Here goes with my second Day in the Life post this week (see Monday’s post for some background).
I had planned to get in super-early this morning, but a disturbed night thanks to the thunderstorms put paid to that. I arrived at my desk about one hour before my visitors were due to arrive. This gave me time to make a few tweaks to the blogpost for Occam’s Corner, mentioned yesterday, and do my daily news scan. Highlights today were the announcement of the various Royal Society awards and honours, a rant about big grants and a paper about the future of the German research funding system.
My visitors then arrived, slightly early. They were two of the winners of our 2013 School Essay Competition, aged 15 and 17. As well as a small cash prize the winners get to spend a day at the Institute and to tour some of the labs and facilities. I started by telling them that if they had ambitions of becoming scientists they must learn how to be consistently five minutes late for every meeting, then I brought them upstairs and explained how the Institute works, its science and its history, plus a bit about the Library and science publishing (including a quick explanation of Open Access). They didn’t look too shell-shocked. Luckily their next appointment after me was a resuscitating coffee in the Restaurant.
Then I worked on another news item about a forthcoming paper, this one about polyQ repeats. It sounded interesting but I won’t say more as it’s not published yet. I worked on it during the day and sent it off to the PI early afternoon for checking.
I was interested to see an email about a new comment on a blog post I had tracked some time ago. The comment mentioned a page on the CRUK website about finding information on the internet. Looks like a useful set of reminders about how to assess the reliability of sources. It took me back to the glory days of OMNI and its work on resource evaluation.
In the last 12 months we have had several new research groups start up. We encourage new group leaders to introduce themselves to the rest of the Institute by writing a few paragraphs about their new research programme, to go in our weekly newsletter. When I suggest it they all agree this is a good idea but it can take a good deal of urging before they get round to doing it. I was therefore pleased to receive such a piece this morning, ready to go in this week’s newsletter.
I was also pleased to see that a couple of requisitions in our ordering system have now been converted into purchase orders, which means that I can process two invoices which have been waiting on my desk. One of them is for a payment to the JISC APC pilot. This should make it much easier to process those pesky Open Access payments to publishers.
In the mail I received our annual checklist of journal subscriptions, sent by our serials agent. I plan to cancel a few outstanding print subscriptions for 2014 but hope to retain most online subscriptions. I need to take a deep breath and go through this list soon, then return my instructions to the agent in good time.
A corridor conversation with someone in HR gave me a bit of the glums. One of the Library staff is leaving us, having found a new job. She joined us under a trainee scheme and has now graduated as a qualified librarian, so getting her first professional job as a Librarian (capital L) is the culmination of what we have been working towards and of course great news for her. But it’s not such good news for the rest of the Library team. The training scheme no longer exists so we need to recruit someone to fill her position, but in the public sector these days recruitment is severely circumscribed. I am still waiting to hear for sure whether it is thumbs up or thumbs down, but the HR person gave me to understand that the news may not be good. I have started thinking about what tasks we will have to ditch or downgrade. There’s no way the remaining staff can take on 33% extra work to cover the loss of a post.
Another visitor came to see me briefly after lunch to pick up a copy of our Open Day programme. The Open Day was dedicated to her late husband and the programme mentioned this so I saved a copy to give her. He did a great deal of work for the outreach programme at the Institute (including setting up the School Essay competition).
Another small task (perhaps one for chopping if necessary?) I do is to check the weekly list of new additions to our database of staff publications. This database feeds into the website and the annual report, amongst other things, so it is important. But it’s just one more thing to do.
This year’s Mill Hill Essays are way behind schedule, so I was pleased to finally hand over most of the text to our PhotoGraphics people to start assembling for publication. I still have to do a few things, but gave them the bulk of the essays.
I ticked off a few things today from my to-do list, but I hope tomorrow I can tackle some big tasks.