COVID-19 and your research

It is unfortunately no longer possible to hope that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak won’t have an impact on research activity and your research programme.  Of course, many of us will also be affected personally, through restrictions on our activities or health-related issues for ourselves and loved ones.  Electron microscope image of the Coronavirus COVID-19We have seen it coming, but yesterday marked a step-change with the announcement that campus operations will be restricted after the end of this term and government recommendations to work from home where possible.

In this post, we will explore some of the things that PGRs can do to stay up-to-date with the latest advice, consider the impact of the outbreak on their research, and protect their mental health.

Continue reading “COVID-19 and your research”

Building a Supportive Network

In this post, Yaru Chen, a new UoB PGR in Corpus Linguistics, tells us about an event on “Building a Supportive Network” she attended in the College of Arts and Law on Wednesday 15 January 2020.

What was “Building a Supportive Network” about?

This event, organised by the Postgraduate Student Experience Officer (a recently graduated PhD from CAL, also a trustworthy person from whom I always seek advice) in the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, was designed to help us improve our networking skills and develop our supportive networks. These supportive networks are not only beneficial in offering us emotional and academic support during our PhD study, but are also helpful for giving us career support once we have graduated.

Yaru's Supportive Network, showing her supervisors in the centre and others (including family, friends and UoB staff) offering different types of social support
Yaru’s Supportive Network

Continue reading “Building a Supportive Network”

Mapping your ideas for planning, writing and more

When you are faced with a blank page, consider creating a mind map.

Mind map showing some of the benefits/uses of mind maps
Photo credit: Fernandosca

A mind map is a visual way to capture thoughts and ideas as they occur to you, and to indicate relationships between those ideas.  Because they do not need to be created sequentially, they are ideal when you are just getting started and your brain is full of stuff.  Examples of when you might find a mind map particularly useful include: writing a new chapter/article; project planning an activity for your research; and creating your to-do list.  There are many more examples of PhD researchers using mind maps on Twitter. Continue reading “Mapping your ideas for planning, writing and more”

Happy and productive 2020!

Happy New Year and welcome back.  Or just welcome, if you’re starting your research programme this month.

2020 balloons

It’s traditional at this time of year to make (and perhaps break!) a few resolutions.  The media is full of articles about diet and exercise, but what about resolving to make lasting improvements in your research processes?  It’s easy to say “I will do more” or “I will do better” but what exactly does that look like in practice and how can you make it stick? Continue reading “Happy and productive 2020!”

Visualising your PhD: the big picture

CaptureWe’ve talked before on this blog about the value of proper project planning to complete specific (writing) tasks and how to create a Gantt chart to manage a project, but detailed project plans can be tricky to create for your whole PhD.  Although it’s possible to create plans despite uncertainty (e.g. around research methods or likely results), it can be time consuming.  What’s needed is more of an overview. Continue reading “Visualising your PhD: the big picture”

Wellbeing check-up

In this post, Catherine Robertson from Library Services highlights wellbeing services offered by the Library, and invites you to “check up” on your wellbeing.

5waysanimationNow we’re halfway through the year, it may be a good time to check in on your mental health and well-being. In January, there was a post with lots of suggestions for actions you can take to improve your wellbeing – did you do any of the suggestions? Do you have any of your own suggestions to share with other researchers?

Library Services are always keen to provide an environment that is conducive to research and well-being, and here are some things you may not have considered:

UBWell@MainLibrary

This space has been created for all members of the University to use and benefit from. Continue reading “Wellbeing check-up”

Fighting procrastination

Oh, how easy it is to put things off, especially if those things are difficult, ill-defined or repetitive.  Or if your deadline isn’t for a few years yet.  Unfortunately, that’s a pretty good description of postgraduate research, so a postgraduate research degree is fertile ground for a tendency for procrastination to flourish.

procrastination, n. The action or habit of postponing or putting something off. [OED]

Let’s learn a little bit more about procrastination and why it happens, but note that procrastination can become a habit for lots of reasons (or a combination of reasons) so if you are struggling with persistent procrastination, you may want to explore some of the counselling options available to you via the Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
Continue reading “Fighting procrastination”