At the end of this module, you will able to:
- determine the importance of networking for your career.
- assess email lists and blogs as career development tools.
Networking is an important part of postgraduate study. It leads to opportunities for:
- establishing relationships which can result in future employment.
- increasing your awareness of your field.
- accessing to the latest research.
- socialising with other researchers.
Becoming part of the research community
Take a few minutes to read this page: it provides some valuable advice. Consider how you might put these recommendations in practice.
Marie desJardins, Networking, How to be a Good Graduate Student, University of Indiana, March 1994.
Finding other researchers
Contacting other researchers in your area is easier than many people think. Let's take an author at random. Imagine we wanted to contact the author of this article:
Douglas G Dalgleish (2005) "Food emulsions—their structure and structure forming properties", Food Hydrocolloids, 20 (4), 415-422
How would it take to find the author's email? Less than a minute, if you know how. An abstract of this article is available at the ScienceDirect site. Next to the author's name is a small envelope icon .Clicking on this icon will launch your email program. A new email will appear and Dr Dougleish's email address will be inserted in the To: field.
ScienceDirect is only one of the journal sites that include this feature. SpringerLink is another. Even when this feature is not available, many journals include the author's institution in the abstract or the text of the article, making it easy to find him or her.
Using Google to find people
The article abstract at ScienceDirect included the information where Douglas Dalgleish worked in 2005, the University of Guelph in Canada. Armed with this information, we could simply go to the University of Guelph site and then search for him there. But what if we had no more than the author's name and no indication of where he or she was employed? In this case, we would need to run a search in Google for Douglas G Dalgleish (email OR e-mail).
Using networking sites
Another method of networking to become a member of an email discussion list. There are thousands of email-based academic discussion lists, covering a wide range of disciplines.
As a postgraduate student, you will probably find membership in an academic discussion list very rewarding. Membership gives you access to the latest research and ideas, and connects you to other experts in your field. In addition, list members are usually happy to provide advice or answers to quick questions, and to point you towards the latest research.
Joining or subscribing to a discussion list is usually easy, involving no more than sending an email to a specified address (such as email@example.com) with a command in the body of your email along the lines of subscribe your name.
After sending this message, you typically receive an email message from the moderator confirming your membership. This message contains information on trouble-shooting, how to temporarily suspend your membership when you are away, and how to unsubscribe. Unsubscribing is usually as easy as subscribing.
Finding the right list
Why don't you start now by finding the right list for you. There are a number of Web sites which provide guidance regarding the range of academic discussion groups available. These include:
If you can't find a relevant list at any of the sites above, try a Google search (eg lists medieval history), look for links to a relevant list at a discipline-specific portal site, or ask your supervisors.
When joining an email discussion group it is usual to introduce yourself by giving your name, location and a short summary of your research interests. After introducing yourself, "lurk"on the list for a while until you become familiar with the list's "netiquette".
Blogs and Blogging
A growing source of information are blogs maintained by researchers and students in different disciplines.
A blog is an online diary which contains ideas and opinions, as well as links. The value of such resources depends on the author. Some postgraduate bloggers would be better advised to spend more time on their research, whereas others have something to say.
To find a list of blogs on your topic, do a Google search using a broad heading, such as archaeology or biology, and the word blogs (eg tibetology blogs).
Should you become a blogger?
Creation of a successful, widely read blog can raise your profile among other blog readers with an interest in your subject, but it will involve you in a tremendous amount of effort. Consider whether this effort is worthwhile.
Another consideration is that blogging is very public. You should never include in your blog anything that you would not want other students, a supervisor or a potential employer to read. Some postgraduates have found their career prospects damaged by ill-considered blogging.
This module covered the following:
- locating researchers in your field.
- email and academic lists.
- blogs and blogging.