How are we doing? Our mid-term check

[By: Joanna Rutkowska]

This month TMSi kindly ho sted our project check meeting and the third training school in Oldenzaal, the Netherlands.

We got off to a shaky start with all of our early stage researchers (ESRs) and their supervisors (principal investigators, PIs) coming from outside the Netherlands stranded at Schiphol Aiport and arriving to our location late in the evening before the first scheduled day.

Fortunately, the next day we did not have our project check meeting yet, or else the Research Executive Agency (REA) Project Officer would be greeted by a group of sleep-deprived and exhausted individuals (or maybe that short description fits all of the scientific researchers anyway?).

MOTION is an Innovating Training Network (ITN) that is a part of H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded by the European Commission. Our name, MOTION, is an abbreviation of the full name of our network: Mobile Technology for Infant Social-Cognitive Neuroscience: Interdisciplinary Training Network for Innovating Infancy Research. As you can see, it would be too hard to use the full name in a sentence! On our website you can also familiarise yourself with the goals of each of the ESRs involved.

As we receive the funding for our research from the European Union, we are held accountable for how we spend it and how we adhere to the goals of our project. That is why we have to complete numerous reports about our progress, but we also have to hold a mid-term check with the REA officer. Our meeting started with a short introduction of everyone involved. We then watched a presentation given by our REA Project Officer on the monitoring of project implementation, reporting and the purpose of the mid-term check. This was followed by a report presented by our project coordinator, Prof. Sabine Hunnius. She summarised the financial aspects of the project and the progress we made in MOTION in terms of recruitment of the ESRs, completing the milestones and the deliverables such as creating our Data Management Plan.

As the ESRs, we were also asked to prepare a presentation. We talked about our background, the progress we made in our research projects, as well as the training we are getting as MOTION members, our future plans as well as the impact of the MOTION we expect on our career. As a close-knit group of ESRs, we are aware of what the others are doing in their projects, but still it was very interesting to hear about the collaborations and secondments my fellow ESRs are planning with each other already. As most of us have only 3 years to finish their doctoral research, it is good news we are already so far ahead in our projects. The ESRs also had a session with the REA Project Officer on our own, where we could ask any questions about the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions we might have.

The Project Officer then also had a meeting with our project coordinator and the PIs. We ended our check with the feedback from the REA Project Officer on the output of the network. As an ESR, I was very happy to be given the opportunity to present all the work I have done till now, although I have to admit it did cause me some stress too!