There’s no ‘I’ in Team – but there is in Coniston!

In July, Leanne Campbell, a current PGR in the College of Social Sciences, went to the Lake District for a course on team building. Here, she tells us what she did and what she learnt.

Earlier this summer I took part in the Coniston PGR trip as part of the PGCARMS programme.  This is an advanced transferable skills module which focuses on team skills and collaborative working.  This may seem a strange choice given that my doctorate in Education is essentially a solo endeavour, but that’s exactly why it appealed to me; doctoral research can be isolating and pretty lonely at times, so I jumped at the chance to do something interactive, learn new skills and to meet new people, and of course spending a week in the beautiful Lake District was also a bonus!

paddleboardingAt Coniston we were split into two teams and each day brought new challenges, from paddle boarding to rock climbing to navigating our way back from the village pub in the pitch black at night which definitely tested our skills as a team!  Each activity had a collaborative element and at the end of each day we were asked to reflect on what we had learned about being part of a team.  We also had a session on the different Belbin team roles and reflected on our own Belbin profile and how it fitted in with the others in our team. Continue reading “There’s no ‘I’ in Team – but there is in Coniston!”

Making the “e” in e-mail stand for “effective”

www.maxpixel.net-At-Mail-E-Mail-Characters-Envelope-Post-Email-3413133How many e-mails do you receive in a day?  How many e-mails do you think your supervisor receives in a day?  A typical supervisor might receive well over 100 e-mails every day.  What can you do to help make e-mail an effective communication tool between you and your supervisor when your supervisor has so many messages to deal with?

The Thesis Whisperer has discussed this a couple of times, with excellent posts on a supervisor’s perspective on the “tyranny of tiny tasks” that often result from e-mail, and inter-cultural e-mail communication.  Here are some additional strategies that I use when communicating with colleagues (including academic colleagues) by e-mail. Continue reading “Making the “e” in e-mail stand for “effective””

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”

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”