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My Research Journey: Dr Alicia Stanway

Wednesday, 07 December 2011

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The transition from PhD scholar to academia may seem daunting to the aspiring academic but there’s a simple equation that can contribute to ones successful transition into the world of academia: rigorous research + sessional teaching + university service. 

During my PhD candidature at the University of South Australia, I was fortunate to gain sessional teaching experience. Yes, the daunting but rewarding experience, which is necessary for those to conquer if they want to pursue a career in academia. I was also heavily engaged in university community service; such as volunteering at Open Days, helping with marketing promotions and assisting with the organising of doctoral colloquiums, including strategically taking advantage of networking opportunities. In fact, it was networking at a conference two years ago that led to a job offer at Edith Cowan University...my husband and I made the decision to move to sunny Perth in roughly one minute!

In the School of Management (UniSA), my PhD was examining the personality traits of professional dancers and how their relationship with their dance organisation resulted in organisational boosterism (how inclined they were to promote their organisation to potential recruits). Coming from a dance background, the industry led me to pursue a PhD with the desire to contribute to research in the arts and service sector in Australia. While I still pursue this line of enquiry, new collaborations in the School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure at ECU and the Department of Sport and Recreation have allowed me to slightly shift my research focus to investigate the outcomes of active participation in sport, specifically for culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) individuals in Perth. Us Aussies fortunate enough to grow up in Australia know the value of team sport and active participation as an avenue for mental and physical health so finding ways to allow CaLD communities to participate in and integrate into mainstream sport and recreation clubs is an important area of research.

I’ll take this opportunity to provide some advice to aspiring academics: accept that you may not know everything in your early years (although with all the reading you do, you probably know more than others in your field!), strategically network at conferences and cross-university events and maintain professional integrity. Like most industries, academia is well connected around the world so maintaining professional relationships is crucial to furthering your success. As a final comment, it became apparent when I started at ECU that there was a strong and proud focus on providing quality teaching to its students but in the last 12 months that I’ve been here, I’ve seen an important shift towards research, which is only going to allow ECU to prosper.

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