Feedback’s coming home!

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Our helpful and honest panel of PGRs at the PGR Writing Summer School 2018. L-R: Martine, Sian, Anna, Farhan, Frankie, Tom

This week, we’ve had the annual PGR Writing Summer School, with a range of insightful workshops on various aspects of academic and thesis writing.  And, of course, we’ve had national excitement around England’s place in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  I’d been wondering how to tie these together for this blog, when this article on football psychology caught my eye, and chimed with a couple of comments made during the Writing Summer School.  How can we build our resilience to tackle a fear of failure and deal with difficult feedback constructively? Continue reading “Feedback’s coming home!”

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Approaching writing as a project

Today, I attended the Journal article writing course offered by UoB’s People and Organisational Development (POD) and facilitated by Dr Sandy Williams from Scriptoria.  If you are a member of UoB staff (including PGRs who teach), then you can register to attend this course yourself or rest assured that what I learned will trickle down to enhance the PGR development workshops on writing (Starting to write for your PhD, Writing clearly and concisely, Structuring your thesis) and through this blog!

One key point that I wanted to pick up on immediately was Sandy’s emphasis on managing the process of writing a journal article as a project, with only a part of that project being to draft the manuscript itself.  Continue reading “Approaching writing as a project”

Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)

There was a time when teaching in Higher Education (HE) was treated as a bit of a necessary evil, and no doubt all of us have sat through some execrable lectures and seminars in our time.  That time is (thankfully!) behind us, and there is currently a strong focus on professionalism in teaching that fosters an excellent learning experience for students.  The Higher Education Academy (HEA) have developed a UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and professional recognition for teaching in HE, widely used in the sector.

PGRs are an extremely important part of learning and teaching at the University of Birmingham, and many of you get involved in teaching activities across the institution.  As well as being a very rewarding activity and providing much-needed cash, those PGRs hoping to follow an academic career path will find teaching experience essential for their CV.

Continue reading “Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)”

Spotlight on the RDF: “Networking”

In one of our occasional series of spotlights, we take a closer look at a specific descriptor from the RDF.

In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).  Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.

network-1911678_640As we approach the University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference 2018, and the summer vacation when many research conferences are scheduled so as not to conflict with teaching responsibilities, it seems a good time to take a closer look at “networking”, a buzzword to describe an activity which may be more usefully thought of as “becoming an active participant in your research community for everyone’s mutual benefit”. Continue reading “Spotlight on the RDF: “Networking””

Hey REF! What’s it all about?

In this post, Lynne Harris from the Research Skills Team in Library Services introduces us to the Research Excellence Framework, and explains some of the terminology.

This blog post is about the Research Excellence Framework (REF).  It covers what REF is, why it matters to researchers and the REF submission process.

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It is important for the University to do well in the REF exercise as this has a direct impact on future funding for research.  This funding comes from the Government via the UK’s Funding Councils.  The key principle is that all research arising from such funding should be as widely and freely accessible as possible. Continue reading “Hey REF! What’s it all about?”

The viva experience – dispelling the myths

In this post, recent viva voce candidate Farhan Noordali, from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, shares with us his experience of the viva examination. Congratulations to Farhan on passing his viva with minor corrections!

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Image credit: Safarrin

Just over a month ago, I successfully passed my viva voce examination. Needless to say, the elation, after years of sacrifice and hard work is unparalleled. However, I felt it would be worth sharing my experience and perception of the process with the hope it may provide a sigh of relief, especially to those who feel anxious about facing this final PhD hurdle. Continue reading “The viva experience – dispelling the myths”

The One and Only – ORCID for researchers

In this post, Vicky Wallace from Library Services’ Research Skills Team introduces ORCID, a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher.

In today’s research climate, the scope for information about you and your work to be displayed and connected is huge.  Historically, publishers and libraries took ownership for distributing and curating works, but roles are blurring in today’s world, where indexing and curation of online content is largely done algorithmically.  The picture is further complicated by:

  • the range of research output types (“online-only” articles, blog posts, slide decks and datasets) and other research activity;
  • difficulties in author disambiguation, exacerbated where people have common names, perhaps change names after marriage, move institutions, or are affiliated with more than one institution.

Vicky would like to make it clear that she is not a fan of Chesney (despite knowing all the words).

How can we ensure that researchers’ profiles are correct, full and up to date?  Continue reading “The One and Only – ORCID for researchers”