EARLI SIG 24: Researcher Education and Careers, 2018 meeting
Unpacking and exploring researcher communication: implications for inquiry into ECR experience
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
September 30 - October 2, 2018
SIG 24 aims to promote research and theory development in the area of researcher education and careers, both academic and non-academic. The third SIG 24 meeting was designed to expand our collective understanding of research communication as a crucial part of work.
We began with an optional writing retreat (September 29-30, 2018). This was open to all participants: a chance to write, dialogue, and read. Then, the SIG Meeting convened late in the day on September 30 and the next two days were structured to provide opportunities to learn together.
On Day 1, the aim was to expand our knowledge on ECR education by exploring our knowledge of researcher communication. Also, implications for inquiry into ECR experience was discussed. So, on the first day, a plenary preceded concurrent workshops, each of which focuses on empirical research about a particular researcher communication genre. The participants could choose two from this list: a) research funding proposals, b) textbooks, c) monograph thesis, d) peer review e) journal articles and f) professional writing. In each workshop, the participants could examine the genre from a range of ways, e.g., cutting edge and common issues, such as target audience, co-authorship, feedback and oral/written distinctions.
On Day 2, the aim was to both continue exploring the researcher communication in different ways, and focus on developing ECR education. The second day was more action-oriented and project-minded to further the range and scope of the SIG’s work.
On the second day, after a plenary to assess the progress on Day 1, we worked in groups to produce useful resources to further research and practice in the field. After the plenary, the participants chose an output group based on their interest; alternately, they could propose a new output and invite others to join:
- Develop a funding proposal to explore research communication more deeply, including which funding organization to approach
- Create a plan, including authors and journal, to approach for a special issue of a journal about research communication
- Generate an online resource for ECR synthesizing what we know about research genres
- Develop a plan to pilot ECR training as regards research communication
- Plan an online SIG resource on research communication
The participants was asked to do some work beforehand:
- Read 3 suggested articles for each of your two chosen workshops.
- Write a short bio and exchange a short structured response to the readings for each workshop.
July 1 – September 15, 2018: Complete pre-workshop task
- Read through the material for your workshops
- Write your bio and upload your written responses for each workshop.
September 15 - 30, 2018: Read the texts uploaded by others in your workshops
September 29 - 30, 2018: Optional pre-conference writing retreat
September 30 (end of Day), October 1 - 2, 2018: SIG24 meeting
The writing retreat will be facilitated by Mirjam Godskesen1 and Sofie Kobayashi2.
Writing – especially among experienced writers – is a very personal thing and habits on how to write and under which circumstances can be deeply rooted. For early career researchers, finding out what works for you can be very enabling in becoming an efficient writer. A more structured approach with sharing of writing goals and writing in fixed time slots can be helpful for some and annoying for others. You have a free choice to try out different approaches, perhaps challenge yourself on your preferred approach and gain new experiences with the writing process. We offer three different approaches with varying degree of structure and collaboration: 1) Silent writing space; 2) Time structured writing with writing goals; 3) Collaborative writing with peer feedback. The collaboration approach is about giving more room for dialogue and exchange which hopefully will invite participants who are working together.
You get the opportunity to experience a new approach in each time slot, or you can chose to continue with the same approach. We offer three different approaches with varying degree of structure and collaboration:
1) Silent writing space
This is the least structured approach where we meet up in a room and do un-facilitated writing according to our own rhythm. We get energy from the co-presence in the room, the quiet atmosphere and listening to each other tapping the keyboard.
2) Time structured writing with writing goals
This approach is strongly facilitated and we write in time slots of 0.5-1.5 hours and breaks are mandatory. Before each writing slot participants decide on writing goals that are shared and discussed in groups. This process helps to focus your writing and is also very efficient in overcoming challenges in the text. We get energy from the clear goals and the accountability towards others in reaching the goals.
3) Collaborative writing with peer feedback
In this approach there is more room for collaboration. Considerable time will be spent in pairs discussing the narrative of the text and giving concrete feedback on shorter pieces of text. But we will still spend more than half of the time on individual writing in silence. This approach is relevant if 1) you want to explore and develop a common idea in collaboration or you are already writing together; 2) you are writing on your own text and would benefit from dialogue and feedback to take the next step. We get energy from dialogue and working together in the process of giving and receiving constructive feedback.
The writing retreat is organized in three sessions over the two days of 3-4 hours each. You can swap between the approaches in between the sessions.
Evaluation of the different approaches
After each session you are invited to respond to a brief questionnaire for all of us to gain insight into how each approach is perceived by participants. This evaluation also aims to contribute to your own reflection on your writing practice.
1. Mirjam Godskesen is Part-time lecturer at the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and private consultant. Mirjam organizes writing retreats for researchers and PhD students.
2. Sofie Kobayashi is assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where she teaches and researches PhD education and PhD supervision for supervisors and PhD students.
On Day 1, we dive into the literature on researcher communication to explore forms of writing, e.g., research proposals, we may already use but without knowing the empirical evidence that could enhance our work as researchers, supervisors and developers.
To enable this exploration, we have created a series of workshops, each addressing a different form of research writing. You will be able to participate in two, and, as in previous meetings, we ask you to do some prior work (reading) and post your response.
Each workshop provides the opportunity to discuss in small groups what you learned from your reading as well as time work as a whole to synthesize the results of your discussions to report in plenary.
Please number in order of priority your preferences; we will do our best to meet your requests while working within scheduling constraints.
The problem that is recurrent … [is] that you never know what …people judge you on [so getting a grant involves] …having a good angel (Sam). (McAlpine, 2016)
I have met great scientists …that weren’t so lucky [as me] …for whatever reason …they don’t have the same luck in getting some grants …But …these are the rules of the game, I cannot change them. (Greg) (McAlpine et al., 2016)
Getting a grant is often a goal for academics and may as well be an institutional expectation. Yet, success is increasingly elusive given the reduction in funds and the increased competition. It is not surprising then that luck is often invoked as an influence in the results as we see in Sam’s and Greg’s comments. The articles listed below provide a range of perspectives on the research proposal and its genre system. If you have submitted research funding proposals already, you may be interested in analyzing one of them in light of these research findings.
- Prior work for the workshop: Research funding proposal: Why is it that the text is key but not sufficient for success?
I like to …provide …many examples from my …research …[and] encourage students to go elsewhere, so …highlight research …with colleagues …just to give them an idea …[that] we are at the cusp of what is going on in terms of new knowledge and so I …present this saying, ‘Here is what your textbook says, but actually …this is what people are thinking or this is an exciting new thing …to think.’ (Brookeye)
While I was there [fieldwork], I had one main deliverable, which was a chapter revision for a textbook that I had agreed to do, and felt really strongly that I wanted to do that, not give up that opportunity, so I somehow managed to do that, and I don’t even know how I did that really. (KS)
More exactly, I wanted to know [from my supervisor] whether I should just quote the theoretical results from the stats literature without fully understanding their basis, or whether to thoroughly read a textbook on the subject so that I get a better understanding. She thought reading the textbook would be worth it, and I tend to agree. ] (George)
These early career researchers provide us different perspectives on the role of textbooks: teacher, author, and student. Their thoughts are useful reminders of what is often referred to as a blurred genre – neither fish nor fowl. Even if we choose and use textbooks, what do we know of the varied purposes and audiences? And how well does their structure achieve these goals … as well as ours as teachers or students? These articles provide some empirical evidence to help us use (and perhaps write) textbooks.
- Prior work for the workshop: Textbook: Research? Pedagogy? Neither or both?
During the hours that I assigned for my dissertation yesterday, I had a bit of a genre-identity crisis. I was editing and revising parts of a chapter in the morning when I discovered that I have been following no more than an idea ‘in my imagination’ of what a dissertation should look like.
Most of us have had at least one experience, whether as a doctoral student or supervisor, of creating a monograph thesis – the traditional form of theses in the humanities and social sciences. Despite its book length, it is not a book and individuals are often surprised by this fact when they move after graduation towards publishing the results of their inquiry. In fact, the monograph thesis involves doctoral students in writing in a way they will never write again. So, what makes this genre unusual – and poor practice for future academic work? And, how can we use our knowledge of this in both studying doctoral experience and supervising the thesis?
- Prior work for the workshop: Monograph thesis: What makes it a one-time endeavour? Why isn’t it a book?
d. Peer review: How do we learn to deal with reviews and to act as reviewers? Why is it an occluded genre?
A big part of the academic experience is peer review and what the consequences that has for you and your career … I got two anonymous reviews from …a prestigious journal that I submitted [the ms] to—and both of those reviews were mostly positive and they did recommend it for publication. [But] they did have some issues and you really felt the subjective nature of it … when it comes to peer review, you can be very pleased with your own work …but if the people reading are expecting something different, then they are not going to be happy with it. (Barbara)
Having had more detailed experience with the whole peer review process …I just feel it is not …as good as it could be …I’m an assessment person and of course the peer review process …is assessment …and one of the important things about assessment is fairness …and I’m just not sure how clear it is …the whole idea that you get one reviewer—one reviewer asks for changes that may very well be valid …and then it doesn’t go back to that person, right, it goes on to somebody completely different who has a completely different viewpoint and it is just—it is really a never ending story …or it could be. And, the other thing …[some] people take it very seriously and take great care in commenting, etc., when others …they don’t feel accountable that it is actually a person’s reading of [the text] …it is just quite insulting ...the process is not just as good as it should be …from a pure assessment perspective. (Nancy)
Nancy and Barbara, both early career researchers, pinpoint the importance, the emotional power and the potential lack of fairness of peer review. We all experience receiving written feedback on our research and many of us write reviews. What does the research tell us about peer review that can make us better reviewers and better users of reviewer feedback?
- Prior work for the workshop: Peer review: How do we learn to deal with reviews and to act as reviewers? Why is it an occluded genre?
e. Journal articles: Why is it so difficult to write papers? What implies co-authorship? How to combine author’s voice and disciplinary conventions?
Normal writing is simple (like a slug) but writing an article is much more complex, isn’t it? The idea is that of a simple use compared to a much more elaborated use, much more evolved. And I feel very unripe at this. (Berta) (Castelló, Iñesta & Corcelles, 2013)
I’ve found many problems, how to select what is right for the article’s draft and I’ve had a lot of difficulties not feeling sure as to what was the most adequate. (Richard) (Castelló, Iñesta & Corcelles, 2013)
I feel I’m an author and I feel I am part of the disciplinary community because I have read a lot about this topic and I feel a very close identification with the disciplinary community I am addressing. The fact of having met some of the most important authors of my disciplinary community at conferences and of my dissertation director being a renowned author in this area probably helps me feel more like an author and part of the community. Perhaps I still need to feel like an IMPORTANT [capital letters show the emphasis of the student in his answer] part of the disciplinary community, but I’ll probably get to that with time and experience. (Mario) (Castelló, Iñesta &Corcelles, 2013).
Berta, Richard and Mario point out different concerns related to writing articles; the particular characteristics of both processes and products, their lack of knowledge regarding genre complexity and the process of developing a sense of authorship. We all have experienced these and other types of challenges related to writing articles. What are the results of research on writing papers? How do experienced writers deal with challenges? What can we/ do we have to offer to ECR for them to develop a scientific writing stance and be productive?
- Prior work for the workshop: Journal articles: Why is it so difficult to write papers? What implies co-authorship? How to combine author’s voice and disciplinary conventions?
Who wrote that report [HI version]? It wasn’t no IG [information gatherer]. That report threw me ... but after a couple of pages it started to make more sense than the other one [LI report]. You know ...I found myself thinking more about that fellow Czarnek [HI report] than that other one [Rokitka LI report]. That’s good. ... That helps [me] to see the whole person (Suchan, 2014) .
Come on now. You’ve got to be kidding. ... That report was trash! It breaks the rules how these things need to be done. ... It’s outside the lines. You’d have to rewrite the RADM and change our jobs... our job descriptions before those types of reports could be used (Suchan, 2014).
These quotations illustrate the discussion of two professional workers regarding whether different reports were equally useful and appropriate for their purposes. As seen, they differ on their assessment of these reports. Who and based on what issues is deciding on the appropriateness of professional writing in a range of contexts? Are disciplinary specificities key issues regarding written genres characteristics? What is the role of contexts and companies? What is the role of professional-writers’ position in their communities on professional genres establishment and development? Is there any commonality among genres and writing practices in different disciplinary communities (History vs Law or Engineering)? What early career researchers should know about professional writing?
- Prior work for the workshop: Professional writing: What is the range? What are the challenges?
EARLI SIG members: 200 Euros
EARLI SIG JURE members: 50 Euros
Non-EARLI SIG members: 250 Euros
Department of Science Education
Øster Voldgade 3
1350 København K
For your stay in Copenhagen we recommend:
Montserrat Castelló, Professor, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain
Kirsi Pyhältö, Professor, University of Helsinki and University of Oulu, Finland
Lynn McAlpine, Professor, University of Oxford and McGill University
Anna Sala-Bubaré, PhD Candidate, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain
Søren Smedegaard Bengtsen, Associate professor, Aarhus University, Denmark
Erika Löfström, Professor, University of Helsinki
Sofie Kobayashi, Assistant professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Hosting the meeting of SIG24 2018:
Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen
Contact: Sofie Kobayashi, Assistant professor
EARLI 2018 SIG 24
Researcher Education and Careers
Come join us at our 2018 meeting: Unpacking and exploring research communication: implications for research into ECR education
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
September 30 - October 2, 2018
Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media.