Academic staff, who have been research active for a long time, usually have well developed contacts with other researchers in the same field. The term "invisible college" is sometimes used to describe their well honed networks. Contacts are useful for exchanging ideas and learning about research news, before it is published in journals.
If you are relatively new to research, how can you start making these contacts? One way is to identify calls for papers at forthcoming conferences, and then present a poster or paper at one of these conferences. Other options are joining an academic network or mailing list. For effective teaching practices there is the "Higher Education Academy" website to consult.
Calls for papers alert you to forthcoming conferences and special events, where you might to able to present a poster or paper. Presenting a poster or paper will potentially offer you opportunities to:
- Disseminate your research to people who are keen to know about it
- Network with people researching the same or similar topics
- Receive feedback and suggestions about your research
- Discuss collaborative ventures with people at other institutions
AllConferences.com offers a searchable directory of current conferences.
The Conference Alerts website offers information about current conferences and a monthly conference alerting service.
Papers Invited is a database offering information and deadlines about calls for papers for forthcoming conferences and special issues of journals. Using the advanced search feature, you can search by topic, and limit your search by date and country. You don't need to register in order to use the e-mail alerting service.
The ResearchGate website enables networking amongst researchers, and also provides information about current conferences. For more information about ResearchGate, please see the section below.
Graduate Junction was designed to help Masters and PhD students make contact with persons sharing similar research interests, across disciplines. It was set up by two postgraduates at Durham University in 2008. After registering, you can search for fellow postgraduates by keyword, institution, department, supervisor or name, and communicate with them. You can also join research groups, and access the postgraduate jobs information. Graduate Junction claims to have approaching 20,000 postgraduates registered.
ResearchGate enables networking amongst researchers. Registration involves setting up a personal profie giving details of your education, experience, research interests and publications, which can then be viewed by other members. As well as enabling networking, ResearchGate also provides information about: conferences, jobs and publications. Consulting this information doesn't require registration. ResearchGate claims to have over a million members.
Sometimes it's easy to feel that you are the only person struggling with a particular problem. One way to feel less isolated is to join an academic e-mailing list, and share your experiences and problems with fellow students and researchers. When you join a list, it's always a good idea to read a few messages, before posting anything yourself. That way you get a feel for the list and are able to see if the list is right for you.
You will find a selection of academic mailing lists at JISCmail, the national academic mail listing service. Topica offers another useful directory of mailing lists.
The Higher Education Academy promotes effective teaching practices across a wide range of disciplines. Subject centres, based in different UK universities, provide discipline related information about: lecturer resources, learning materials, events, awards & funding etc.