The Research Toolkit

CURIE's open research platform

Category: Welcome to the Research Toolkit

Kickstart Your GLARP Research Project

6/08/2018 – Post by Senior Student Projects Officer Renee Aharon

Congratulations!

Your hard work has paid off and now you’re about to start your research journey! This can be a little daunting at first, but don’t worry, you’ll find you have exactly what it takes.

Last year, our GLARP team was in your exact position, we had just gotten funding and were feeling excited but also a little overwhelmed. After going through the whole research process, we want to share our three top tips to kickstart your GLARP project and get you well on the way to starting your research journey.

Tip 1: Write down every task you need to do

And I mean every task – from writing hypotheses and getting ethics approval to printing flyers, writing reports, booking venues, hiring speakers, inviting guests, setting up team meetings, everything! Have all your team members brainstorm every small task that will need to be done for the project. Our team did this in an excel spreadsheet we called the ‘Master To Do List’.

This Master List will show you which tasks you’ve already completed, what still needs to be done and who is responsible for it. This document keeps everyone on the same page and you can use it to track your progress.

We broke our project into different sections and wrote out every task that needed to be done in order to complete that section. The image below shows a version of our Master To Do List about ¾ the way through our project.

As you can see, our project had 7 sections and we used colours to help track our progress. Green meant complete, yellow showed what we needed to focus on next and white meant we could leave that task until a later date.

We had weekly meetings to update each other on how we were going on each task and decide which tasks we should focus on next. You don’t need to meet every week, but decide with your team in advance how often you want to meet and bring the Master To Do List so everyone knows what needs to be done next.

Take time to create this list together and list every task you can think of. And don’t forgot to celebrate when you complete a task! You’re one step closer to completing your research project!

Tip 2: Start right away

The earlier you can start, the better. Be prepared for tasks to take longer than expected. We found tasks we thought would take 1 week actually took us 2 ½ weeks and sometimes tasks we thought would take 3 days only took 20 minutes between all 4 of our team members. 

Be flexible with your task and project timeline, but also have clear deadlines to aim for. The sooner you start, the sooner you finish and the less stress you’ll feel. You will be working under tight deadlines and balancing study and other responsibilities so the earlier you can start the better. 

So go set up that first team meeting right away and get started on that Master To Do List! 

And last note, make sure you celebrate and congratulate each in that first meeting. Your grant proposal was in the top 30% and this is a fantastic achievement!

Tip 3: Go easy on yourself and be prepared to make mistakes

You are going to make mistakes in your project. ALL of our team members made at least one quite major mistake over the course of the project (I made about 3), but each time, we banded together and found a solution.

Be determined to overcome any challenge that occurs over the course of the project and be there to support your teammates when they make a mistake. There is ALWAYS a solution to a problem or mistake and you will grow dramatically from learning how to overcome these types of challenges.

The other tip is to go easy on yourself when it’s you who makes the mistake. You will all be working under extremely tight time frames along with study and other responsibilities so don’t beat yourself up (as high achieving students often do) when you make a mistake. Instead, think of a solution. In fact, think of every possible solution, even if it sounds unrealistic or silly.

Listing many possible solutions will help give you perspective on the problem and help you find the most creative solution. Enlist the help of your teammates as well, you’re common goal is to make this research project the best that it can possibly be. You can do this!

I hope these top three tips will help you kickstart your GLARP project and get you excited to start. Remember the CURIE team is always here to provide support as you tackle the research process for the first time. Just come see us in the office (W616 in Menzies) if you have any queries, problems, questions, or concerns.

We look forward to hearing about your projects and best of luck on your research journey!

Tips for presenting at ICUR

1/08/2018 – Post by Monash ICUR Student Director Peter Halat

Semester 2 has begun, which means that ICUR is fast approaching. There are many reasons to get excited for ICUR: the chance to learn about research outside of your field, the ability to meet other passionate students and to practice some important employability skills such as public speaking.

Standing in between now and the wonderful two day experience of ICUR is the process of creating, tweaking and practising your own presentation. While this can be a daunting task, there is still plenty of time.

Tip: Don’t forget your audience

The main thing to keep in mind about presenting your research at ICUR is the audience. While the audience at ICUR is very attentive and supportive, they will not be familiar with your sort of research. Therefore, you should aim to make your research as accessible as possible. No matter which stage of research you are at, you can always construct a story to make your research appreciable to a broad audience. Think about how you would explain the applications and importance of your work to your family and friends (you probably won’t be able to use much jargon). There is undoubtedly something new and/or unique about your research, which you should emphasise to lock in your audience’s attention.

The importance of your research can also link well into your methodology. Make it clear how you have, or will, conduct the research and how this is contributes to the literature.

Then there is the matter of presenting results. Again, it’s not best to use too much jargon here, so try to simplify your results by explaining their importance. By linking back to your earlier hook with your results, you will keep the audience engaged. Make your powerpoint slides visually appealing (but not distracting) and use them to highlight the main points of your presentation. Use a consistent visual theme to link together segments of your presentation. Often the process of making a powerpoint forces you to start thinking about the broad structure of your speech. You can also subtly communicate with your audience through a powerpoint slide, and incorporate some humour to keep your audience engaged. Even if your research is still in progress, starting on a powerpoint presentation can allow you to identify what sort of results would fit best, given the story and methodology of your research.

Tip: Practice in front of friends and family

While it is good to spend time creating vibrant slides, the best way to see how you’re going is to practice presenting. The process of getting up and giving it a go forces you to create some finer sentence structure in your speech, which might not have been clear in your mind when you prepared slides. Make sure to time your practices, and use each rehearsal constructively. You may find that you have prepared too many slides for your presentation. Instead of deleting extra slides, keep them handy for question time, where they may become useful. Every time you practice the more confident and prepared you will feel. Another advantage of practicing is the chance to adjust your speaking posture and hone in on some nice hand gestures to complement your talk.  

With enough preparation and practice, standing up and presenting at ICUR will become and incredibly fun and rewarding experience!

Welcome to CURIE’s Research Toolkit!

Welcome to the Research Toolkit, an online open research platform for CURIE students to interact and share their ideas. The Research Toolkit is a comprehensive resource for all undergraduate research students at Monash University who are commencing their research careers. Find loads of resources to support you through CURIE’s initiatives, or more general advice and tips on how to start navigating a research career as an undergraduate. Useful for undergraduate researchers from first year to Honours, in fields from Arts to Science, join the community today to interact with likeminded undergraduates from across Monash University.