An issue for most research students is that most of their work is done in isolation. You spend quite a lot of time at your computer or in a lab (or similar) plugging away at your work. Where is the human interaction?
Another issue is that you know what you are doing but often you are isolated from other research going on even in your same department, let alone the university! Two people could be working on very similar things but not know the other exists. This means that possibilities for cooperation are missed, and opportunities for making both projects that much stronger are frittered away.
Now, something is being done about it at UCL! A group of UCL students have started an online networking group – Grapevine - for students and academics to join up online, talk about their research and discuss opportunities, and hopefully allow for people to make relevant connections and not feel as isolated.
However, the group is not restricted to a space in cyberspace only! On Thursday, a ‘Grapevine offline’ event was held. There were drinks, and snacks, other PhD students to talk to, and a brief (yes it was kept brief!- yeay them!) presentation on using the application. It was a great informal way of getting people introduced to the network, and more importantly to talk to each other. They also had a prize draw for all the people there…and I won! My first UCL-branded t-shirt!
Congratulations to the people involved! I feel like this is something which has been long needed at UCL (and probably at other universities too?). If you’re at UCL do go along and give the group a try! The application is not always the most intuitive, but look at what others have done, and you can then start to get an idea of what you can do – and do it!