Developing independence: Conducting Research and Collecting, Analysing Data and Writing / Presenting the Results
During your first year you are required to undertake a formal assessment of your progress. The timing and specific requirements for the progress assessment differs between disciplines, so you need to check what is specifically required for your research degree.
In most cases you will submit a piece of writing (report/chapter/capstone paper/literature review etc.) and usually involves an oral exam with a panel of academic staff related to you project/discipline. Your supervisor is not usually part of the exam (but check within your discipline).
The aim of the progress assessment is to confirm that your project has the potential to justify a PhD, that you are making progress, have access to the necessary resources and are on track to compete it on time.
Data Collection, Writing and Presenting
Once you’ve settled into PhD life, your attention will turn to investigating your own research question, through interrogating sources or collecting and analysing data.
How you conduct your research and the data/information/knowledge you collect will differ depend on your discipline.
Arts and Humanities disciplines are more likely to work with texts and other sources for analysis with defined methodologies rather than use or collect data sets.
Life, Medical and Physical Sciences disciplines largely focus on designing a set of experiments, collecting, analysing and synthesising results to inform future experiments. Individual experiments/data sets may for part of a larger study within you research group or with other collaborators.
Social Sciences disciplines will use a mix of methodologies such as interviews and surveys, which can produce qualitative and/or quantitative data sets for analysis.
Depending on your field, writing about findings may be an ongoing activity or it may be more common to produce a full data set before drawing conclusions after which you will write up the experimental design and findings. It can be hard to find time and space to concentrate on your writing. Look out for ‘Shut Up and Write’ sessions offered by the PGR School. You should practice and writing abstracts on your research and share with your peers and your supervisor(s).
As you gather data and/or develop arguments, you will start to present your findings to peers and colleagues at academic conferences by presenting posters, giving talks or papers. Attending and presenting at conferences is a core part of being a researcher and will help you test ideas and give you vital feedback on your research. Additionally these activities will support your employability by developing skills critical to a career in academia or beyond.
Impact and Engagement
During this phase, you should also begin to think about what kind of impact your research is having in the wider world and how you might measure or evaluate it.
You should also be thinking about the stakeholders, end-users and public audiences associated your research, how you can interact with them and you might measure the academic and non-academic impact of your research. You can explore opportunities for public engagement and it is also good practice to share your research informally e.g. are you talking about your research and related activities on social media or blogging?
You should also be thinking about your network – who do you need to engage with, how can you begin to establish your network and what skills might you need to help communication with them.
Health and Wellbeing
It is important you pay attention to your physical and mental wellbeing and ensure you create the best work-life balance to support your studies. Explore the wellbeing initiatives, PGR community activity and resources on the PGRS webpages. Think about how you can develop a network around you, engage with your wider PGR community and to take breaks from your research to help you stay resilient.
Suggested Courses and Activities
Explore the Researcher Development Programme on the PGR School website and use the workshop themes and reflective questions to help to review where you are in your journey and to make a development plan to ensure you continue to progress.
Year 2: Keep Going (online)
Shut up and Write Groups
Uncertainty Analysis (Errors in data)
Using R for Statistical Analysis
Writing about Data
Introduction to NVivo and Coding
• Presentation structure and story-telling
• Presenting with confidence
• Presenting your Data Visually
Developing your Digital footprint
Networking and Collaboration
Introduction to Teaching – Online
Brilliant Club - Designing Engaging and Interactive Sessions
3 Minute Thesis Competition
Images of Research Competition
Networking & Collaboration
Influence & Persuasion Skills
Procrastination and Time-Management
Introduction to the Policy Landscape