2022 MotherNet Early Stage Researchers Forum review

During 2022, Jenny Björklund arranged four more workshops for Early Stage Researchers (ESR) within the MotherNet project. With a point of departure in proposals and suggestions from the seven ESR participants, the content of the workshops was oriented towards broader issues such as the research field Motherhood studies, and more specific questions that concern the professional life of the PhD student. The workshops were held at Zoom.

5 workshop. Brainstorming and preparation for the summer school in Uppsala (March 4)

This workshop was devoted to planning for ESRs panel session during the Second MotherNet summer school in Uppsala. The panel session focused on mental health of the PhD students. It began with a brief review of the national studies covering this topic. The review served as an introduction to the situation of PhD students in the consortium countries. After this presentation, the discussion among the ESRs was held. The discussion was the main part of the session and it was based on questions the ESRs asked each other what being a PhD student in a specific country means to them (Lithuania, Ireland, and Sweden). All three countries have different requirements for the PhD students in terms of results (some institutions require publications as part of the PhD and others do not), teaching work and related expectations (in some institutions teaching and lecturing is part of the  PhD requirement), and the status of the student (in Lithuania a PhD student is not considered to be an employee and compared to the benefits employees of the university enjoy, they are at a disadvantage, while in other countries PhD students are considered to be employees).

6 workshop. Going to conferences (April 29)

The purpose of this meeting was to broaden the participants’ academic knowledge on networking, presentation skills, and writing conference abstracts and papers. Senior scholars from all three partner universities were invited to talk about their conference participation experiences and good practices: Associate Professor Atėnė Mendelytė (VU), Associate Professor Anne O’Brien (NUIM), and Professor Helena Wahlström Henriksson (UU). The senior scholars talked about what to think about when preparing to present your results: from coming up with a topic and submitting an abstract to the conference, to writing and presenting the paper, and networking at the conference. Senior scholars not only shared their experiences, but also gave hands-on advice on presenting the paper and networking at the conference.

7 workshop. Teaching (October 17)

The meeting was held in a form of a discussion on teaching. Three senior scholars from partner universities – Marian Crowley-Henry (MU), Dovilė Kuzminskaitė (VU), and Professor Anna Williams (UU) were invited to share their experiences. In their narrations, each senior scholar shared what they had learned over the years, and gave some concrete advice on what had worked well in the classroom and what did not. Additionally, they shared some advice on how to develop one’s competencies as a teacher, how to find support, how to balance the teaching load with research and other academic tasks, etc.

8 workshop. Building your CV and Evidencing Criteria for Academic Advancement (December 8)

Professor Moynagh Sullivan from Maynooth University was invited to talk about evidencing criteria for academic advancement and give hands-on advice on how to use self-promoting language in one’s academic CV and grant applications. The ESRs found this meeting particularly useful as there are not many opportunities to discuss their academic advancement and to critically review their academic resume.