Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques

Polly Harper, Subject Advisor for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Library Services, introduces some techniques to help you find the information you need to support your research.

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Image credit: Laura Mossteller via Text100

As a researcher, you will of course need to find the right kinds of information to support and inform your research. This may, however, seem like a somewhat daunting and time-intensive activity.

Do not fear, however! Planning a strategy for this process whilst using techniques to help refine your searching could make your life much easier. Here are some techniques which you might like to try. Continue reading “Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques”

Present your research with confidence

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Mathew Schofield, winner of the University of Birmingham 3MT 2016, presenting at the final.

An important part of the research process is communicating and disseminating your work.  There’s no point in doing the research in the first place if no-one gets to hear about what you’ve discovered.  One key route for dissemination is in writing, but equally as important is communication through oral presentation.  Oral presentation has a key advantage in that it allows immediate dialogue with your audience, enabling dynamic knowledge exchange and debate which will ultimately benefit your research.

Everyone feels apprehensive about the prospect of presenting their research in front of an audience, but it’s important to focus on the exciting opportunity you’ve been offered to share your research and discuss it with interested people.  Remembering why you signed up to present in the first place is helpful in overcoming your nerves, as well as helping you prepare a successful presentation; clarity about your central message and the nature of your audience will help you focus on what really needs to be said and how. Continue reading “Present your research with confidence”

#AcWriMo – what’s your writerly goal?

November is Academic Writing Month, or #AcWriMo.  Based on the ever-popular National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) for writers of novels, #AcWriMo is hosted by PhD2Published and allows you to work towards a stated academic writing goal with the support of a huge online community of academic writers doing exactly the same thing.

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Image credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega

I would encourage you to have a look at the #AcWriMo resources following the links above – there’s loads of really great stuff there, and a whole online community for mutual support – but I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about setting goals.  A well-set goal can drive you forwards, focus your activities to get you where you need to be, and keep you motivated and enthusiastic.  A badly-set goal is hard to reach (or even to know if you have reached it), and is, crucially, demotivating, defeating the whole purpose of setting it in the first place. Continue reading “#AcWriMo – what’s your writerly goal?”

Spotlight on the RDF: “Responsiveness to opportunities”

In the third 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.

There’s a quote, which has been variously attributed to Oprah and Seneca, which goes something like this:

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

If you want to be “lucky” enough to get the job you want, you need to be prepared to respond to opportunities as and when they arise.  So your responsiveness to opportunities is very closely related to your preparedness.  What does it mean to be prepared to respond to opportunities?

Continue reading “Spotlight on the RDF: “Responsiveness to opportunities””

Visualising your PhD using a Gantt chart

Any project, whether it’s a substantial project such as your PhD thesis or a smaller-scale project like organising an event, will benefit from proper planning.  Project planning is a big topic, but here we will look at one planning tool that you use to help you understand and visualise the relationships between the component activities of your project and time:  a Gantt chart.  Gantt charts are named after Henry Gantt, a mechanical engineer and management consultant who developed the charts in the 1910s, and are very widely used for simple and complex projects, to communicate visually the timescale for a project and to monitor progress against that timescale. Continue reading “Visualising your PhD using a Gantt chart”