Author Archives: Tegan Darnell

About Tegan Darnell

Librarian, USQ Doctoral student, and the Principal Editor of ReDBlog. Tegan's research topic for the Doctor of Professional Studies is how librarians’ narratives inhibit or create preferred library futures, and creating spaces for librarian transformation.

Confirmation of Candidature Couplets

By Debbie Mulligan

Congratulations! Today is your day

You’re off to great places, you’re off and away! (Seuss, Dr.; 1990)

 

Finally! How hard can it be

It’s about time and IT’S ALL ABOUT ME! (Mulligan, Dr.; 2030)

 

I’ve sweated and practised and sweated some more

If all else fails I’ve got cartoons galore

 

And a dvd with old men on bikes

I just hope it starts when it’s s’posed to- Yikes

 

I know, I’ll win them over with chocolate called Roses

And just for good luck, I’ll throw in some poses

 

The panel walks in and they all take a seat

I feel like they are the diners and I’m the cooked meat

 

Oh well, here we go, it’s now or never

Now is the moment to show them I’m clever

 

I deliver my speech and sit down with a sigh

Really Deborah, sit up straight, this is no time to cry

 

“I notice on page 10 you’ve used the word which…”

It’s then that I develop an unforeseen twitch

 

“Errrrrrrr, ummmmmm,” I mutter, stalling for time

How can they look at me like it’s such a big crime

 

No one told me this would be the longest hour of the day

My desperate thoughts start rambling and my mind starts to stray

 

I look around the room and my supervisor is nodding

Willing me onwards as my words just keep plodding

 

“The end,” says the chairman and graciously smiles

“The end,” says my battered psyche like it’s run 1000 miles

 

Thank heavens it’s over, I’m home on my bed

I’ve taken some Panadol for my poor aching head

 

Some chocolate and red wine are on the agenda

This could be the beginning of a very long bender………….

 

And then the next day my peers gather round for a report

I feel blessed and I’m grateful for all their support

 

This doctoral road is tricky, fraught with bends and dead ends

But it’s made just that bit easier with my new found friends.

 

 

 

Welcome to 2017! Letter from the Editor

To Our Distinguished Readers,

If you’re feeling like me, you may be wondering if the world has turned upside down as we move into the new year. 2017 has started with what seems like a sly sarcastic smile.

The here and now

The here and now

But it is no good waiting around for the future to rain down, be thrust upon us, or uncomfortably inserted. We, the truth seekers, thinkers, and questioning people of the world, must play a part in its creation.

This means there is only 1 thing to do: get down to some seriously rigorous research!

We will be starting the year off next week (and for a few weeks) with posts about preparing (physically, emotionally, and academically) for Confirmation of Candidature, from some USQ researchers who have lived through it.

We’ll have a look at the increasing emphasis on technology and Big Data in research, and some ways to build basic skills in Data Science.

Later in the year we will look more at the writing process. We will cover how to get started, how to keep going, how to improve your writing, and even get some advice on research blog writing!

There will be information about developing an online personal learning network (PLN) when you are conducting research away from a university or research institution.

Also, look out for some posts by awesome guest bloggers later in the year. *Sshh*

Most important of all: This is your space! Claim it.

If there is something you would like to see written about and discussed on ReDBlog, or you would like to write about your research journey, please get in touch! We love hearing from you.

 

Most Sincerely,

Tegan Darnell

Editor, ReDBlog

 

Loving the world of research

 By Tricia Kelly

What does the word “research” mean to you?  To me it is word that opens up an amazing world where we strive towards making the impossible possible.

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I think about the research that has been undertaken in health and the positive life-changing outcomes of that research for so many people from babies through to the elderly. I think about the ripple-effect these outcomes have for parents, siblings, children of those that have better lives because a researcher engaged in research to make a difference.

I think about the research that has changed the way we look at our interaction with the environment and our place in various urban, regional and rural ecosystems and the outcomes that improve our practices so that generations from now will be able to enjoy and care for their country, and in the broader sense, their world and universe.

I think about the incredible research that has led to huge improvements in almost every aspect of our lives from the food we eat, the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross, the cars we drive, the buildings we work in, the homes we live in, and even the insect repellents we use to keep the mozzies at bay!

All these amazing advancements that we sometimes take for granted have only come about because of research and dedicated researchers.

In previous posts, authors have shared the journeys they have been on with their research – and many of these are about making what seem like impossibles in our lives (such as juggling family, work and study commitments) into the possible (such as achieving Confirmation or getting through to the other side and completing their thesis).  Having completed a Master of Applied Science by research as well as my Doctorate, I know first-hand just how tough it can get sometimes, but found that the elation at reaching various milestones along the way helped immensely. Tap into the network of researchers and research support you have around you – the interaction with others at various stages of the research cycle can provide great tips and tricks to help keep on track and motivated.

So if I sound like I am passionate about research, I am! In fact, I’m so keen that I have made research my career.  I am one of the Research Librarians from the USQ Library Team.  Based at the Springfield Campus but working across all campuses, my role is to support researchers in Health, Engineering and Sciences while my colleague, Tegan Darnell (the awesome editor of this Blog!), supports researchers in BELA.  We work in combination with a fantastic team of Liaison Librarians to provide the tools, training and support for research students and academics on-campus and online. For more information about the services provided please check out our “Help for Researchers” page on the Library’s website.

Digital You

By Tegan Darnell, & USQ Library

As a researcher, you need to be especially aware of your online profile. Research and other outputs need to be found and read, and that means found online.

I often say, “If it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.” This means YOU! You need to know what is already out there about you, whether you like what people see, and whether your work is actually ‘find-able’.

Researcher profiles

Creating and maintaining your research profile can be as simple as ensuring your USQ profile & ePrints publication list is up to date, but we highly recommend that all USQ researchers also have an ORCID ID and a Google Scholar profile.

USQ Profile

If you are USQ staff, this is your primary profile, and where many people will find you. You should include – a photo, descriptive text, most recent and most notable publications.

Google Scholar

Many people search Google Scholar because it’s easy. Google Scholar indexes “scholarly materials” – it includes a very large number of scholarly databases, but not commercial websites, and not law reports.  Google Scholar also indexes books and book chapters. This is good for humanities and social science academics (though not perfect). You can manually add publications that aren’t already in Google Scholar.

You can export your Google Scholar citations to a spreadsheet, and then add in citations in judgements or government reports etc. to make a more complete record of your citations and impact. Include in your profile – a photo, USQ email address, research areas, and the URL for your USQ staff profile as your “Homepage”.

Google Scholar will suggest a list of publications to you.  You “claim” the ones that are yours. You can also opt to allow Google Scholar to automatically keep your profile up to date.

ORCID

ORCID is a non-commercial organisation providing permanent digital identifiers for researchers.  This is a unique number that’s associated with you.  You can use this in ePrints, when applying for grants, and when submitting articles for publication.  It ties all publications and funding under any of your name variants to you.

Go to orcid.org and sign up. Include a description of your research interests under “Biography”.

You can include links to websites in your profile.  We recommend you add links to your USQ profile and your Google Scholar profile. If you have publications in Scopus or a ResearcherID, we highly recommend that you link those author IDs to ORCID so that both profiles are automatically kept up to date. This will be particularly relevant to researchers in the sciences. If you have data-sets in ANDS you can also link these to your ORCID profile.

In future, USQ’s systems will be able to use your ORCID ID to automatically harvest information about your publications and funding from other places (for example, from Scopus).  This means that will need to manually tell the University less about your output, and the University will be able to report more fully and accurately about all your publication and funding activities.  All of this will save you time!

Social Media

Social media are increasingly being used for purposes other than being ‘social’. Academic networks such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate, and Academia.edu are used by researchers around the globe to keep in contact with colleagues and collaborators.

Twitter

The most popular Social Networking tool for researchers is Twitter. This 140-character micro-blogging site can be invaluable professionally. As a ‘real-time information network’ it can connect you to just about anything that sparks your interest and give you up to date access to what is happening in your field.

Academia.edu

Academia.edu is a platform where you can share research papers, monitor deep analytics around the impact of your research, and track the research of academics you follow. Placing your publications and presentations on social media will make it easier for others to encounter your work, not only because they are available on a social network, but also because they improve the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your research.

ResearchGate

ResearchGate will help you connect with researchers who aren’t on Academia.edu, but ResearchGate also text-mines the publications you’ve uploaded to find out who you’ve cited; they add both researchers you’ve cited, and researchers who have cited you, to your network, as well as colleagues from your department and institution.

LinkedIn

Set up a LinkedIn profile to improve your visibility and to network with other researchers. LinkedIn is built for business people, not academics, so you will need to translate the traditional scholarly CV into the format on LinkedIn. Make sure you add a photo, make your profile ‘public’, and work hard on getting your ’Headline’ just right. In your ‘Summary’ section, provide concrete details about your research and why it matters.

Your mission?

Google yourself (*psst* Make sure you are logged out of your Google account first!).

Then,

  • decide on what you would like your online profile to be,
  • improve the accessibility of your outputs by making available what you can, and
  • communicate and interact using tools such as a blog, or Twitter.

For more information on Social Media for researchers, contact your Research Librarian.

 

Waiting, waiting, waiting …

By Fiona Russo

This year, I have waited.  A lot.

I have waited for acceptance into the program, for the provision of a dataset we’re trying to acquire (for which we are jumping through some crazy hoops including a full ethics application!), for a rare text to come in, for the outcome of a scholarship (unsuccessful) and then a fellowship (undetermined) application, for feedback from my supervisory team, for publication peer reviews, for ethical approvals, for Confirmation – it can seem like a series of never ending waiting rooms with no doctor in sight (pun intended).

I’ve been ticking along with the mindset that this is all just administrative, and therefore outside of my control.  I’m on someone else’s timeline, one task in their long list of things to do.  Next year, I tell myself, I’ll be Confirmed and ready to start my studies.  Next year, it’ll all be down to me.  I can set the pace, and things will naturally pick up.  Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but I’m really excited to ‘just get down to business’.

I can hear the dissonant cries of my HDR colleagues from here – and I know how naïve that sounds.  My second- and third-year peers are still waiting.  They’re waiting for recruitment of participants, buy-in from partners, allocation of resources, feedback from supervisors, peer reviews, texts, and so many other things.

When we submit writing to our supervisors, it’s difficult to decide how many changes we should be making before their feedback is received.  When we submit papers for publication, should we just forget about them entirely or keep updating references and making editorial changes in the intervening weeks (or more likely months)?  When is it better to reluctantly admit that our target for recruitment is unachievable and alter the study rather than wait for more respondents and risk the timeline?

There’s a strange dichotomy in pursuing a PhD.  On the one hand, it’s a very solitary, self-guided journey.  On the other, we find ourselves often at the mercy of other stakeholders and their rules and timelines.  This can interrupt the flow of output in a dramatic fashion, and I certainly find this myself.  I am a time-poor mother of four, the eldest graduating this year and the youngest entering a Special School prep year in 2017.  My energy is frenetic because I have strictly allotted ‘work times’ that have to be productive. As the old adage says, ‘if you want a job done quickly, ask a busy person’.

My question to other HDR students is this:  how do you manage these ‘waiting periods’?  Is it just a matter of having multiple tasks on the go at any given time so that when one hits the proverbial brakes you can just concentrate doubly on the other?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you all unimpeded progress into the holiday season and beyond!

Oh dear, my world has just crashed, why not attempt a PhD?

By Peter Burling

A relative latecomer to the world of successful academic pursuits, I began my second assault
on the world of study at the very young age of 50. There were two forces contributing to this
decision. The first was the a dislike of the quality of employment I had secured when returning to the workforce after fifteen years of house-husbanding. The world had advanced a little in those 15 years, I needed new skills.

The second was a hangover from my youth, a desire to once and for all establish the truth or
otherwise of those vocational guidance words, “You can do anything you want”. These words I did feel were a cop-out used on anyone with an IQ above 90, helping the guidance officer avoid having to actually do something for you. But that was my schooling, now I was once again inflicting the books and exam timetables upon myself, as I set out to see how far I could go.

So my journey stepped through the Bachelors, a Graduate Diploma and then into a Masters
as I sought to quench the rekindled desire for knowledge. Yes, across this period usable skills also accrued rapidly, many of which, as a volunteer network administrator for a school, went into immediate use. There were also many real life learning events as I accrued the full deck of results bar one. I fell one mark short of the elusive high distinction.

In 2006, I began a second and concurrent journey when my wife of 29 years (partner for 31)
was handed the diagnoses of breast cancer. So now to my burgeoning academic career and status as a weird hours part-time worker were added the roles of number 1 supporter, cheer quad leader and sometimes carer. For nine months we floundered, struggled but made it through the obstacle course of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It did have some highs, as we were both able to spend the 6 weeks of radiation therapy in Sydney. As the effects of chemo wore off, it allowed us to explore events such as sculpture by the sea.

In 2013 as I finalised my Masters submission, I was thrown the challenge of extending parts
of my Masters research into a PhD. So I organised a supervisor and went into discussions on how to attack the research and even what we would actually cover. This development stage was also able to include my wife as she had by this stage retired. Then in September 2013 someone cut the cable ties that held my life together.

The first notice was the diagnoses of breast cancer secondaries in the bones. No time frame,
just a certainty of the final outcome. Not long after this was the release of restructure plans for my department with staff reductions. This rolled into possible, probable and finally definite loss of my planned supervisor. This news sparked a series of meetings with associated departments in an attempt to continue the idea of chasing one of those floppy hats that prevail around doctoral achievement. This unfortunately ended with a simple statement from my then university, that they simply were not interested, I should try elsewhere.

So in March 2014, in the middle of corresponding with 13 Universities around Australia,
New Zealand and Singapore, I graduated as a Master of Computer Science. Standing by my side
was my very proud wife, currently mid-stream in a chemotherapy set. The correspondence turned into a positive response from USQ which then blossomed into the much needed supervisor, and finally at the end of July enrolment, just after the start of Semester 2. This was initially off campus, but it was enrolment and while my wife did not expect to see me finish, she had seen me start. We also made plans to come up from Tamworth, where I was living at that point, in September to meet the team and to see the Japanese gardens. Those plans shattered on August 20th.

So began the whirlpool of grief, anger, self doubt, pressure of commitment to my late wife
that I would give it a go, and of course the worst of all loneliness. Some forms of cancer tend to
erode things like relationships slowly. So you man up and do what has to be done. But then you
realise that you have lost it all, but over a period of time, rather than instantly. So in the end I pulled out of that first semester, took the next one off and then restarted.

So after 2 years I have sold out in Tamworth, moved to Toowoomba, encompassed the highs and lows of a new developing relationship, and am now studying on campus. Where will it all go? I am not sure, but there is one certainty, no matter what the final result, it will have been a journey of self learning.

We All Make a Sacrifice or Two

By Ruth Wagstaff

Today is the fifth Saturday in a row I have prepared for an “open house”. Yes, I am
selling my house; that humanly engineered cave that has protected me from the weather, that
has my belongings scattered around it, that has provided stability while I have raised my
children to adulthood, and that been my l’ttle haven for the last five years. Selling my house
is part of the sacrifice that I have made for higher level study.

As I walked away from the house and the real estate agent walked into it, I realised
that every PhD candidate has a sacrifice story. We all give something up to achieve a dream.
What each of us sacrifice is unique to ourselves. The struggle to give up becomes apparent to
each of us, to our families, to our friends, and to our colleagues and supervisors at different
stages of our PhD journey. How each of these networks responds to the struggle may even
determine the likelihood of completing the journey.

As I walked away from the house, I asked myself why does each PhD candidate have
to sacrifice? As I thought about it, I realised my Doctor friends tell me is that the PhD
journey changed them. Their findings did not change the world, but it did change their
world. These friends tell me that they learnt something about who they are, their priorities,
and their humanity. The doctorate was as much about personal growth as academic and
professional growth.

As I walked away, I wondered if the PhD was worth the sacrifice of my home. The
conclusion I reached was that no PhD was worth any sacrifice but the PhD journey is. A
PhD is not the testamur, the academic robes, or sitting with the academics at graduation. It is
about the personal changes, the realisation that I do not know it all, that I have a lifetime to
learn, and that I can be comfortable with me. It also about learning how to be an active and compassionate listener. I could learn all this by making other choices, but I have chosen a
PhD.

I am sure that the stories of sacrifice will continue for as long as there are PhDs. Each
sacrifice will have its own personal meaning and inspire someone.. And when we put all our
stories together, there is a wealth of insight into the meaning of the PhD journey. At the end
of the journey, we will all contribute some unique and original piece of knowledge because
that is the nature of a doctorate. But in my opinion, at the end of the journey, each of us will
have learned something unique and original about ourselves, and that is what we will share
with the rest of world.

Next weekend will be the sixth open house. Maybe, a buyer will be amongst those
who inspect the house. Whatever happens, I am one more week into my journey–a journey
that will change my outlook forever. It is a journey that I do not take alone, because we all
make sacrifices and we all grow.

Not sure what all this Shut Up & Write Tuesdays nonsense is? Well here’s what you need to know…

By Siobhan O’Dwyer

Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is pretty simple. You shut up, you write, and it’s on Tuesdays. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. When it’s done right, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is a powerful way to develop, maintain, and protect an academic writing practice.

Developed by creative writers in San Francisco in the late 2000s, the Shut Up & Write model was quickly co-opted by academic writers and has been gaining in popularity ever since.  Although there are no set activities and no feedback is provided on the writing that’s produced, academics have found that writing together in a public place makes the writing process visible and social, provides a positive sense of peer pressure, enhances networks, and increases productivity (Mewburn, Osborne & Caldwell, 2014). But for those who work remotely or part-time, have family responsibilities, or juggle teaching and research, it can be hard to meet in a physical location. So in 2013 I created Shut Up & Write Tuesdays, a virtual Shut Up & Write group that allows academics from all over the world to come together on Twitter.

A recent evaluation (O’Dwyer , McDonough, Jefferson, Goff & Redman-Maclaren, in press) found that  Shut Up & Write Tuesdays fostered a sense of community, provided support and guidance for writing, shifted the emphasis from product to process, and led to quantifiable outcomes such as academic journal articles, books, book chapters, and PhD theses. By virtue of the digital format, these experiences were also international and inter-disciplinary.

From humble beginnings in 2013, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has expanded into a global community. There are now three Twitter accounts – @SUWTues (for folks in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific, and parts of Asia), @SUWTUK (for folks in the UK, Europe, and parts of Africa and the Middle East), and @SUWTNA (for folks in America and Canada) – which received more than one million views in the first six months of this year alone.  And as Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has grown, it has also come full circle, with many of our online participants being inspired to set up offline groups.

Whether you’re writing online or face-to-face, the steps are simple:

  • Set your intention for the session. Telling others what you’ll be working on keeps you accountable.
  • Use the Pomodoro Write for 25 minutes, have a 5-minute break, rinse and repeat.
  • Share your progress. Telling others how you went is a powerful way to reflect on your own practice.
  • Encourage the progress of others. Supporting others helps you build a community and learn that you are not alone in your writing struggles.
  • Reward yourself. Treating yourself to coffee, cake, or a walk in the sunshine is the most important part of the writing process.

Editors Note: USQ researchers can join others to write on Toowoomba and Springfield campuses at 10-11am on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month. Check your ReDTrain Bulletin email for details.