This blog is currently on hiatus owing to work commitments. Whilst I still keep an eye on the goings on at RiAus, and contribute to the work of the good folks at eLife, little will be added to this blog for the foreseeable future. Simon Says remains open for business, albeit at a reduced capacity. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope the archive of content found here will prove to be of interest.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Using Twitter as a Postgraduate Researcher

I was invited to give a talk on how academic researchers can use Twitter (and social media generally) as part of the University of Birmingham Graduate School 'Think Graduate School Fridays' talks series. Below is my contribution. The talk seemed to be well received and I had some great questions to answer, from which I learnt that there are now a lot of pictures of kittens stored in the Library of Congress (which is archiving 50 million tweets a day).

If you are on Twitter you can join in the conversation using #tgsfridays.

If you're wondering about the cute animal in the middle, you'll have to come when I present the talk again when all will be revealed.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


"Octopuses make it notoriously difficult to get recordings from electrodes inserted into the brain, because they can selectively shut off blood supply to an area of their body or brain. That's if they allow the researchers to insert electrodes at all. Jennifer Basil, a cephalopod researcher at the City University of New York tells the story of one colleague who took on that challenge: "He thought the octopus was anaesthetised, so they put the electrode in and the octopus reached up with an arm and pulled it out." That marked the end of his work with octopuses. "He has worked with lots of animals but he said 'that animal knows what I'm thinking. He doesn't want me to do this so I'm not going to'," Basil says."

Eight arms, big brain: What makes cephalopods clever
, Caroline Williams, New Scientist 2816, 2011

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

5 Motivation Strategies for the PhD Blues

Last weeks' #phdchat was on the subject: "Down in thesis dumps: sharing motivation strategies for the low points as a researcher". It was my first time participating in the weekly Wednesday evening debate, and I found it very interesting, so thought I'd briefly summarize 5 things that stood out to me from it.

Unfortunately, it is inevitable that during a PhD things will go wrong. Sometimes they go wrong quite badly, and time will tick by with little or nothing to show for it. I know, I've been there. It's all well and good saying 'make sure you have a good support network' or to say to seek the counsel of a good friend, but such advice is not hugely practical, and some people don't have those away from work to turn to. So, what can you do that is practical to lift yourself (and your project) out of the PhD blues?