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”

What is Enterprise and why is it in the RDF?

In this post, the University Graduate School’s Entrepreneurial Development Officer, Katie Hoare, introduces “enterprise” and her role in supporting you to develop enterprise skills.

There is often confusion around the term enterprise.  It is sometimes used interchangeably with entrepreneurship and so has connotations of starting a business.  But enterprise simply refers to the generation and application of ideas to address practical situations (QAA definitions).

Ent role wordcloudEnterprise sits within the Engagement, Influence and Impact domain, however enterprise skills feature in all four sections of the RDF.  Enterprise isn’t a stand-alone skill you can develop in isolation, it requires a whole host of competencies and attributes.  In fact I have identified 38 descriptors within the RDF which relate to enterprise.

This is not bad news.  It does not necessarily mean enterprise is a more difficult skill to develop.  On the contrary it means that whilst developing your enterprise skills you are simultaneously acquiring many other abilities.  It also means that you are already half-way there to becoming more enterprising… Continue reading “What is Enterprise and why is it in the RDF?”

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”

Spotlight on the RDF: “Enthusiasm”

In one of our occasional series of spotlights, we take a closer look at a specific descriptor from the RDF.

In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).  Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.

Enthusiastic PhD student!
Photo credit: Kimia Solutions.

Enthusiasm is defined by the OED as “passionate eagerness in any pursuit, proceeding from an intense conviction of the worthiness of the object” [1] and I think this is something that many of us can identify with when we embark on a new research undertaking.  However, passion and intensity require a lot of energy to maintain, so this post explores ways to keep enthusiasm and motivation high over the course of a research programme. Continue reading “Spotlight on the RDF: “Enthusiasm””

Visualising your PhD using a Gantt chart

Any project, whether it’s a substantial project such as your PhD thesis or a smaller-scale project like organising an event, will benefit from proper planning.  Project planning is a big topic, but here we will look at one planning tool that you use to help you understand and visualise the relationships between the component activities of your project and time:  a Gantt chart.  Gantt charts are named after Henry Gantt, a mechanical engineer and management consultant who developed the charts in the 1910s, and are very widely used for simple and complex projects, to communicate visually the timescale for a project and to monitor progress against that timescale. Continue reading “Visualising your PhD using a Gantt chart”