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”


The Pure Research Information System is now available to all PhD researchers…

In this blog post Sam King from the Planning Office talks about the benefits of using Pure (Publication and Research)…

What is Pure and why should we use it?

Pure is a Research Information Management System and is the institutional Research Repository used by the University of Birmingham. Whilst the majority of records added to Pure are publications, Pure can also be used to record information about your research activities and can even be used to publish datasets.

If you want to plan for your academic career, Pure is an excellent tool to start collecting together your research activities in one place.

Continue reading “The Pure Research Information System is now available to all PhD researchers…”

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!”

It’s not all about you: How to make some sweet non-academic CV music

PGR Careers Adviser Holly Prescott explains how a quick change of perspective can make all the difference when writing a non-academic CV…

As a PGR Careers Adviser I’ve learnt to spot some classic PhD CV errors quicker than Theresa May can call a snap election. Something that really interests me though is one of the most popular questions I get asked by PGRs, which is…

‘What should I include in my CV?’

A relatively understandable and inoffensive question you might think?

Well… What I find interesting about this question is that the person asking it seems to be approaching their CV in a very specific way that comes from the self: what have I done? What should I write?  When we’re thinking in this way though, it then becomes easy to forget that our CV isn’t a summary of our life story: it is a marketing document strategically written for a particular target audience. Continue reading “It’s not all about you: How to make some sweet non-academic CV music”

Your PGR skills: from feeding bees to being the bees-knees…

PGR Careers Adviser Holly Prescott and current PhD researcher Nick Howe discuss how to get to grips with transferable skills as a PGR


The term ‘transferable skills’ often elicits either:

  1. Yawns
  2. A flashback from a cringe-worthy team-building day
  3. Utter bemusement

So let’s think about it in another way.

Imagine your postgraduate research degree wasn’t just about writing a however-many-thousand-word thesis. Imagine that, at the same time, you were also becoming a proficient project manager, an expert in conveying complex information in an accessible way, and a skilled diplomat capable of managing a whole host of potentially tricky professional situations and working relationships.

Call it selling yourself, call it ‘spin,’ call it whatever you like… but there’s no imagination required. As a PGR, you are already ALL OF THESE THINGS. And, chances are, much more besides. When it comes to considering potential careers and applying for jobs then, the trick is being able to reflect not just on what we know as PGRs, but what we can do. Continue reading “Your PGR skills: from feeding bees to being the bees-knees…”

Publishing during your PhD

We all know that getting your work published during your PhD can be a tough process, but it is possible…In this blog post Elaine Mitchell, a part-time postgraduate researcher from the College of Arts and Law, shares her experience with us…


As well as pursuing my PhD on gardening and horticulture in eighteenth-century Birmingham in the Centre for West Midlands History over the last year, I’ve worked on two publishing projects with my supervisor. Here are a few reflections on the experience. Continue reading “Publishing during your PhD”