Interview questions for comm postdoc - rayna's response
_Please briefly answer some or all the questions below via e-mail; bullet points are completely ok. We’ll talk about them more during the interview. It’s more important that you think about them than that you address them thoroughly, this is just to give you a warmup/introduction to the challenges we’re tackling!_
[ ](https://hackmd.io/s/ByDK6UlqM#Questions "Questions")Questions with Rayna's response
**How would _you_ join a new scientific subcommunity? What are strategies and approaches to getting involved, in your experience?**
I would join a new scientific subcommunity by taking a course, getting actively involved, and taking on a leadership role (ideally in that order).
First, I think it's important to learn new things as quickly as possible. With the internet, one can study alone, but I believe the taking a course where you can immerse yourself in the tools, terminology, and people is more efficient than studying along.
Second, I would apply what I've learned as soon as possible. Getting actively involved in the best way to apply new knowledge, gain experience, and learn even more skills.
Thirdly, I would take on leadership roles. Sometimes I think I've done this a little too fast, skipping part 2. I think it's important to navigate up the ranks a little first, to gain a better understanding of the whole organization before trying to steer the community in a new or same direction.
**In your opinion, how expert in the specifics (technical, scientific) does someone need to be to become a member of a subcommunity? What are the tradeoffs of being more or less expert?**
In my opinion, I believe every relevant scientific community needs a combination of domain experts, novices, and interdisciplinary intermediates. I think you need experts who have a wealth of searchable knowledge, non-experts who can (ignorantly) question the status quo, and interdisciplinary "jack-of-all-trades-expert at none"-like people who know a little bit about everything to bring in outside perspective. In my opinion, this combination will help a community simultaneously stay true to roots and adapting to modern advances.
**What are some ways of extracting information for e.g. a social media post from researchers who don’t blog themselves? And what use is this?**
Google scholar is my _best friend_ for extraction information for social media posts. When I was managing academic Facebook ((https://www.facebook.com/CCBBatUT/), (https://www.facebook.com/Neural-Systems-Behavior-Course-230609650287280/), (https://www.facebook.com/Hofmannlab/)) and Twitter ((https://twitter.com/texas_cbrs), (https://twitter.com/NSB_MBL)) accounts from ~2013-2017, I set up Google Scholar alerts for PIs that were well known in those communities. About once a week, I read the abstracts from all my google scholar alerts and summarized them in short tweets or posts with links to the relevant papers and co-authors. This was useful to the authors because it boosted their web presence, and it was useful to me because I stayed current on a very wide range of scientific publications.
**What kind of things should be in onboarding docs?**
Deciding what to include in onboarding docs is challenging because you want newbies to know everything, but they don't yet have the capacity to utilize everything provided. So, I think the most useful things to include in onboarding documents are a checklist for the first steps and links to more detailed topic-specific onboarding documentation.
To elaborate, I was recently put in charge of leading [Carpentry Maintainer On-boarding in Spanish](http://pad.software-carpentry.org/maintainer-onboarding-es). Since I only recently became a Carpentry Maintainer, I'm only a few steps ahead of my trainees. I've had to immerse myself in the community, curriculum, and technology related to lesson development. The onboarding documentation is pretty good, but the outside links are crucial. I've used these to teach myself, ask others for advice, and teach others.
**What are some barriers to researcher (biologist) engagement with new technical projects?**
- imposter syndrome
- already overworked and underpaid
- insufficient description of how to participate
- a belief that it's a waste of time / can't see the cost-benefit
- superiors disagree with said cost-benefit
**What basic strategy do you use / would you use in your approach to building an online presence and social media impact?**
**What etiquette tips would you suggest for social media interaction?**
These are some suggestions I have given when recruiting people to help me with academic social media profiles. This is more of a style guide than a strategy.
- Crop photos specifically for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc ([diminsions described here](https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/ultimate-guide-social-media-image-dimensions-infographic#sm.001h0yyj11516d7xwoy12dwqr45gy)).
- Have one other person glance at things before posting to check for typos or improve syntax.
- Every photo in facebook album or Instagram must have a caption. Never post without a caption.
- Tagging people and adding hashtags will increase visibility.
- FYI, on Twitter, retweeting gives papers an Altmetric boost but liking does not.
Here is a blog post that I once wrote about [Receiving Advice, Tweeting, Chairing, Networking & Exercising at Conferences](https://medium.com/@raynamharris/receiving-advice-tweeting-chairing-networking-exercising-at-conferences-cd209af0e42e) that delves a little more into my strategy and approach.
**Have you ever herded cats (== senior scientists) successfully? Describe! ([https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8))**
I have successfully and unsuccessfully headed cats, though I don't have a western video to prove it.
#### Cat-herding, senior scientists
- I defended my Ph.D. Coordinated thesis meetings once a year.
- I wrote a BD2K R25 grant in 2015 with 10 senior PIs. My PI wouldn't let me post it online. I made it available [here](https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RN_Fuuz5wVsOp-Hr0MSrhbzgdUN8YUE-/view?usp=sharing) just for you:
#### Cat-herding, senior/non-senior scientists level
- Organized a [hackathon](http://pad.software-carpentry.org/2018-02-24-hackaton) and a [BugBBQ](https://github.com/swcarpentry/r-novice-gapminder-es/issues/39) to translate and revise (respectively) the new Software Carpentry lessons, relying heavily on the help of local organizers to make things happen.
- Organized the [Big Data in Biology Summer School](https://ccbb.biosci.utexas.edu/summerschool.html) for 5 years. ~10 instructors each year, all with different technology requirements, some with better communication and organizational skills than others.
- Organized the [Big Data in Biology Symposium](https://ccbb.biosci.utexas.edu/symposium.html) for 5 years. Not as much herding as the summer school. A lot more complaints about bad food that fell on deaf ears.
- I've been trying for two years to publish some collaboratively developed [qPCR and RNA-seq lessons,](https://www.overleaf.com/read/xkzfnstkqzdt) but they are still DOI-less.
**What are your current short-term and long-term career goals?**
Now, I'm working on improving my ability to communicate in English and in Spanish and to code in Python, R, Git, Unix, Make, and more.
I have and always will want to be a "Professor". I want to discover new knowledge and share it with people. I worry that the traditional academic professor does not have the influence/prestige/impact that it once did. Therefore, I am open to all sorts of careers that allow the assimilation and dissemination of knowledge.