Faces of Elsevier - Priyanka Kalra, Project Manager for Researcher Academy

"To be able to offer free learning resources to researchers globally ... motivates me tremendously"

By Priyanka Kalra - June 9, 2020  5 mins
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  1. What was your background before becoming Project Manager for Researcher Academy?

    Before joining Researcher Academy I did my bachelor’s degree in political science followed by a first master’s degree in journalism. That paved the way to writing for an Indian national magazine on politics and foreign affairs. I wanted to expand my journalism expertise beyond political science, so I completed another master’s in the theory of international law and diplomacy. After working as a journalist for a year and studying international law, I realised I wasn’t done studying. I moved for my third (and final) master’s to Denmark and the Netherlands where I specialized in political communications and globalization.

  2. Tell us a little about what your role entails.

    My role is basically anything and everything to do with Researcher Academy, Elsevier’s free e-learning tool for researchers. My work entails content creation, marketing and most importantly, platform optimization. To put it simply, my job is to create important resources to help researchers research and publish efficiently while making Researcher Academy an easy and user-friendly platform to use.

  3. How would you describe a typical working day?

    A typical day entails calls with experts (editors of prominent journals) and discussing content creation for Researcher Academy, followed by meetings with developers to optimize the platform or fix the occasional bug. A good deal of my day is also dedicated to liaising with editors and publishers within Elsevier to ensure that Researcher Academy is serving the research community as broadly as possible. In a nutshell, lots of talking to people and making things happen!

  4. How do you measure success in your work?

    We have some key metrics like visits, module completion, page views, average visit duration, etc. But what really makes me feel like we are doing a good job are the qualitative comments we get from researchers all over the world appreciating the content or letting us know how it has helped them research, publish or review!

  5. Do you have any particular advice for new authors?

    Don’t forget to promote your research! Researching and publishing a paper is such a huge task and a long journey for many. After rejections/ many revisions, once you get that accepted decision, it can feel like the work is over. Making sure your research is visible and leads to societal impact could add a lot more to your research career but could also benefit society. We therefore spend a lot of time on Researcher Academy highlighting how and why promoting your research is one of the most important steps and what you can do to make your article more discoverable. So don’t stop at the publication stage, your work has just begun!

  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of your work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?

    The most rewarding aspect of my work is when I get positive feedback from researchers. To be able to offer free learning resources to researchers globally which give them knowledge and advice on optimizing their research career motivates me tremendously.

    The difficult part is maintaining the relevance and quality of the content for a very broad and varied group of researchers and ensuring close contact with the research community so we are not creating content in silos!

  7. Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your job.

    Unfortunately, this will be an antiquated answer, but it has to be Excel. This job demands extreme planning and coordination and I am still on a lookout for a tool that does this better than Microsoft Excel. I might be a creature of habit, but I cannot go a day without it!

  8. How do you see your role changing (if at all) over the next few years?

    Even in the last year, my role has changed immensely. I am privileged to be able to make my role into what I want it to be and work in the direction I find exciting as long as I ensure that researchers are benefiting from Researcher Academy.

    Covid-19 has underlined the need for an accessible and flexible e-learning platform. I see the scope of Researcher Academy increasing from generic research content to subject specific matter. My role will continue to involve content curation, but I expect it will also expand to support all subjects, needs and regions. We are already working on making the website multilingual (we have content in Mandarin and are working towards more languages like Spanish).

  9. What would you be doing now if you were not working in publishing?

    I would probably be working at an international development organisation. After my initial internship at Elsevier, I was going to opt for a Public Outreach internship at the International Criminal Court. I assume I would have made a career in that as it’s something I am very passionate about and still pursue in my spare time.

  10. What is the most interesting/amusing/inspirational thing you’ve worked as a project manager?
    The development of a multilingual content website! While this might not sound interesting, translating a content-heavy website into multiple languages exposes you to a lot more cultural and linguistic sensitivities than I was ever aware of. The process has turned out to be rather interesting and engaging. I also get to work with people of different nationalities and cultures, so it is both amusing and inspirational!

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Written by

Priyanka Kalra

Written by

Priyanka Kalra

Priyanka Kalra manages Researcher Academy and works on marketing, communications and digital content for Researcher Academy, Elsevier’s free e-learning platform for early career researchers.

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