Journal clubs are great. Picking a recent paper for discussion with people with similar interests is a great way to keep up with the literature and means a fun hour of getting different perspectives on the paper and how it fits into the literature. These kind of clubs are usually attended (I think!) by PhD students, post-docs, RAs and faculty. But as an experiment, I initiated a club for my undergraduate lab interns and myself.
The first paper was picked by Shea Cogan and the discussion summarised by Harry Coulson. For me, this paper was a revelation of looking at something I have been thinking about for a long time in a completely different way. And I am currently designing experiments to test some of these new ideas which fit perfectly into my research programme. The experiment was thus a complete success!
The first journal club meeting commenced on Wednesday the 11th and discussed a paper on ‘Future time Perspective and Health Behaviour’. Firstly it was found that the paper originated from a medical journal, and one of the most interesting discussion points was the variance across disciplines. It was found that some of the future directions discussed by the research had in fact been conducted, however under a different name in the field of psychology. This left us wondering if a greater communication between disciplines would lead to more understanding and a quicker dispersion of knowledge. This piece of research allowed for thoughts for the future direction of our research into impulsivity and decision making, as it advised that people with different future time perspectives will answer questions differently depending on whether they are emotional or not, as well as researching further into the effects of age on decision making.
So, if you have to get up at 4am to stumble onto the first train to London to attend a bunch of talks, you really hope it's going to be worth it – and that it was!
The Keynote Seminar on Impact assembled a diverse and fascinating panel of speakers, engaging with a diverse and interested audience. And all of this in the beautiful and tangibly steeped in history Royal Society building in London.
I can't hope to summarise all of the event – with so many speakers and discussions, but some things that were said really struck a chord with me.
These points made by David Halpern, Director of the Behavioural Insights Team (points as I understood them – possibly not as he meant them)
Don't throw things over the wall It is not enough to publish things and sit back and hope it'll reach the right people
The importance of Translational bodies to communicate between researchers, policy makers and the public
The Zone of Proximal Development When academics, businesses, policy makers interact, they have to do so in the Zone of Proximal Development. This Vygotskyan idea of learning applied to different partners implies that what we do cannot be too far removed from our potential partners, if we want it to be of use to them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a PR professional: impact through communication – impact can be achieved through communication with stakeholders
Excellent – we have great PR people at Lincoln uni, and we can further build on that network.
Nicola Jones from Palgrave Macmillan
It seems obvious once you say it, but actually who is the public? the public are not just endusers but all sorts of people and they should be involved throughout the research process and not just at the end
Open access does not mean accessible – as academics we need to do a better job of communicating our research in such a way that it becomes accessible / understandable for people outside the immediate field of research
Graeme Rosenberg – the manager of the REF 2014 – (bravely) talked about the REF and Impact to a audience full of academics…
REF & Impact: should reward excellence in research and give public accountability of investment in research. It should encourage engagement with users.
Whilst impact has to be related back to evidence, the REF panel is not just interested in evidence from particular outputs – this in opposition to Sophie Duncan's point of the narrow focus of the REF
The REF panel assessing impact will have endusers – not just academic users – assessing the work
And the million dollar questions: just what is a 4 star publication? Well, the REF panel will go through a calibration process and then it is down to judgement (<to me this sounds like “no one knows….”)
“It takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, how long does it take to quantify impact of research?” Hopefully not much longer – it should be apparent from the first sentence of a case study what the impact of the research is
Mark Holmes – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Economic impact is important and easier to measure, but it's not the only impact that matters
Not just influencing policy but achieving policy outcomes
Policy makers are not always aware that they use publicly funded research to guide their decisions
Well, you probably had to be there. Much food for thought and great to see so much diversity in opinion. Whether any of this can be translated into tangible improvements to impact or research – we will have to see.
Every year in the summer we invite children between 3 and 11 years old to join us for a morning or afternoon of psychology fun. To take part in “games” – studies run by academic researchers which will tell us about a range of child development and other games – often led by students which are for fun and for finding out about how the mind works and the brain works.
Actually, why not find out all you need to know in 60 seconds here:
If I could say it more beautifully I would try, but I cannot. Bertrand Russell, a towering intellect, kind man and one of my heroes described perfectly what I think teaching and thinking should be like. His ten commandments of teaching from the 1951 issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.”
Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
The usual procedure for booking a meeting between student and tutor/ supervisor is a flurry of emails – can I meet you?, yes, when?, that day? cannot make that, another day?, no, can’t do that time etc.
Having spent many an unhappy hour with sending such emails back and forth, I have now introduced a new system for meeting my students. I have blocked out one morning and one afternoon a week when students can book a meeting with me, online, no emails required. They select the timeslot they want, fill in a brief form (incl. purpose of meeting) and the system sends both students and me and email to confirm the time and adds it to my google calendar. Meeting booked. No emails exchanged.