Friday, 2 January 2015

5 Sites to Help Academics Return to Work After Christmas Break

Getting back to the academic grindstone after a week or so of late nights, over-indulgence and marathon stints on the settee watching re-runs of Dad’s Army can take its toll. Getting your mind refocused for another year of proposals, publications and presentations can take a while for some. Also the dark days, lack of Christmas decorations to cheers us through January and credit card bills makes it a doubly hard to get the old grey brain matter working. Ideally we’d keep the twinkling lights up till February (as that’s what we used to do thanks to the Christmas edition of QI), but then again we need to consider the climate, so darkness it is for now.

If you are feeling a tad jaded, tired or struggling to engage your brain here are five resources to help you ease into 2015.

Lego Academics
It’s Lego, what’s not to like? They talk about the REF, research, budgets, ethics and other kinds of stuff you’d expect an academic made out of Lego to talk about.

Stuff my Reviewers Say
OK, I changed the title of this Tumblr Blog but you’ll see by the URL what it really should say. There’s an awful lot written about peer review and commenting on the Web at the moment (some of it by me) but this site collates some of the harsher, wackier and plain rude reviews submitted to authors. The blog says its remit is: “Collecting the finest real specimens of reviewer comments since 1456”.
We can only assume that the comments posted are all truly authentic, but who knows given any system on the Web is open to abuse, bias and hacks. That said, it all looks pretty authentic.

Ph.D. Comics
Been around for a few years and released its own movie in 2012 that you can stream for $5. In fact beyond the comic you can now buy all kinds of merchandise from calendars to t shirts and mugs, so if you know any Ph.D. students who need some light relief from multiple late nights writing up, you know where to look.

Dance your Ph.D. Contest
No I haven’t made this one up, it actually exists and has done for a while now. Video has become an increasingly good way ti spread knowledge amongst the academic community. Take for example the Journal of Visual Experiments (JOVE) or even the excellent TED Lectures, video can capture things that a publication or set of slides cannot. This site however encourages Ph.D. students to turn their research into dance as a way of explaining what it is about. There’s even been a prize of $1000 and a trip to California. Below In the chemistry category, Saioa Alvarez dances her PhD thesis, “High pressure homogenisation for emulsions fat reduction.” but of course you could tell that.

Dance your PhD 2014 (Chemistry Winner) - "Reduced-fat mayonnaise: Can´t maintain it´s stability" from Saio Nara on Vimeo.

The Onion
If none of the above helps crack a smile on your post-Christmas break grey pasty face, you could always take a look at that bastion of quality news reporting The Onion; especially their science and technology pages.

All the best from Information Resources at ScHARR for a happy, healthy and mildly strange 2015.

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