“Out of sight, out of mind”: coping with remote supervision

By: Yi Han (with contributions from Hao Ran Lai, Anna Csergo, Rob Salguero-Gomez, Nathalie Butt & Yvonne Buckley)

Remote supervision with bubbles

Don’t be a stranger: PhD candidate Fleur Maseyk (UQ, Brisbane) provides her supervisor Asst/Prof Marit Kragt (UWA, Perth) with a monthly progress report. With three remote supervisors, Fleur says these regular meetings have been essential in keeping everyone up-to-date and on track and the regular encouragement and guidance is also invaluable. Screenshot by Fleur Maseyk.

What happens when you or your supervisor goes away for long periods of time? This happens more often than you’d think, with sabbaticals, fieldwork, international students and regular travel as common features of the student-supervisor relationship. Our lab is now split between Australia and Ireland. Indeed, it would be difficult to get two locations further away. Thus, before the split, we spent some time talking through how to deal with remote supervision. We pooled our ideas about what the problems are and what we have found to work.

When you are away from your supervisors, they are typically not reminded of your existence. You don’t see them in the corridor and can’t catch up with them at morning tea or group meetings. This means your supervisor may forget to tell you about opportunities for conferences, interesting new papers or fleeting ideas that might prove valuable. It also means they may be less likely to feel the same urgency about reading/commenting on your work as they would if you were in the same place.

To solve these problems, we have the following suggestions:

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Writing good results and discussion

Last time we talked about writing good Abstract, Introduction, and Method sections. In this post, we synthesise the criteria of good Results and Discussion section.

By: Hao Ran Lai

Results

1. Report findings only, do NOT discuss (that is for later)

2. A results section needs to be mostly text & narrative, using figures and tables to help readers make connections and to provide evidence for your statements. A results section should never just be a list of tables & figures with no or little connecting text. Continue reading

Tips for writing a good methods section

Following our last post on writing good Introduction and Abstract, we discussed what a good Materials and Methods section should look like.

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  • The golden rule to writing a good methods section is to ask yourself whether your reader could replicate your study based on just the information you provided. Sufficient information should be provided so anybody could repeat your experiment and produce similar results. The challenge is to write this as concisely as possible. You are not conducting a high school experiment, so don’t have to tell the readers that you washed your test tubes or recorded field data with a blue ball point pen! Continue reading

How to write a good abstract and introduction

During the last lab meeting, each lab member read a scientific article and analysed the factors that contribute to good abstract and introduction.

Exchanging ideas and experiences in scientific writing. Photo: Hao Ran Lai.

Exchanging ideas and experiences in scientific writing. Photo: Hao Ran Lai.

Abstract

1. Broad statement (1 sentence)

  • Statement of broad field of research/context
  • Introduces the ecological concept/problem
  • What we know of the field
  • Competing and unresolved explanations

2. Narrow down the problem (1 sentence)

  • Significance to the problem
  • Consequences of the problem
  • What we’re going to do about it
  • Brief description of an hypothesis that could resolve the problem
  • Indicating the research gap Continue reading

Top tips for giving talks

During the last Buckley Lab meeting, we discussed some good pointers for giving good talks in preparation for the three honours students presenting their proposal talks in late April this year. Here are some our top tips!

Preparation

  • Prepare, prepare – know your content
  • Most people can remember one or two things from a talk, decide up front what the most exciting thing you have to say is, put that in the title, then set the back ground for the exciting thing in the intro, why should the audience care about the thing. Does it answer a long standing question, does it have important real world consequences?
  • Draw out an outline before making your presentation (e.g. as a flow diagram, where you plot out the transitions among components).
    Kristylee Marr working on her honours proposal talk (source: N. Kerr)

    Kristylee Marr working on her honours proposal talk (source: N. Kerr)

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