Balancing acts: priorities, strategies, challenges of ECR careers

I spoke at the TECHNE doctoral congress on the subject of the “balancing acts” required early career researchers as you start on academic career paths. The slides from my talk are here, and I also wanted to signpost a few other blog posts where I’ve written more fully about some of these issues, and direct you to some related resources on other websites.

What does an early career path look like? my route from PhD to permanent job.

Balancing acts – some of the issues covered in this talk were the topic of a talk I gave at a discussion day on ECAs in English last year.

Developing a publication strategy as an ECR (note: some of this is now out of date, with changes anticipated for the next REF; these should become clearer in late July, when I will be blogging further about this). The ECR hub on Palgrave Macmillan’s site and Wiley’s author resources are a useful starting point for understanding the publishing process. PhD2Published is an amazing haven of resources on writing and Pat Thomson has a lot of brilliant advice on publishing including this post on turning your thesis into a book.

Teaching – some great resources on the Royal Historical Society ECR pages (obviously aimed at historians, but more widely applicable).

Digital identity – my colleague Allan Johnson gave an excellent talk about social media as an academic, and I spoke a bit about my experience of this in the questions. I’ve written about this here and have lots of related resources compiled here. For online communities, #phdchat and #ecrchat are great hubs for careers discussion, and for Arts students, @wethehumanities is a brilliant place to start networking with other arts researchers, whether you’re new to twitter or an old hand.

The subject of ECR wellbeing came up in one of the discussion sessions; I recently spoke about this and slides are available here, full post coming soon. I’d recommend the excellent academia and mental health resources on Nadine Muller’s blog.


The Voice of the Academic – a one-day workshop for TECHNE PhD students

I am delighted to be running this workshop for PhD students, thanks to funding from the TECHNE Training and Development fund. Full details of the day and information on how to sign up are below (places are limited and going fast!).

The voice of the academic: vocal training for academic success

A one-day workshop for PhD students

22nd September 2017, University of Surrey

The use of the voice is crucial to academic work: whether it is in teaching, giving talks, broadcast and media work, or in job interviews, a large proportion of an academic career depends upon public speaking. Training in using the voice effectively will enable you to make the most of your academic expertise in the public-facing scenarios which count towards your career.

This one-day event teaches you vocal and presentation techniques, and gives you practice in applying them in a job interview scenario. In the morning you will participate in two workshops that focus on improving the use of the voice, practicing the Alexander Technique to relieve tension in the body and make full use of the breath, and working with a vocal practitioner to learn about the effective use of the voice. In the afternoon you will put these skills into practice in an academic job interview workshop, learning more about what is expected at an academic interview and giving a 3-5 minute “job pitch” talk making use of the techniques you have learned.

By the end of the day you will have gained practical skills in vocal technique, built up your confidence in public speaking, and understand how to prepare for academic interviews. We will conclude by discussing self-reflective techniques and give you a resource pack to help you to continue working on these skills after the workshop.

To attend this workshop

The event is open to doctoral students affiliated to TECHNE institutions, with priority given to TECHNE funded PhD students.

To register for a place please complete the booking form by 8th September.

Due to the participative nature of this workshop places are limited to 20 students. A waiting list will be created from additional registrations; please inform the organisers if you are no longer able to attend so that we can release your place to someone else.

Attendees will be asked to prepare a short (3-5 minute) talk about your research in advance, to be used for the afternoon workshop; further details will be emailed to participants closer to the date.

Enquiries can be directed to Dr Charlotte Mathieson at



10am: Introduction

A short introduction to the day and what you hope to get from the sessions.

10.15-11am: Alexander Technique workshop

The Alexander Technique teaches how to relieve tension in the body and use muscles correctly to allow for improved posture and full use of the breath when speaking. This session with a practitioner from the Reve Pavilion in Guildford will give you some basic techniques to prepare your body for good vocal techniques.

 11-11.15am: break

 11.15-1.15pm: Vocal workshop with Guildford School of Acting

In this session students will learn about care of the voice, and develop techniques for effective speaking with Chris Palmer, Head of Voice at Guildford School of Acting. Chris Palmer works with University academic staff and PhD students on voice projection, accent softening (elocution), breath support, articulation, volume and clarity and preparation of presentations.


1.15-2pm: Lunch (provided)


2-4.15pm: Academic job interview workshop, led by Dr Allan Johnson and Dr Charlotte Mathieson

In this session we will put into practice the techniques you have learned in a workshop focused on academic job interviews. We will begin with a discussion about what to expect from an academic job interview, led by the workshop leaders who have extensive experience and training expertise in this area. Participants will then be split into two groups to give a short “job pitch” talk (3-5 minutes) to their group, receiving supportive and constructive feedback focused on vocal and presentation skills. In the concluding discussion, we will give you some top tips for interview preparation, including sample questions to prepare.

 4.15-4.30pm: Closing discussion: Reflective techniques for future success

The day will conclude with suggestions for self-reflective techniques and provide you with a resource pack to help you to continue improving your skills after the workshop.


Interview: the FWSA virtual conference

I was interviewed by Jade French of Not So Popular on the FWSA virtual conference that we are running this year. I spoke about some of the difficulties of in-person conferences to individuals, the constraints that a traditional 20-minute paper can impose, and how the virtual conference seeks to redress some of these issues. The interview is here – thanks Jade for some great questions!