Key Takeaways from #SpotOn17

Last November marked a great time of the year for me. Not only did I get to write my Christmas wish list, I also got to attend SpotOn London! I came from Paris to speak on the #SpotOnImpact panel. The 2017 theme was ‘What makes a great scientist, tools and skills’ and the program can be found here.

This blog has been cross-posted from Digital Science.

A huge amount of information was covered ranging from communication, mentoring and diversity to the importance of community in research. Expert speechwriter, Simon Lancaster, delivered an informative and entertaining keynote talk on ‘The Rhetoric of Research’.

What was clear was that researchers need to work on developing a wide range of skills throughout their career to effectively communicate their work and therefore progress and thrive in a digital world. A researcher’s work does not begin and end on the lab bench!

Below I summarise three key takeaways from SpotOn17:

  1. There’s no universal recipe for being a great researcher

There are a plethora of ways to be a great researcher. Tools exist to help researchers develop and grow but are never the end-all. One must explore the options and start by doing what they will enjoy while taking pride in their work.

  1. There is an almost infinite list of tools available!

Technology can be overwhelming but it’s also a researcher’s best friend. The Tech Slam at SpotOn showed the audience many ways in which technology can assist scientists in conducting their research more efficiently.

Here are three examples of a scientist’s everyday problems:

Problem: ‘I can’t do communication on top of my cell culturing work that takes 3h/day’

Answer: No problem, give the cell culturing job to a robot and use the time to work on letting the world know about your work. Hackscience provides affordable automated cell culture technologies.

Problem: ‘I wish I could do that experiment, but the equipment is too expensive’

Answer: Clustermarket can help you find relevant equipment at a location near you and you can then rent it!

Problem: ‘I wrote a paper but I’m not sure what impact it had online and in the media’

Answer: Altmetric allows you to monitor all the attention your work has received online!

   3. The academic community will bridge the gender, minority and LGBQT gaps in STEM

This point resonates with me because it’s a personal issue that I faced when I was a researcher.

At one point I believed that being a woman in STEM wasn’t that bad, but after two postdocs I realised I was treated differently than my male lab mates and not in a good way. But, I’m happy to see more and more people focussed on making a change. I was unlucky, but hopefully younger generations won’t have to experience the same thing and that’s great!

SpotOn is an event not to be missed. It has something for everyone and provides a platform for a wide range of voices to be heard. All the content generated on the SpotOn17 day (videos, photos, live sketching and twitter story) are available here

Follow @SpotonLondon and look out for future updates and content.

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