Category: Motivation

Writing Together: Do Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth?

July 29: Nurse Liz Charalambous has shown how a Facebook group can really help boost writing (careers, June 3). We would like to take this idea one step further and argue that, contrary to a commonly held notion, ‘too many cooks do not spoil the broth’ when it comes to group writing. Instead, this approach fosters collaboration between writers, as Ms Charalambous suggests, and which has also been our experience.
Nursing Standard is the UK’s best selling nursing journal and the ultimate resource for students and fully qualified nurses.

The University of Limerick and University College Dublin primary mental healthcare research writing group recently skyped bimonthly to discuss a short piece of research written by one of four post-doctoral members.
The group read the sample in advance and discussed it with the author, facilitating her to think through her ideas in a supportive environment. Once the group reviewed and discussed the text, the author revised it, combined it with the rest of the article, and emailed it to the principal investigator.
The principal investigator and the author then finished the paper and emailed it out for review to all named co-authors. This way, the authorship was clearly defined, managed and assigned as per the necessary guidelines. The broth was ready and we had all helped to cook it.
J Klimas, D Swan, G McCombe and AM Henihan, University of Limerick, University College Dublin, Kings College London and University of British Columbia 

Read the article in the Nursing Standard Volume 29, Issue 48, 29 July 2015 at: http://journals.rcni.com/loi/ns 

Survival of the bitterest: Why dancers are good role models for scientists

What do dance and science have in common? What makes a successful choreographer or scientist? In this post, I speculate about the bitterness of the academic dance for survival. The academic competition is cruel and uneven. The fittest may not survive, but the bitterest thrive.

Read the full story in my recent post at Academia Obscura  http://www.academiaobscura.com/academia-survival-of-the-bitterest/

Random thoughts on academic mobility

What if you decide to take root, but discover a quicksand instead of a firm ground? Serendipitously, I have stumbled upon an essay about dislocation and walked into an exhibition about uprootedness on the same day.
As I wrote earlier, mobility is part of thejob description of early career academics.  A boost to the local university, economy and science are the promised trade-offs for the temporary relocation.  Few have considered the tremendous impacts that mobility has on people’s lives.

Bruce Alexander, a retired Psychology professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, theorizes that dislocation causes addiction. Free markets force people to move where the work is and leave their connections behind.

Walter Scottinspired visitors of the Stride gallery in Calgary, Alberta, to think about the fragile links that tie oneself to the place where they are born. They are nourished over the lifetime, consciously or unconsciously. One may not realise how frail they are, until they become stretched to a point of breaking.
Finally, in the Letters to Grandchildren (Greystone Books, 2015), David Suzuki offers grandfatherly advice to his five grandchildren, including this story about the horrendous journey of his Japanese ancestors to Canada:

Four years post doctorate

Being a senior postdoc brings many opportunities. I wrote about them in my blog last year. Now, I’d like to revisit them, see what’s new and what has changed.
CREDIT: Hal Mayforth


 Three years post doctorate, I wanted:

-To keep writing a lot.
In the third year post doctorate, I wrote a lot about these topics:
 How doctors sweat to discover traditions of the first nations; What to look for in mentoring? Finding the Evidence for Talking Therapies; My First Week in the Addiction Research Paradise; How to go about getting a postdoc position?; How mentoring can help transitions in academia; The best time for writing; Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards for Irish researchers; How to addess a Training Gap through Addiction Research Education for Medical Students; Mobility is part of research job description;Different styles of research supervision; How attractive are you for postgraduate students? How to build research leaders and supervisors; Working and holidays; The Annual Symposium of the Society for the Study of Addiction 2013; Re-entry shock; Saying bye slowly makes parting easier; A decade in the addictions field.

-To stay true to myself.
This was difficult. At times, I honestly have not been honest. I’ll keep at it.

-To reach a position of independence by:

a) conducting a randomized controlled trial
The pilot trial is finished. First, we wrote down our plan, a cook book for making this trial. Second, we developed and pilot tested a workshop which was later used as part of the experimental intervention. The controls received the intervention with a delay. Third, we measured the status at baselineto set up our starting point. Watch this space for more about the trial results.

b) supervising work of junior investigators.
My junior colleagues from the pilot trial helped me to learn how to be a better team player.

-To pass the accumulated knowledge and skills on other:

c) Doctors and helping professions, by helping them become more competent and confident in addiction medicine research
d) Medical students, by helping them discover and master addiction medicine research.
I had the honour to co-supervise a group of three gifted postdocs and several medical students. Two of them moved for work or study to UK. I’m grateful for the learning that workingwith them brought me.

-To maintain a happy work-life balance.
At the time when I wrote that, I realised that I took on too much. In the past year, life and family brought new challenges and I needed to split my time between them. Integrating my scientist and artist careers was another chance to learn the balancing act.

In the fourth, post-doctoral year, I’ve extended my research to addiction medicine education. This is new to me. This expansion challenged my time management skills. I wish to be able to see which of my ideas and projects need more attention and which should be put to sleep.

Resolution 2015

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of sh…t, I try to put the sh…t in the wastebasket.” Hemingway

 

Eighty years after Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald 1934, I join his self-criticism.



Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
photocredit: http://goinswriter.com/write-drunk/
In 2014, I’ve published my 100thblog post. I wrote one masterpiece to ninety-nine posts of sh…t. I tried to put the sh…t posts in the wastebasket, but the lure of the magical 100thmilestone was stronger. The number of my new posts doubled every year – starting with 14 in 2012, through 28 in 2013, to 58 in 2014. Keeping up with this trend will be a challenge in 2015.

While looking for Hemingway’s photo for this post, I found two other parallels between his life, work and my passions. First, he had an alcohol use disorder which led him to his tragic end. Mental health and substance use disorders have been the subject for most of my posts this year. If you identify as a woman, don’t drink more than 2-3 standard drinks per day. If you identify as a man, don’t drink more than 3-4 standarddrinks per day. It doesn’t matter that it’s Christmas. These are recommended low-risk drinking limits. Second, this fantastic software, named after Hemingway, can improve your writing: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/As its creators write: “Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear. Hemingway highlights long, complex sentences and common errors.”

I want to keep writing a lot, but I also want to write for new publications, websites and channels.

Readers of my blog will see less premieres and more re-publications. I will re-posts my texts from other websites that I (will) support to keep the writing ball rolling.

With this, I’d like to thank you for reading. I wish you a productive 2015.

Keep writing a lot!