Are you a late-stage doctoral researcher? Struggling to finish your thesis? Do you keep putting off your writing? Finding it tough to get motivated?
If so, Thesis Boot Camp is for YOU!
Thesis Boot Camp is an intensive and supportive writing environment for late-stage doctoral researchers. The core idea is to give you the necessary time, space, and encouragement to make significant progress on your first draft. It’s not designed to provide specific advice on editing, restructuring, or polishing a thesis – the focus is on overcoming writer’s block to produce a large number of words.
Support is provided through short tutorials, group discussion, and 1-to-1 consultations with the facilitator. Attendees are required to complete preparatory tasks to get the most out of the weekend.
It is taking place over the weekend 4th and 5th May and is fully catered, but no overnight accommodation is available.
Who can attend?
Thesis Boot Camp is a free event provided by the Researcher Development Programme. You are eligible to apply if you are:
A doctoral researcher at Sussex
In the final stages of completing your degree. That is, you have completed data collection (in whatever form is relevant to your project and discipline) and are currently ‘writing up’. The ultimate aim of thesis boot camp is to write 20,000 words of first draft material. It is not for editing, revising, preparing presentations or grant applications etc. In other words, you must be able to identify the particular chapter(s) of your thesis that you will work on as part of your Thesis Boot Camp goal.
Able to clearly identify how you would benefit from an intensive weekend of drafting a particular section of your thesis
Willing and able to attend all sessions, to complete preparatory tasks in the lead up to the event, and to commit to the ethos of dedicated writing required at Thesis Boot Camp
Able to provide details of an academic referee to support your application (e.g. your supervisor or Director of Doctoral Studies)
How safe is your research data? What would happen if you lost it all? This session will help you to write a data management plan that will keep your data safe, secure, and organised. It will also cover how to find existing datasets and share your own data to increase your citations.
Undertaking a Literature Review in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences
Wednesday 13th March: 14.00 – 17.00 (Arts A – A071)
The literature review forms a substantial part of your doctoral thesis and is also an ongoing process. Through clear examples, individual exercises, and group discussion, this workshop gets you started with your review. You will also receive guidance from the Library’s Research Support team to help you with your literature searching. By the end of the workshop you will have:
Understood the purpose of the literature and the process behind it
Developed your research questions and identified keywords
Discovered the tools available for your literature search and techniques for effective notetaking
Assessed different structures and critical writing styles
This two-part practical workshop is ideal for researchers with no previous experience of using SPSS & covers the basics to get you started. Working through a number of practical exercises, you will learn some of the key functions of SPSS, from data entry & creating basic output, to plotting figures & running more advanced statistical analyses.
Monday 18th March: 10.00 – 13.00 (Ashdown House 102)
This workshop will de-mystify the viva process & requirements, & provide you with useful guidance on preparing for the big day. You’ll also hear examples of real questions & experiences from recent successful vivas across different Schools, & benefit from the opportunity to participate in a mock viva. By the end of the workshop you will have:
Understood the viva process & possible outcomes
Received practical guidance on familiarising yourself with your thesis & preparing for potential questions
Gained useful insights on what to expect & how to get ready for your viva
Wednesday 20th March: 14.00 – 17.00 (Arts A – A071)
The supervisory relationship is crucial to the success of your PhD. In this interactive 3-hour workshop, you’ll discover practical tips for optimising this relationship. We’ll consider common problems and develop strategies for overcoming them. By the end of the session, you’ll have:
A clearer sense of the supervisory relationship and how it develops
Tools & templates for getting the most out of your supervisory meetings
Techniques for requesting & implementing constructive feedback
An awareness of common problems and how to deal with them
Wednesday 27th March: 13.30 – 16.30 (Arts A – A071)
In this workshop, you will review a range of strategies to reduce work-related stress in the research environment and empower you to free up time and attention for your own wellbeing. By the end of the session, you’ll have covered topics to help:
Define your primary priorities and core values
Articulate your objectives and triage your projects and responsibilities accordingly
Take deliberate control of your time, your energy, and your workload
Feel more confident in making workload decisions that align with your goals
Wednesday 27th March: 14.00 – 16.00 (Fulton B Lecture Theatre)
This workshop consists of a seminar covering how to structure a presentation, the do’s and don’ts of slide content, body language, pace, and preparation. This is followed by practical exercises to improve confidence, including breathing techniques, voice training and vocal projection, and projecting confidence though physicality. By the end of the session, you’ll be able to:
Structure a clear and engaging presentation with appropriate and informative slide content
Avoid many of the common pitfalls that lead to bad presentations
Use voice and body techniques to project confidence in presenting your work
Feel more confident in presenting to large audiences
With essential advice & guidance on writing a thesis in the life or medical sciences, this workshop is suitable for doctoral researchers who are about to start writing as well as those who have already begun. The emphasis is on planning and structuring your thesis, and motivating yourself to start writing. By the end of the session, you’ll have:
Understood the requirements and elements of a doctoral thesis
Assessed what you’ve already achieved & what is left to do
Received guidance on developing the structure & content of your thesis
Discovered useful tips for planning & scheduling the writing (& finishing) of your thesis
Following the success of the competition held at Sussex in 2016 and 2018, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition will be returning to the University on 19th June, as part of the Doctoral School’s Festival of Doctoral Research.
3MT is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland that challenges doctoral researchers to describe their research within 3 minutes to a general audience.
We are currently accepting expressions of interest from Sussex doctoral researchers in their second year or beyond who would like to participate.
There are lots of reasons to get involved:
Develop your research communication, presentation skills, and confidence
1st Prize: £500 towards research and a place in the UK semi-final
Network with other doctoral researchers and discuss your research
An opportunity to focus on the core message and impact of your research
Sussex Research Hive Seminars series are back with four new events to explore current issues in academic research throughout February, March, and April. These lunchtime events are open to everyone engaged in, or supporting, the research process at Sussex. Please sign up to the seminars using the booking links below.
Thursday 28th February, 12:00-13:30, Library Meeting Room on the 2nd floor Sandwich lunch included from noon, seminar will start 12:15
How does the REF impact equalities, diversity and inclusion within the academic community? Is a more equal research environment also a more excellent one? This seminar will include an overview of equalities and diversity policy for REF2021 from Dr Dominic Dean followed by an exploration of the broader issues facing academics from Prof Claire Langhamer.
Thursday 14th March, 12:45-14:15, Library Meeting Room on the 2nd floor Sandwich lunch included from 12:45, seminar will start 13:00
Technological advances bring new opportunities but also new challenges to academic research. Speakers include Prof Chris Marsden on the Open Laws EU Project, Lily Mehrbod from SAGE on big data in publishing and Prof Enrico Scalas on measuring wealth inequality in econophysics.
Friday 22nd March, 12:00-13:30, Library Meeting Room on the 2nd floor Sandwich lunch included from noon, seminar will start 12:15
Will a growing emphasis on metrics lead to a risk-averse research culture, a loss of trust in academia and threaten diversity in the sector? Speakers including Prof James Wilsdon of the University of Sheffield, chair of The Metric Tide review, will look at the challenges facing the research community and where responsible metrics can go next.
Thursday 4th April, 12:00-13:30, Library Meeting Room on the 2nd floor
Sandwich lunch included from noon, seminar will start 12:15
Prof Zoltan Dienes and Prof Janet Boddy will discuss why and how openness can play a greater role in knowledge creation, the issues surrounding data re-use and sharing, and the perceived and actual barriers experienced by researchers attempting to conduct reproducible research.
Make it happen is a fortnight of events featuring inspiring Sussex alumni from a wide range of organisations and industries, with stories to tell.
Taking place across a series of daytime and evening events from 25 February to 7 March 2019, Make it happen is your opportunity to hear from Sussex alumni at varying stages of their careers from entry level to chief executives.
Evening events will be panel discussions featuring Sussex alumni. You will learn how they got into their industry, the challenges they have faced throughout their career, what keeps them motivated and gain invaluable tips and advice. Each event will also have a Q&A session and networking opportunities to meet with the speakers and speak one-to-one, with light refreshments provided.
Sussex Fund Doctoral Overseas Conference Grants support University of Sussex doctoral researchers who are presenting their research at an overseas conference. Sussex doctoral researchers are able to apply for up to £1,000 during the period of their registration. The scheme is administered by the Researcher Development Team within the Doctoral School who are able to offer this grant due to the generous funding provided by the Sussex Fund.
Application Form and Guidance
Applications are invited from doctoral researchers who do not have access to a Research Training Support Grant, and applicants must be registered for a doctoral degree at Sussex University. The application must be made prior to submission of your thesis.
Applicants are strongly advised to carefully read through the guidance notes before submitting an application, and to increase the likelihood of a successful award.
Please ensure that you submit your application at least four weeks in advance of the conference start date
Criteria for Awards
Funding applications will be considered by members of the Doctoral Studies Committee. In allocating the awards the following criteria will be used:
Funding status of applicant
Quality of application (including clear and evidenced break-down of your budget)
Conference profile and suitability (including evidence that you are presenting at the conference)
GrantCraft are excited to announce the launch of their annual Research Engagement Grant. The award is specifically designed to assist those at the beginning of their research career to develop their network and research engagement profile.
The grant can be used for activities such as:
• Public engagement; for example, the production of an exhibition that engages the public in the research process or research findings
• Visiting another research group; for example, to deliver a seminar and interact with other researchers
• Communicating and engaging with other researchers; for example, through presenting a paper/poster at a conference
The GrantCraft Research Engagement Grant will be open to PhD students and is designed to support activities that will develop and enhance the grant recipient’s research engagement profile.
The award is for up to £1,000 to cover full or partial costs.
Applications must be submitted by those currently carrying out a PhD and each application must be supported by the student’s PhD supervisor.
How to apply
For details of how to apply, submission dates and a full list of criteria, please see the dedicated Research Engagement Grant page of GrantCraft’s website:
Webinar: Boosting your productivity – time management for busy researchers
Thursday 7th February: 17.00 – 18.00 (Online)
As researchers, we often face competing demands on our limited time. This one-hour interactive webinar offers tips and practical solutions on how you can boost your productivity and regain control of your workload. We’ll cover: – What can you stop doing? – Making tasks more manageable – Effective prioritisation – Productivity tools Book a place
This workshop will introduce you to Open Access (OA) publishing and what this means for you as a researcher. We will cover: – An introduction to Open Access developments and debates – The different routes to making your work Open Access – The benefits of making your doctoral thesis more widely available – Consideration of publisher attitudes towards publishing open theses: fact vs fear – Finding OA material to support your own literature searches Book a place
Doctoral Researchers Career Exploration
Thursday 14th February: 12.00 – 13.30 (Careers and Employability Centre, The Library)
Explore the range of options available to you both inside and outside academia after your PhD. – Reflect on your career to date and where to go from here – Discuss possible career pathways – Reflect on the skills gained from a PhD – Identify and take away tailored information resources – Learn how to manage your career and take the next step Book a place
Literature searching with Scopus and Web of Science
Monday 18th February: 14.00 – 15.30 (Library Training Room, Second Floor)
Scopus and Web of Science are online databases which search thousandsof peer-reviewed journals to find articles across all disciplines. With useful guidance from the Library Research Support Team, this workshop will show you how to make the most of these two major resources. By the end of the workshop you will have: – Learnt effective strategies for constructing & refining searches in Scopus and Web of Science – Had the opportunity to run your own search with guidance from Library Research Support Team staff Book a place
Effective CVs for Doctoral Researchers
Tuesday 19th February: 14.00 – 15.30 (Careers and Employability Centre, The Library)
Find out how to produce an excellent CV for roles inside or outside academia after your PhD. This session will look at different styles and approaches to help you market your skills effectively. – Learn about the options to enhance your own CV – Review and access both academic and non-academic CV examples Book a place
Keeping up to date in your subject
Wednesday 20th February: 14.00 – 15.30 (Library Training Room, Second Floor)
There are a number of quick & effective ways to keep yourself up to date with the research going on in your subject area. This workshop will explore the tools and techniques available. By the end of the workshop you will have: – Learnt how to set up database alerts to discover newly published articles & track relevant citations & authors – Discovered services for keeping up to date with new issues of journals & tools for discovering forthcoming conferences – Found out about using key resources & social media to discover who is researching in a similar field to you Book a place
Creative ways to stimulate your writing
Wednesday 20th February: 14.00 – 17.00 (Arts A – A071)
Do you struggle to get started with your research writing or get into a ‘zone’ where your ideas flow? This workshop looks at different creative strategies – including freewriting, poetry and clay modelling – to help stimulate your thinking and writing. In the session we will write together, using these creative prompts, to explore topics such as: – Imagining yourself as a writer and writing yourself into the text – Thinking about your readers and how this can be both inhibiting and encouraging – How the process of writing brings about different meanings to the ideas we have We ask that you come along with something to write about (even if this is at its very early stages), as well as something to write with. This workshop is run by Dr Emily Danvers and Dr Rebecca Webb from the Department of Education at the University of Sussex. Along with Dr Tamsin-Hinton Smith, they created the Writing into Meaning group and blog space for researchers to explore and develop their academic writing in a supportive space. Book a place
Becoming an effective researcher
Wednesday 27th February: 13.30 – 17.00 (Arts A – A071)
Pursuing a PhD isn’t just about knowledge – you need to manage yourself, too. Make a successful start to your doctorate with this practical workshop, designed to prepare you for the journey ahead. You’ll get the opportunity to meet researchers from across the University and build your skills in communication, problem-solving, and time-management. By the end of the session, you’ll have: – Identified the key skills and attributes of an effective researcher – Considered the challenges of a PhD – Established your priorities – Boosted your confidence in planning & managing your research – Developed a peer support group Book a place
In April 2018 the University was awarded funding from the Office for Students to deliver a project focused on prevention and early intervention in relation to the mental health of doctoral researchers.
The scheme is open to all Sussex doctoral researchers, who are invited to submit proposals for up to £750 per proposal, for initiatives or interventions designed to benefit the mental health and wellbeing of Sussex doctoral researchers.
Proposals should be aligned to one or more of five themes identified through the focus groups:
Creating and maintaining community belonging
Cultivating time to breathe
Celebrating self and successes
Constructing “other groups, other routes, other ways to be free”
Curating experiences of research process – seminars and events
There are also opportunities to get involved without submitting your own proposal, by suggesting an idea for an initiative, or expressing your interest in helping other researchers to deliver a proposal.
The first call for applications is now open and will close on Friday 29 March.
Thank you to all of the doctoral researchers who participated in the focus groups in 2018. If you haven’t yet completed the Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers (U-DOC) survey, you can still share your views on this important topic.