A dinner at a traditional Viennese restaurant on Sunday evening gave us the opportunity to meet some of our fellow-Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and their supervisors within the ALLODD consortium in an informal setting. On Monday morning, the workshop started off with a session during which we were introduced to the other workshop participants and were provided with information on the ALLODD consortium, the Project Handbook and the Career Development Plan. The introductory session was followed by a lecture on Open Science by Gareth O’Neill. Principles of Open Science, open access publishing as well as Open-and Findable-Accessible-Interoperable-Reusable (FAIR) Data were introduced. The session fostered a lively discussion on the risks of Open Science in light of ever-more powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Following a team-building exercise and the lunch break, the ESRs participated in a workshop to develop our communication and presentation skills. Of particular interest to me was a section on nonviolent communication, which aims at communicating one’s perceptions and needs with empathy and without any prejudice on other people’s intents. In the evening, the group did a walking tour in Vienna’s city center, presenting some of the most important historic sites such as the Hofburg and the Stephans dom.
Day 2 started off with a workshop on Research Integrity and Ethics. However, due to time constraints, we only superficially touched upon the topic of Ethics and focused on Integrity aspects. Here, I much appreciated our discussions on the “gray zone” between scientific misconduct and “sloppy” science. Based on case studies, we elaborated strategies how to confront situations in which we might be tempted to engage in questionable research practices. In the afternoon, ESRs and supervisors gathered to attend a workshop on work-life balance. This workshop was highly interactive. It was valuable to share experiences and to hear even from senior participants that they occasionally struggle with some of the insecurities that we face as young researchers. Amongst others, the workshop aimed at recognizing negative thought spirals and unhealthy coping mechanisms, and to give us strategies at hand that can be used to disrupt these loops.
The final day of the meeting began with a course on scientific writing. Extending beyond the issue of writing, the course also covered topics such as navigating and managing scientific literature. A main takeaway for me from this course was the order in which to read sections in scientific articles. We were recommended to begin with the abstract and then move on to the conclusions section to find out whether an article indeed answers the question posed. Another advice given during the workshop was to have someone else readout loud drafts for publications and reports that one has written to assess the clarity of the writing. After lunch, Sharon Bryant from Inte:Ligand gave an impulse lecture on scientific innovation with emphasis on the life science sector. According to her, the most striking innovations within the healthcare economy during the past years were biotechnological advances such as the CAR-T cell therapy. I was slightly disappointed not having discussed critically to which extent more conventional approaches such as small molecule drugs might or might not be considered innovative. The workshop was concluded with a discussion on career perspectives outside of science. Although the choice of a career path seems to lay far in the future for us now, it was insightful to hear about and discuss which skills that we acquire during our PhD training are sought after in other sectors apart from research such as finance, journalism and policy making.