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bringing you the brain science news before it happens. or sometimes a long, long time afterwards. & sometimes it's not really news at all. more opinion really.

episode #29, 10th September 2022 #job #news #revamp #advert   image source

  ⇦ listen here ⏱07:05

  ⇨ transcript here

our main brain stories this episode...

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the host of a barely successful, intermittent & occasionally-offensive brain science news podcast has got a new job. this story serves by way of an apology for the lack of episodes in 2022   [read more...]

this story was in episode #29. image source #manbitesdog #news #podcast #host #career


hello error bar nerds!

the error bar has been closed for refurbishment for quite some time. there have been supply-chain issues, delays at ports, cost-overruns & most recently some massive increases in the cost of running the cappuccino maker - he demanded a much higher salary. worst of all, elon musk threatened temporarily to buy the error bar for 44 billion dollars so that we would no longer run stories about super-rich neuro-charlatans taking up valuable tabloid brain science news space. he withdrew his offer after learning that 100% of the error bar twitter account was run by a bot. we'll see him in court.

in the next few minutes i want to tell you what has been happening behind the error bar. this monologue may well end up as one of those 'look at my great career' twitter threads; & if you don't have the time to listen further, then the story here is that, after a busy six months of applications, presentations, an interview & a brief negotiation, i'm moving jobs. & that's why the error bar has been closed.

the long version is that, about a year ago i applied for promotion, from the lowest-kind of tenured academic in the UK - a lecturer or assistant professor - to the second-lowest kind of tenured academic - a senior lecturer or associate professor.

i was told long ago by people older & wiser than me that, in general, you should wait to apply for promotion until you are confident that you will be promoted. because if they say 'no', you will want to leave. so i waited. several years went by. 18 months ago, in the middle of the pandemic, i felt that everything was in place & my time had come - some great papers had come out, some great students doctored, some solid teaching on difficult historical & conceptual issues, an unpopular & award-losing podcast, some excellent outreach work in the form of the annual Summer Scientist event in Nottingham, some editorial jobs & even a flashy opinion piece in the glamour journal, Nature.

so i applied for promotion, & arrogantly had no real expectation of them saying 'no'. after 12 years, 75 papers, a fair bit of research funding & what i felt was a strong international reputation, i really thought they would do the sensible thing & promote me above my entry-level academic post.

but of course they said 'no'. & so i wanted to leave.

over the next month, i searched for reasons, second opinions, feedback from the faculty. all led nowhere. as far as i can tell, there was no particular reason for me not being promoted. unless you look, perhaps, at some secret faculty spreadsheet on research income.

so that was the push that led to the temporary closure of the error bar this Summer. the pulls are much more fun.

in January i'll be moving to Birmingham, a young, multicultural city fifty miles South West of Nottingham. famous for Cadbury's chocolate & the first English dictionary, Birmingham has a big university & recently hosted an international sporting event that you'll only know about if your territory was once part of the British Empire - the Commonwealth Games. this episode was written before the death of Her Majesty The Queen.

there are many potential colleagues for me to work with in Birmingham - in movement, brain stimulation, development & neuroscience; the research group i'm moving to is much closer-aligned with my skills & interests; the brain-scanning centre is expanding & developing & reaching out across the disciplines - not only to psychology & neuroscience, but also to medicine & even to sports sciences...

...& that, dear listener, is where my career in psychology ends. for from January 2023, i will be a sports scientist. more specifically, a motor control & rehabilitation scientist. surrounded by people who care about movement, about muscles, about the body & its functions.

& hopefully I will never again have to read an undergraduate essay on Piaget's stage theory of cognitive development. finger's crossed.

& what for the error bar?

the last six months has been chaotic. i've been living in two places & struggling to get the lab back into action after two years of COVID-shutdown. my lab file-server disk & my smartphone both died in the same week in June. getting this stuff back online ate up lots of time.

so i turned off the beer taps, cancelled my Gold subscription to The Daily Mail & boarded up the error bar while i worked on some papers & - at long, long last - finished editing a two hundred thousand word book on somatosensory research methods. details of the book will come out on the @researchintouch twitter account in the next few weeks.

i hope that my new job in Birmingham will give me a more stable life living in a single place, allowing me more time sitting on trains to think & read, so that i can return to devoting a regular half a day a week to the podcast. it remains a hope & i will undoubtedly fail.

the next season of the podcast will likely focus a little more on topics closer to my research interests; will be a little less driven by what the newspapers are saying, especially the Daily Mail; there may be more, not less, statistics; it will come out on Friday evenings in good time for your weekend bath.

& just like James Bond, the error bar will return. although that analogy fails if you've seen the latest movie. truly shocking ending. spoiler alert.