Thursday, 5 May 2016

Thing 21, 22 and 23 - The Future ... ?

In terms of my career as a researcher, I personally see myself in more of a management role for research teams. Largely due to my organisation skills and a compulsive need to stick to deadlines. But, I will not rule out the importance of having the practical skills and expertise, so will likely have a stint abroad conducting research in fields that appeal to me at that time, before settling in a desired career path. This is all just in the pipeline and nothing set in stone so will not rule out any fantastic opportunities at home, the University or QinetiQ if presented to me.

Having a look through “Research Professional”, I came to the conclusion it is like being a freelance doctor searching for your next contract. Among offering various funding opportunities for long term research focus, it offers opportunities to speak at events and fund travel to conferences. Being a self-reliant researcher requires you to be funded and there is no easier way to fund your work than with someone else’s money. By just having these opportunities open, it will push you to strive for these awards and to want to be seen globally to hopefully propel you further in your future career.
Do I need a website? Currently, no. But in the future a definitive, yes. A website will require a lot of continual work to keep it fresh and up to date. With the level of work during the EngD I do not see it feasible to develop new content, with the only thing of note worth publishing being my results which will be kept on a “need-to know” basis among supervisors and sponsors. But, once the EngD is complete I will have 4 years worth of content including papers, key conferences, noteworthy results and maybe even a few videos. This will be key for my future employment, as being able to give employers or heads of research funds an online CV of me as a researcher to digest in 10 minutes of their own time instead of stumbling in an interview when asked a simple question regarding my research.

Overall, the 23 things programme has been fantastic in updating my current presence on and offline while showing me other avenues a researcher should be heading down. From the programme I will continue to add to my blog updating when attending conferences, key milestones in my research and just general natter about how my experiments will most likely backfire, such is the life of a researcher! I will definitely recommend 23 things to other students and have found it a most excellent programme.


Friday, 15 April 2016

Thing 18, 19 and 20: Collaborating

Getting together for meetings and sharing of data, reports and articles used to be a face-to-face interaction with the exchange of physical material. It then went electronic with the aid of email and the internet, but still requiring your physical presence in a meeting. Now, you can get together and exchange ideas via webinars, live podcasts and Skype, either by video or text based chat rooms.
I find webinars to be a fantastic tool to host online lectures. I have frequently attended them at my current and previous workplace, with the added benefit of having it run in the background while you continue with other work on parts you may have had minimal interest in. Webinars attended included ones hosted by: Vaisala Instruments, Net Composites and Simon Zuchi (property expert). Google Hangouts, a text based chatroom, is not something I would look into hosting. Mainly, due to the current un-popularity of Google+ when there are already other more established and commonly used formats, such as Skype.

Organising meetings are now an avoidable annoyance, as when there is any more than 3 people finding a universal slot is hard to come by. So by “Doodle Poll-ing” and offering multiple time slots it is possible to find the most common date and time for all delegates. Most excellent when your supervisors are so busy that you start to suspect that they maybe Batman! (* other superheroes are available, i.e. The Thing).

Finally, file sharing is so simple now that there is no need to even download the full file, simply view online and do as you please with it. Through Dropbox you can setup a singularity in internet space for select persons who can all upload, download and edit the files in these folders. Useful for projects that may span across a company or institute where people from other departments may only see each other on an as needs basis. Again, I would not actively set-up a Google Drive for a project due to its relatively low popularity. However, would have a personal one for files if Google Mail was my primary email.

* Edit: Yes, I do see the irony in posting this on a Google based service


Thing 14, 15, 16 and 17: Get cited, Get protected

One of the tasks for this thing is to compare the number of citations and bibliometrics using Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar for a paper of your choosing. Bibliometrics are statistics relating to the number of citations a paper has and its citation impact based on factors like date of publication and disciplines associated with the source.
For the following paper the following number of citations was noted:
Chandrasekaran, S. et al., 2014. Fracture toughness and failure mechanism of graphene based epoxy composites. Composites Science and Technology, 97, pp.90–99. Available at:
Web of science – 29
Scopus – 27
Google Scholar – 40
The following bibliometrics were generated by Scopus:

Google Scholar contains absolute citations which can give it a slightly higher value when compared to other formal bibliometric sources. The key point to take away from the bibliometric data will be the “Field-Weighted Citation Impact” (FCWI) of 13.20. The FCWI is a measure of how well this paper is compared to similar articles. A FWCI of greater than 1.0 means the paper is more cited than expected according to the average paper of that discipline. To be noted: these statistics are only for paper downloads from Scopus, if the Google Scholar citations were included the FWCI would be increased meaning the paper at hand carries weight among the research community.

Alternative metrics or “altmetrics” is collated data from its mere existence on the online environment. This tool allows you to see the attention surrounding your research. Altmetrics is still in its early stages but can be an increasingly useful tool for not only analysing research impact but social impact as well (using sources from Twitter and Facebook).

Now then … a party piece for this blog has been the theme of “The Thing” representing “the things” for the 23 Things (*headache ensues*). I have been using these images off of Google Search without properly referencing their source, so can I keep them in the blog? Answer: No. So I will now issue the following disclaimer:

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed. This is a non-commercial blog, with no intentions of making money from its content.


Thing 12 and 13: Creating and sharing information

A necessary part of the PhD / EngD process (after generating tonnes of data, results and findings) is to be able to communicate all of that across in short time frames, to those who do not have the in-depth knowledge that you have acquired of the past 6, 12, 18 or etc., months. Generating media, such as presentations and vlogs, along the process can give those outside of your tight knit research community an opportunity to look inside and understand what it is your doing at their own pace and without them needing to contact you directly. It can even be seen as an on-going virtual CV for you as a researcher.

A piece of media I would like to make will be short 5 minute (at most) interviews with subject matter experts on graphene, composites or nanocomposites. With areas of expertise ranging from the research, practise and business ends of graphene nanocomposite materials. As all the members in the fields above will have different motivations or interests in the material, and actually revealing that for others in the same field can allow for tailored developments and focus for the future of graphene as a material.


Thing 9 + 10 + 11: Finding and storing information

Wikipedia. Seen as the easiest source of knowledge, but not the most reliable source. Trusting Wikipedia is like replying to that spam email in the hope for a million pounds. All the facts maybe there but with anybody able to add their two cents, take anything new you see with a pinch of salt until you have confirmed the information with appropriate references. Conveniently, these references can be found at the end of the article. Where Wikipedia may lack in reliable content, it makes up for it in a who’s who of citable authors that will most likely make up a fair chunk of a literature review.

Did you know, there is a history of edits and a discussion tab for every article? These allow you to revert to previous editions of the article and see when it was edited. Can be seen as good and bad. Good; being able to see when changes occurred, can also allow you to see if the page is evolving in response to the papers and findings being published. Which can also give the impression of how “popular” a certain topic of research is, if it is updated on a regular basis. Bad; anonymous posting.

Presentations and podcasts are what I like to call “diet” versions of academic and review papers. These pieces of media as usually generated by university professors or subject matter experts (SMEs) in industry. But they can also be generated by you to display your level of research progress / knowledge to a wider community. They are perfect to listen or watch, before or after you read up in-depth on the topic at hand. Before: pick up key words that are continually being dropped or relevant to your topic. After: having something explained in a different way (maybe using an analogy) can very easily trigger your brain allowing your grasp the point at hand. The best podcasts I have found are the TED talks. Since TED is a global community, if there is a talk on it then it is most likely a subject of international global discussion, given by done by an SME who tends to explain very coherently with recent (to the time of posting) references to the field in question. The talk on graphene by Mikael Fogelstrom taught me how to explain what graphene is to the non-scientific community, not just using analogies but explaining it in a way that the listener realises the answer themselves thereby teaching as opposed to telling someone what you do.

The academic and research community is fortunately very vast with 1000’s of researchers all over the world looking into topics with some sort of relevance to what you are doing. One researcher’s lifetime of work may only have a paragraph or line in a paper relevant to you, but it is essential to give credit where it is due. Now to manage them all: from the abyss of papers available to you, a thousand maybe relevant, you may read a hundred, skim read a hundred more and only need to reference 50 or so. Referencing software, such as Mendeley, Zotero and Coolwiz keep all these documents in one place to prevent you pulling you hair out over which documents that one paper you want went missing into. Personally, I use Mendeley due to its ease of collating folders, being able to highlight key points and the ease to build bibliographies into Microsoft Word. Referencing software is something that you reap what you sow. If you are organised with it form the offset, when it comes the time to write a report / thesis, the bibliography in some ways will already be written and any changes to references in the bulk of the document will sort themselves out, therefore reducing stress on last minute edits. (Which will inevitably occur!)


Thing 7 and 8: Professional Presence

Professional social media i.e. LinkedIn and Research Gate, are great ways to build a web of contacts with professionals with the same interests as yourself. I have been an avid user of LinkedIn since my undergraduate days, using it as a way to say, “I’m here. Hire me, please”. LinkedIn has helped me by enabling me to interact with subject experts by commenting on public posts and forums, an opportunity which would be hard to find during the day to day working life.

Research Gate is largely geared towards authors of scientific research papers, allowing a social media platform to show your reputation as an academic. However, there are still opportunities for research students and those new to their fields to gain a reputation by asking and answering questions that you have a particular expertise in. Also, you may get lucky in finding that particular research paper not available to your institute, directly from its author!

The likes of LinkedIn and Research Gate gives you a separate platform away from your private social media like Facebook and Twitter, to allow you to develop your “suit and tie” impression through the medium of your computer in the comfort of your desk or home.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Thing 4, 5 and 6

Personal branding? Are you who you think you are? I mean just because you believe you are someone does that make you that thing? Enter the internet. The internet knows who you truly are, especially social media. That one time you thought no one saw, BANG the world now knows.

Or does it? You are still in control of what you the world sees. Recent check of myself revealed an all clear. Although my surname (Nagi) does bring up a alarmingly large amount of Japanese Anime. But all in all, everything is OK.

For professional development I would have stayed clear of twitter. However, since I have not used it since I created it in 2011, I had nothing to lose. I found it to be rather excellent. You are able to engage in a slightly informal manner than other media like Research Gate and linkedIn, which feel like you are in a suit a tie at a conference. Being to communicate in such a way reminds everyone that everyone is in fact human and we are not all "SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE", with every waking breath and thought. Add me though: @DrCJGraphene 

Image sites for professional development? Hmmm, don't think I will venture that far yet. If I had some images or data I could share perhaps. But I will leave that for now and bide my time for my next burst into social media.