The future drivers of agricultural innovation are this week in Sydney undertaking intensive training in scientific writing to ensure their research and reporting papers meet world standards.
The post-graduate professional development course for livestock industry researchers is being led by internationally renowned trainer Prof. David Lindsay, author of the benchmark publication ‘A Guide to Scientific Writing’. The Post Graduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner said the annual course rotated its content over a three-year cycle to ensure the young scientists were trained in communication and how to ensure their research findings are applied in the real world, as well as this week’s unit on scientific writing.
“This is a vital component of the training program as it emphasises the importance of peer-reviewed publications as the foundation for all science-based industry products and information,” Dr Gardner said. “If scientific research is not written and presented to their peers for review in the proper format that showcases the processes used and the rigour of the findings, then the chances are slim for that research to ever be widely accepted and adopted within industry. These young scientists are lucky to have access to advice from a world leader in this field.”
It is the fifth time over the last 15 years that Prof. Lindsay has provided training as part of the livestock industries postgraduate training program.
The 22 student researchers attending this week have been sponsored by industry bodies including the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), the Pork CRC, Australian Pork Ltd (APL), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC).
Dr Gardner said the training would benefit the livestock sector for years to come as meeting the quality control standards of peer-reviewed publications directly enhanced the standard of research, the effectiveness of new products and the credibility of the scientists.
“These skills are absolutely fundamental to the future career success of young scientists,” he said. “By understanding the importance of peer-reviewed publications to support scientific claims and assertions, the young researchers also develop important skills in evaluating claims and recommendations made by others, and therefore probe more effectively for solid evidence.”
As part of their training the students have presented their research to a panel of seven veterans of agricultural research. Murdoch University post-grad Sarah Stewart described the training as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for young scientists to tap into that level of expertise and critical feedback.
Ms Stewart, whose post-graduate research is sponsored by Sheep CRC’s Participant organisation AMPC, is studying the effect of pre-slaughter stress on lamb quality as part of a research collaboration accessing data from the Sheep CRC’s Resource Flocks.
“With any industry funded project the ultimate goal is adoption by end users, and clear and credible scientific writing is vital to communicating your findings to the industry and encouraging uptake,” she said. “Having an industry run conference such as this is really inspiring as it opens your eyes to the career possibilities, particularly when you’re surrounded by experienced researchers with such a passion for agriculture – we could be those industry leaders one day.”
Similarly, CQUniversity Australia post-graduate Don Menzies said that in an era of strict accountability for industry investments, it was important for young researchers to continually improve their communication skills, both orally and in written form.
Through his MLA sponsored project, Mr Menzies is researching the use of technologies which can record reproductive performance and report that trait data back to the stud stock sector to improve breeding selections and improve labour productivity.
“This conference has been very helpful and informative and we’re picking up lots of valuable insights from some very experienced scientists on how to ensure our research is picked up and adopted by industry,” he said.
The Sheep CRC each year sponsors a number of post-graduate students to undertake supervised research and it is currently advertising for students to apply for next year’s intake, with applications closing on November 20.
Graduate tracking surveys completed between 2009 and 2013 demonstrated that 70% of postgraduates who have participated in the program have since found employment directly within the sheep and cattle industries, and that 90% have been retained more broadly within agriculture.
The Sheep CRC operates as part of the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s CRC program. It is a collaboration of 40 organisations from across industry, government and the commercial sector, and includes producer groups, farm advisers, universities and research organisations, meat processors and retailers.
Applications close November 20 for Sheep CRC sponspored post-graduate training scholarships. More information is available at www.sheepcrc.org.au.
Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666
First year category
Poster presentations at Postgraduate Conference
Pictured from left to right: Dr Graham Gardner (Postgraduate Program Leader), Prize Winner, Prof. James Rowe (Sheep CRC CEO)
2nd & 3rd year category
Seminar Presentations, Postgraduate conference
Pictured from left to right: Dr Graham Gardner (Postgraduate Program Leader, Prize Winner, Prof. James Rowe (Sheep CRC CEO)