In this blog post we give some details on the Scientific Short Term Missions instrument of NexusLinguarum.
COST actions are about networking, fostering collaboration and advancing research and innovation. Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) constitute a powerful tool designed to serve these objectives. They are mobility grants that support a researcher’s visit to an institute in another COST participating country in order to get trained (or train) on new methods, and techniques, gain access to data and tools not available in their home institute, share knowledge and closely collaborate with researchers of the host institute. STSMs are intended especially, but not solely, for young researchers and can further advance their academic careers.
With the outburst of the pandemic, STSMs, like all physical meetings, were suspended for some time. At Nexus, we were fortunate that two STSMs were carried out just before the beginning of the lockdowns.
Giedre Valunaite Oleskeviciene from Mykolas Romeris University carried out a STSM (Creating a multilingual corpus for formulaic language (multiword expressions) research) at Jerusalem College of Technology working together with Chaya Liebeskind, February 22 – March 5, 2020
Giedre Valunaite Oleskeviciene from Mykolas Romeris University went to Jerusalem College of Technology, where she worked with Chaya Liebeskind on the construction of a multilingual parallel corpus that could be used for conducting research on multiword expressions in English, Lithuanian and Hebrew. Konstantinos Tsagarakis, from the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece worked with Prof. Dimitar Trajanov, at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in North Macedonia on a framework for the alignment of circular economy indicators with indicators developed by international organizations.
Both STSMs have accomplished their objectives. The first STSM has resulted in the construction of a parallel corpus of social media texts (transcripts from TED talks), which is publicly available at the LINDAT/CLARIN-LT repository (https://clarin.vdu.lt/xmlui/handle/20.500.11821/34) and the development of a methodology for the extraction of multiword expressions used as discourse markers. In the second STSM, the involved researchers combined their expertise in order to analyse the data (indicators) in two directions: a quantitative one, based on the indicators’ values, and a qualitative one, using the textual metadata; their co-operation continues after the STSM with a plan of presenting their outputs in conference publications and a scholarly journal article.
So, what are the benefits of STSMs, especially compared to virtual meetings? Both STSM grantees have emphasized the opportunity the STSMs gave them to interact not only with their supervisors but also with members of their teams and other researchers in the host universities. As Giedre Valunaite Oleskeviciene puts it, “the STSM helps to carry out research faster and in a more effective way than it could be done remotely; in a few weeks’ time we managed to obtain the first results.” Even more important is the broader networking impact of STMs: Giedre reports how “the visible research outcome of the STSM inspired collaboration with other researchers from the action and helped attract new ideas and new people.” With the addition of teams from Bulgaria and Macedonia, a group dedicated to research on discourse markers has been formed inside Nexus.
And let’s not forget that working in a foreign country together with natives enables one to come closer to and get familiar with another culture in a more authentic and fulfilling way. In Giedre’s words: “Such experiences broaden personal horizons and give better understanding of the humanity and cultural variety. Jerusalem with its ancient buildings and blue skies opened a new part of its beautiful face to me.”
With the advent of summer, things are also looking bright on the STSM side: we have already four STSMs approved and about to begin. We also welcome new applications at any time; at Nexus we have a continuous open call policy with set collection dates, the next one foreseen for end of May.
So, what are the steps to follow if you would like to go on an STSM? First, have a look at the STSMs dedicated page on our website, where you’ll find all documents and links that will help you plan it. We summarise here a few important tips:
- Check the eligibility criteria to make sure that you can fulfill them.
- If you’re from an ITC country, take a closer look at the special provisions that COST has for them.
- Find a topic and host that is close to your research interests and activities. You can have a look into the four STSM topics that are offered by Nexus participants and discuss with them, or, if you are already in contact with prospective hosts, submit an application for any topic related to the Nexus objectives.
- Remember that STSMs are grants that contribute to the travel and subsistence expenses of your stay with specific funding rules; make sure that you have carefully read them when you make the budget for your trip.
- Although the duration of an STSM can be from 5 to 90 days (or 180 days, for Early Career Investigators), a longer duration is encouraged to accommodate for measures imposed for covid in various European countries. In addition, when you plan the dates, check for any special regulations of the host institute and country due to the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic.
- Prepare the official documents required for the STSM application (an invitation letter from the host institute and a support letter from your host institute), update your CV, outline the workplan, write up the proposal with the expected outcomes, log into the e-COST platform, and you’re set to go!
If you have any questions regarding STSMs, don’t hesitate to get into contact with our STSM coordinator, Penny Labropoulou, who can provide more information.