Archives for posts with tag: research

This is a guest post from Sara Shinton, Head of Researcher Development, University of Edinburgh — see Sara’s blog here.

An analysis of the portfolios of major research funders over the last 20 years would reveal many shifts, but perhaps the most marked is the trend away from single discipline, narrow topic research towards a collaborative model. Researchers are expected to develop connections in other disciplines and sectors and to work with them on projects on a grander scale, with a broader scope or to address specific societal issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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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.

Analysing all this, we are beginning to characterise and understand some concepts of value that apply to doctoral study, and the factors which affect how value is judged. We wrote about it here in an article for Research Fortnight, which in summary says:

Post-Phd, graduates looking back on their time studying tend to value the professional competencies they gained (e.g. critical decision-making, resilience and negotiation), the friendship and professional networks they built, and their personal capacity to understand the world, far more highly than they value the technical research specialisms they gained. Graduates who had pursued a range of experiences and extracurricular activities perceived they got more value than those who hadn’t, and people keep using their PhD networks to their advantage even after leaving the academy.

Based on these early exciting findings we are adding an additional data collection phase — an online survey for doctoral graduates in all career paths, who are up to 10 years post-PhD — and we would like help circulating the call to participate. Please invite your friends and colleagues.

This new survey asks about value of the doctorate over time since graduation and focuses in on personal accounts of value at work, social value, personal value e.g. how we interact with the big questions, the problems, and challenges we face. The survey link is here and the participant information sheet (showing we have ethical approval) is here.

The survey will take around 10-15 minutes to complete  (depending on how much you want to tell us!) and responses will be anonymous so participants cannot be identified.

Ultimately, we hope that the findings of this work will raise awareness of the emerging issues affecting satisfaction with the doctoral learning experience even beyond the PhD. We aim to provide meaningful new guidance and support for students, supervisors, and universities.

Please spread the word and share this post!

 

Everyone tells researchers that they need to get their research “out there”.  They should be promoting themselves and engaging with the public via YouTube, twitter, blogs and the like.  Some researchers can crack on with this and take to it like a duck to water, especially the written format.  But videos…well for some that’s an entirely different matter.  In an age where it can seem like every 10 year old is a YouTuber, what do you do if you’re not confident on screen or if you haven’t got the first idea of what makes a good video? Read the rest of this entry »

The gang mystery_incwere stumped. Researchers kept joining the university and then vanished into thin air!

Was there some dark laboratory in the basement where they were all held captive and never saw the light of day again? It appeared some of them seemed to be able to escape to attend various development sessions but sadly some never did. Read the rest of this entry »

With the sunshine seemingly over and autumnal nights closing in, I’ve been reflecting on development events which took place over the summer and in particular the success of the Think Ahead: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Scheme (Think Ahead: SURE).  33 summer research projects took place over a 6-8 week period in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health and the Faculty of Science, with undergraduate students gaining valuable research experience to set them up for the final year of their studies and, in some cases, to support applications for further study.  Read the rest of this entry »

My usual thesis banter is all about how to start writing. But in order to get it submitted at some point you have to stop.

thesis.pngLots of you will have hard deadlines to meet and be beavering away towards them. I hear sometimes though a variation on “…but I want to be finished way before that.” There can be flexibility in any self-imposed deadline that allows you to slide it back if you want to. Beware this tendency to drag the process on longer and longer and if you can, force an end by planning a ‘full stop’ point. Maybe plan a holiday, or agree a job start date that requires you to have finished your thesis. It’s hard to write and fully commit to your work in a new role, as many people who are juggling a full time job and thesis writing will echo.

As you come towards the end, keep your mind on being done, and remind yourself: Read the rest of this entry »

Below, and here, are two stories of PhD study from researchers who combined work and a PhD. While both are positive accounts, there are some differences, for example, working as a practitioner in the same field as you study, or working on multiple research projects including the PhD. What both have spoken of though is:

  • Perspective: the PT PhD as one aspect, albeit important, of who they are and their career portfolio. This helps to maintain momentum, and enthusiasm, and avoids becoming entrenched in the idea of the perfect PhD.
  • Complementary: Working and studying within the same topic areas, or having insight into the research culture and university workings, all useful things in navigating PhD progression.
  • Process not product: seeing the PhD as a learning and growth opportunity, and slowly building skills and experiences towards the next step.

I hope you enjoy them both, there are some good ideas here for full time PhD students too.

This piece is from Samuel Dent (@SRDent89), a researcher in Higher Education, at Sheffield Hallam University.

My PhD topic area is based in my experiences of working on the front line of University Student Support. Each March I’d brace for impact as swathes of 20/21-year-olds about to graduate would come to see me; exhausted/tempted to withdraw, and questioning the purpose of their entire education. At this point in the year most graduate recruitment schemes had announced their new recruits, and inevitably some students didn’t make the cut. For many of these students this was the first time they had realized that beginning their career would not be straightforward, and that being successful had not come easy this time.

Read the rest of this entry »

This post is from Melanie Lovatt (@melanie_lovatt), who has just completed a PhD in Sociological Studies. For a sister-post on part-time PhDs, please see here.

Dr Melanie Lovatt.jpgBack in 2010 I excitedly told friends and family that I had decided to do a part-time PhD. “Part-time?” repeated a relative sceptically. “Well, how long’s that going to take you?” “Around six years!” I replied, with an enthusiasm that I suspected might desert me long before completion. But five years and nine months on, having passed my viva with minor corrections last month and about to start a lectureship, I can honestly say that doing my PhD part-time was the right decision for me. Here are some reflections on the process: Read the rest of this entry »

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2nd Researcher Education & Development Scholarship (REDS) Conference — University of Sheffield — Friday 14th October 2016

Anchoring Researcher Development: theoretical mindsets

The second annual REDS conference will focus more deeply on the professionalisation of the researcher developer role and access to scholarly activity, and consider the challenges involved for practitioners in developing research ideas/projects. We aim to share and explore the designs, outcomes and impact of practice-based research into doctoral and post-doctoral experiences, researcher learning and development mechanisms, and enabling supervisory practices. The event is organised to provide opportunities to network and share professional and research practices across multiple perspectives and contexts for developing researchers.

 

During the last Researcher Away Day* (Friday 13th May), which brought together PhD poster_ad16students, Postdoctoral researchers, and Research Staff from many diverse departments across the Faculties of Science and MDH, I came across an interesting tool/model, which I would like you to consider as a possible tool to negotiate research careers strategically.

Dr Ali Riley who works for USE (the University Enterprise hub, which support enterprise education across the University) presented the concept of Effectuationdeveloped by Dr Saras Sarasvathy. This researcher explored the thinking processes used by expert entrepreneurs in making decision at the start of a new venture. Her research participants were entrepreneurs with extensive experience of the business environment. She set the participants “a 17-page problem set of 10 typical questions encountered by entrepreneurs as they build a venture”. Participants thought aloud about their approach to the problem and its resolution. The data gained from this study has permitted to develop a model about the type of logic followed by successful entrepreneurs in making decision and taking action. Different types of logic exist in making decisions about the future, which we cannot predict: causal logic, adaptive logic, visionary logic or effectual logic. Successful entrepreneur use a lot of effectual logic in their cognitive processes. Read the rest of this entry »