Skip to Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map
Search

Category Archives: Doctoral

*insert cheerleader chant here* Re-enrol! Re-e-enrol!

Firstly, this post is going to be pretty short and reasonably dry… so bear with! The good news is, you’ll read it so fast that you can go back out and enjoy the sunshine faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Secondly, sorry… I feel like we are forever banging on about re-enrolment, but hey, it’s super important if you want to be able to check those romance novels out of the library for the long summer days you’ll be lounging in the gardens… or rather, those DVDs you’ll be watching from the comfort of your couch while waiting for that summer to actually arrive!

2016 re-enrolment

Anywho… the 2016 re-enrolment process looks a bit like this:

1. Log in to eVision…

2. Complete the initial re-enrolment questions, which will take you to the ‘paper selection’ part… [and no, I’m sorry, you can’t choose the paper yourselves!]

3. Email us at phd@otago.ac.nz with your name, ID number, and the type of enrolment you want for 2016 (i.e. full year, or if you are due to submit in first semester (yay for you), semester one only!) and we’ll add your thesis paper code for you…

4. We’ll then say ‘thanks a bunch’ and let you know that you can go ahead complete the declaration in eVision anytime after 1 January 2016.

If you want to change from full time to part time, or vice versa, you’ll need to fill out a form, which can be found here: http://www.otago.ac.nz/OTAGO089636

It would be awesome if you could make sure you re-enrol ASAP so that you won’t lose access to resources come next year – thanks heaps!!

Have a fantastic weekend 🙂

 

 

Your Workspace in the World

To celebrate the 2015 Graduate Research Festival, the Graduate Research School launched an Instagram account. We wanted to know where your ‘Workspace in the World’ was – where does your research brilliance ‘happen’? Claire recounts her experience as a Masters candidate…

“I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in bed.  It was the old days and I had an early Apple Mac that I’d prop on my knees like a laptop (I was an innovator).  I liked writing in bed because when I got tired I could have a wee nap and when I woke up I could start writing again immediately.  I believe one of the reasons I don’t get enough done on my PhD thesis is because my boss won’t let me set up a bed in my office.”

We can imagine it looking a little something like this…Panda1

 

So we asked… are you a J. K. Rowlingesque café goer?  Do you compete for Library space with the undergraduates?  Have you got the perfect balance of proximity between access to coffee and a source of warmth? And your pictures said it all! The five lucky winners are announced at the conclusion of your following worldly workspaces… enjoy 🙂

 

Anne Shave – PhD, Department of Theology
Anne Shave - PhD, Theology

Ali Rogers – Masters, Department of Science CommunicationAli Rogers - Masters, Science Communication

Tyler Northern – Masters, Department of Marine ScienceTyler Northern - Masters, Marine Science

Tracy Rogers – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreTracy Rogers - PhD, HEDC

Rebecca Babcock – Masters, Bioethics and Health LawRebecca Babcock - Masters, Bioethics and Health Law

Rachel Tan – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreRachel Tan - PhD, HEDC

Pramit Patel – Masters, Department of MicrobiologyPramit Patel - Masters, Microbiology

Mike Maze  PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineMike Maze - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Marieke Jasperse – PhD, Department of Psychological MedicineMarieke Jasperse - PhD, Psychological Medicine

Lindsay Robertson – PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineLindsay Robertson - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Liesel Mitchell – PhD, National Centre for Peace and Conflict StudiesLiesel Mitchell - PhD, Peace and Conflict

Li Kee Chee  Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeLi Kee Chee - Masters, Dietetics

Georgia Bell  Masters, Department of Marine ScienceGeorgia Bell - Masters, Marine Science

Francesca Allen – Masters, Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyFrancesca Allen - Masters, Archaeology

Esther Dale – PhD, Department of BotanyEsther Dale - PhD, Botany

Erika Szymanski – PhD, Department of Science CommunicationErika Szymanski - PhD, Science Communication

Chelsea Slobbe – Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeChelsea Slobbe - Masters, Dietetics

Ben Riordan – PhD, Department of PsychologyBen Riordan - PhD, Psychology

Rebecca Ahmadi – Masters, Public HealthRebecca Ahmadi

The winners have been drawn from the very official hat! Congratulations to…

Georgia Bell, Tyler Northern, Rebecca AhmadiMike Maze, and Esther Dale

Your $50 prezzy cards will be available for you to collect from the GRS Reception (Ground floor of Clocktower Building, north end) from Monday afternoon onward (7 September). Or contact phd@otago.ac.nz for any alternative arrangements.

Thanks again to all of you who shared your photos: your second homes, that spot in the library, your kitchen, the lab; whether love it or hate it, hang on to your little workspace in the world!

2015 3MT Final

The Three Minute Thesis Competition is always a highlight of the Graduate Research Festival and this year was no exception.

3MT blog

From over 115 initial entrants came 10 finalists competing for the honour of representing Otago at the Trans-Tasman competition in Queensland and the Inter-University Challenge in Auckland.

This year we saw the most entrants for the competition and the standard of the heats was fantastic. I was lucky enough to hear everyone’s presentations from Auckland to Dunedin. Research at Otago is certainly in safe hands and it was very difficult to choose just 10 finalists from the contestants.  (“Can I have 20 finalists??” “No, Claire!” “15 finalists??” “NO, Claire!” “12?” “I’m walking away from you, Claire!!”)

Congratulations to all the contestants for their hard work and their excellent presentations. A special “you’re awesome” goes out to the finalists, some of whom were reluctant public speakers despite their obvious skill in the area.

3MT Emma Wadw Slide

Emma Wade’s Slide, The Genetic Mechanism of Skeletal Development

Our finalists were: Emma Wade, Women and Children’s Health; Gilles Marciniak, Geography; Chris LarsenChemistry; Jenny McDowellSir John Walsh Institute;  Nicola Beatson, Accounting and Finance; Mayouri Sukhapure, Psychological Medicine; Emanuel KoflerManagement; John GrayPeace and Conflict Studies; Hana CadzowGeography; and Leon MabireSchool of Physiotherapy.

3MT Judges

Judges, Professor Rachel “Snow Ball” Spronken-Smith, Mark “Candy Crush” Brunton and Professor Richard “Twitter Troll” Blaikie, after being spoken to firmly by MC, Claire “Dominic Bowden” Gallop

3MT Sarah

The lovely time-keeper and Claire-Wrangler, Sarah McGregor

The judges had a difficult time choosing between the excellent finalists but after some vigorous debate and an arm wrestle or two, Jenny McDowell was named PhD Winner and Nicola Beatson was named Master’s winner. The winner of the Crowd Favourite Prize went to Gilles Marciniak from Geography for his moving presentation on landscape values.

3MT Jenny McDowell

Jenny McDowell has the audience in the palm of her hand with her CSI research involving lasers, the sea, and pig bones!

3MT Nicola

Nicola Beatson doing something no one thought possible: making accounting fascinating!

Gilles presenting blog

Gilles Marciniak painting a beautiful picture  of foraging in a French forest.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this competition happen.  Particular thanks are owed to the Graduate Research School and Marketing and Communications for sponsoring the prizes.  And an even huger thanks goes to all the students who do the great work that makes a competition like this possible.

I dare you to enter it next year. Go on. You know you want to…

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

MOOC, not Mook!

You gotta hand it to the Australians, they may have a funny accent but they are super good at providing support to their doctoral candidates.  In a couple of weeks we are lucky enough to have Hugh Kearns talking to us about resilience and confidence during your thesis journey (it’s not too late to register!) and Inger from ANU has just created a cool looking course.  And it’s free! 

Dr Inger Mewburn, Thesis Whisperer and thoroughly good-egg

Dr Inger Thesis Whisperer Mewburn is no mook.  She has however created a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that looks like it will super useful for all those doing a PhD and all those unlucky enough to be close to someone doing a PhD.

Inger says:

Did you know that up to one quarter of students who start a PhD don’t finish? You have to be smart to start a PhD, but resilient to finish one.

The new, free MOOC from ANU “How to survive your PhD” https://www.edx.org/course/how-survive-phd-anux-rsit-01x is designed to help built by Dr Inger Mewburn, better known as The Thesis Whisperer, to help build PhD student resilience. You will learn research based tips and strategies to help students and supervisors create a more supportive environment for research study. The MOOC will have many opportunities to connect and discuss the issues with other participants around the world, either in the discussion forums or on social media using the hashtag #survivephd15

The MOOC is suitable for supervisors, current students, prospective students and even parents, partners and friends. The course should take you no more than two hours a week so you can more easily fit it in a busy schedule. You could take the course on your own, or form a small group (have a look at the suggestions Inger has outlined here http://thesiswhisperer.com/2015/08/05/are-most-academics-lonely-at-work/

I’ve just signed up for it and at 2 hours per week for 10 weeks it looks completely doable even with my heavy schedule.  Topics include: frustration (oh yeah); fear (you bet); confusion (all the time); and boredom (my, that cardboard box looks interesting) amongst other things.

So check out the course and give it a go and I’ll see you all in the ether.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

Take the Copyright Quiz for Research Students

Back in the day when there were only three ideas and four pictures in the world, no one had to worry about copyright. By the time there was six ideas and eight pictures, lawyers got in on the act and came up with the notion of copyright. Naturally enough, they copyrighted copyright.*

Now the academic terrain is full of terrifying possibilities for inadvertently violating some litigious dude’s distribution rights. Fear not, Richard White, Copyright and Open Access Superman and One-of-a-Kind helpful chap, is here to help. Richard knows copyright inside and out and he’s not afraid to share his knowledge. Check out his quiz and contact him at richard.white@otago.ac.nz if you have any copyright questions.

copyright-free-photos-afd-111349

Copyright is complex. In the digital age we all deal with copyright every day, even if we’re not really aware of it.  Did you take a photo on your phone today?  Did you tweet something?  Who owns that photo or the text in the Tweet?  What can other people do with these things?  As research students you really need to know at least some basics of copyright: yours and that of other people whose works you want to build on. 

So, try this quick copyright quiz.  This is something I use in my face-to-face sessions as a quick way to learn a few basic concepts, ones that are especially relevant to research students.

http://goo.gl/forms/A1sdolbvQX

Ok.  You’re back.  Wasn’t that fun?  Hopefully you did OK.  Of course, whether you thought about it or not, by using a Google form both I and Google now have copies of your answers.

Hopefully the quiz raised a few questions for you about your work and the work of others that you’d like to use.  I cover some of those questions in my face-to-face sessions so look out for them when they’re advertised – but I’ll also cover some of them in future blog posts, so watch this space.

For now, you can review some of the basic points covered in the quiz by reading our page on copyright for students.

Richard White, Manager, Copyright and Open Access

*As usual, this is completely false.

The Art of the Form: a Re-Enrolment of Two Halves

One of the reasons I became the Manager of the Graduate Research School is because I am atrocious at filling in forms.  Every time I go near a form (be it online or paper) I manage to get myself caught in a wormhole of confusion, fear and panic.

Either I do not understand the questions, I object to the style in which they are written or they violate some moral principle that I hitherto had not realised I was committed to.

The Doctoral Office are a crack-team-of-awesome when it comes to helping fill in forms and so when I am faced with some bewildering bureaucracy, Tina kindly takes me by the hand and gently asks, “don’t you remember, Claire, we did it like this last year?”

No!  I don’t remember!!  I never remember!!!

I would like to blame the form-designers of the world, but given the repeated nature of this problem and the fact that there must be more than one person designing all these forms that I fail at filling in, reason would suggest that I’m the common denominator here.  I seem to have a rare and peculiar debilitating condition called Formus Blindicus cum Incompetencia.

This week I tackled my re-enrolment and all was going well until I went to Study Link to apply for a student loan.  I checked out whether or not part-timers could still get their fees paid (and they can) and I started to churn through the questions feeling almost competent.

Sure, I had to reread a few of the questions, sure I may or may not have cursed at the screen a few times, but I was feeling truly hopeful as I pressed the final Eligibility radio button.

YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A STUDENT LOAN

YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CHILD DISABILITY ALLOWANCE

I know I’m perky for my age, but a child disability allowance?  Really?

SIGH.

After going back through every screen with a fine-tooth comb, I unclicked the offending buttons.  I undid all my answers to the questions I’d misinterpreted.  I no longer accidently identified as a child/felon/bankrupt/in loan arrears.

Then booya!  Just like that I was all sorted.

Easy as.

Personal and prolonged form-incompetence aside, all this is by way of reminding you that if you weren’t enrolled for second semester, it’s time to do it now.  Go on, if I can manage it, anyone can!

Sarah will help you….

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

Re-enrol

It’s that time of year, people! If you only have a Semester One (part-year) enrolment, and you’re still busy beavering away on your thesis, then you’ll need to re-enrol for the remainder of the 2015 academic year.

How do I re-enrol?

Please email us at phd@otago.ac.nz, with your name and ID number, requesting enrolment for semester two, and we’ll update this in the system for you. Once complete, a message confirming the change to your enrolment and an invoice for semester two fees will appear in your eVision portal.

If you’re wanting to make a change from full-time to part-time or vice versa, you’ll need to fill out form for that instead, which can be found here: http://www.otago.ac.nz/OTAGO089636

REMEMBER… you need to be enrolled to submit your thesis for examination, so if you didn’t quite make it for a semester one submission but you still want to submit this year (and don’t have a current full-year enrolment), then flick us an email!

Re-enrol3

Speaking of beavering away, we’ve also been busy little bees here in the Doctoral Office processing all of your glorious hard bounds theses! Please bear with us while we get everything sorted for those graduating in August, we’ll get to any of your queries as soon as we can 🙂

Sarah McGregor, Doctoral Office, Graduate Research School

A Word to our Sponsors: the True Cost of PhD Research

Today we hear from PhD candidate, P. H. D. Candy-D’Ate* who gives us the lowdown on the True Cost of PhD Research.   This is essential reading for anyone about to prepare a grant application! 

Dear Funders,

When I applied for my doctoral funding you asked me to submit a detailed proposal setting out the costs involved in undertaking my research. It recorded line items such as “paper” and “travel”. In retrospect, this proposal was naïve and reflected my inexperience as a researcher. I am now writing to update my proposal and ask for additional funds for expenses that have arisen and that I will need to meet to complete my research. The items are set out below. This budget is for the 30 weeks remaining in my candidature.

Item Purpose Number Cost per item Total
Coffee Upper – required for functioning during day 30 bags of high strength beans $7 $210
Wine Downer – to offset effects of coffee, required for sleep 40 bottles $18 (I’m a graduate student, I can’t drink the really cheap stuff) $720
Physiotherapy Repair arm damaged by transcribing interviews 2 sessions $60 $120
Massage Recommended by physiotherapist and enthusiastically accepted by researcher 20 sessions $40 $800
Yoga Maintenance of mental and physical well being 20 sessions $15 $300
Chocolate Maintenance of mental well being 30 blocks $3 $90
Running shoes Reduce negative effects of chocolate to physical well being 1 $150 $150
Hairdressing Disguise rapidly multiplying grey hairs 5 $150 $750
Brian Johnston Practical strategies for slowing the rate of grey hair accumulation 6 $15 $90
Fancy keyboard My productivity will definitely increase if I have a very expensive keyboard that sounds like a typewriter 1 $250 $250
Mouse Previous mouse wore out from too much clicking (yes, seriously) 1 $60 $60
Electricity For clothes dryer because I don’t have time for housework but I still need clothes 100 $1 $100
Total       $3640.00

 

I trust you understand how essential these items are and look forward to your positive response.

 

Yours faithfully,

P. H. D. Candy-D’Ate

*Still not her real name

3MT: Fame, Fortune, Fun, and FAQs! Part II

Last week in the Blog with No Name we heard from two awesome entrants from the 2013 3MT (see the 2013 final here) and a dodgy one from the 3MT from years gone past.  This week I made it my mission to explore the rules and to give you a few tips so that you can make the most out this cool opportunity.

3MT-FoundedByUQ-WEB

Who is eligible to enter?

Master’s Candidates currently enrolled in a thesis worth 90 points and Doctoral Candidates currently enrolled in a doctoral thesis.  Candidates whose theses are under examination are eligible

How many entrants do we need to make this an awesome contest?

The 3MT is a great event but it’s also an expensive event.  To make it viable we need real engagement from the thesis community.  So, please join in; it’s totally worth it!

At a minimum we need 100 entrants in the heats to have a superb final and to give the Aussies and the rest of New Zealand a run for their money

For the Christchurch, and Wellington heats, we need at least ten contestants in the heats to make the Dunedinites quake in their boots.  For the Auckland (Distance) heats we’d be happy with less; but come on North-Islanders; this is your chance to engage with the thesis community IRL and to score a free trip to Dunners!

Daniel

Daniel Wee, 2013 3MT Winner

What could I win?

We know that it can be hard to find grants to travel to conferences, support fieldwork or fund experiments.  So as well as spot prizes in the heats there is some serious pay-off in this contest to help support your research.

The Divisions provide a $500 research grant for the winner of the heats (thanks, Divisions!).

The Graduate Research School and Marketing and Communications will provide a $1000 research grant to both the winner of the Master’s and the winner of the Doctoral sections in the 3MT final in Dunedin.  GRS will provide a $500 research grant to the winner of the crowd favourite.  (Thanks GRS and M & C!).

But wait, there’s more!

Winners of the out-of-Dunedin heats will get flown free of charge to the Dunedin final.

Courtesy of the Graduate Research School, the winner of the Master’s section will receive a trip to compete in the Inaugural Masters 3MT Inter-University Challenge in Auckland and the winner of the Doctoral section wins a trip to Queensland to compete in the Trans-Tasman Competition.

When is the Dunedin Final?

Wednesday 26 August.

When are the national/international competitions?

Inaugural Masters 3MT Inter-University Challenge: Auckland 10 September 2015

2015 Trans-Tasman 3MT: Queensland 2 October 2015

Are there any specific rules for the presentation format?

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

 What are the judging criteria?

Communication style; was the thesis topic communicated well to an intelligent lay audience?

Comprehension; did the presentation help the audience understand the topic?

Engagement; was the audience left wanting to know more?

What do past judges say make a great 3MT presentation?

  • Explain your research clearly
  • Bribery
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon and complicated or fancy-schmancy terms
  • A really eye-catching slide
  • Passion and enthusiasm
  • Don’t just rely on the fact that your research will save lives!
  • Treat the presentation as though it were a musical performance; consider tempo, pauses, and crescendos
  • Three minutes is over fast so less is definitely more here
  • Use real life examples and analogies to show why your research is significant
  • Bamboo
  • Remember this is supposed to be fun so most of all, enjoy the ride!

What are you waiting for? 

Click below to enter the appropriate heat:

Auckland, 25 July

Dunedin, 27- 31 July

Wellington, 18 August

Christchurch, 20 August

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

3MT: Fame, Fortune and Fun! Part I

 

Panda 3MT

Panda B. Ear delivers his 3MT on Eudaimonia: A Philosophical Treatise on the Nature of the Good Life for Ailuropoda melanoleuca

I have entered the 3MT twice in my long and varied career as a PhD candidate.  The first time I simply wanted to see what this thing was all about. The second time was because the then Doctoral and Scholarships Manager, Chris Stoddart sent me a charming but slightly <hugely> guilt-inducing email asking <pressuring> me to consider entering again.  Charm and guilt have always worked on me, so I gave it another go.

In what can best be described as the most heinous miscarriages of justice in the history of miscarriages of justice, I totally lost. Both times!  What the?

Despite this dreadful oversight by the judges*, I’m not here to tell you to flag the 3MT!

The 3MT has a bunch of positive spin-offs in terms of raising your research profile, distilling and clarifying your thinking, and fostering communication skills.  But even more importantly it is a chance to have fun!

But don’t take my word for it, after all I’m selling this gig nowadays.  We asked Daniel Wee (PhD Candidate, Philosophy) and Shobhit Eusebius, (PhD Candidate, Marketing) the hard questions about what it was like to participate in the 3MT.

How many times have you entered the 3MT competition?

Shobhit: Once in 2013.

Daniel: 2013 was the first time I entered the 3MT competition. I was quite fortunate to go as far as I did that year! <such modesty; he won, he won!!>

What (or who!) sparked your interest in entering?

Shobhit: A YouTube video of the finals of a previous 3 MT competition was my introduction to the Post-Graduate culture at Otago. This was in 2011 when I was still in the early stage of trying to decide which University I wanted to study at. While searching for information about the University of Otago I came across this video by chance. I was immensely impressed by the talent on display, and also the variety of graduate research that was showcased. I have always been interested in public speaking so I was inspired by what I saw, and aspired to be able to compete at that level .  Once I moved to Dunedin I met, and became friends with Dr. Andrew Filmer a previous 3MT champion, and Otago graduate. I found his personality, and success inspirational, and this further reinforced my ambition to compete in the 3MT.

Daniel: Before the competition I had family and friends regularly asking me what my thesis was about, and I never had a satisfying explanation to give them. They either thought that my thesis had something to do with particular languages, or that it involved conducting experiments on whether children raised away from society could speak! So I thought entering the 3MT would be a motivation to come up with a decent explanation in case I was asked again. I can say it definitely helped!

What did you enjoy most about the experience?

Shobhit: The thrill of competing with some of the most talented Post-Graduates from all across the University delivers an adrenaline rush that is unmatched. The level of competition is so high that even though I didn’t end up winning in the finals I learned a lot from the experience of participating. It is also a marquee event for Post-Graduates at the university so it is an immense confidence booster to feature in it.

The fact that you have only 3 minutes also made me think about my research in a whole new way. Turning lengthy theoretical arguments into succinct single line sentences is an intellectually exhilarating exercise, and also helps you highlight new research ideas or even loopholes in your own work.

Daniel: It was just enjoyable to know that people could understand and appreciate what my research is about. Some people have the misconception that philosophy is inherently inaccessible to the lay person and I like to think that I helped a bit to dispel that idea.

What pearls of wisdom would you provide to anyone interested in entering?

Shobhit: Prepare and practice as much as you can. At the same time remember to have fun; nobody wants to listen to a speaker who is stressed out. Keep it simple, and remember to focus on the “Wow!” factor of your research. Yes, your research does have a “Wow!” factor otherwise you won’t be here at the University of Otago . You just need to look for it, and participating in the 3MT is an excellent way of doing that.

Daniel: My advice would be to practice your speech with people outside your field who can give you honest feedback. I have the benefit of living in a postgraduate community at Abbey College and those of us who were competing in the 3MT that year organised a night when we delivered our speeches to about twenty other postgraduates from various disciplines. The feedback we got was invaluable and made us more confident on competition day.

re we going to be able to persuade you to enter again?  (I really hope so, you were so good last time!)

Shobhit: I’ll be back! 😀

Last, but certainly not least, would you prefer to fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Shobhit: Mmmm, Peking Duck on rice…. Nom nom nom 😛

Daniel:  From my experience at the Dunedin botanical garden, ducks are easily distracted by breadcrumbs so I think I would prefer fighting a horse sized duck as long as I have some bread at hand!

Anything further you’d like to add?

Shobhit: BAZINGA !!

Daniel: Good luck to this year’s competitors!

Thanks, Daniel and Shobhit!

So, if you’re not here to communicate your research to a wider audience, make sure you stay inside your offices and labs and ignore this opportunity to meet fellow students and learn key skills that will set you in good stead for the rest of your careers.

If you believe fun is the enemy of graduate research then please avoid this opportunity to have a massive amount of fun.  After all, you could use that three minutes to drastically improve your H-index, to seal that post-doc or to impress your examiner into offering you your own personal chair.

However, if you aren’t three minutes away from securing a Nobel Prize, then take the opportunity to think creatively about your research and have a blast doing it!

The entries are now open for the 3MT for Master’s thesis and Doctoral Candidates.  Stay tuned for next week’s post outlining the details on our workshop on Communicating Clearly: the 3MT and Beyond as well as tips from previous judges and more information about the rules and the way the Heats and Finals work and how to nobble your competitors.

I want to enter the 3MT and compete in:

AUCKLAND
WELLINGTON
CHRISTCHURCH
DUNEDIN

* To be fair, this was no oversight; I sucked both times.  But I had a load of fun doing it!

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School 

The Media and You (Part 2) – How Can You Make Me a Star?

blog post

‘Tis a little known fact that once you’ve written for the GRS Blog you get a hankering* to write for us again.  Fiona Clarkson from Marketing and Communications explained the importance of the considering using the media to share your research in this post.  This week she explains how to do it.

*By hankering I mean one of us usually harasses/begs/bribes you to do do it again for us. 

If you’ve given it some thought and decided that yes, media attention for your research would be a positive thing, then I have good news for you – several pieces in fact!

The first is that the University of Otago has a Communications Team whose job it is to talk to the media and get their attention. They are not at all scary to approach, and can help you sort out what the media will want, and how to talk to them. Before you start, however, it’d be a smart idea to think about the answers to the following questions – these are what the Communications Team will want to know, and what the media will want too.

To be blunt, the first question you need to answer is, “who cares?” Why is your research important to the general public? Does it change someone’s life? Improve their life? Add value to it? Uncover or explain new or historic information? Is it quirky? Relevant to a current public issue? Involve glow-in-the-dark pigs?

Despite there seeming to be an endless amount of news everywhere you look, news real estate is actually precious and the news media are looking for something which will attract a wide audience – it pays to think to yourself, why would that school teacher, or the little old lady in South Dunedin, or the young millennial care?

The next questions are the age-old basic journalism questions: who, what, why, when, where and how. Getting these ducks in a row will make it easier to compile a media release, or make a pitch to a media outlet.

Once you have attracted media attention, more good news! The Communications Team can also help you with  one on one training on how to talk to the media and what not to do. Their tips include being prepared with your facts and figures before an interview, considering a photogenic location, and perhaps doing some practice with a friend.

One important thing to consider is what are the risks? Is your topic in any way controversial? Once the media have spoken to you, who else might the media  approach and what would that group or person say? You shouldn’t let that put you off necessarily – good news number three is that we can help you through this slightly more tricky process as well as the positive side.

As outlined in my previous blog piece, there are lots of really great reasons for a postgraduate student to want to get media attention for their work. So don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call. Modesty is not the way to win at this particular game, and we in Marketing and Communications know there are so many awesome “stories” out there in postgraduate research that we would love to help you share.

Fiona Clarkson,  Postgraduate Marketing and Communications Coordinator