Helen writes: spring-clean your thesis

In the next of our occasional series, Writing Skills Advisor Helen Williams talks about refreshing existing writing as a rewarding and important step on the road to your thesis.

In these uncertain times it’s nice to have a few constants and, whilst working at my desk overlooking my garden, I’ve been reminded that the changing of the seasons is one of these.

Helen's garden
Spring in Helen’s garden

As always, spring has sprung, and this put me in mind of other spring-related traditions that roll around each year. One of these that feels quite apt right now is spring cleaning; what better time than now to do all those tasks that get pushed to one side and ignored in favour of more ‘urgent’ ones?

You may be using this time to charge ahead with writing up and churning out new chapters, which is great, but if you’ve ground to a bit of a halt or want some variety, the following are some good ‘housekeeping’ activities that will pay dividends later on when your schedule may be getting back to normal (most of these assume that you have drafted some work already; if you need to start writing but are struggling, check out my previous post on this). Continue reading “Helen writes: spring-clean your thesis”

Careers in the time of COVID-19: nine tips for PGRs

PGR Careers Adviser Dr Holly Prescott shares some thoughts on job hunting and working out next steps for PGRs coming towards the end of their PhD during the COVID-19 crisis.

Holly working from home
Holly working from home

Greetings from the spare bedroom, or as it has been for seven weeks now, ‘the office.’ The views definitely don’t rival those of the Westmere gardens. Wherever in the world you are, we hope you’re safe and keeping as well as possible.

These are uncertain times for us all. Will there be jobs? How do I cope? Can I even job hunt right now whilst the kids are at home and I’m struggling to get out of the house for essentials? Just a few of the questions coming thick and fast out of the hinterland of PGR lockdown.

Some voices have told us that a global pandemic might naturally lead some people to reassess their own career ideas; others are keen for Covid-19 to encourage us to consider the responsibility we have towards our communities and social justice in the work that we do. So, whilst I can’t offer a guaranteed blueprint to stay-at-home-job-hunt success, here are a few suggestions to help stay sane whilst considering your next move: Continue reading “Careers in the time of COVID-19: nine tips for PGRs”

In isolation but not alone: sustaining academic networks

In this post, Antonin Ficatier, a PGR from the Department of Theology and Religion, shares his advice on sustaining an academic network from his experience as a distance learning PGR.  A version of this post appears on Antonin’s personal blog.

Antonin Ficatier's Twitter Bio: @aficatier PhD student @univirmingham (theology and technology); minister @bhcgodalming; speaker; MA from @ptseminary. Godalming, UK.

With COVID-19, what was once the fate of a few students has now become the new norm. Everyone is studying from home these days. But being an effective remote student doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while to adjust to this new way of studying. I have been a distance-learning PhD student at the University of Birmingham for the past two years and, trust me, I am still learning a lot on how to effectively study remotely! Today I would like to share with you a few tips on how to build and sustain your academic network while studying remotely. Continue reading “In isolation but not alone: sustaining academic networks”

Starting to write your dissertation

Peter Hancox, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and PGR Lead for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, gives his advice to those for whom the lockdown means starting to tackle your thesis…

That day has come.  You can put it off no longer.  You can’t even go into the lab under the pretence that you just need to do a little more work.

A laptop, coffee, cola, notes and books.
Photo credit: Rasmus Larsen

You must start to write your dissertation.

The experience of writing a dissertation can be lonely.  After all, it is your dissertation and no one else can (or should) write it for you.  It’s a bit like being at a social distance from your colleagues.

To get started, the first thing to do is to decide to start.  Continue reading “Starting to write your dissertation”