Published: 02 November 2012

In discussion with ALICE MATTERS

• The idea of ALICE Juniors’ day.

Initially we thought that it would be great for junior members working in ALICE to have the chance to meet and discuss about their current research, exchange ideas and gain more experience on giving public lectures and presenting their results. Moreover, we thought that it would present an opportunity for young people to give more “didactic” talks because we realized that during the Physics Working Group meetings one is only reporting/focusing on the analysis assuming that everybody in the audience knows what you are talking about. In addition, there are young members of the collaboration who don’t participate very often to PWGs meetings and hence are not very visible. This is the case with students who come from distant places (given the diversity of the collaboration) or if their analysis is not close to a final conclusion.

Therefore we thought that “Juniors’ day” would be an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with giving talks, become more visible and get to know each other. Over the last two years the Juniors’ day has been part of every ALICE week. Talks given during that day do not have to contain final (i.e. published) or even official "ALICE Preliminary" physics results since this is an internal ALICE meeting. Last but not least, we are also looking for contributions from those who are working in calibrating and operating the various detectors. We are constantly encouraging young members of ALICE to participate and hope that in the future we will be and feel more and more like a community.

• Further steps

The next step of getting organized is to get a representative in the Collaboration Board so that our voice can be heard since junior members are heavily involved in data taking and data analysis and hopefully will continue in the future. Currently, a person is considered as junior if he or she is a PhD student, or has obtained her/his PhD within the last 5 years, or is not a PhD student and has obtained her/his university degree within the last 8 years. We think that juniors are a vital part of the Collaboration but also the future of the Collaboration.

In the past, senior members were taking decisions from top which were then transferred to the Juniors who didn’t have the chance to suggest alternatives or raise different issues. However, these decisions had a big impact in Junior members’ lives and that’s why we thought it is important to establish a channel of communication to the Collaboration board and voice our point of view on the decisions of the Collaboration.

• The role of junior members in the Collaboration Board

The Junior members of the collaboration will be able to raise new issues during the Collaboration Board which we hope will give more ideas and provide best practices to the CB. As you can understand junior and senior members of the CB might have different points of view and we are actually aiming in widening the perspective through which the CB deals with and decides about certain issues. For example one could mention the way in which the shifts are organized or some of the publication rules that currently apply to ALICE members. In fact there are many practical issues – with a huge impact on a junior’s work and his or her future career - which we would like to raise. Of course it is the Collaboration Board that will make the final decision but it is important to establish this new communication channel.

Junior representatives are considered as ex-officio members of the CB and will participate in all discussions, while the voting rights remain with the representatives of the Institutes as foreseen by the ALICE constitution.

• Steps forward for the junior members of ALICE

The idea is to get the list of candidates by December. Following that we plan to have a special meeting in January during which candidates will present themselves and discuss what they consider as priority. Then we will proceed with the elections and we hope that the representatives will be decided before the mini-week of February during which we hope that the new representatives will have the chance to meet and discuss how they should proceed until the next Collaboration Board that will take place later in March.

The Collaboration started discussing how to proceed for the selection of their representatives. A useful tool to start such a discussion can be the mailing list alice-juniors@cern.ch created by the organizers of the Juniors’ day, but it only contains a fraction of the people. Junior members who wish to subscribe to the list, just go to https://e-groups.cern.ch/e-groups/EgroupsSearch.do search for alice-juniors and subscribe. Getting in touch with the junior members from all the institutions that participate in ALICE is not an easy task. We are currently working closely with Catherine Decosse and Julie Hadre to create a list that will automatically be updated for new junior members and hence the information will be automatically updated from the ALICE database.

• Organizing the vote for the junior representatives for the collaboration board

One of the issues discussed in the Juniors’ day that we had during the recent ALICE week was the voting procedure that we should follow. Some of the key issues raised during the discussion had to do with whether members should vote completely anonymously or instead appointing one or two people as vote collectors. Moreover, we have to decide how the candidates will be nominated and for how long a person should act as junior member in the Collaboration Board. Last but not least, we need to decide which issues the junior CB representatives will be tackling and how they will be decided.

We will elect three representatives, who will be in charge for two years. Every Junior will have the right to vote for three candidates and the voting procedure will be anonymous. At least one of the representatives has to be a graduate student, so the elected representatives will be the graduate student who gets most votes plus two further candidates who get most votes. The issues that the junior CB representatives will tackle will be raised by Juniors and will be discussed at the Juniors day during the ALICE week or in special meetings called for this purpose.