Thing 23 – End Game

So the final thing is reflection…what have I learned? What will I do next? Am I a better person? Who really did frame Roger Rabbit? One thing that remains, unfortunately, is my overall scepticism of the personal benefits to these sorts of communications in a professional context – and to clarify again, I’m referring to my professional context. Things like blogging, facebook, twitter etc. need an audience, which beyond this RDP bubble is not really there, but more crucially they need a real purpose – something important to say. Throughout the course of my research I am of course hoping that I will have important things to say, but I already know that social media on the internet can never be the forum for disseminating it. Having said that, I may not always be in the position that my research is bound behind confidentiality, indeed I may not always be a professional in the scientist arena – so the content around personal branding may be one day be more relevant.

A lot of content on the more professional branding side of things has reinforced many of the practises I already had going. It has, however, given me fresh impetus to update and maintain my linkedin and researchgate profiles and also to try and build a bigger network of colleagues. Another confirmation for me was my use of mendeley, as I mentioned I had already been recommended this program and started to use it, but research into the alternatives has convinced me I’m using the best tool for referencing. The two things that stick in the mind as most useful going forward were about copyright/open access and alternatives to powerpoint. Two things I will definitely have to consider in the future are the rights to my data and published work as well as how I can make formal presentations stand out from the crowd and engage the people I’m talking to. Overall, this foray into the world of blogging has been a hugely positive experience – even if it still feels slightly weird and as if I’m talking to myself. Sometimes though, even talking to yourself can help with a sense of perspective so maybe I’ll be back one day soon – if I discover anything worth talking about!

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Things 21 & 22 – Back to the…

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…future. Mine. To be honest it’s hard to look beyond the next three and a half years that will be consumed earning the title of doctor. Anyone who knows me knows how incredibly disjointed my so called ‘career’ has been and knows my sense of ‘where I want to be in 5 years’ time’ has always been somewhat murky. Even now I don’t know where this doctorate will take me…industry or academia, Europe or America, riches or destitution? I think I can rule out riches, but still! I hadn’t heard of either *Research Professional or Euraxess before these things and both look like extremely useful tools, especially if my future lies in academia. At the moment my research is obviously funded and I don’t really need to seek additional funding, except for extra cash to attend conferences, which can be done through the various societies and institutions that I am now a member of. Regardless, I thought it was useful to sign up to *Research Professional and get a feel for the website, what it offers and the kind of funding paths available – it’s a very possibility that this sort of thing will be part of my future. As for Euraxess, it boasts a Research Jobs section, which, unless I’m missing something, is less than sparse at the moment. There is, however, a page linking to some more populated job websites, most of which I was already aware of but also some useful new links.

In terms of my own website or online profile page, I am again hit with the barrier that what I will be researching for the foreseeable future is highly sensitive and not available for advertising on the internet. For this reason I am happy just to cultivate my Linkedin and ResearchGate profiles and allude to what I am doing in relation to the skills I am developing – as a scientist and a professional. Hopefully in three and a half years I will still be both of those things and I might warrant a university profile page somewhere…:)

Things 18, 19 & 20 – Doodle pip

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It’s obvious that Doodle is an extremely useful tool both socially and professionally, although the only occasions I seem to use the site in a professional environment are in some sort of social context – menu choices at the Christmas party comes to mind! I have never actually set up a Doodle poll before, despite having used the site quite often – again exclusively in social context. So it was useful to have a play about with the features and see what, if anything, might be applicable to me during my studies. Sign up is easy, again this can be done with a click via facebook and then, after politely refusing the offer of Doodles newsletter subscription, I’m ready to schedule. As I expected the process of scheduling an event is very straightforward…it’s no coincidence the site is used by many of my friends because it is enormously user friendly and essentially idiot proof (lots of my friends are idiots you see). One of the most useful features of the site is being able to connect with a number of different calendar platforms, including Outlook, which going forward is a huge plus point if I want to consider using the site to arrange meetings with supervisors and collaborators. As for the premium options, I really think this would only make sense for businesses with the inclination and budget for this level of scheduling detail.

Things 14, 15, 16 & 17 – Mine, mine, mine!!

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Wow…a huge amount of content and information in these 4 things! I’m going to try and apply some of the topics to paper I have published, and yes, I’m aware I keep banging on about this tiny spec in the researchivese but it’s all I have and the more I learn about academia the more amazed I am that it got published with relative ease – so I’ll will persist unapologetically…

I’m also aware I keep referring to this paper, yet provide absolutely no evidence it even exists, which seems as counterintuitive as it does suspicious. So here it is…all free and available via the wonders of ResearchGate. It wasn’t until today that I really took time to considered the process that allowed this or the implications. I know it was made available on the site by my previous supervisor and co-author, but this is the problem, I’ve always left the issues of ownership and copyright to superiors – it’s high time to brush up! Had I been asked a couple of weeks ago – ″Is your paper Open Access?″ – after dusting myself off from the shock induced fall I would’ve perhaps responded unconvincingly and with ill-informed hesitation – ″Er…no″. This guess would’ve been based on the fact that I have tried to download my own paper from a non-university source and been met with a request for money. I know that by agreeing for your work to be published you are effectively handing ownership to the journal, so as much as it feels like an affront to be asked for my own money for something I wrote, it is nonetheless understandable. It seems the journal in question does have an Open Access option, but this, surprise surprise, requires (significant) financial input from us, the authors. We pay OpenOnline $3000 and they highlight the paper as Open Access and allow anyone, anywhere to grab it. I now know the reason the paper can be uploaded ResearchGate is because it is there as an ‘author’s version’ – which has everything that’s in the ‘publisher’s version sans le frills. I can only assume my former boss read the appropriate terms that allowed him to legally do so…and having made that assumption the important thing is that now the paper can be read by anyone without the barrier of passwords or money and with a DOI link on this copy it can be cited as normal.

As for impact, well I’m not stupid, I don’t need metrics to know this work hasn’t shaken the world. It’s hardly a huge surprise given the obscure nature of the research area (and researcher!) – indeed I regard the fact that it has been cited at all as a minor miracle. And it has been, including in a book no less, with one of my beautiful sets of micrographs used as a figure (I don’t need to assume the authors asked permission from the new owners of my work because it says so in black and white under the figure!). However, depending on where you’re looking this citation may or may not appear – for example, on ResearchGate it doesn’t, only the two journal paper citations are present. For Web of Science it gets worse, just one citation is credited…it’s only on Google Scholar and Scopus where all three citations appear.

There are so many possible metric considerations when faced with the task of selecting a journal that it almost seems detrimental – so many numbers and classifications it is difficult to know what is relevant and ultimately what will allow your research to reach more of the people it is intended for. Clearly a good place to start is the quartile for your specific subject category, though it helps if you can pin what you’re doing down to one or two of these. In the year my paper was published the journal was Q1 for Pathology and Forensic Medicine and Q3 for Genetic, but neither of these really accurately describe the area of research despite it being very pertinent to the publication. I had very little input on journal choice in this case and it would be interesting to go back and have a conversation with my superiors who did, but I think a lot of it is experience – the more work you do in a particular field the more of a feel you have for which journals are worth shooting for. Equally important is knowing where is relevant, it’s no use publishing in a journal with stellar numbers if the audience doesn’t care about your contribution.

Finally, I should mention that the image used at the top of this post is ‘appropriately licenced’ and all above board, which I cannot confidently claim for the previous posts :/

Things 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 – Many things!

After a week away on the slopes (literally and metaphorically), I’m back to discuss many things…I’ve decided to roll the last two weeks up in one post and I’ll begin with a referencing programme that I’m new to but I already know it will save me a lot of time and aggravation; Mendeley.

In the past I have chosen to reference my work manually, from the earliest project work as an undergraduate to my MPhil thesis. This was out of a general disdain for Endnote and a perceived lack of alternatives. I also think my experiences with Endnote, which I find terribly non-user friendly and convoluted, put me off even attempting to look for alternatives. So I always opted to keep track of my references myself, either literally by writing them down on a piece of paper or typing them out as I went along. This came with a certain level of comfort, knowing that if I stayed organised nothing could really go wrong and it meant I had a strong knowledge of what I was referencing and where. The trouble is, this method is extremely time consuming, especially for a document the size of an MPhil thesis, because things change and the order of the references changes and doing this all manually is a pain. And no matter how organised you are the potential for error is high.

Mendeley was recommended to my twice in quick succession following the start of my doctoral degree and by people strongly connected with my project – so I thought I should take the leap and give it a go. I’m more than happy I did. The initial setup is quite time consuming, especially if, like me, you already have quite a large library of papers/books to upload and want to get them all uploaded and organised in one go. This took the best part of two days, including standardising the format and altering some information that was wrong when added to the library. Now, though, I can simply add references as I go, these can be downloaded pdfs through to manually added website references, sync the library and use them straight away as I type on any computer where I have the programme set up and linked to Word. Linking to Word and then using within Word is extremely simple and I’m already benefiting from the time saved by this on an upcoming report. Surrey have set up an information sharing system for referencing software and I feel comfortable enough with Mendeley to be part of that support network – you can contact rdp@surrey.ac.uk for help… (remember to include which programme and as much detail of the problem as possible!)

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In an attempt to segue into the next topic as seamlessly as possible, it is worth pointing out that Mendeley does not currently have a plugin for Powerpoint and this is a slight annoyance since much of the work I’m likely to present in the next few years is likely to need referencing. In no way is this a major problem, because the likelihood that any list will extend much beyond about 10 is low. This section on sharing research will again be brief, because although presentations will certainly form part of my research the notion that I might be able to share any of them online is a bit of a fantasy – just getting them cleared for speaking at mandatory conferences will be a challenge. This obviously also rules out publishing podcasts or screencasts, however, the latter seems like an extremely useful tool and I may revisit sites Screencast-o-matic and Jing in the future if I end up doing any teaching or lecturing. In terms of rivals to Powerpoint, I can see the appeal, particularly from an anti-monotonous point of view. The main issues here, particularly in my line of work, relate to legacy and compatibility. From browsing some examples on Slideshare, Note & Point and Speaker Deck, however, one thing that has resonated is the need to break away from convention regarding slide design – even if this remains within the confines of Powerpoint!

Things 7 & 8 – Professional secrecide

Having developed a bit of a presence on Linkedin and Researchgate prior to 23thinging, and having already prattled on about them a bit, I decided to focus this week’s thingy on Academia.edu. Prior to this week I only knew the website by name, I didn’t know much else beyond what can be assumed from the learned title…

So, apparently PLOS ONE found that papers uploaded to academia receive a 69% boost in citations over 5 years, which is, like, 13.8% per year – I had to use a calculator for that but I think the point eight percent is important! My publication list stretches to all of 1, which, according to Pub Med, has been cited an astonishing 3 times in three years…that’s 1 per year! (no calculator required)

With giddy thoughts of an extra 0.138 citations per year, off I clicked…

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On the face of it Academia seems very similar in concept and content to Researchgate – upload your work, follow people, get followed, receive moral boosting notifications when someone reads your work and then watch the citations roll in. And like most sites these days that require you to create a profile, it’s made quicker and easier by clicking through facebook or google+. This does save time and it is easier but I’m always a little nervous about the little box that pops up telling me they’re going to harvesting all my information.

It’s hard to see what Academia adds on top of Researchgate aside from a little bit more exposure…the networking aspect is there but it lacks a lot of the features that make Researchgate such a useful platform, like skill endorsements. I am reliably informed, however, that Academia will notify me when I’ve been googled, who by and where they are, which is exciting – if it ever happens. Anyway, I’m on, the paper is uploaded and now just a short 7.246 years to wait for my 1 citation boost…:)