Academics Need to Talk

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Academic Support

We are calling on academics at any career stage to use this platform to connect to other academics around the world. What makes ANT different is that we want to facilitate face-to-face discussions via video conferencing platforms, a departure from other networks out there. We want to encourage meaningful discussions that have the potential for collaboration, for mentorship and to give people in isolation the opportunity to talk to like-minded people.

In order to request to speak to another academic you have to offer your time to others. You can offer as much or as little time as you like and you will always have the chance to vet and reject requests if they look unsuitable.

All academics at ANY career stage are eligible to join Academics Needs to Talk. It doesn’t matter in which field or which country you are based.

How to set up a Calendly account
  1. Go to https://calendly.com/ and register your email address and create a password (or you can sign up using a Microsoft 365, Google etc. account).
  2. Choose a URL that describes you (e.g., your name and surname) and select your time zone. This is important as participants will be based around the world.
  3. Calendly will automatically search the web for the main calendar providers (such as Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook and Apple Calendar) and you can select which calendar you would like Calendly to use. You can also use a calendar provider which is different from the e-mail provider you used to sign up to Calendly.
  4. Calendly will auto-check your calendar(s) for busy times and add new events as they are scheduled. Any events labelled busy in the selected calendar(s) will be read as conflicts, and those times will be removed from your scheduling page. You can also set up your usual availability in the week (e.g. 9am-12pm on Mon-Wed) from your Event Types page by selecting the event you would like to edit (e.g. 30min or 60min appointments) and scrolling down to the ‘When can people book this event’ section. This can be adjusted either one day at a time, or for several days at once. You can also customise the recurring settings on a typical day/week.
  5. To make an appointment, you will need the other person’s Calendly link (which is provided once your enrolment in the scheme has been completed). Once you chose an appointment from the selection available for that particular person, you will be asked to insert your name, e-mail and a brief note about the topic of the appointment.
  6. Your personal Calendly URL (e.g. calendly.com/NAME-SURNAME) directs users to your page to see your availability and book appointments. You will need to send us your Calendly URL to be added in the scheme.

Further information is available on this webpage: https://help.calendly.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002939274-Account-setup

How to sign up for Academics Need to Talk
  • You will need to set up a free Calendly account  and connect it to your electronic diary. Nobody will be able to view the contents of your diary and using Calendly provides a convenient way to avoid double-booking. Whenever you update your diary, Calendly will automatically know which times are unavailable and which times are free. A step by step guide on how to sign up is enclosed with this document. Provide your details by filling out the Registration Form here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DQHKCJS
  • NB1: Only submissions that have all fields completed will be considered.
  • NB2: We will ask you about some person information and this data won’t be shared. We collect this information for the verification process and evaluation of the scheme. Your data will be handled according to official data protection guidelines and won’t be used or shared for any other purpose. Only UCL staff involved in the scheme will have access to your data and you can request for it to be permanently deleted at any time by contacting us on: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/L96PQGC
  • Our team will verify your registration details and send further information about the scheme to the university / research institute e-mail address that you have provided. The verification process will take place at least on a weekly basis so you will hear from us shortly after submitting your registration. Note that non-academic email accounts such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other providers will not be accepted.
  • Once you receive confirmation e-mail from us, you will have access to a Google Sheet with details of all academics in the scheme. Filter the information and shortlist to find someone who you want to talk to. Please note you will be required to use a Gmail account to be able to access the Google sheet. The sheet will be view only, with no ability to download or share the infomation provided.
  • To book an appointment with the person you have shortlisted, simply follow their personal Calendly link and find a timeslot via the Calendly app. Other users will be able to find you and your availability in the same way. We recommend using video if possible as it makes the interactions feel more natural. Calendly is integrated with Zoom and GoToMeeting platforms but you can also use other platforms if preferred.
Instructions for participants

It’s useful to note a few rules to facilitate interaction between participants:

  • When you first approach someone, make sure to add a note to the Calendly appointment about the topic you would like to discuss. This could be your aims, a question you want ask or the reasons why you picked that particular person. It doesn’t need to be long but be honest and clear!
  • It takes two to dance! Some conversations will be fluid while other may be less so. We encourage you to have conversations with multiple people and find a person you are a good match with. You may also want to explore different topics with different people.
  • Maybe one appointment will be enough for a discussion or maybe you’ll want to continue the conversation. If you would like to make additional appointments with the same person, it’s helpful to agree this with them at the end of your first appointment. We also recommend that you set expectations about how to handle it and have a final point in time agreed.
  • It’s important to be clear about what’s appropriate to discuss and about confidentiality from the start. Are there limits or conflicts of interest? Is it ok to divulge personal information or talk about sensitive topics? Ask the other person and be clear about the boundaries of confidentiality. If in doubt, always check with the other person to make sure you are on the same page.
  • You will both have access to the Google Sheet with each other’s details but you may want to say more about yourself and ask more about the other person at the start of the appointment. Building rapport is helpful for a productive discussion!
Ideas for conversations

It is entirely up you to decide what you would like to discuss during your appointments and we have collected a few ideas to give you inspiration and clarify general expectations.

  • Coping with social distancing.
  • Providing virtual support to your colleagues or your team during this period.
  • Advice on working remotely and using video conferencing with colleagues.
  • Advice on pausing or redirecting your research work during this period.
  • Sharing experiences and best practices with online teaching.
  • Taking the time to think about ‘Slow Science’ and how it can help your work.
  • Taking the opportunity to approach new contacts and forge new collaborations.
  • Support with writing a funding proposal.
  • Managing your time effectively whilst working remotely.
  • Dealing with difficult relationships remotely when you need to interact virtually.
  • Providing support to students with difficulties in working virtually.
  • Managing work-life balance while working remotely
Getting in touch with us
Academic Need To Talk provides a friendly, supportive and secure platform for academics to interact with one another. We expect all participants to follow the ethos of the programme and show their support for the community. We have however created an online form for you to get in touch with us if you need to report inappropriate behaviour, report a fault of the system, provide feedback on Academics Need to Talk, request a change to your data on the database or request that your data and profile be removed from the database. The link to the form is here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/L96PQGC

We will treat the information confidentially and with sensitivity. Any individuals who are found to be abusing their position will be removed from the scheme

This measure has been supported by the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre


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