Blogger Team says Bye!

As we all move up a year on the PhD timeline, Blogger HQ is due a big shake-up. Sadly for us, the time has come to pass the baton to a brand new blogger team that will help you navigate the coming year at UofG. Our team has really enjoyed reviving the Researcher Development Blog for postgraduate researchers in the past year. We’ve had great fun learning how to blog, edit, interview, tweet, and balance blog deadlines with our research. The support we have received from the UofG community over the past year was amazing, with about 15,000 visitors and nearly 30,000 views from all over the world! In this blog, the team look back at their roles as Founding Fathers of the PGR Blog and offer their final words of advice.



Fighting back the tears at our final Blogger Meeting. Yes, we do really have a painting of Stuart hanging in our office (…sadly I didn’t acquire any Photoshop skills during my time as a blogger). He couldn’t make the meeting, as he and his wife just had a baby! Congrats Stuart!


Jade realises that as a blogger, she developed lots of skills she didn’t know she had: “I learned a lot of new ones along the way, too. I am now much more confident with technology and find it reassuring that other people find websites and databases to be fiddly and time-consuming as well! I have loved working with people from across the university in different disciplines, especially in the sciences and medicine since I rarely get to interact with these areas. Collaborating with people who have different approaches to things, some who are more creative, others who are more organised and detailed, has been a really positive experience for me.”


Now that she almost finished her PhD and is applying for jobs, she sees the value of such side jobs and extracurricular projects for your professional development. “Working on a collaborative project like our blog expands your interpersonal skills, since offering feedback on someone’s written work requires tact; negotiating with guest writers to fit schedules and publishing deadlines forces you to be both assertive and conciliatory. Overall, working with the PGR blog has given me skills that I will carry over into any area of work I move into now that I am coming to the end of my research!”


Sacha joined us a bit later, when the blog was already up and running, but she found it a great experience to be part of the team: “Everyone was very enthusiastic and open to ideas when I joined! My motivation to do this blogger internship was mainly because I am a big fan of writing, but I’ve never actually written blog posts before. Blogging is an art on its own and when you spend so much time writing for academic purposes, you tend to forget to develop your own personal writing style! This was a great opportunity to practice and find my voice in writing for a broad audience.”

Sacha van Leeuwen

Sacha got involved with the blog when she only just arrived in Glasgow. I think many new PGRs find this time a bit daunting, and worry that they should invest their time solely on their PhD research. Looking back, would she recommend her approach to other people? “Actually, being involved in this project has helped me feel like a part of the PGR community at UofG. It was amazing to learn so much about the university, and Glasgow, through reading about other people’s experiences. The other bloggers and the Researcher Development staff were very helpful and I now know much better where to find the resources I need as a PGR. Overall, I can say this was a positive, creative, and fun experience!”


After getting to know James during the past year, he is now my go-to guy for a fresh perspective. Can he offer some final words of advice? “I am not a big fan of advice. Giving it, receiving it… no matter what side of the equation you’re on, it’s a risky game. Which I guess makes my role in this venture a little odd, from a certain point of view.”

So what made him join the blogger team, then?! “I do love stories, particularly tales of people’s everyday lives. I like to think that we have built a platform that combines both of these at the PGR Blog—every tip offered is wrapped up in the narrative of a personal experience, from which we hope others can learn. Being in the final year of my PhD, I have not been the most active blogger on the team, and I have marvelled at the creativity and productivity of everyone else. But I have had the joy of working on a diverse set of posts with an even more diverse group of writers.”


The other bloggers seem to view their past year in a very positive light, but perhaps he can share some of the tough sides of blogger life? “Some of the posts have been editorially challenging, in the best possible way, and others have allowed me to explore my style and develop as writer. It wasn’t always easy to find the time for blogging besides our research, either. I still have posts I want to write, so I hope I will be welcomed back as a guest author from time to time, but I can’t wait to see what the new team brings. They are going to be fantastic!”


Like James, I’m excited to see what the new bloggers will create and how they will grow the blog, but also a wee bit sad to see our team fly out to new adventures. If you told me last year that I’d spend an entire year writing advice blogs, I’d probably find that a hilarious prospect. Sure, I have no shortage of opinions, but actually being tasked with helping other people in their PGR endeavors feels like quite a heavy task when you hardly have a clue what you’re doing yourself!

But working on the blog taught me that we all have experiences and valuable lessons to share. I especially love that lots of the topics generated discussions that have been taken on board by the Research Strategy & Innovation Office and will help improve the PGR experience at UofG. For me personally, blogging was a nice creative distraction to hardcore science, and I feel much better equipped at transforming my random and chaotic brain farts into more cohesive pieces of writing – thanks to my fab fellow bloggers!


Thank you all for your support over the past year! Stay tuned as the new blogger team will introduce themselves in the next few weeks, along with some exciting new blog developments and plans for the future.


Post Author: Jiska van der Reest

Jiska is in her 3rd year at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, researching Cancer Cell Metabolism.

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