Archives for category: Kay Guccione

My work in designing mentoring programmes naturally covers mentor ‘training’. I’ve been at it again this morning, meeting one of my groups incoming onto the September to March Researcher Mentoring Programme.

Actually I prefer to say mentor development, because training is too directive a notion to be a good way of describing how we use workshops to get to grips with the practices of mentoring — which is itself a very non-directive activity. As with all types of learning & teaching, there’s not a ‘right way’ to do mentoring, each mentor chooses their own approach, style and practices, and applies them in different situations and contexts. Read the rest of this entry »

I’d like to alert you to a new resource for supervisor development on the Think Ahead web pages. The page was developed from Trust Me!  an ongoing research project led by me and funded by the Leadership Foundation for HE, investigating the behaviours that are important in building trust and creating ‘quality’ doctoral supervision relationships.

Throughout the project students and supervisors alike speak of the need to achieve clarity of purpose, and find good ways of working together, seeking to make the uncertain processes of the PhD more predictable; reducing feelings of insecurity, worry and stress for all involved.

The resources (locate the page here) are designed to help supervisors think, plan, and have the right conversations with their students. Read the rest of this entry »

We have a new book out! 53 Ways to Enhance Researcher Development

cover.pngSeveral of the Think Ahead team, contributed practical short chapters to this edited collection, sharing what we do and how we do it. There are 53 chapters in total, written by contributors form across the world, and this book would be great for anyone seeking to refresh and revitalise what they deliver and how, as well as people new to research development.


Daley, R., Guccione, K., Hutchinson, S., (Eds) (2017). 53 Ways to Enhance Researcher Development. London: Frontinus Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s writing their thesis? 

Come on, who is writing? It’s my view, and the view of a lot of scholars who study writing in the doctoral degree, that everyone should have said yes to that question. See this assertion from  Barbara Kamler & Pat Thomson, taken from their 2014 book, ‘Helping Doctoral Students Write: Pedagogies for supervision’:


Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Mentoring & Coaching Manager, University of Sheffield

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £35,000-£55,000 across the UK

I did science A-levels, a science degree and a PhD in molecular biology because it seemed at the time that’s what clever people did. When I (finally) finished my PhD I knew it was time to move on to a job where I would feel less idiotic all the time. I thought I’d better make a more informed decision about what to do next and so I trotted down to a careers service appointment. it turned out that a PhD with precisely ZERO extra curricular activities wasn’t massively attractive to employers, even when supplemented with my time pushing Sarah Lee gateaux in Iceland. Read the rest of this entry »


I teach professional practices in coaching and mentoring* in an education context and have developed some short workshops for academic supervisors and principal investigators that focus on the relational aspects of research leadership and use coaching techniques as the basis for conversations that help people develop their thinking and understanding.

Read the rest of this entry »

d53018c541604453a8446db7ebff4483.jpgI work a lot with stuck and panicking PhD researchers near the end of their time here, and from them I have some intel to share. Bear in mind then that what follows doesn’t represent an ever so typical experience, but it does represent an important and keenly felt negative experience. One we can all learn from as colleagues in researcher development: be your role full time academic superhero and supervisor, or like mine, a specialist learning and development role, I think this will be relevant to you. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear doctoral supervisor,

“I was blissfully unaware how long it would take me to write up. To be honest I would have preferred a more clear marker from my supervisor, or from the department, saying stop doing experiments now and write! I was expecting someone to say when I had enough data, because I never felt I did, so instead I kept going much longer than I needed in the lab because I didn’t know how much was enough. I feel pretty annoyed about that.”

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s 246 days ‪until the 31st of October. I mention this date as we have around 1100 third year doctoral students whose theses are due on that date*. With 8 months to go, now is a perfect time to make sure that your thesis writers know it’s time to spend some time each week — an hour a day, every day? — writing. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest post on the University of Edinburgh IAD4RESEARCHERS blog


This is our first guest post on iad4researchers and I’m delighted that Dr Kay Guccione (@kayguccione) at the University of Sheffield took the time to share her perspectives on the valuable role postdocs play in supervision. Unless there are factual errors I won’t be making any edits to our guest posts, so their views are their own.

Postdocs view experience in supervision, teaching and learning as core to scoring that academic career (Akerlind 2005). And post-doctoral research staff are actually very active in teaching and learning*. I believe that post-docs are a really important but often under-recognised group of teachers in research intensive universities. Development of an academic sense of self is in part a result of having the right formal institutional responsibilities and resources (McAlpine et al., 2013) yet, post-docs aren’t often included directly in university Learning & Teaching strategies, or seen as key assets with specific skills, position, and the right experience…

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In May 2016 I posted about the launch of a research project I am collaborating on with Billy Bryan (@BillyB100) looking into perceptions of value in the PhD.

The study has progressed really well over the last 9 months, we have now completed two phases: our survey for current PhD students got 200+ responses, and we also did 22 in depth interviews with PhD graduates across a range of career types. Read the rest of this entry »