Finet: a platform for interaction among young fisheries scientists
Finet (Young Fisheries Researchers Network) is a platform for communication among young researchers and students on fish and fisheries science. Me and two colleagues/friends, Sophia and Corinna, started thinking about this project when we first met, during a summer course in fisheries ecology that we attended in Iceland in 2009 ( Rebecca Holt attended the same course this year and wrote about it in an earlier post). Our idea developed from the feeling of frustration that we all experienced when searching information on courses and conferences. We didn’t know where to start to search, and several times we found out about interesting events just too late to apply! And the same thing happened when, after finishing our Masters, we started looking for jobs or PhD positions. We had to browse through the website of each university where interesting position could have been advertised. It would have been so easy to have all these information conveniently packaged and conveyed in an easy and accessible location. From this idea, the next step was very easy: why don’t we develop a similar tool ourselves? If no one else thought about it, we can do it.
There we go: we put up a simple blog, and started collecting information about PhDs and job position, courses and conferences. Whenever we come across one, we post it. Only position relevant for those who are interested in a career in research on fisheries science or fish biology , ecology, economics. The idea is very simple, but effective. We received good feedback, publicized our work with posters at some conferences, and kept the Finet blog up and running. People started following our blog regularly, some researchers wrote us asking to advertise their open position. That was great! We were achieving what we aimed for.
However, we were not entirely satisfied yet. Our idea was to create a platform for exchange, a tool for connecting people. We wanted to interact with other young researchers. So far, however, we were merely conveying information to a public which we didn’t know at all. No real interaction was happening. At this point, we decided to go one step forward, and promote real interaction. We recently started with an online journal club, to be performed via Skype. We choose one paper a week or so, post it on the blog set a date and time for meeting on Skype: if someone want to join the discussion, they can do it. This promotes fruitful exchange of opinions, and is an occasion to meet new colleagues - and we all know how important it is to interact with colleagues. We very recently started this activity and already gathered enthusiastic, if limited, participation.
The next step, which we are planning to start very soon, is to held workshops and small courses. The idea is that each of us know very well some topics, methodologies or software that others might want to learn a little bit about. This is about sharing knowledge, at a peer to peer level, and free of charge (since most young researchers and students run on a shoestring budget). Of course, these workshops are not professional level courses. Nonetheless, something useful can be learnt (including, for those who organize the workshop, the teaching and organizational experience, which is valuable skills). And once again, this can become a good occasion to meet colleagues. We are now thinking about the first workshop for the beginning of 2013!
Finet is under constant improvement, and although we run it in our free time we try to do it as best as we can. If you want to keep updated, you can sign in for the mailing list. If you want to contribute and participate, you are welcome! And, if you know about PhD or job positions which need to be advertised, or courses and conferences which could be of interest for others, please inform us!