Workshops

I visit other universities and do workshops for researchers of all ages and stages – here is some information if you are interested:

Below is a list of all the workshops I do with learning outcomes, staging details and a link to the slide deck. In most cases, I charge a fee to deliver these workshops outside of ANU. Please contact me on inger.mewburn@anu.edu.au if you are interested. I do some pro-bono work, depending on the circumstances and my availability. Please be aware that I am normally booked at least six months in advance.

Note: If you are a member of the ANU community and would like me to run one of these workshops internally for free, please contact my team via researcherdevelopment@anu.edu.au. I do not offer an individualised thesis coaching or proofreading service. If you need this kind of help, please look at the Recommended page where I list some trusted suppliers.

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Beyond plan B: planning a post PhD career in an age of uncertainty.

Over 60% of research degree graduates exit academia on completion of their degree. The majority of the graduates who stay face a future of insecure work and time limited contracts in academia. What can you do now to prepare yourself for your future career? What options are available to you inside and outside of the academy? How should you go about the job search? More importantly, how are you going to make a living out of your research skills now and into the future, while facing conditions of uncertainty? In this workshop we will look at the research showing the demand for researchers inside and outside of academia and think about how you can plan, now, for your future career – whatever it might be.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have developed an appreciation for the wide range of skills and attributes required of early career researchers in a range of career destinations
  • Understand recruitment processes so that you can approach the task of looking for a job with increased confidence
  • Have started the process of identifying the opportunities available to you and how to position yourself to make the most of them

Audience: early to mid candidature
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12 Max student number: 45
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables, whiteboard and pens.

Link to slide deck

Participants say:

“It was a very illuminating and dare I say encouraging talk. I say that because honestly, I had walked in thinking I was going to leave around 4 pm questioning why in the first place I decided to pursue a PhD… I want to thank you for the talk. I feel a bit more confident about my prospects for the future.”

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How to fix your academic writing trouble (the workshop of the book)

Academics read a lot of tortured prose written by their students. Some of this prose is technically competent, but for a range of reasons fails to persuade a highly knowledgeable and experienced reader. Writing in an ‘academic style’ that makes you sound scholarly is essential, but if no one ever tells you there is a style, or how to achieve it, it’s easy to find yourself lost and confused. While there are differences, some issues of style transcend disciplinary boundaries. In this workshop we will focus on key ‘pain points’ of academic writing. Mastering these elements of style will help competent academic writers become outstanding and persuasive communicators. This workshop is based on our book ‘How to fix your academic writing trouble’ and contains practical exercises and information that will be of value to any research writer, up to and including late career academics.

Audience: any academic writer engaged in doing research, but late stage PhD candidates will probably benefit most.
Length: whole day of 6 hours (but can be modified to a half day)
Number: No more than 30 participants
Resources: A/V, cafe style tables, whiteboard and pens.
Copies of the book that goes with this workshop are available from Open University Press.
Participants should bring: their own internet enabled device and copies of their work in progress

Link to slide deck

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How to influence others with your research

Research pitching skills have become increasingly important for PhD students. You will be called on to pitch your research at conferences, in seminars and for various competitions – but what what is pitching and how can you get good at it? The word ‘pitching’ can have bad connotations. Some see it as a commodification of research and researchers, but in this workshop we will reframe it as a useful way of thinking about the impact of your research for the community. In this workshop we will learn what a good pitch is (and isn’t) and how to build a compelling one. This workshop is designed specifically for candidates who are doing the Visualise your thesis competition, but will be useful for other situations, like the Three Minute Thesis or just to help you make more impactful conference presentations.

Audience: mid candidature
Length: 3 hours
Number: up to 40 participants
Resources: A/V, cafe style tables, whiteboard and pens, 4 packs of post it notes / 2 different colours
Participants should bring: pen and paper

Link to slide deck

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What do examiners want?

Does a thesis have an audience of 2 or 2000? While you write for other researchers in your field, you must first please just two or three people: your examiners. In this workshop we will examine the research on how examiners examine and ask: What separates a good thesis from a bad one? Why do examiners look for their own work in the bibliography? What makes examiners cranky? and other burning questions.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have a better understanding of the examination process generally (and how it tends to work at ANU).
  • Know what the ‘pain points’ for examiners are and how to plan for them in the way you write your thesis.
  • Have started developing an examiner selection template.

Audience: early to mid candidature
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 60
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens

Link to slide deck

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How to win the three minute thesis

Having a concise ‘elevator pitch’ about your research and why it is important is useful when you are talking to people at conferences – and when your grandmother demands to know why you haven’t left school yet at the family BBQ.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an international competition which asks research students to present a compelling three minute oration on their thesis topic, and its significance, in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience – using a single PowerPoint slide. In this workshop we watch videos of 3MT winners (and losers) and you get to work on your own pitch.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have a better understanding of what a good 3MT performance looks like – and what not to do
  • have begun writing an outline of a 3MT script
  • Have greater clarity on the contribution of your research to the world outside of academia

Audience: mid to late candidature
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 40
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens

Link to slide deck

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Write that journal article in 7 days

All research students should think seriously about publishing during their degree. The job market is competitive in academia and your CV should show evidence that you are making an impact on your field already. Exposing your work to peer review can give you more confidence about the robustness of your findings and your writing. In this workshop we will look at a ‘fast track’ method for getting a journal article together from work you already have. We will explore some publishing strategies and do a series of exercises designed to help you give your article focus and touch on the tricky subject of sharing authorship. Lastly we will talk about some alternative writing techniques which may speed up the process of producing an article. (This workshop works well with ‘How to be a ‘productive’ academic’)

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have learned about different genres of article writing and what purposes they are used for.
  • Explored the role of generative writing and how you can use it to speed up the writing process and produce ideas.
  • Learned about planning and structuring techniques to make your writing time more effective.

Have some insight into how the article publishing process works and what you can do to ‘market’ your article once you have written it.

Audience: mid to late candidature or early career researchers
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 120
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens.

Link to slide deck

People say:

“I have been working with your ‘Write a Journal Paper in 7 days’ resource which I have adapted to suit the local context in which I am working for early career research staff and research students – they have been blown away by how your work is deeply insightful and effectively demystifies so much about academic writing and being an academic. I felt compelled to email you to express my gratitude and to encourage you to continue with the amazing work that you do. Many have said ‘if such a resource had been around when I was writing my PhD/first article/ etc/etc life would have been so much happier!’ – Your work changes lives!”

“I’ve just realised that my opening lines for an abstract that has been accepted to 2 conferences regarding my systematic review came directly from the free writing exercise you facilitated during the workshop! It really works (I’m sure you know that by now!!)”

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Becoming a ‘productive’ academic

How and where should you spend your writing energy? We hear a lot about being ‘productive’ but what does your university think ‘productive’ actually means? What publications ‘count’ in terms of your career and which ones don’t? Should you only write for publications that ‘count’ –  like peer reviewed academic journals – or can you follow your heart and publish in non-academic venues like newspapers and blogs? What about book chapters? Some people say yes and others say they are a waste of time… The whole academic publishing thing is so confusing! Come along to this workshop to get some clarity so that you can focus your time in a way that makes you feel happy AND ‘productive’. (This workshop works well with ‘Write that article in 7 days’.)

Audience: mid to late candidature or early career researchers
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 120
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens.

Link to slide deck

Doing collaborative research: from idea to execution

Most research funding schemes require you to work with others. Researchers, particularly those in the humanities, can be solitary creatures who are not accustomed to collaboration. Those who have just finished a PhD might be very used to doing a project on their own and not sure how to go about crafting productive research collaborations. This workshop takes participants through a simulated project development process, giving them a chance to learn the various steps involved in having ‘grantable’ ideas, crafting good research questions, identifying possible partners and pitching the idea to others.

By the end of this workshop you will

  • Be aware of the potentials (and pitfalls!) of collaborative research
  • Have some strategies for identifying and approaching potential partners
  • Be versed in how to pitch research ideas quickly

Audience: Early to mid career researchers
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 30
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens + 2 packs of post it notes in contrasting colours.

Link to Slide Deck

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Working with your supervisor

It’s likely that you have never had a teacher/student relationship quite like the one you will have with your supervisor. Even the most happy student/supervisor relationships will have occasional moments of misunderstanding and tension due to the nature of research itself.

If you have aspirations to be an academic yourself, now is the time to start thinking about what sort of supervisor you would like to be. Come along to learn about some of the common problems that develop during a research degree and some strategies for solving them. This workshop will help you understand why the PhD is ‘taught’ the way it is and how to position yourself to get the most out of the experience.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Have an understanding of the common problems that occur between students and supervisors and what (if anything) you can do to prevent them happening.

Audience: early candidature
Length of workshop: 3 hours
Min student number: 12. Max student number: 120
Staging: internet enabled presentation machine, cafe style tables or lecture theatre, whiteboard and pens.

Link to slide deck

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