Summary from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and University of Milan
On the first day, the sessions took us through the different aspects of a project proposal and some common issues researchers face when putting together a proposal. The experienced speakers reminded us of the fact that as challenging as it may seem, the writing of a project proposal is something that you will learn by doing. It was also highlighted that time and people management are extremely important and we were given a presentation full of motivational messages! During the day we also had the opportunity to participate in a fun game, to test the real knowledge of some details related to the rules of the new framework program and have a little fun, thus creating more involvement.
Building on the importance of delegating work to the people involved in the project, the second day we were given insights on how to improve our network by interacting with stakeholders and how to build your network. It was also clearly brought that each networking strategy is unique to a project and its participants! Networking does not stop with normal working hours, it is a continuous effort that has to be undertaken. Besides, networking is interlinked with good communication, which in turn is interlinked with the dissemination and exploitation of the results of your project.
In the second part of day 2, very interesting information on the number of published papers was presented to us. Over the last 20 years this number has grown exponentially, and it will continue to grow. But no place for cold feet! Although there is more competition in science, more funding opportunities are available. The importance of contributing to scientific progress in science and of sharing it with other scientists was also pointed out. Every section of a scientific paper was separately explained, and it was mentioned that consistency throughout sections should be considered. The speaker finished the presentation by saying that our work has to be reviewed and so by writing it down, we will become better scientists.
The third day introduced us to a topic that many of us are still unfamiliar with; gender issues in research. First of all, we were taught about the difference between sex and gender and that often there is more than just two identities. It’s important to think about how sex and/or gender is relevant in each of our research (e.g. endocrine disruptors), and to carefully document this. Furthermore, we learned that in the workplace and in each field of science there may be unconscious bias, and that often this stands in the way of a fair judgement.
On the last day, the speakers were coming from two different backgrounds. The first one, a scientific author, enriched us with information about how the importance of some sources of mass media changed over time, from newspapers to the internet. Moreover, they discussed about how information is the sole product of the media’s business and accordingly of high interest; it has to be sold to the audience. The role that we, as scientists, can play in the global media was highlighted as well. The second speaker, Biochemistry Professor at the Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Science of the University of Milan, is also deeply involved in communications matters and has gained extensive experience in the management of media as channels for the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
He discussed the differences between these two worlds and what the journalist would like to extract from scientific communication, sometimes opposing to the word that scientist wants to spread. He brought to attention the great power of the new- media, and the importance of weighing what is shared, considering the variety of levels of education and knowledge of the end user. To finish the presentation, good advice on bi-directional communication in new media was given.
Overall, the TWINALT Consortium event provided us with a variety of transferable skills that will guide us as young scientists through our careers. Despite the pandemic and online reality, it were four days of very engaging sessions thanks to the speakers and organisation team!
Reflection shared by participant from Nofer Institute for Occupational Medicine
I had the pleasure to participate in the Consortium Event 1, offered by the European TWINALT project. As a young scientist, I happened to write a grant project proposal for funding, unfortunately unsuccessfully, but after the motivating training by NILU, I believed in myself. In addition, having more knowledge on writing and managing research projects will definitely come in handy when writing a better national project next time. Being a future project manager (I hope J), I will have to disseminate the obtained results of the project. I had the opportunity to study consortium training in this context, namely: how to prepare a scientific article; what the manuscript submission and review process is ; “sex or gender? “- now I know how to properly use these concepts in my research and results. At the end of the Consortium Event, I discovered for myself a surprising new use of social media for research purposes and the role of scientists in the light of social media. In conclusion, I am very pleased with the Consortium Event 1. The acquired knowledge gave me the opportunity to take a new approach to the world of science, especially in the context of disseminating knowledge, which is currently one of the key factors in the development of science.