Twelfth week

The twelve weeks visit in Australia is behind. And it was time to go home. I write this blog post in the train heading to Liminka (near by Oulu). Aim of this trip is to bring our cat’s home. My younger son Kuutti game as companion. He takes a couple of days leave from a school to recover from a jet leg. The real reason is that he wants to be the one cats meet first.imagePicture 1: In the train on the way to Oulu.

In the end I did tick all the boxes on my task list (see the blog post On my last week at work, I got the project report ready (the funder’s approval needed before I can share it), the research data management plan checklist was pratically approved and we had first workshop of the data policy.

Delivery of the data policy

How was the first workshop? I think it was like those are always. What happens if you put around the table an IT boss who is not familiar with RDM, a patient record database expert, a biostatistician, a manager of ethics unit, a research director, a library director and me? Well, a lot of things can happen, but it’s very unlikely that first meeting can give a lots of results.

This meeting was on my last workday. So it was very easy for me just wait while they talked mostly about relevant but also irrelevant things, like format of data policy. 🙂 My mission was to start the conversation of data policy. There was no chance to get it ready in 12 weeks. Even though the data policy draft we wrote is very close from the one they need. It follows the ANDS outline for data policies. And it’s based on an interview study and follows the data management policy tradition of Australian research organizations.

There are no lack of information how to build up a data policy. See the DCC collection here:

Like in many cases, when people need to agree something, it takes some time to ingest the new things and information, before we are ready to make decisions. And that is challenging when writing a policy, not the facts but how to handle situation where some people need more time to think than others. I hate pondering, therefore I’m not the right person for this job, and I happily gave policy negotiations for others to handle. 🙂 The library director Ann can carry on from here.

I bet this process will end like it ended in Univ Helsinki. Where the final data policy did not differ very much from the first draft, but a couple of meetings were needed before all could be happy about the policy. It took about 7 month in Helsinki. We’ll see how long it will take in Barwon Health. I hope, they will write a fine policy which gives researchers a guidance and support they need in a form easy to find, read and implement.

The glory of a visiting scholar

It was nice to have an opportunity be a visiting scholar for a while. It’s not the same thing than you start as a new person in a new organization. No, you have a some kind of glory around you. If you are visiting scholar, sure you must be an expert of something, right? So, even you are new in organization you get a head start to build a professional status. It’s also challenging, while you should be the expert like everybody expects. But you can only be you, and I could only be me. Not perfect but hopefully good enough. 🙂

Coming home

Today my son did use English in a bus while buying a ticket, just by accident. It was a reflex. Then he complained about staff in markets here are not so nice than they are in Australia. They don’t say hello when we enter the shop. Just after, we walk in the pet shop (to buy treats for the cats) and clerk said hello, and Kuutti happily said hello back. See, there are nice and polite shop keepers in Finland as well. But in grocery stores they don’t ask: how are you or where are you from, or how long you will stay, etc. Maybe in Easter Finland they do, but not in Helsinki.

While we were in Australia boys complained because not all thing were like in Finland and here they see very clearly the difference as well. Let’s see how many times I’ll find my self telling others how things were so much better in Australia! 🙂

Best regards, MEK

Eleventh week

This weekend we visited Tasmania. I used my two days off (plus weekend) hiking, feeding kangaroos, petting wombats, admiring very tall gum trees, biking, hiking again and driving a car.

IMG_8176Keep left

Yes, I was driving a car at wrong side of the road. I’m so used to do so, that I’m worried, if I remember how to drive on the right side of the road, when I’ll go back to Finland. And what happens, when I’ll try open or to unlock doors? I need to remember they open opposite direction than here. Eleven weeks is not very long time, but it’s long enough to chance some habits.

There is something I have learnt that I actually can use at home, of course. And that was the point to come here. I’m not entirely sure, what are the most important things I got, future will tell that. But one thing I can say. And it’s the thing that library can’t work as a separate island in a university/organization. Or it can be a warehouse where books and journals have been taken care of. What do you think, is the library a warehouse or a center of information services? I think it is a service center. The library collection services and other services, like information literacy training and research services, should be linked to the mother organization and in many cases the link could be to the administration procedures.

A small part of bureaucratic machinery

It could be wise to link information of library services to research administration processes a research project needs to pass. In medicine we could link important information to a ethic application process. Not everything, but advertisement about literature search support and training, reference management softwares, open access repository, research data management guidance, etc. Data management planning support can be linked to the grant application process. We tried it in Univ Helsinki and I think it works quite nicely. Maybe it feels not so nice to be part of the bureaucratic machinery of the organization. Especially because we know how much researchers hate administration. But it is for sure more effective than lurking in the Facebook or Research gate.

About the information… I got a hint from the director of the research ethic unit about a good guide:”A guide to good research practice”, From a research data management point of view, I think it’s very good guide. But from information seeking point of view… There is nothing about the literature search as a part of good research. I wonder why. Maybe the library was not invited to take part to writing project.


Picture: Fossils at Maria Island, Tasmani (CC 4.0 BY Mikael Niku)

Last week is here

This a beginning of our last week here in Australia. It has been very nice being here. But at the same time whole family is ready to go home. My sons miss they friends and fast internet connections. My husband is ready to go to work after taking caring of boys so long. He especially dreams about our house where boys have rooms in different floors. I miss the shower with a thermostat and fast internet connections. And we all miss our cats. My mother of law has taken care of the cats and they have spent wonderful time on the old farm my parents in law live in. But the cats have missed us. The female (Siru) just recently stopped waiting us very near by the house and joined her brother more distant explores heading the country side near by (mother of law is keeping eye on them all the time). So she might have decided, that we are not coming back. I wonder how they react when we will.

See you,

Ps. I bought chocolate from the Hobart airport. Clerk wanted to warn me and make sure I was aware it was DARK chocolate. “Oh yeah, that’s why I bought it”, I said. The face of the clerk made me laugh, I couldn’t help it.

Tenth week

When do you have too many balls in the air at the same time? Easy answer: today. I missed a very important Skype meeting (at least I thought it was important). And I was the organizer of the meeting! I felt so embarrassed!

I heard later they had a good meeting and they made great results, even though I was not there. Well, I’m not a very important person after all and I’m so pleased to hear that!

(I did know that of course! But sometimes you just forget that, especially if you are very busy.)

Picture 1: Scary signs here! (However, my limbs did not fall.)

Writing reports

I’m writing reports of the projects I have been involved in here, in English. Yeah, English is not my strongest skill, so it takes much longer than normally to write and I can’t polish the reports too much (or at all) or I never get those ready.

Following the same strategy, I made a presentation of project findings. I was surprised when got positive feedback of it, from several people. They think the presentation was clear and main message was easy to understand. Yeah. Well, I could not write very much. That’s why I draw graphs/pictures and used less words. Every word needs to be so important I wanted to practice to pronounce those words. Even practiced, I could not pronounce some words after all. It did not matter. (They read the words from the Power Point slide.)

I have learned something here. If you don’t spend so much time polishing your reports or presentations, you can save time for more important things. And you can even sometimes miss a meeting and the world will not collapse. I don’t know why I couldn’t figure that out in Finnish, but great that because of my “English handicap” I got this wisdom. 🙂

Best regards, MEK

Ps. We visited the Grampians this weekend. It’s an amazing place!

View Grampians
Picture 2: View from the Grampians. © Mikael Niku