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“The Time Has Come” The Walrus Said …

To write my last post for phd2published. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as the managing editor of this site but it is now time for me to move on to new things. When Charlotte offered me this opportunity just after my viva last year I wasn’t sure what I could contribute or whether it was a good idea but I have always taken every opportunity that has come my way so I said yes and saw it as a fabulous learning curve, and that’s exactly what it has been.

I have learnt a great deal about academic publishing and academic career development over the last 9 months and a great deal has happened for me on the back of being here thus, I shall use this last post to review my achievements through giving you my top tips:

Put Some Thought into Your Journal Choice and Don’t Be Scared of Top Ranked Journals:

For a variety of reasons I came to the end of my PhD not having published anything as a sole author. I had contributed to a number of policy reports but I had not got any peer reviewed publications out. this was a conscious decision which made sense at the time but at the same time when I got to the end of my PhD I was playing catch-up and this does impact upon your ability to get a post-doc position. Academic departments in the UK are now looking at what potential new staff can or will be able to offer toward the REF. For early-career researchers this is two publications in ‘good’ journals. ‘Good’ generally relates to impact factor and many early-career researchers are scared off from aiming at the top ranked journals in their field. One of the key messages from the Royal Geographical Society Post Graduate Forum Annual Conference Training Symposium (PGF-ACTS) was that if you have a piece which you think is relevant to that high ranking journal you should go for it! they treat everyone the same, even the big names get rejection letters!

The other message was do your research and Inger Mewburn talked about that in her post here. You need to know what they cover and how, read some sample articles if you aren’t as familiar with it and then go for it. I have recently submitted two papers to journals I wouldn’t have even considered, hopefully I’ll be able to come back and tell you what happened in the future.

Be Visible On and Offline:

Network, both on and offline, if you can bring the two together even better. I was a panellist at the Royal Geographical Society Conference this year because of my presence online here at PhD2Published and elsewhere. I was invited to talk about how social media can be used by researchers to promote their work and engage in professional development activities. The online and offline academic worlds are, to a certain extent, occupied by different people, so engaging with both increases your opportunities to network and join forces with likeminded researchers.

I would also encourage you to network across and outside of your own discipline. Many of the people I work with now are not geographers, they are from a range of different fields and each brings a new perspective and approach.

The online and the offline worlds can intertwine. I wrote a blog post for the thesis whisperer about whether the relationships between supervisors and their students can be viewed as customer and provider, I argued that it isn’t like that (you can read my thoughts here). The post went live and within two hours there was a stream of tweets and retweets about it from across the globe. It got picked up in a tweet from the Times Higher and ended up, the following week, as the feature of their scholarly web column both online and in the print version. Being able to translate online impact into print media increases both your impact and reach as a researcher.

Learn How to Create Impact and Find Your Niche:

Remember your PhD is a sum of many parts. One of the things I was overly concerned about when I finished was that I was increasingly becoming known for my work in social media and not the conceptual topic of my thesis and I felt I had let myself and my work down. However, as the head of Researcher Development at King’s College London told me in my first Guardian web chat the focus is on how I did my research which led me to the end topic rather than the concept itself. The application of social media within research and researcher development is something which is still evolving. From that initial conversation I have developed training courses, along with my networked researcher project that support and promote the use of social media in academic research and researcher development and led me to my first proper job. I have also been asked to contribute content to SAGE Social Science Space and write the post-doc diary column for the Guardian Higher Education Network. I have found my niche, I have developed my speciality from personal usage and an academic understanding of what the technology can do rather than a perceived administrative need or technical development quest.

Hold Your Nerve:

Actually this is something Charlotte kept telling me and it took me a long time to believe her. It will happen, a bit like buses I found, nothing happens for ages and then BOOM it all hits at once. While I know it’s important not to over commit yourself try to take up as many opportunities offered to you as possible as you never know which one will be the one which make things happen. I know have my own site, I write regularly for a range of other outlets, I have papers in review and a book contract with Inger Mewburn aka the thesiswhisperer coming my way as well as having been featured in the Times Higher Educational Supplement and securing my first academic job post-PhD and yes, everything happened at once!

When I wrote the first draft of this post the details around the book contract were somewhat unclear so I didn’t want to mention to much but it does now seem that the collaboration between myself and Inger is now go for launch and will be published by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Press hopefully sometime next year. The book will look at the digitisation of the research process and will provide a friendly guide to what web 2.0 develpments can offer academics in terms of input and output. In securing this publication it shows that the advice given on this site works and that  if you follow my tips you should move in the right direction. Coming to the end of a PhD is a bit weird, its been all consuming for so long that you do need to rest, you do need to think, but you also need to get on top of things before you find they have got on top of you. It can be done, we are proof that if you put the work in you will reap the rewards.

Thank You and Goodbye …

While I am leaving PhD2Published I am not vanishing completely, hopefully I’ll be able to update you on what happens with my papers which are currently in review and Inger and I will report back on the development of  ‘The Connected Academic’. I will be working hard on developing and moving forward my networked researcher project with a little bit of help from Ernesto Priego and friends. Along with that I will still be writing regularly for the thesis whisperer and continuing with my Post-Doc Diaries for The Guardian Higher Education Network, and the LSE Impact Blog. I shall also be creating content targeted toward early-career researchers for the SAGE resource Social Science Space. You can also find me on my blog or follow me on twitter here, don’t forget to follow networked researcher too.  I wish Charlotte and PhD2Published every success for the future.

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