IRTG 1243 Retreat 2019 on the Spitzingsee
From November 25-27, thirty-three IRTG 1243 members convened for a retreat at the "Alte Wurzhütte" in Spitzingsee. Located directly on Lake Spitzing, the historic hut was our Bavarian alternative to the original plan to hold the retreat on the island of San Servolo in the Venice lagoon. Plans changed abruptly when the second week of November brought flooding storms to Venice, and a declared state of emergency! San Servolo was completely flooded (acgua alta) so we were forced to find an alternative retreat venue. We were lucky to find such a lovely location at the foot of the Münchner Hausbergen.
Many thanks to all who helped, especially the core orga-group, Maike Roas, Kerstin Völse and Anna Wirth, for organizing the scientific sessions, Christian Rausch for preparing the winetasting seminar and to Martina Antoniolli for being the attaché for communication to Italy.
At the Alte Wurzhütte, we held an informal symposium of 15 talks in 3 sessions, given by doctoral researchers in the CRC Cancer Evolution. Our goal was to familiarize ourselves with the research achievements of the doctoral candidates, and practice not only presentation skills, but also to participate actively in creating an atmosphere of discourse with attentive moderation and lively discussion. Tenets of presentation skills and discussion strategies, assembled at our first retreat, were applied. The scientific content and speaker performance was of very high quality, reflecting the achievements of the doctoral research completed in these four years of the CRC. Also, the level of engaged discussion and participation showed a high degree of professionality.
In addition to the symposium, we had a short excercise on Good Scientific Practice on the first evening, playing the "DILEMMA game – Professionalism and Integrity in Research" published by the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. We dealt in small groups with topics including "cherry picking" of data, (un)biased results, authorship and publication ethics (pertaining to citation metrics). The game is available and free for download https://www.eur.nl/en/about-eur/strategy-and-policy/integrity/research-integrity/dilemma-game.
Christian Rausch prepared and led a fun evening winetasting seminar featuring 6 white wines of the Veneto region.
We also conducted a brainstorming session on doctorate "starting and finishing" strategies. For the benefit of all members in different doctoral project stages, mixed groups (of starters and finishers) exchanged experiences, impressons and strategies on the following topics:
• Citation management
• Data management
• Motivation and self-management strategies
• Project planning and performance
• Formalities (enrolment, TACs, contracts, thesis format, submission)
• Career orientation
The guiding questions were:
"What do I wish I had known earlier?"
"What do I need now to finish?"
Results were presented in the plenum.
A Phase-Out Vibe
The mood at the beginning of the retreat was rather sober due to the fresh news that the CRC will not be refinanced for a further research period. All participants understand that this affects everyone in the CRC, and despite the assurance of phase-out funding, uncertainty remains about how projects will be brought to a close within the next year. We were painfully aware that this was actually the final retreat of the IRTG 1243.
In the course of the three days, however, the mood and tenor shifted positively, as we were reminded by the symposium and brainstorming sessions of how much everyone really had achieved and learned in the last 4 years. The goal for most is clear and within palpable reach: finish dissertations! For the few who will presumably not yet finish by the end of next year, the motivation is high to continue and move forward with these promising projects. We finished with a good, positive vibe for the upcoming the phase-out year of the CRC.