In Swedish we can talk about things being a sourdough. Being a sourdough means that it is something negative from the past that is still around. However, I think that the word is quite good to use about research papers that you need to rewrite, and rewrite before they are published. We often use this word in my team such as in this sentence: I’m working on one of my sourdough papers.
First, I think this is a good word since sour dough bread is a kind of bread that takes a very long time to prepare but it is a good bread in the end. It includes many different steps, and you need to leave it for some time before you bake it. A sourdough paper is a paper that takes some time to prepare, and it will be rejected several times before being accepted but in the end the paper is quite good. I have indeed many such papers!
Moreover, a sourdough bread It is however an especially delicious bread, and some of the papers that were sourdough papers are now among my very best cited papers. Doing them over and over again inproved the quality!
Also, when writing on your sourdough paper you need to practice grit – and this is a good thing to practice since we know that this kind of grit is what is required in academia! Don’t give up and keep struggeling
I have written so many funding applications this year. But so far very few have been funded, and none of the ones where I can recruit a PhD student or a Post Doc.
Most of the time you don’t even get feedback on your application that you spent weeks and week writing. The only thing you know is that someone else’s project was seen as more interesting , more doable or in some way better.
No feedback makes it difficult to really improve and I need to find other strategies to get better at this. Some of my strategies so far are:
- I know that so far I have learned a lot from more senior colleagues and their way of thinking.
- I have also learned from reading other’s applications in detail.
- Finally getting feedback from colleagues before submitting, when there is time for that, is always a good idea.
I will have a look at these strategies again and start writing again. I know that when I get going I often enjoy it very much!
As a professor I am asked many times per year to do expert evaluations for other universities. I honestly think that I also get more of these because I am a woman in a female dominated field. The universities need one woman and one man to do this job, and there are indeed fewer women than men in computer science.
These expert evaluations are of different kinds but for example they include rankings of candidates for a position at another university, or assessing weather someone can be promoted to professor, lecturer etc. I also very often do assessments of teaching skills, and I have spent many weeks of work on that over the years.
Below are some of the ideas that I think are crucial when doing these expert evaluations from an equal opportunities perspective:
Transparency about evaluation criteria used. When doing these assessments I work a lot on being transparent about the assessment criteria. I spend many hours working on describing on what bases the ranking is done. I also know that this is one way for all of us to avoid being too biased in our assessments which makes this part even more important. The criteria for rankings are found in the official employment documents of the university.
Writing to a Respected Colleague. I always imagine that the person I evaluate is a respected colleague of mine. This makes me very aware of the phrasings and also of how critical I am. I know that everyone is struggling and trying their very best given their circumstances and they will read what I write very carefully. I am especially careful when I write negative comments.
Follow the evaluation criteria to the detail. I make use of my evaluation criteria in every detail when I describe the work that has been done and try to structure the report according to the criteria so that it becomes transparent.
Try to be aware of biases. We are all biased in our thinking, and in all evaluations we need to try to be non biased. I go though my assessments one or two extra times before submitting with the bias glasses on thinking of those aspects that I have learned are often biased. I am especially aware when I asses independence, leadership skills and potential future.
My research team usually meet a few times every semester on a writing retreat. Last semester we did Zoom writing retreats, and that worked somewhat but was not optimal. We had the same schedule but people did not get the same level of inspiration for writing, and it was not as good.
This semester we will meet at in a conference room with lots of space in the Covid-19 spirit. The plan is to write on whatever we want, and to spend nine to five writing.
Here are three tips for organising a great writing retreat:
1) Bring a specific projects, or several small projects. Start off the writing retreat with everyone telling about their plans.
2) When at a writing retreat do a digital detox and put sms, SnapChat or Mails aside in order to do the writing.
3) Bring nice and supportive colleagues. The team support is super important for the atmisphere and for concentration.
4) See to it that you have nice and long coffee breaks! Swedes are famous for their ”fika” and of course we focus on that at our writing retreats too. A fika is a break where you sit down and have Tea, coffee or similar and talk for 15-30 min.
I have been invited to talk about my experience as a leader in academia. I will talk to people working in different leadership positions at Uppsala University.
I was invited to do the same kind of talk a year ago, and that time it felt like I talked way too fast. This time I will do better!
There are five key things that I focus on in my leadership.
1) Celebrate success! I always celebrate success to really notice all small positive things. Academia is a tough place, and it is easy to remember and think of failure. And I fail a lot! I also try to encourage my team to celebrate success and to share success.
2) Collaborate with your team in decision. Your team consists of lots of knowledgeable people and discussing with them around decisions is for sure the best strategy in any situation. Of course you cannot discuss all decisions, but generally talking to other people and getting their perspective is a good idea.
3) Share failure stories. Sharing failure stories is as important as sharing success stories. When you fail in getting published, When you did not get that grant or when you did crap at that presentation – share it with your team and you will get support and create an atmosphere where it is OK to fail. ”Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” (Robert F. Kennedy).
4) Take time off work. There are far too many in academia who don’t understand that taking time off is the key to living in a sustainable way, to be creative and to be the person you want to be. We need time off work to be our best.
5) Never stop learning and being curious of people. People are an endless source of inspiration and there is always something you can learn from other people. Make sure that you keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
In the beginning of May I was interviewed about my experiences from online teaching. And I thought that I might as well write a blog post about my experiences from moving online with my teaching.
As you might have noticed this semester the Covid19 situation made all university education move online, and so did my course called Complex IT systems in Large Organisations. This time it had around 45 students, and I teach it together with Diane Golay. My experiences from this was not entirely positive. We had a couple of days to plan the lectures, workshops and the process of the course. Here are my thoughts about the topic:
- I miss my students! You have very little contact with the students. And I miss them! I did not even see them! Teaching was like talking to a camera in a vacuum.
- How do you scaffold learning of open ended questions and complex problems without being able to really discuss with students. I did my best, but it was not at all easy. And I am quite sure that their learning was strongly affected.
- All interactions with students needed to be prepared in advance. Me and Diane prepared and used different collaborative tools for each lecture, and I think that they worked Ok, but I miss the spontaneity of face to face interaction.
- Most things are different in online teaching but some things are the same. Students still ask “Will this be on the exam” and I still get so frustrated. I want them to learn because they see the need to know more, not because it is on the exam. But i might be very naive.
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay
Academics work quite hard, and many don’t have much time. So why spend it on writing blog posts? Well, I have had this blog for a few years now, and I also blog for NordWit and in my research group HTO. Why do I do this? Here are my top four reasons why I blog:
- I spread the word about my research to people outside of academia, and now and then I have been contacted by journalists and other people who have read blog posts that seem relevant for them.
- I enjoy writing, and blogging is easy and quite fun!! They don’t need to be serious, and they don’t really take that much time to write.
- My blog has resulted in new opportunities for me and my team. One example is visitors coming to Uppsala who have read about our research, others are funding opportunities that are based on blogs that people have read, and it is also a way to be invited to collaborations.
- I reflect and learn while writing. Often I only have a topic for a blog post when I start writing, and as the text appears on the screen I understand and reflect on what I have done and why. Writing about my work helps me reflect and learn from it!
Recently I have spent a considerable amount of time working for NordiCHI 2020 in the role of case studies chair for the industry track. There were 11 papers submitted in the industry track, and each paper needed two reviewers.
Here are my thoughts from this experience:
- It has so far taken me around two days of work to find people willing to do the reviews. I had never imagined that! If you are one of the people who has accepted I want to give you a warm THANK YOU!
- The conference system crashed after the first day, and all the invitations that I had sent were gone. Usability is still an issue in 2020, and those of us who engage in UX and usability will not be out of work due to systems being perfect.
- The people I asked from the data base of reviewers in the conference system mostly declined my invitation.
- I mailed three people that I had never met but from searches in databases I could see that the paper was relevant for them and sent off a personal invitation later. None of these accepted.
- Many of my colleagues are overwhelmed with reviews for this conference, and many declined due to having accepted to do many reviews already.
It will be interesting to see what the reviews look like when they come back. Some people that I asked have already done theirs, and that is truly impressive since it has only been a few days.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Erebouni Arakelian is organising a very interesting session on psychosocial work environment and nurses and my research group has been invited to join. The conference is organised by Svensk förening för Anestesi och Intensivvård and will hopefully happen in Uppsala in September 2020. Diane Golay and I will be presenting our studies on digitalisation, work engagement and nursing, and we are presenting together with several other interesting talks!
The track called Psychosocial work environment will be on Friday the 19th of September and we hope that Corona is gone by then. You find the full schedule here: https://mkon.nu/sfai-veckan20
Psychosocial work environment
Moderator: Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala
- Introduction to psychosocial work environment, negative health effects, organizational justice and prosperous workplaces Magnus Svartengren, Uppsala
- Why do anesthesia and surgical nurses choose to stay or leave their workplace? Erebouni Arakelian, Uppsala
- Effort-reward imbalance, job-demand control and wellbeing among hospital workers in perioperative context. Robert Wålinder, Uppsala
- Nurses digital work environment: The situation today and what can be done to make it better. Diane Golay and Åsa Cajander, Uppsala
- Working hours and recovery – effects on health and patient safety
Anna Dahlbert, Stockholm
- Daytime rhythms, light behavior, and sleep. We are affected by light at work
Arne Lowden, Stockholm
I’ve been working from home from the first week of March. By now that sums up to around six weeks. The first couple of weeks work was calmer, in my experience, with less meetings and things cancelled. Everything was a bit chaotic there the first weeks. Two conferences where I was going to talk as key note were cancelled which gave me several empty days on a short notice. Also other things disappeared from the calendar and many things were cancelled. But the last weeks it has been more or less the same amount of “too much to do” as usual. But with a different flavour and content.
For me distance meetings takes much more energy than ordinary meetings where everyone is in the same room. Often I have had 5-7 hours of meetings in a day and it doesn’ really work well. Also, very often I am the meeting leader and meetings have a different character than usual. Perhaps that takes some energy from me too? One example is that people are muted and the meetings become a bit more organised. They also need to be more carefully planned. For the future I need to cut down on the number of meetings per day to be able to have energy enough for the other parts of my work: planning things, writing funding applications and papers and reading. The following weeks I will try to cut down to four meetings a day, and not book more than that.
The workload when it comes to teaching has also increased due to Corona. Instead of being prepared to discuss the content/material of my lectures, I also need to prepare the interactions with students to the very detail. In my classes very few students speak up in the zoom meeting classroom, so instead I use polls, and other interactive tools to keep them activated. These needs to be put in place before the lecture starts. Also, the lectures in themselves have been stressful with all kinds of technical issues, even though I am lucky enough to have had good help from Diane Golay who teaches the course with me.
Also the work load when it comes to the family has been different and heavier during these Corona times. The oldest son’s school is closed so he is always studying from home, and me and my husband work from home too. And at least one of the other three kids have stayed at home too every working day. So far there has been only two days with three people at home, and the rest we have had 4-6 people at home every day. This truly affects the grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking. When I sit in my meetings the kids play with different things, and the house is a mess. Unfortunately cleaning and cooking are not my favourite hobbies. I have never been so happy about our robot vacuum cleaner as these days. It does hard work cleaning the house every day! Another example of increased work load is lunch: Instead of walking to the the local restaurant at work we plan and prepare lunch for on average five people every work day. And lunch needs to be one hour due to meetings being booked which often is too short and there is no time to fill the dishwasher etc.