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I realised that this week marks a year since I submitted my thesis. In some ways it feels a lot longer than that, and in others, like it was only yesterday. To the untrained eye (and my CV), it could look like I’ve not really been up to much, but actually looking back it has been non-stop work (I could *really* use a holiday!). So the idea with this post is to talk a bit about the unseen work of trying to stay in academia after a PhD.

To begin with, I started applying for academic jobs. It’s always been my goal to carry on in an academic career – this was why I returned to study for my masters and PhD. Previously, I had been working as a research assistant but knew that I needed a PhD to be able to progress further, so I gave up my post to become a student again. Over the year, I think I’ve applied for ten jobs at a range of institutions, and I’ve had one interview. I’ve found that it is pretty standard that Universities won’t give feedback to candidates who don’t get shortlisted. So it’s a bit of a catch 22, and very frustrating; it’s hard to tell if I am getting any better at applications. I’ve now stopped applying for short term (one year or less) contracts for the time being, until the Spring (but that’s a future blog post).

After a few months, I stopped focusing on job applications as it was not proving good for morale and job applications had been taking priority over other things (as they have deadlines), which meant I had not made as much progress as I’d hoped on writing up papers from my PhD. So I switched focus early in 2017; I’ve continued to apply for jobs but less frequently, and instead had a bit of a writing blitz, which was much more satisfying (I do really enjoy academic writing). And it is paying off; since then, I’ve had two journal articles published, I’m working on minor revisions for two more, and have two further papers out for review. I’ve also been able to do some of the side project ideas that I’d put to one side in order to get my PhD finished on time, and have got a few collaborative papers developing out of those for further down the line (thank-you, all 🙂 ).

I’ve also been applying for more grants this year, which has also been enjoyable. Unlike job applications, I do feel like I’m learning from the process and might be getting better at it; it’s also been helpful to get feedback from unsuccessful applications. I think that proposal number 8 is about to be submitted. The grants I’ve applied for have ranged from £1,500 to £250K. Some have been as an independent researcher, but it’s more common to have to go through a host institution. Two of them I wrote but did not get submitted; one decided I was ineligible to apply without an academic job already, and the other I didn’t get a host institution in time (it would have only been 50% full economic costing, so was quite an ask). Two have been unsuccessful so far, but I was absolutely thrilled when I got the SRHE Newer Researchers award! I’m waiting to hear about the remaining three (it might be a while).

Who can I be now?

Who can I be now?

So it has been quite a busy 12 months. It has been quite hard to keep going with the job applications, and I had thought I would have a job by now, but striking a balance between job applications and doing the things which I enjoy (and are still academic work – writing papers, grants, doing small projects – you have got to love what you do, otherwise I would have stopped long ago!) has been an important part of keeping up momentum. I think that making use of the time to catch up with papers is particularly valuable as each one will bolster my CV a bit more. I’ve had a couple of short freelance research contracts in the last couple of months, and I am going to be hosted by IET as a visiting fellow for the next 12 months to carry out my SRHE project. So the plan for now is to keep going 🙂

 

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A few months ago, I started a side project doing a bit of work on the REF Impact Case Studies database. Impact Case Studies were introduced for the first time in the 2014 REF. One of the things which I have been thinking about as a result of this is a question of whether there are any gender differences in submissions of impact case studies compared to submission of academic publications in the REF.

My thinking on this was prompted by some of the sessions I went to at last years’ Association of Internet Researchers, and whether (as is seen in other contexts, e.g. Pruchniewska & Duffy) use of social media (which is often linked to gaining academic ‘impact’) is perceived to be ‘female’ work.

But, before starting to explore gender differences in the Impact Case Studies, there’s a bigger question of gender differences in REF submissions overall, as a baseline for comparison. This information can be found in a 2015 report by HEFCE into “the impact of disability, age, sex, ethnicity, nationality and early career researcher status on the selection of staff for inclusion in the REF 2014”. Although I had found it because I was looking for figures by gender for the REF submissions overall (which comprised 16,660 female academics, and 35,525 male academics), it also contains some fascinating statistics about the rate of inclusion in the REF – i.e. out of the total number of eligible staff, how many were actually selected to be included in REF submissions.While around two thirds of eligible male staff were included, only around half of eligible female staff were. This chart begs for some further research and understanding:

But how do the REF Impact Case Studies compare to the REF overall? Note that the Case Studies include both individual academics and projects or teams, so not all of the submissions could be categorised by gender. As a quick and admittedly imperfect way of assessing this, I ran searches for the phrases “her research” and “his research”:

The ratio of female to male academics is fairly consistent across both the case studies and REF in general. Social media was part of my thinking when I started this; how often are the most highly mentioned social media platforms found along with the phrases “her research” or “his research”?

Again, the differences between each gender aren’t dramatic, but may be indicative of different ways in which social media is used for impact. For example, in the other work which I’ve been doing, YouTube is often cited as a way of broadcasting other traditional media (e.g. TV programmes, invited lectures) to a greater extent than being academic-led, community-focused initiatives. There are also some disciplinary differences which may be playing a role. More to follow on that in a future post!

This month I started on the second half of my work with the OER Hub. Building on discussions between Martin Weller, Viv Rolfe and Irwin DeVries, I have been working on developing a timeline of key papers in the history of Open Education. I’m also working through the papers, to tag them with keywords and draw out broader themes (I’m about halfway through this so far, and am sure that my thinking will shift a bit before it is ‘finished’). A draft version can be found online here: http://www.katyjordan.com/opened_draft.html.

Although it is very much work-in-progress, I wanted to share it and to ask for any feedback or thoughts, particularly in relation to:

  • Suggestions for other really key, seminal works in the history of Open Education that I am currently missing
  • Suggestions for any additional keywords, topics or themes to draw out of the papers

Comments welcome – thanks! 🙂

This month, I’ve started on a short contract to do some work with the wonderful OER Hub. Initially I am working to help populate the OER World Map, which is an online database of all things OER (projects, organisations, events, case studies, resources) pinned to a map of the world.

So far, I have mainly been focusing on adding CC-licensed case studies related to OER from other sites to the map. If you have anything you would like to see added to the map, anyone can register to become a contributor (tip: click on ‘login’ in the top right to register, not the links to ‘contribute’). Alternatively, if you’d rather then feel free to post a comment here with details about anything you’d like to add and I can add it for you 🙂

Via Figshare, I’ve published to of the key figures I find myself using frequently in relation to academic social networking sites. Figshare issues Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to resources hosted on the site, so if you do find them useful, this is a handy way to cite them.

The first figure is from my thesis; a timeline of academic social networking sites (DOI: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1460787.v1):

The second is a chart showing the number of registered users on Academia.edu and ResearchGate over time. The data is drawn from online articles about the sites, and on Figshare, the figure is accompanied by a spreadsheet with links to the sources for all the data points included (DOI: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4769815.v1):

At the moment, I’m doing a lot of writing, catching up on writing up papers from my PhD and other loose ends, and also drafting potential funding bids. It’s going well, but I find that I can’t sit and write non-stop all day. I need little side projects to do a bit of work on for a bit for a break.

Something which I’ve had in mind as an interesting side project for a while now is looking at the similarities and differences in pages about MOOCs in different language versions of Wikipedia. Initially, I was going to scrape the references from a sample of pages, and look to see which articles or resources are cited in different versions of Wikipedia. However, I quickly discovered that there isn’t much consistency in referencing – the same article could have a full citation in one version, but just a hyperlink in another, for example. I would also be relying on auto-translation, which adds another bit of uncertainty.

But, then I decided it would be better to look at the URLs of references, which would solve both issues. Happily, there is a way to retrieve all of the external links from a Wikipedia page automatically, using the Wikimedia API. For example (substitute whichever page name you’re interested in in place of ‘Coffee’):

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/api.php?action=parse&page=Coffee&prop=externallinks

With this, it was then simply a case of copying and pasting into a spreadsheet, and importing into Gephi to visualise the network of co-cited links. I included the Dutch, English, French, German, and Swedish Wikipedia MOOC pages (based on being the five largest editions in terms of number of articles – note that the Cebuano edition is second largest, but doesn’t have an entry for MOOCs):

linklevel

I haven’t included labels in the static picture above as there were too many and too long, but the network can be explored in more detail in the interactive version here (opens in a new tab).

I also edited the URLs to the domain level, which reveals a greater level of overlap:

domainlevel

Again, labels aren’t included here as I haven’t managed to get a good layout with readable labels yet. But the nodes here are scaled according to out-degree, so the domains which are cited more highly are larger. The cluster in the middle represents the most frequently used sites (check out the interactive version for more detail and labels).

My initial thoughts on this are that I was surprised that there isn’t a greater amount of overlap; that the online Higher Education media is an important source of information (e.g. The Chronicle has a higher degree than any of the MOOC platforms); and cMOOC thinking also comes through strongly. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!

Several years ago, when I was working with the Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Programme, I developed an interactive timeline for the website which set out a brief history of technology-enhanced learning, going back all the way to Victorian correspondence schools.

Out of the blue last week I received a message that it was no longer working, and whether I have a static version, as it’s a valuable reference resource. I had almost forgotten about it – the date on the webpage suggests I made it back in 2011 – but I’m glad that folks have found it useful whilst it has been quietly sitting on my website since then.

I’ve fixed the problem and tidied it up a litle but it is due for an update – notably, MOOCs have happened since then; I’ve added a couple of the major events to get started (but MOOCs could form a timeline all of their own and this is supposed to be a brief history!) – suggestions are very welcome 🙂

The timeline can be found at: http://www.katyjordan.com/TELtimeline/TELtimeline.html

tel_timeline