News Update for Research Managers


A selection of current news items for managers of Early Career Researchers

Management matters

‘Don’t follow me, I’m too busy leading…’: The latest survey from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education in the UK (summary of the results) confirmed a huge majority see a need for improved university leadership. Five main areas identified for attention were better understanding of the motivations of potential leaders, lack of clear pathways to leadership positions, a broader range of professional backgrounds, increased diversity in the leadership pool and improved work-life balance.

Do Graduate Schools need ‘birth control’? What measures should be taken to modernise PhD training, given the imbalance between the number of PhD-holders and academic positions available? This feature goes through the options and worked examples, from restricting the number of PhDs trained to broadening the training to suit a wider job market.

The value of ‘arm’s-length’ coaching for ECRs. Results of a 2015 trial in the US underlined the advantages of career development coaching in addition to traditional research mentoring. Notable elements of the trial included structured selection and training of neutral coaches, in-person meetings and group sessions, with significant overall benefits reported by participants. (Read more on “Careers for researchers: finding the right fit” here).

Charting the future of faculty. A pair of US-based authors discuss the results of their survey of faculty members, administrators and policy-makers. They found strong consensus on a range of desired directions, from reducing reliance on part-time faculty to more scope for career breaks and encouraging variety in roles fulfilled by staff over the course of a career.

Do tenure-track positions need to be more mum-friendly? This Conversation piece argues STEM faculty positions are especially ‘anti-mother’, and suggests ways in which institutions could help redress gender imbalance among faculty and support independence in academia for many more women. As a practical example, Science Foundation Ireland describes the measures it is taking to increase female participation across the board in research.

MOOCs – the hopes and the hype: an assessment by Stanford. After being hailed as the solution for educating the world, the reality does not yet live up to expectations – but, as this article argues, MOOCs have told us much about how students learn.

Best practice in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). This special feature says the pressure, fast pace and complexity of research means researchers in general, but especially ECRs, need formal training in RCR principles, on matters ranging from transparency of research processes and data to working with the media.

Unintended consequences of ‘open research’ demand vigilance. The research community’s efforts to be more transparent are leading to interactions with external parties whose agendas may be contrary to valid, independent scholarship. Two UK professors identify the tools typically used in these exchanges. They also recommend a ‘red flags’ test to help distinguish between legitimate scrutiny and vexatious criticism – even harassment designed to stymie research.

Personal press

Being productive is a skill, not a goal. This article spells out the need to keep in mind the bigger picture in the quest for ‘getting things done’.

How to beat your ‘inner Imposter’. Thoughtful insights from the Research Whisperer into the reasons for the high incidence of Imposter Syndrome in academia and how to tackle it.

PostdocTraining Update

The online ‘core’ of our training offers much-needed flexibility for researchers working full time, though its level of impact can depend just as much on the interactive components we combine with it. Please contact us if you would like to discuss the role that our workshops and webinars, one-to-one mentoring and ‘Mastermind’ peer mentoring groups play alongside online training support.

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