawne is a David Myers Research Fellow at La Trobe University. Her research focuses on grammar and gesture in Tibetan languages of Nepal. She is one half of Lingthusiasm, a podcast that is enthusiastic about linguistics, with Gretchen McCulloch. You can find bonus episodes on Patreon, and they also have a range of stylish merch. Lauren also runs the blog Superlinguo and By Lingo for The Big Issue (Australia).

She tweets from @superlinguo, and through the Lingthusiasm Twitter account, @lingthusiasm. Her ORCID is: 0000-0003-4930-4673.


Lingthusiasm banner | Image courtesy of Lauren Gawne.

Crowdfunding a project is a great way for your research, or research communication, to connect with a wider audience. Sometimes, it’s the only way to make a project happen if it doesn’t fit into traditional funding models.

Crowd-funding can also support projects that are joyful or beautiful, which are not standard grant metrics. Crowd-funding is not a panacea for the continued shortfall in government and philanthropic funding, but it is an exciting tool for research.

Jonathan has already written a great introduction to patronage as a funding model. This could be a one-off campaign on Kickstarter or Pozible, or a monthly subscription type project through platforms like Patreon or Substack. If you have an idea for a project, this post has some advice for how to think about setting up a crowd-funded project. The patronage model isn’t for everyone, but I’ve enjoyed learning how to run a project in a way that draws on business planning as well as the usual project planning that I do as an academic.  Read more of this post

10 days in

Image from The Leveraged PhD's social challenge page | theleveragedphd.com/social-media-challenge

Image from The Leveraged PhD’s social challenge page | theleveragedphd.com/social-media-challenge

I use Twitter a lot.

I have used it across my various professional faces for over ten years now.

I get invited by other institutions to give masterclasses and invited workshops about creating and managing digital identities.

I teach workshops about ‘researchers and social media’ every semester. I’ve written quite a few blogposts about social media, including what I like seeing researchers post, how to run a shared social media account, what is your social media ‘voice’, what I tweet, why I’d unfollow you (and why I’d follow you), and posts on livetweeting. And I’m still learning a lot about its use and flexibility.

I recently started participating in a social media challenge, and I’m having a great time and feeling rather enlightened about my own practices. I thought I’d share them with you (now, ten days in) and compare my thoughts with when the challenge is over at the end of September.

Read more of this post

Build your authority and network with an Instagram Challenge

Melanie Bruce

Dr Melanie Bruce is a marketing professor, entrepreneur, and business coach. 

She is the founder of The Leveraged PhD, a hub for PhDs wanting to use their degree to its full potential. Melanie believes that as the world produces an increasing number of PhDs it is becoming increasingly important to develop a competitive advantage and stand out from the crowd. She has an online course to help PhDs develop their personal brand so that they can build a name for themselves that can lead to guest speaking, consulting, book sales, full-time employment, online course creation, coaching and/or freelancing. Follow TheLeveragedPhD on Instagram: @TheLeveragedPhD, Twitter: @TheLeveragedPhD and Facebook: @TheLeveragedPhD

Melanie is also a business and marketing coach for ecopreneurs. Using her marketing knowledge and experience she helps sustainably focused businesses launch and scale. 

Melanie’s personal website is melaniebruce.com.au and you can connect with her on Instagram: @DrMelanieBruce, Twitter: @DrMelanieBruce, and Facebook: @DrMelanieBruce  


What is an Instagram Challenge?

An Instagram Challenge is when a group of people commit to daily posts on Instagram for a specific period of time (usually 1 month). You receive a daily prompt to inspire you to create a post for your Instagram feed. The prompts are open to interpretation adding fun and diversity to the challenge. 

Why participate in an Instagram Challenge?

Poster with someone putting up their hand, that says "Challenge Accepted. Ready or not, here I come".
‘ Every fall in western mass comes the royal frog ballet’
by danjo paluska, on Flickr.

An Instagram Challenge is a creative way to build your presence and expand your network. You will also build the habit of posting daily which will increase your followers and engagement rates.

If you want to get started or increase your presence on Instagram but you aren’t sure what to post or what type of content is best, participating in an Instagram Challenge allows you to create a whole load of content and see what works and doesn’t for you. 

Participants in my last challenge stated that the number one benefit of participating in the challenge was the connections they built. Other common benefits were motivation and consistency. So, if you are wanting to build your network and/or your authority on Instagram then I recommend you participate in an Instagram Challenge. Read more of this post

Things it has taken me 8 years to learn

Photo by Daniel Cheung | unsplash.com

Our good buddy The Thesis Whisperer wrote a fab post on ‘how to run a blog for 8 years and not go insane‘ in 2018. It is a cracker of a post and gives excellent insight into how TW has managed to maintain such quality and longevity!

At the time it was published, I read it with great interest, hoping that I’d be able to implement some of the strategies and not be writing things at 11pm the night before our weekly publication slot…

Alas, dear readers, Tseen did not implement any strategies.

Is she sitting on her sofa right now writing this post at 10:36pm? Indeed, she is.

The Research Whisperer celebrated its 8th birthday recently, and we posted this on our Facebook page:

Today, we have published 383 posts, have almost 42,000 followers on Twitter, over 6400 subscribers to the blog, and over 9200 followers on our Facebook page.

It was heartening to think about the community that surrounds RW these days, and the wonderful allies and friends we’ve made. For me, it has been a career transformative time. Just before we hatched RW, I was at a low, low career point. Working with Jonathan has been a delight, and I would never have thought that we’d have travelled this far down the road with our blog, being led by doing what we thought was fun. Read more of this post