On Sunday 2 April around 50 early career researchers assembled in the Clarion Congress Hotel Prague for a one day workshop organised by APECS prior to the start of Arctic Science Summit Week. The day started with two panel discussions and after lunch, participants could attend two of three different breakout sessions. By the end of the day we had all learnt something new (did you know that there are flamingos in Siberia?!) and came away with new ideas and friends. Below are the take home messages from each of the sessions.
Bob Rich (ARCUS), Joseph Nolan (EPB) and Kristina Bär (EU-PolarNet); chaired by Igor Pessi.
After introducing themselves the panelists were asked how they got into their current jobs. For Joseph and Bob, this involved taking internships and all of the panelists stressed the importance of asking for opportunities. The discussion then turned to how best to communicate science and societal impact. The importance of engaging with policy makers and funding organisations was stressed: if they are not aware of your research they can’t act on it or support it! Taking time to talk to the public was also highlighted and Kristina pointed out that you should aim to present your research at the level a 12-year old would understand.Top tips:
- Take whatever opportunities you can and be persistent asking people for help.
- Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, but be able to refer the person to someone who does.
- Be able to tailor content to who you’re talking to and listen.
Arnajaaq Lynge (Greenland Research Council), Nikita Kaplan (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Evenki Municipal District), Lara Horstmann (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Nicole Misarti (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Joachim Otto Habeck (University of Hamburg); chaired by Emily Choy and Meagan Grabowski.
Arnajaaq opened the panel by emphasizing that even within an indigenous group, in her case Inuk, there can be large demographic variations in values e.g. old vs young people. Nikita followed by giving a fascinating insight into the difficulties Evenki in Russia face in gaining legal protection for their land, for example against commercial logging. The discussion then focussed on how best to work with indigenous communities. All the panelists stressed the importance of fully engaging as early as possible and being humble: respecting that the local people know their land and lifestyle better than you ever will.Top tips:
- Make contact early (even before funding is confirmed).
- Think about your role: it will be different depending on your gender and where you’ve come from.
- Talk to people e.g. give a seminar at the school.
- Who best to contact? Wide variation across the Arctic.
- You have visited them so don’t be surprised if they want to visit your home.
Karolina Bælum (Svalbard Science Forum), Hannele Savela (INTERACT) and Philip Wookey (Heriot Watt University).
Karolina and Hannele opened the session by giving an overview of the Arctic Field Grant and INTERACT funding schemes, respectively. Phil then gave his insights from the reviewer side of the process. Afterwards workshop participants had a go and scoring 4 real-life proposals.Top tips:
- Read and re-read the instructions and eligibility criteria, submit what they asked for.
- Do your background research on your topic area
- Make your proposal clear and visually appealing
Nicole Biebow (EU-PolarNet) and Peter Schweitzer (University of Vienna).
In this breakout session, Nicole Biebow and Peter Schweitzer provided their personal tips on writing funding applications and examined the current funding landscape, in particular on the evolution of modern topics. For example, 2017 is the first year that the European Commission has identified the Arctic as one of their main research foci. Announcements such as this serve as hints to take advantage of the opportunities associated with the surge in international Arctic interest!
- Though the majority of funding is reserved for big consortia, there are often smaller grants (e.g. INTERACT) reserved for early-career researchers. Submissions to these types of grants will provide practice in clear-concise writing--key elements for a successful grant. ECRs should also get involved by attaching themselves onto larger project proposals.
- Important to stress societal relevance: why should taxpayer money be invested into your research?
- Project outreach should be innovative and creative, to really engage the public. Grant readers can often tell when you are including E&O as simply to tick the box. The ideal outreach should already be integrated into your research.
- Check your proposal for typos, and include informative and useful figures to enhance the reviewer’s reading experience!
TJ Young (APECS), Alex Thornton (APECS), Hanne Nielsen (APECS) and Federica Scarpa (IASC)
Alex and Hanne opened the session by giving an overview of the different outreach strategies that APECS is involved in and how to get involved in those. Federica Scarpa then gave a talk on communication strategies with a focus on tailoring content to specific audiences. Afterwards participants divided up into three groups. One group focussed on the language used to communicate science in terms of reading level of the average citizen. They then had a go at describing their research using only the 1000 most common English words: not an easy task! Another group investigated how to effectively plan and implement a social media strategy, using IASC’s goals as a guideline. The brainstorming conducted during this time will be fed back to IASC to improve their social media presence.