The Academic Woman Interview (4): Research mentorship

Fourth of a series of four posts reporting on my interview with Anatu Mahama of the Academic Woman magazine

Anatu Mahama, editor-in-chief of the The Academic Woman, interviewed me and asked me some great questions on four key themes: my career history & advice for juniorsmy past and current researchbuilding inclusive research cultures, and research mentorship. This post deals with the fourth key theme.

Why did you start your academic resources website?

I started my website in the last century, only a few years after the Internet became widely available. Initially, it was simply a way to share teaching materials with my students as the university system at the time was so cumbersome. However, shortly after that I posted a collated journal ranking in Business & Economics on my website, the Journal Quality List. This became very popular and – after 23 years – is now in its 69th edition. Over the years I also included some resources about living and working abroad as well as collections of links about culture and language, expatriation, and international business more generally.

In 2006 this was joined by the free citation analysis software called Publish or Perish. Now 16 years old, the software has become very popular all over the world with more than a million users, including academics, students, librarians, government officials, and consultants. You can read more about this in the following blogpost: The changing usage of Publish or Perish over the years: where, why, when, what & who?

However, the major impetus of my website as a resource for supporting academics to thrive and flourish was my academic blog. I started blogging in 2016 and with almost weekly posts my blog now has over 350 postings on these themes: academic publishing, research impact, doing international research, academic etiquette, academic careers, using the PoP software, gender in academia, and conference reports.

I have also created a range of highly popular multipart blogpost series:

The key reason for doing this is that in my role as mentor and Staff Development Lead at Middlesex and within the CYGNA women’s network I noticed that many early career academics are struggling to get access to mentorship in their own institution. Hence, my hope is that having access to a central resource site like this will help junior academics to feel less lonely and isolated in academia.

What motivated you to start the PositiveAcademia initiative?

This idea really came to me in the Christmas break of 2021, in the depths of the second pandemic winter. I was looking for ways to cheer people up on a regular basis. So on the first week of 2022, I launched the #PositiveAcademia initiative in which I share LinkedIn recommendations for colleagues, mentees, co-authors, and others I admire. This doesn’t mean I don’t recognise the myriad of problems we are facing in academia; it simply means that I am committed to showing that there are positive sides too.

I started writing these recommendations over the Christmas break and haven’t stopped, I have shared about 50 of them on LinkedIn now and am planning to write many more. Little gestures like can really make a big difference to academics in your network. So, for anyone listening please do join me and take this small step to support an academic colleague. Even if we all write just one recommendation for someone else, we can collectively make academia a much nicer place. As I wrote in another blogpost we cannot change academic cultures overnight, but we can all start changing academic culture: one email at a time...

As a receiver of many awards how do you feel about this?

I won’t deny it is always pleasing to see my academic work recognised by my colleagues. So yes, I do feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when my papers receive awards, and in all modesty many of them have. However, I have to say that the awards that gave me the most enduring sense of pride and satisfaction were receiving the Kindness in Leadership Award in 2019 and the WAIB Woman of the Year award in 2022 (Women in the Academy of International Business).

These were awards that recognised my work in supporting female academics through the CYGNA women’s network, through my website, through my YouTube channel, and through my day-to-day mentoring efforts for dozens of women all over the world. To me this is far more meaningful than any award for my academic work. I strongly believe that my impact in academia in supporting the next generation of academics will be much more enduring than any of my academic achievements.

In the same series

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