Is research a risky business?

Topics around project management come up fairly regularly on this blog, because I think that getting to grips with these kinds of techniques is really helpful in terms of managing your time.  But good time management isn’t the only thing that’s going to keep your research on track.  There’s another strand of project management which is equally useful – risk management.  This is about acting now to increase the chances of things going well.

Graphic showing risk management cycle: identify, evaluate, mitigate, monitorWe all engage in risk management on a daily basis: when we look both ways before crossing the road, for example.  We assess the risks and make changes accordingly: if we judge a road to be particularly fast/busy, we might walk a bit further to the pedestrian crossing.  But risk management in research goes a lot further than health and safety.  Continue reading “Is research a risky business?”

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”

De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university

In this post, Dooshima Lilian Dugguh reflects on the De-Colonizing: Past and Present Workshop held on 13 May 2019 in the College of Arts and Law. This two-day multi-disciplinary workshop examined de-colonization in relation to both research and school curricula.

Reading the workshop title “De-colonizing: past and present”, I am sure that several participants had a rough guess that it was centered around discussing historical realities of colonized nations. But I am also certain that many, like me, were amazed at the understanding that beyond the initial idea is a whole new perspective that exports the concept of de-colonization and applies it to academic endeavors such as impactful research and development of academic curricula, giving an opportunity to rethink research and taught patterns of university courses. This workshop underlined two very important aspects: de-colonizing research and de-colonizing curricula.

De-colonizing asks us to examine assumptions regarding racial and civilizational hierarchy which in the past informed a lot of thinking about how the world worked, what was worth studying in it, and how it should be studied.  SOAS blog

Continue reading “De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university”

Sending your research out into the world

On Wednesday 19 June 2019, there is a deadline for PGRs hoping to graduate in July to complete all the requirements for the award of their research degree.  Among a few other things, this includes submitting an electronic copy of your thesis to the University of Birmingham eTheses repository.

deposit etheses screenshot

Continue reading “Sending your research out into the world”

Specialization and overspecialization through your research: the forest and the trees

In this post, Alex Feldman, a recently completed PGR in the School of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, shares his thoughts on specialisation.

It’s a jungle out there, as the old cliche goes. Although we prefer the seemingly protective ivory walls of academia, we still live by the same law of the jungle. Whether we say “publish or perish” or “eat or be eaten,” some truths endure whether we’d admit them or not. You want to advance in your field, but you don’t want to be disposed when your field’s fashions change; such is the academic’s conundrum.

I’m no expert on academic fashions, but it depends on your circumstantial approach. Whereas conventional wisdom once advised planting your flag in some underpopulated area and holding on tight, you’re also aware we now have newer standards to follow: inter-disciplinary research, cross-field inquiry, discourse analysis, etc.

You need to specialize in something to be taken seriously in that field. Continue reading “Specialization and overspecialization through your research: the forest and the trees”

International Open Access Week is coming up!

Patricia Herterich, Research Repository Advisor from Library Services, introduces us to Open Access Week 2018.

openaccessweek_logoOnce per year, open access advocates (such as myself) get excited about International Open Access Week (this year running from 22 – 28 October).  This event highlights the movement working to make research outputs freely available for re-use, to raise awareness for issues around making outputs available and answer questions that you might have.  If you’re not sure why you should care about this, Suzanne Atkins summarised the benefits of Open Access to PGRs in her blogpost back in October 2016. Continue reading “International Open Access Week is coming up!”

Approaching writing as a project

Today, I attended the Journal article writing course offered by UoB’s People and Organisational Development (POD) and facilitated by Dr Sandy Williams from Scriptoria.  If you are a member of UoB staff (including PGRs who teach), then you can register to attend this course yourself or rest assured that what I learned will trickle down to enhance the PGR development workshops on writing (Starting to write for your PhD, Writing clearly and concisely, Structuring your thesis) and through this blog!

One key point that I wanted to pick up on immediately was Sandy’s emphasis on managing the process of writing a journal article as a project, with only a part of that project being to draft the manuscript itself.  Continue reading “Approaching writing as a project”