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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Planning to manage your data

We’ve talked a bit about Research Data Management (RDM) on this blog before, with a post from our Research Repository Advisor in Library Services and another from a current PGR.   However, now that there is a requirement for all PGRs who started their research programmes in or after September 2017 to produce a Data Management Plan (DMP) in advance of their first annual review, it seems a good time to revisit this topic, with a focus on DMPs.

A DMP is a living document that outlines how data are to be handled during and after a research project.  A good DMP will protect you against data loss and ensure you have well-documented data to assist with writing up and possible future data sharing. Continue reading “Planning to manage your data”

To EndNote or not to EndNote?

In this post, Sue Stevens from Library Services’ Research Skills Team shares her experience on reference management software, and EndNote in particular.

Citing the sources you have used in a piece of research is obviously very important, but the task of citing and referencing correctly can be an onerous task. x8_mainapp_rgb-largeOver the years I have supported many students, undergraduates and postgraduates, with referencing and the use of referencing software.  I’ve also observed a range of different reactions when I introduce students to the wonders of referencing software, ranging from fear and scepticism to joy and ecstasy!   So what can referencing software do for you, and in particular, what can EndNote offer a researcher?  Continue reading “To EndNote or not to EndNote?”

Guilty as charged: why career decision-making makes you the prime suspect

In this blog post Dr. Holly Prescott, our PGR Careers Adviser, talks about how to put yourself in a position where a great career can find you…

After six long months of trying to kid myself that I could make my own entertainment, I bit the bullet and bought a TV for my new flat. After a barrage of suggestions as to what I should spend my weekends ‘binge-watching,’ Dexter left me underwhelmed, whilst Doctor Foster Series 2 was five hours of my life I wanted back. Perhaps this whole telly box thing wasn’t for me after all.

That was until I tried BBC police drama Line of Duty. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, the series follows AC-12, an anti-corruption police unit whose mission is to sniff out and bring to justice corrupt officers within the force.  Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott is a diminutive cockney detective-genius with a superlative ability to maintain a single facial expression for five entire series. Detective Constable Kate Fleming makes working undercover look as easy and seamless as riding a bike… if you’re Bradley Wiggins.

As I was engrossed in an episode in series two, Steve and Kate outlined the three criteria that a suspect must fulfil to be convicted of a crime:

  • Motive: a reason/ motivation to commit the crime
  • Means: the ability and tools necessary to commit the crime
  • Opportunity: adequate chance(s) to commit the crime

This was when my chronic inability to switch off from work kicked in. When considering career options, are these not also the very three things we need to establish before ruling a potential career area ‘in’ or ‘out?’ Continue reading “Guilty as charged: why career decision-making makes you the prime suspect”

How to find your tools of the trade

In this blog post Patricia Herterich, the Research Repository Advisor in the University of Birmingham Library, provides a summary and reflection of the Writing Summer School session “Navigating the maze of research and writing tools”…

Using the right tools is crucial to make your research and writing processes as efficient as possible. There are plenty of tools to choose from to support the full research life cycle from discovering literature related to research to publishing and promoting your own works. To get a better understanding, Bianca Kramer and Jeroen Bosman surveyed the tools used by researchers around the world for 9 months in 2015/16. The more than 20,000 survey answers can be accessed for detailed research and inspired some workflows based on e.g. services offered by the same provider or services that support the ideas of Open Science. Continue reading “How to find your tools of the trade”

Turn your research into a course!

Carol Gray, a doctoral researcher at Birmingham Law School,  shares her experience with us on designing online courses…

“To teach is to learn twice”, as the saying goes.

Have you ever found yourself explaining your research to other people, then wondering how much they have taken in? Ever been tempted to set them a quick quiz to test this? (Okay, that’s probably going a bit too far….)

What about your key stakeholders or colleagues? Wouldn’t it be good to share your results with them in a format that allows the learning to count as Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? Many professionals are now required to complete a certain number of hours of CPD per year, and this can be a powerful recruitment tool for short courses.

So, why don’t you think about turning your research topic into an on-line learning module? On-line learning has become a hugely popular form of learning, either on its own or mixed with face-to-face sessions as “blended learning.” Continue reading “Turn your research into a course!”

Public Engagement with Research: The Personal Development Holy Grail

This week James Walker, a postgraduate researcher in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels in the School of Chemical Engineering, shares his public engagement experience with us…  

Ever been at a party and killed a conversation in ten seconds flat when asked “so, what do you do?” If so, you’re probably also a postgraduate researcher (PGR) – or perhaps a town planner. My heart goes out to my peers who are both! I used to get as far as “oh I’m doing a PhD in Chemical Enginee-,“ before I’d notice the glazing over of the eyes of what had been my audience. “You must be very smart,” they all say, before suddenly needing to nip to the loo. Now I lead with “well I make really tiny renewable energy catalysts and look at atoms using fancy, expensive microscopes that look like weapons in a Bond villain’s arsenal!” Suffice to say, the second response engenders significantly more discussion. The subtle difference is in knowing your audience and tailoring your delivery, I’d say. These are among a crop of new skills that I’ve picked up since becoming heavily involved in public engagement with research and I’m writing this to tell you how you too can revolutionise your personal development simply by talking about the thing that you spend most of your time doing. Convenient eh? Continue reading “Public Engagement with Research: The Personal Development Holy Grail”