Screen, Baby  – Let’s Look at Evidence, not Trends

Joint post by Nawal Abboub, PhD, & Sho Tsuji, PhD

French version here

Who hasn’t heard that “Children under two years of age should absolutely not be exposed to screen media, no matter what!” – maybe accompanied by the reasoning that “Screens will hinder the development of children’s intelligence.”

Why does the topic of the effect of screens on young children, especially with regard to their brain development, evoke so much controversy and fear? And should we actually think of all types of screen media as equal? What can scientific research teach us? Continue reading Screen, Baby  – Let’s Look at Evidence, not Trends

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Data Visualization – the Why and How

Sho: I recently gave a talk on data visualization at the International Conference on Infant Studies (you can find my slides, along with the other wonderful talks on power, preregistration, and ethical data peeking here on the OSF). I also played the German Cats and Dogs Scientist in the barbarplots campaign on better data visualization (on the same topic, Article 1 and Article 2 on why bar and line plots hide differences in underlying distributions). In fact, being part of the barbarplots team was my entry point into thinking more about the importance of visualizing your data in a maximally informative and honest way. Informative means finding a good balance between simplifying/summarizing and showing the underlying data structure. Honest means not (accidentally) hiding important aspects of your data. Mahiko is my office mate and – this is something I discovered while preparing the above talk – an enthusiastic data visualizer. That’s why I asked him to put together our (mostly, his) favorite data viz resources.

Continue reading Data Visualization – the Why and How

How to land a Postdoc position.

If you decide to do a postdoc, do everything you can to do it right from the get-go! Watch what Sho (Cogtales) and Franziska (Ph_Dial) have to say ❤

Franziska Hartung, PhD

Doing a postdoc can be a fantastic experience. In the last session of ACL, I talked with Sho Tsuji from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris who – just as me – is a very happy postdoc.

The most important thing is to find  lab in which you can grow and have a PI that will be a great mentor not only for now, but for the rest of your career. Do a careful screening of whom you want to work with and try to get to know them and people who worked with them (or still do!). Be open-minded and use your network to find out about labs, job search specifics or grant opportunities in individual countries, and personal recommendations.

You will get the most out of your postdoc if you know what you want to get out of it. Make this guide you to what kind of project or lab…

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Networking Part 2: Initiating conversation in person

In our last post, Christina talked about academic networking on social media, specifically Twitter. There’s a reason that was her post, not mine: Even though I’ve been following most of her advice and this has improved my Twitter experience, I still feel awkward and out of place on Twitter, and I can’t get myself to create an account under my own name (instead, I’m tweeting as @cogtalestweet).

So today, I’m talking about my cup of tea: Live, in person networking. Specifically, the focus is on how to initiate conversation.

Continue reading Networking Part 2: Initiating conversation in person

How to stay on top of trends and findings in your field.

Franziska Hartung, PhD

Keeping up with the literature and current issues is challenging. But thanks to different tools you can make this an easier task. The best tool in my experience is Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com). If you don’t have a profile yet, make one today. You can use it to follow colleagues’ publications, track citations of seminal papers, and get recommendations based on your usage or core papers in your field.

If you are interested in the output of a certain lab and they are not active on google scholar, you can use tools like https://www.followthatpage.com to track their publications. This obviously only works for labs that have a frequently updated website.

Twitter is an amazing tool to stay up to date with current discussions and topics in your field. It takes a while until you figure out whom to follow, but it’s worth the investment.

Another useful tool to find…

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Rejection report: Part 1

Sometimes, things just fall into place:  The evening before the most recent Academic Crisis Line on dealing with rejection and frustration, I got a pre-holiday manuscript rejection. As pointed out by the crisis liners, rejection in academia happens to everyone on a rather regular basis. So what we should really be concentrating on is to deal with it in the most self-preserving and productive ways possible. One thing that can really help is to talk through it, and to connect with others in similar situations.

So I thought it would be an interesting experiment to share my unfiltered thoughts while I deal with this rejected paper here on this blog.

Continue reading Rejection report: Part 1

How to deal with rejection & frustration

Franziska Hartung, PhD

Being able to deal with rejection and frustration is a key academic skill. The earlier you learn it, the better. Whether you get roasted in a Q&A session, have to deal with constant cynical remarks from peers, get a series of papers or grant proposals rejected, or deal with the endless frustration of university bureaucracy and interpersonal conflicts – negativity lures around every corner. It’s time to pick your weapons.

With my friends Dr Molly Berenhaus and Dr Christina Bergmann, I chatted today about our strategies to deal with the everyday rejection and frustration in academia. In the session we talked about First Aid as well as Long Term Prevention strategies. You can rewatch the discussion here (most important take home messages below):

  1. Understand that this is part of your job. Your experience is not unique to you -everybody deals with the same shit. Promised.
  2. It is also rarely personal.

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How to manage your supervisor

This week’s academic crisis line on how to manage supervisors.
#1 Talk open about expectations, communication, and concerns.
#2 Their job is to help you get independent.
#3 Always be proactive and prepared.

Franziska Hartung, PhD

Today I talked about the relationship with your supervisor. The role of your supervisor is to provide you with an environment suitable to develop your academic skills in order to become independent and to finish your thesis in a reasonable time. In turn, your supervisor expects from you commitment, involvement, and accountability. It is important to understand that your supervisor is also a person with strengths, shortcomings and an own agenda. Luckily, it is usually in your supervisors best interest if you succeed because your success is also their’s. In order to have a functional relationship with them it is crucial to build on strengths and develop strategies to deal with difficulties. You are just as responsible to nurture your relationship with your supervisor as they are. In the live session, I discussed different types of supervisors sand how to deal with them:

Most supervisors are a combination of the…

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Academic side hustles

This week’s Academic Crisis lines: Which side hustles bring you forward at each stage in your carrer?

Franziska Hartung, PhD

Today, I talked about academic side hustles. You can rewatch the session here (mini summary below):

Most side hustles are helpful for networking, developing and communicating your skills, and can generate a side income. You should only invest in side hustles which will help you achieve your goals or are fun. Keep in mind that these are usually voluntary activities which should in the first place benefit you and your career.

If you are very early in your career, I suggest you focus on fewer things. Most helpful side hustles for pre-doc researchers are reviewing (you can ask your supervisor to help you get experience or volunteer for conference abstract review), teaching (don’t overdo that, it is very time and energy consuming), as well as volunteer and science communication services (public outreach, valorization).

If you are at least halfway through your PhD and have finished one project from start to…

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How to juggle multiple projects

Our wonderful colleague Franziska has started a great new vlog: Academic Crisis line, a biweekly live Q & A on your burning questions around navigating academia. Check out the video and summary of her first session!

Franziska Hartung, PhD

How to juggle multiple projects

In the first Academic Crisis Line session, we talked about tips and tools which help organizing your work time efficiently so that you can manage multiple projects without getting overwhelmed. You can rewatch the video here:

Here is a mini summary:

  1. Day to day business (microlevel managing)
    • Tools: timetable, calendars, planners, spreadsheets, post its, Google Tasks, Trello,…
    • Make a week overview with all the regular events to see which blocks of time you have available to work on your projects. Don’t forget to insert private events to see which evening you can realistically work longer and which not.
    • Your week will now be chunked up into smaller and bigger time windows. Try to get two entire days of uninterrupted work without meetings, lecture series or other obligations (1 full + 2 half days will do, too). These are the days on which you can work…

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