Spring 2020 Researcher-Led Initiative Fund now open

Do you have a bright idea for an activity to enhance your professional skills and benefit your research community?

Open to doctoral and early career researchers at the University of Sussex, the RLI Fund gives you greater input into your support and development needs.

Apply for up to £750 to organise an initiative focusing on:

  • mental health, wellbeing and community among researchers
  • public engagement
  • researcher training and development

Whether you want to host a symposium, set up a journal club, start a social activity or get into podcasting, we want to empower you to turn your ideas into reality.

The deadline for applications is Monday 30th March 2020.

See the RLI Fund website for more information and to apply, and contact us researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk if you have questions or need advice on any aspect of your application.

Conference Funding: Deadline extended for Sussex Kindness Doctoral Conference Award (29th February)

The deadline has been extended for the Kindness UK Doctoral Conference Award, launched by Sussex Kindness Research in collaboration with Kindness UK and the Doctoral School. The new deadline is 29th February 2020.

This annual scheme supports doctoral researchers from Sussex with a stipend of up to £1,000 to disseminate their research at conferences around the world.

The award is open to all doctoral students whose research can help to promote, understand and illuminate kindness and its impact on people and communities. The thread of kindness runs through many of the research projects at Sussex, and we encourage applications from all academic disciplines.

Relevant research can include anything from social care to business practices, educational strategies, climate change, international aid, the arts, and many more!

Visit the Kindness UK Doctoral Conference Awards webpage for more info and to apply.

Opportunity: Speak Up for Food Security competition (for UKRI Council-funded doctoral researchers)

The Global Food Security programme (GFS) is calling on all UKRI Council-funded early-career researchers (ECRs) to take part in their annual research storytelling competition ‘Speak Up for Food Security’.

Twelve successful applicants will attend an immersive, two-day research storytelling masterclass in central London (26th-27th February 2020), where they will receive communication training tailored to creating food system change.

For more information, eligibility criteria, and for application instructions, please visit the GFS web page.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 26th January 2020. 

Thesis Boot Camp: spring term applications open

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!

The next Thesis Boot Camp has been confirmed and will be taking place on Saturday 14th March and Sunday 15th March.  

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.

The weekend is fully catered, but no overnight accommodation is available.

To apply for a place, please visit the Thesis Boot Camp website for full details and eligibility criteria, and fill out this application form by Monday 17th February.

Brexit: latest information for EEA & Swiss Doctoral Researchers

With the UK now finalising plans to leave the EU on 31st January 2020, please note events on campus over the coming weeks to ensure that you have all the information, advice and support you may need.

International Student Support will be running briefing sessions this term to explain the benefits of applying for the EU Settlement Scheme and to guide you through the application process: 

  • Thursday 30th January 2020, 11am – 12pm, Arts C133 Lecture Theatre. Book here.
  • Tuesday 4th February 2020, 12-1pm, Jubilee 144. Book here.
  • Wednesday 19th February 2020, 2-3pm, Fulton B Lecture Theatre. Book here.
  • Wednesday 4th March 2020, 2-3pm, Fulton B Lecture Theatre. Book here.
  • Wednesday 18th March 2020, 2-3pm, Fulton B Lecture Theatre. Book here.

In addition, the University is running a special, all student Brexit event on Wednesday 29th January, 2-3pm (Jubilee 144) to ensure that you are informed about the latest Brexit developments, and the support available at Sussex. This event is open to all Doctoral Researchers and all students, whether from the EU, UK or international.

If you are currently studying or on fieldwork outside the UK, or if you are currently taking a period of intermission, it is still possible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme whilst you are outside the UK, based on your previous residence in the UK.

For all Brexit-related questions and further information, please refer to the Brexit Hub.

Researcher Focus: Joe Green

This month the Doctoral School spoke to Joe from the School of Psychology, whose work looks into how people’s moral values affect their attitudes towards Universal Basic Income.

This is the second instalment of a project designed to highlight the opinions and advice of doctoral researchers at Sussex, what they do, how they work, and who they are beyond their PhDs.

PhD Life

What do you enjoy most about the PhD and why?

Being able to really indulge your interest in a topic that fascinates you – in my case, moral psychology – especially in the early stages when you’re under less pressure and have plenty of time to read. There have always been topics that I wish I knew more about, but when I had a job I never had the time to do much more than read a book or watch the odd documentary to educate myself. When you begin your PhD, you can go beyond just having cursory knowledge and really dig into areas that intrigue you without feeling guilty, because that’s now your job… or part of it anyway.

What has been the most difficult element so far?

The isolation. It’s unlike almost any other kind of job (except maybe lighthouse keeper) as you’re almost always working on your own, and aside from your supervisor nobody has a clue what you’re doing. Also, you are working on something that your friends and family don’t know about or aren’t interested in, which means that you often don’t even end up talking about it. Obviously working in teams has its own set of problems, but after doing a PhD, I’ve really come to appreciate the value of group work and the support and insight that comes with it.

What do you think you do well?

I am pretty good at understanding theories and then thinking about what important questions they can help me to answer. This makes up for often being lazy, disorganised, and unfocused!

What piece of advice would you give to others doing a PhD?

Network! This might seem like a fairly generic thing that people just say (it did to me), but it can open up so many doors. Most doctoral researchers work really hard and are very conscientious, but don’t make the most of the opportunity to get in touch with professors or other important figures that could really help them. It’s so easy to send a polite email to someone whose work has influenced you, and you might hope to work with, or at least speak to. My advice would definitely be to get in touch. The worst that’s going to happen is they ignore it, but sometimes they don’t and opportunities present themselves.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I mainly just try to relax by seeing friends, reading, playing sport or working out. Obviously I do the less healthy things to relax too: drinking, smoking, and eating rubbish – I just try not to do that stuff too much.

How do you organise work, time, and yourself?

Badly! But in my better moments I try to at least make lists. I find that having things down on paper helps to organise my thoughts. Plus, for whatever reason, it feels rewarding to actually start crossing things off that list. Aside from that though, my approach lacks much in the way of formal structure.

What do you do when you’re stressed?

I’ve found meditating is helpful for me, but if it’s been a long day I’ll usually just watch reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm or some other comedy show I’ve already watched too many times.

Beyond the PhD

What additional non-academic things help you?

I’m learning guitar at the moment, which is mainly just annoying because I’m rubbish, but it’s good to get annoyed at stuff that’s not related to the PhD for a change! I generally try to get into something that’s completely unrelated to what I’m doing at uni.

What do you like doing on a day off?

I just see friends and always make sure I get outside and do some form of exercise. I never have any money so my days off aren’t filled doing anything too exciting, but that generally suits me fine.

What makes you happy?

Smoking and listening to Khruangbin on my headphones. Or if I can’t say that, then just listening to Khruangbin on my headphones.

What piece of advice would you give to someone about life?

Try to take the time to try to learn from the people that have really dedicated themselves to answering this question. The book The Happiness Hypothesis by social psychologist Johnathan Haidt is a good place to start. 

Being pushed to give my own advice… if you really want to do something then go ahead and do it, don’t pay much attention to those inner doubts or those of anyone else. After spending time out in the US, one thing I’ve come to appreciate is how they are less cynical and self-conscious about having big aspirations, which is quite refreshing. It’s a lot more common here to feel as though you’re getting above your station if you have lofty goals or ambitions that are out of the ordinary, and this can be pretty stifling.

Coming up: Careers & Employability workshops for researchers

Over the Spring term there will be several careers workshops specifically for PhD researchers:

Careers Exploration for PhD Researchers

Explore the range of options available to you both inside and outside academia after your PhD. This workshop will reflect on your career to date, on the skills gained from a PhD, and how you can take the next step.

CVs for PhD Researchers

Find out how to produce an excellent CV for roles inside and outside academia after your PhD. This session will look at different styles and approaches to help you market your skills effectively.

Interviews for PhD Researchers

What can you expect in an interview? Whether you have had ten or zero, interviews can still be a daunting prospect if you’re not prepared. That is why we are here to help you. This session will provide top tips for both academic and non-academic interviews.

We will also be running several careers webinars this term, see the Researcher Development Programme listings for details.

Take a look at the Careers & Employability Centre website for further careers resources for PhD Researchers

Seminar: High quality research and a healthy research culture (Thursday 13th February)

Seminar: High quality research and a healthy research culture
Location: Ashdown House, Room 101
Time: 14:30
Date: Thursday 13th February

In the latest in the series of Brighton & Sussex Research Integrity Seminars (organised and hosted jointly by the Universities of Sussex and Brighton), James Parry, chief executive of the UK Research Integrity Office, will discuss whether research standards are as straightforward to achieve as we sometimes think they are. The session will explore how to reduce the likelihood of avoidable mistakes and mitigate against so-called ‘pressure to publish’, and how to promote a research culture where good practice and collegiality are the norm.

All staff and postgraduate research students are welcome to attend. Tea and coffee will be provided at the event from 14:15 onwards. Attendance is free but numbers are limited, so please book a place via this EventBrite link.

Scholarship: Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (for Canadian nationals only)

The Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (CCSF) competition will open on 20th January 2020 for applications from all Canadian graduate students studying full-time, multi-year graduate programmes in the UK. There are a number of £5,000 scholarships for the academic year commencing September 2020.

The deadline for applications is midnight on Sunday March 8th 2020. 

Further information and access to the web-based application form can be obtained from the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund website.

Poster for the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund 2020-21. Follow them on Twitter @ccsf67

Conference Grants for Early Career Researchers

Sparrho – the scientific discovery platform for PhD students and scientists – is offering £300 grants to PhD students and postdocs every month. Grants are offered to PGRs and postdocs from any university who are presenting their research at an academic conference, anywhere in the world. Application deadlines are on a rolling basis.

To apply:

  1. Complete the online form with your details and curate a collection of papers that represent your research, using Sparrho’s discovery platform.
  2. Use Sparrho’s writing tutorial and write no more than 350 words to introduce your research in a jargon-free language.

Apply on the Sparrho website

The winners will:

  1. Receive £300 in prize money.
  2. Be featured on Sparrho’s media channels and community page. 

Who is Sparrho?

Sparrho is a one-stop-shop to discover, curate and summarise science, helping you to raise your profile. You can find 60 million+ research papers with daily updates from 45,000+ sources on our platform.

Got any questions? Just send an email to ask@sparrho.com.