Reblog: The dreaded Q/A session

The Q/A session can be a daunting prospect, not only for the presenter but also for the audience members. Many of us have been in the position of having a question after a talk, but not quite daring to voice it. In a blog post over at The Female Scientist, immunologist Viki Male, suggests 7 steps to overcoming the fear of the Q/A and instead learn to use it to engage with the community and further your career goals. The post has some really good points – my favourite being “Let go of the idea that you have to ask “clever” questions. The most successful questions are usually the genuine ones.” It is worth a read.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Q&A Sessions!

The gender gap in asking questions is problematic because doing so is good for your career. Here are some tips on how to overcome your nerves and to get involved in Q&A sessions!

The evidence suggests that women ask fewer questions than men at conferences. It’s possible – indeed likely – that some of this effect can be accounted for by women being called on less often by the chair. But at least part of the problem is lacking the confidence to ask questions in front of an audience, and this seems to affect women more than men.

The gender gap in asking questions is problematic because doing so is good for your career. If you ask questions in departmental seminars, you will be noticed as an engaged scientist and good departmental citizen. This will be mentioned to your potential future employers and collaborators. When going up for internal awards, your engagement – or lack of it – will be noted and does influence your chance of success.



Reblog: Electrical shavers and splashed saline

One morning, your friend and you go to a café and get two identical coffees. Without telling you, a barista gives you a regular coffee and your friend gets a decaf. This means you are blinded to whether your drink contains caffeine or not.

I recently had the pleasure of being asked to give feedback on a blog post on blinding in clinical trials, and how this can be done if the trial involves surgery. It was a really interesting read, highlighting how creative you have to get to conceal real versus fake surgical interventions.

For anyone interested, the full post has just been released here.

For anyone very interested, the review paper that the blog post was based upon is here.


Reblog: “We need to stop calling professional development a “pipeline”

Excellent post by Small Pond Science on why ‘pipeline’ is a problematic metaphor for the scientific career path.

When we talk about increasing the representation of women and ethnic minorities in STEM, the path towards a professional career is often characterized as a “pipeline.” The pipeline metaphor is so entrenched, it affects how people think about our deep-rooted problems. This metaphor has become counterproductive, because it fails to capture the nature of the […]

read the rest of We need to stop calling professional development a “pipeline” at Small Pond Science

Reblog: “Collaboration – seek and ye shall find?”

Collaborators are highly valuable for a researcher. For many of us in experimental fields, they are the only way to get enough data to fulfil the publication demands each year (a requirement that warrants a separate, full blog post in its own right). But how does one get good collaborators? The Think Ahead blog has a good piece on collaboration, highlighting how it often depends on initial, open communication, perhaps outside of one’s comfort zone. How much time do you spend talking to someone not in your group, maybe not even in your field? The post is worth a read.

Often collaboration isn’t about having a research idea and then looking for collaborators but rather it can be by talking to others that ideas for collaboration come about.

Read the rest of Collaboration – seek and ye shall find? at the Think Ahead Blog