Since starting my new Research Associate post with Open University in April, I decided to keep a record (an updated Excel spreadsheet essentially) with all of the activities I have planned and have achieved. It has really helped me to recognise that I have actually been doing quite a bit to develop my skills and meet my career objectives. I often think back to what it is I have been doing on a daily basis and forget so many things I have done! The great thing about keeping this detailed record is not only that I can import it into my CV but I can also see the profile I am beginning to develop in terms of my research career and the skills I am acquiring in the process. I can also identify the gaps too and work out a strategy for making the most of my remaining 18 months or so in this post. So, because I like to share (show-off!), here are a few things I have been doing as a Researcher:
- Telephone interviews; I have been working on a funded research project with Prof Brid Featherstone, the Family Rights Group (FRG) and Dr Lindsay O’Dell about family/carer experiences of the Family Rights Group telephone advice line. I have never done telephone interviews before so I have gained a new skill there and am back conducting methods again!
- Writing and submitting journal articles: I have 3 in review at the moment! Fingers crossed they get useful feedback and are accepted.
- Writing book chapter: I have been asked to write two book chapters in the last month. I have said yes to these but the #acwri live chat on Twitter last night reminded me that it is OK to no if you get to busy.
- I have peer reviewed 3 articles. This is something new for me and it has been a real eye-opener. It has introduced me to a world of academic writing I never knew existed; one of spelling and grammar errors and also talented thinking in development.
- I have attended the British Sociological Association (BSA) and British Society of Gerontology (BSG) 2012 Annual Conferences, and a workshop day in Leeds about Intergenerational Geographies. These have allowed me to network with colleagues and I have even made a few friends along the way.
- Training – So far I have attended a workshop about Bidding for funding but I have plans to do more training when they are being offered again. Next up is one on Public Engagement.
From each of these activities I have gained lots of other projects and opportunities which is really exciting. It really feels as though things are starting to happen and that I am finally emerging from my PhD with something looking more like a career. My plan is to just keep going (with an eye on sensible opportunities of course) and to keep up the hard graft as always and hope it pays off. Even though times have been hard and academic careers are harder to pin down, it feels like things are working so far!
Having said all that I’m going to have a week’s holiday! I will keep updating with news as I go along!