Archives for the month of: March, 2015

white rabbitLast week I was really impressed to hear that both the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and BBSRC have changed their eligibility criteria for their early career fellowship schemes, removing the cut off point for number of years of postdoctoral experience. For many fellowship schemes the criteria Read the rest of this entry »

Are you thinking of applying for a research fellowship award?

I’m currently running a research project called Fellowship Ahoy! that asks researchers who score prestigious research fellowships just how heck they did it. I have been zipping around the country (as you may have seen on the project Twitter account @fellowshipahoy), visiting other universities and collecting the intricate and interesting background stories that lead up to being awarded that rare and elusive fellowship award. I’ve now talked to twenty-five unique and very different fellows and really enjoyed it.


I am doing this project for a couple of reasons:

The first is intellectual curiosity – we just don’t know much about the professional lives, strives, small niggles and big decisions of this group of people, and the LFHE wanted to give me some money to do it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Michael P. Weir is a research associate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, at The University of Sheffield. His blog is Science on Toast and you can find @scienceontoast on Twitter.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”. 

– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of The Ring (voice of Gandalf)


Successful time management could well be the most critical challenge for research staff trying to forge ahead in the early stages of their careers. Gandalf’s words of wisdom may well have been about dealing with the looming threat of cataclysmic evil, but I don’t think many post-doctoral researchers today feel too far away from the cutting realities of the ‘publish or perish’ academic world. I’ve certainly been reminded enough times that a healthy publication record is a huge part of securing that elusive permanent academic position. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest post by Katie Grayson, PhD researcher in the Dept. of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology

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When I first saw the posters around the department advertising a competition run by the Science in Policy team to write a POSTnote, I thought it would be a good chance to hone my writing skills. But I ended up getting so much more from the process. I picked up skills in multidisciplinary teamwork, communication, and planning and research skills that are very different from my day-to-day science work, and I learned a bit more about how politics and policy works – phew! Read the rest of this entry »

Guest post by Dr Kathryn Ellis, a post-doctoral research associate in Civil & Structural Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

MeetingPhoto_150107_aBeing a member of the Engineering Researcher Society (ERS) in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield has helped me to settle into my new role as a Research Associate. I am the only person working on my topic within my Department and my work can be very insular. At times, as with many jobs, it can also be frustrating. Membership of a post-doc group has helped me to keep my sanity when work is not progressing as I hope. It also provides a place to celebrate successes too, which is just as, if not more, valuable in a research workplace. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Abi Pinnock is a Post-doctoral Research Associate – and thesis mentor in the School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield.

We can start off life thinking that perfection is attainable. From an early age it is fairly easy to achieve 10/10 on spelling and arithmetic tests, but by the time you’re in high school getting anything more than 90% seems impossible and as you progress through undergraduate degree this seems to decrease. So by the time we get to postgraduate level can we ever achieve the perfection that we once experienced as normal as children?

As a post-doc who has recently completed their PhD, I have had the opportunity to mentor PhD students during their thesis writing. Read the rest of this entry »

I worked as a lecturer, in the NHS for a few years, developing the existing staff for management roles. On the courses were a variety of healthcare professionals e.g. radiographers, physiotherapists, dieticians etc. and many of them had the same gripe.

They loved helping patients with their specialist knowledge and expertise, but the only promotion available was to become a manager and move away from doing the job they loved.

They felt this was a waste of all their years of training but if they wanted to gain a more senior position and earn more money, then a management position was the only way to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Roughly every 9 weeks it’s my turn to contribute to this blog and, if I’m honest, it fills me with dread.  I know loads of people who want to share information they have learnt with others, highlight interesting articles, tell the world about their research, yet when I sit here, ready to write, I just get…nothing.   So, this time I’ve decided to consider why I find blogging incredibly difficult.  After all, understanding the problem means I’m part way to conquering it, right? Read the rest of this entry »