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”

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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”

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

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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…”

Why you should take part in the Research Poster Conference

Presenting your research in a poster format might seem like a daunting task, but there are many reasons that this is an essential task for PGRs. Jenna Clake, from the College of Arts and Law, shared her experience of participating in the Conference with us…

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I presented my research at the Research Poster Conference last year, with a poster entitled ‘Do You Think I’m Crazy?: Feminine and Feminist Humour in the Absurd’. As a Creative Writing PhD researcher, sometimes it is difficult to gain the opportunity to disseminate my research to a wide audience. My research focuses on two main areas: my ‘creative’ work (poetry) and my ‘critical’ work (researching literary theories and trends). I rarely have the chance to talk about the latter, especially to academics and researchers outside my specialism, so the Research Poster Conference offered the chance to receive some much-needed peer review.

The exercise of creating a poster to share your research is helpful in terms of identifying the key aspects and terms of your project. Continue reading “Why you should take part in the Research Poster Conference”

Jack and the annual review process

Are you following jobs.ac.uk‘s PhD Vloggers?  The most recent installment catches up with Jack Donaghy, just reaching the end of his 1st year as a PhD student in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Continue reading “Jack and the annual review process”

There’s no “I” in TEAM

In the week of the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School, we take a quick look at effective team working.

This week, PGRs from across the University are participating in the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School (PESS).

Participants will work together in small teams to solve a real life strategy challenge being faced by an influential local organisation.

PESS is designed to develop PGRs’ enterprise and transferable skills, and in particular to give PGRs the invaluable opportunity to develop team working skills.  You will often be required to work in teams in careers both in and outside academia.

Teams are formed when a group of people get together with a shared goal.  One feature of effective teams is each member of the group/team understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, and appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of other members of the team.  One of the most common models used for this is the Belbin Team RolesBelbin’s original research demonstrated that successful teams had a balance between eight (later nine) “team roles” (or clusters of behaviour in a team). Continue reading “There’s no “I” in TEAM”

Mentoring: what does it add?

Picking up on a few highlights from Vitae’s recent Google Hangout on mentoring, this post considers mentoring in the context of UoB PhD students.

Mentoring uses a conversational approach to help an individual clarify their goals and/or improve their self-awareness, skills or knowledge.

From May to July this year, Vitae has a “Focus on” mentoring and coaching for researchers.  They say:

Interviews with research and academic leaders revealed having a mentor to be one of the most important forms of support to prepare early career researchers for the challenges of research independence and leadership.

Continue reading “Mentoring: what does it add?”