Learning to think critically

Soon-to-be Dr Naomi Green, from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, talks about developing critical thinking “through osmosis”.

I have just passed my viva for my PhD thesis in Biomedical Engineering and I have been reflecting on my postgraduate experience and the skills I have learnt.  One of the key skills all PhD students are supposed to pick up during their research is the ability to think critically. But what does critical thinking mean and how do you learn to do it? Continue reading “Learning to think critically”

Happy New Year!

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The Roman god Janus, often represented with two faces looking both forward and backwards.

Welcome to 2017!

The month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, endings, and transitions, and is often a time when we resolve to do things differently.  Are you considering any research-related resolutions for 2017? Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

Merry Christmas!

During the Christmas period (23rd Dec – 3rd Jan inclusive), most of the buildings on the University campus will be closed.  This is a perfect time for you to take a proper break away from your research.  Breaks are an important part of the research process, as they allow you to recharge your batteries, and keep you refreshed and enthusiastic about your research.  They also allow you to return to your research with “fresh eyes”, and you may see things from an angle you hadn’t considered before, or immediately find a solution to a problem that had previously been intractable.  Note that the University’s Code of Practice on the supervision and monitoring progress of postgraduate researchers states that you are entitled to up to eight weeks holiday each year (see section 2.29), including public holidays. Continue reading “Merry Christmas!”

So, what’s this Shut up & Work all about?

Eren Bilgen, PGR Community Development Officer in the University Graduate School, runs regular “Shut up and Work” days at Westmere and here she tells us what goes on…

Shut Up And Work Graphic
An idea that started in San Francisco became a popular activity among writers around the world and transformed writing from being an isolated activity into a social experience. You probably came across “Shut up & Write” sessions for researchers in different universities. We call ours “Shut up & Work (SUW)” because working on your PhD involves many other activities as well – reading, data analysis, thinking, planning and so on.  We all know that shutting up and working is what we need to do to get our work done, but let’s face it; this is easier said than done. Somehow, the magic happens when it becomes a collective activity. This is how it works. Continue reading “So, what’s this Shut up & Work all about?”

Social Networking to raise your research profile

This week, an introduction to social media for research from Dr. Adrian Bromage, Library Services.

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Image credit: mkhmarketing

Today, I’ll briefly explore what social networking in an academic context is all about, and how it can help you. We’re all probably familiar with social networking in the context of our social lives, but how do we harness the power of social networking to help us as professional researchers?  And how or where do we start?

I’ll try and answer those questions: firstly, developing a social network of fellow researchers working in your field can help to keep you informed of developments, conferences, research grant opportunities, etc. The ‘How?’ question is probably the one that preoccupies most of us! Continue reading “Social Networking to raise your research profile”

Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques

Polly Harper, Subject Advisor for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Library Services, introduces some techniques to help you find the information you need to support your research.

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Image credit: Laura Mossteller via Text100

As a researcher, you will of course need to find the right kinds of information to support and inform your research. This may, however, seem like a somewhat daunting and time-intensive activity.

Do not fear, however! Planning a strategy for this process whilst using techniques to help refine your searching could make your life much easier. Here are some techniques which you might like to try. Continue reading “Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques”

Present your research with confidence

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Mathew Schofield, winner of the University of Birmingham 3MT 2016, presenting at the final.

An important part of the research process is communicating and disseminating your work.  There’s no point in doing the research in the first place if no-one gets to hear about what you’ve discovered.  One key route for dissemination is in writing, but equally as important is communication through oral presentation.  Oral presentation has a key advantage in that it allows immediate dialogue with your audience, enabling dynamic knowledge exchange and debate which will ultimately benefit your research.

Everyone feels apprehensive about the prospect of presenting their research in front of an audience, but it’s important to focus on the exciting opportunity you’ve been offered to share your research and discuss it with interested people.  Remembering why you signed up to present in the first place is helpful in overcoming your nerves, as well as helping you prepare a successful presentation; clarity about your central message and the nature of your audience will help you focus on what really needs to be said and how. Continue reading “Present your research with confidence”