How to organize a small workshop in your department

In academia, we have to serve the community in many ways, e.g. by reviewing conference abstracts and journal articles (see previous post), editing conference proceedings, organizing colloquia/workshops/conferences, representing faculty members/students or scholarly bodies, etc. I mentioned in a previous post pthat the “management skills” section of your CV needs to be filled by the time you apply for competitive postdoc grants. Organizing a small workshop is a great...

Planning for flexibility in a research project

The beginning of a research project is often very exciting: you have a cool research idea, and it is finally going to come to fruition, hopefully giving you some exciting answers. But a lot needs to happen between point A (coming up with a way to tackle a research question) to point B (getting the answer to that question). Some people are tempted to plan every last detail...

How to review a research article

Peer review is central to the scientific process, and I have written about what to expect when you are submitting a journal article, and how the peer review process works, but what happens when you are on the other end of the pipeline? How do you review an article? Firstly you might ask how you do you even get selected to review an article in the first place?...

How to find a postdoc position.

After submitting your PhD thesis, you may want to consider finding a postdoctoral position. A postdoc gives you the chance to further refine your skills and expertise, under the guidance of an experienced researcher. A postdoc doesn’t need to be on the same topic as your PhD, you can switch fields or techniques if you want, although if you switch both you may have a harder time and...

Peer coaching in academia: a surprisingly effective way to help each other

Peer coaching has recently become popular in academia, and for good reasons. It can be surprising how similar our issues are to our colleagues’ and how well we can help each other. On a sunny afternoon last May, I walked into a conference room, my heart beating fast. I greeted the other five people in the room, and we exchanged slightly nervous smiles. It was the first time...

What to do during your PhD to be competitive

Last year, Alya and I organized an Academic Skills Workshop in our department. This idea blossomed while we were writing up a lengthy postdoctoral grant proposal. We realized that certain sections of our CVs had been neglected. While talking to several PhD candidates and postdocs from different labs, we realized that a lot of them felt they lacked this kind of mentoring from their PI, their lab, or...

How to write a literature review

It’s time to start your literature review! You have read what feels like, and actually may be, hundreds of articles, but you are sitting there and having a staring competition with a blank word doc, and the word doc is winning. Where do you start? It can definitely feel overwhelming to try and sum up a whole field of research in sometimes as little as a page. A...

Flexibility in academia

It’s a Tuesday evening, you’re sitting at your desk, and you’re finishing up some analysis. You’re debating whether to go home or not yet. Have you done enough work today? You’re not sure. How could you know? Working in academia is often prized for its flexibility. Flexible working hours are convenient because you can fit a doctor’s appointment in whenever you like. You can also go to the...

Setting up your online academic profiles

Last month I wrote about the importance of setting up a personal academic website, and how to go about doing it. This month I want to go over the additional online tools and profiles you may want to consider setting up. The usefulness and importance of these may vary from field to field, and country to country, but if you haven’t already it may be worth checking them out...

How the peer review process works

The peer review process is such an integral part of the scientific endeavour, and yet strangely you only find out exactly how it all works when you submit your first paper – until now that is. So sit back, relax and enjoy as we take you through the wonderful world of the peer review process! The first thing that happens after submission is your manuscript is assigned to...