Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)

There was a time when teaching in Higher Education (HE) was treated as a bit of a necessary evil, and no doubt all of us have sat through some execrable lectures and seminars in our time.  That time is (thankfully!) behind us, and there is currently a strong focus on professionalism in teaching that fosters an excellent learning experience for students.  The Higher Education Academy (HEA) have developed a UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and professional recognition for teaching in HE, widely used in the sector.

PGRs are an extremely important part of learning and teaching at the University of Birmingham, and many of you get involved in teaching activities across the institution.  As well as being a very rewarding activity and providing much-needed cash, those PGRs hoping to follow an academic career path will find teaching experience essential for their CV.

Continue reading “Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)”

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The viva experience – dispelling the myths

In this post, recent viva voce candidate Farhan Noordali, from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, shares with us his experience of the viva examination. Congratulations to Farhan on passing his viva with minor corrections!

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Image credit: Safarrin

Just over a month ago, I successfully passed my viva voce examination. Needless to say, the elation, after years of sacrifice and hard work is unparalleled. However, I felt it would be worth sharing my experience and perception of the process with the hope it may provide a sigh of relief, especially to those who feel anxious about facing this final PhD hurdle. Continue reading “The viva experience – dispelling the myths”

The One and Only – ORCID for researchers

In this post, Vicky Wallace from Library Services’ Research Skills Team introduces ORCID, a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher.

In today’s research climate, the scope for information about you and your work to be displayed and connected is huge.  Historically, publishers and libraries took ownership for distributing and curating works, but roles are blurring in today’s world, where indexing and curation of online content is largely done algorithmically.  The picture is further complicated by:

  • the range of research output types (“online-only” articles, blog posts, slide decks and datasets) and other research activity;
  • difficulties in author disambiguation, exacerbated where people have common names, perhaps change names after marriage, move institutions, or are affiliated with more than one institution.

Vicky would like to make it clear that she is not a fan of Chesney (despite knowing all the words).

How can we ensure that researchers’ profiles are correct, full and up to date?  Continue reading “The One and Only – ORCID for researchers”

SUPER-visory relationships

The relationship between a PGR and their supervisor is unlike any other relationship that you might encounter in professional or personal life (although it has been compared to that between a physician and patient).

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A successful relationship can benefit both parties, and nurture a PGR towards a brilliant thesis and blossoming into a highly effective researcher with all the skills and behaviours (both research and transferable) that entails.  What can you do, as a PGR, to increase the chances of building a super relationship with your supervisor?  Continue reading “SUPER-visory relationships”

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!”