Free Places on Digital Course Collection: 3 short online courses for researchers

Electv Training is offering 20 free places for Sussex doctoral researchers on their online Digital course collection. The three courses in the collection are complementary but distinct from each other, and can be completed in any order. After you complete each course, you will receive a downloadable course completion certificate. 

Digital course collection:
1) Your professional profile & networking (reflective)               
2) Build your own website in a day (software)               
3) Intellectual property essentials (information) 

If you would like to benefit from three online courses for free, please email researcher-development@sussex.ac.uk with the subject: “Digital Course Collection”. The first 20 researchers to email will be sent the access code for the course.

Quaran-Time Tea & Talk with the Hive (24th June)

Join the Hive Scholars on 24th June for the first Tea & Talk session, an online space where you will be able to connect with fellow researchers over a hot beverage! The Scholars will then continue the sessions fortnightly until the reopening of campus, so you can have regular catch-ups during lockdown.

This great initiative is another example of how the Hive Scholars continue to support researchers and foster (online) doctoral community. They know the risk that social isolation brings for researchers, and have worked hard as a team this year to focus on wellbeing and support. Visit the Hive Scholars website for more PGR-related fun, or join their Slack channels for a chat.

Full details and booking link for the Tea & Talk event can be found on the Scholars’ Quaran-Time Tea & Talk with the Hive blogpost.

Doctoral School awards funding for nine exciting Researcher-Led Initiatives

A photograph of people's hands stacked one on top of the other, over a wooden table.

We are pleased to announce that nine Researcher-Led Initiatives, with a real potential for meaningful impact, have been awarded funding following review by a panel including Dr Katy Petherick (public engagement coordinator), Prof Jeremy Niven (graduate student mental health and wellbeing champion) and Katy Stoddard (Doctoral School).

The themes this year covered mental health and wellbeing, training and development, and public engagement, and each of the applicants impressed us with their well-considered projects, as well as their resourcefulness in adapting to the ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19.

Congratulations to all of the researchers who put together a successful bid. In these difficult times it is a real boost to see such innovative projects coming from our doctoral community, and that the Doctoral School is able to fund such important work is something we are very proud of.

Read on for details of each of the RLI projects, and keep an eye out for more details on how you can get involved in the coming months.

deCOALonise Europe! Tracing the supply chain of coal and anti-coal resistance
Andrea Brock (Global Studies)

A collaboration with the activist group deCOALonize Europe, Andrea’s publication will explore the impact of coal extraction on indigenous and marginalised communities, and the historical connection between coal and colonialism that is reproduced in today’s trade relationships. By drawing the legacy of colonialism into the climate debate, the aim is to inform and inspire people to action.

Tea and Talk in the Time of Covid-19
Devyn Glass (Psychology), Louise Elali (MFM) & Aanchal Vij (English)
The Hive Scholars are sending wellbeing care packages to doctoral researchers who may be feeling isolated during the lockdown, accompanied by a virtual Tea & Talk session to connect researchers on 24th June. If you’d like to get involved you can sign up for a care package.

Teaching Problem Solving and Analytical Thinking Through Coding and Programming
Julia Jackiewicz (MPS)

Inspired by Sussex’s outreach programme, Julia will run a coding club with primary schools in her local area in Poland, targeting children at a crucial age for interest in STEM subjects, and hoping to engage and inspire them with hands-on activities and creative thinking.

BAME Role Models in Science
Kamillia Kasbi (Life Sciences)

Kamillia’s initiative tackles the lack of BAME representation in the sciences, and academia in general. By creating profiles and portraits to highlight BAME scientists and their varied career pathways, the project will motivate and engage BAME students, and create a connected support network for BAME PhD researchers at Sussex.

Unsilencing Pakistan’s #metoo Survivors: A Delayed Coming Out
Saba Karim Khan (Global Studies)

Aiming to uncover the narratives of women in Pakistan who have experienced abuse, Saba’s documentary film, based on firsthand testimony, will raise awareness of the harassment women face, look at the social and cultural barriers that prevent them speaking up, and consider whether western #metoo strategies may need to be adapted in the global south.

Media, Arts & Humanities PhD Creative Outlets
Kate Meakin, Manuela Salazar & Katharina Hendrickx (MFM)

Kate, Manuela and Katharina build on their MFM Peer Support Group RLI last year to encourage wellbeing and community among PhD students in the new MAH School, by providing a space for researchers to relax and engage in creative practice, encouraging them to take a break from study, and facilitating discussions on the broader PhD experience.

MPS One-Day PGR Conference
Fabrizio Trovato, Hannah Wood & James van Yperen (MPS)

The MPS PGR Conference will showcase and celebrate the research of the School’s PhD researchers, promote networking and collaboration between the Mathematics and Physics communities, and offer a learning experience for new researchers, Masters and undergraduate students alike.

Zoom(ing) in on Nostalgia: The Way-Back Weekender
Aanchal Vij (English)

Aiming to foster community and a sense of belonging among distanced PhD researchers at Sussex and beyond, Aanchal will curate a weekend of shared indulgence in nostalgic popular culture – including films, music and literature – and provide a space for PGRs to come together for informal discussions and connection.

Chinese Acupressure Massage for Sedentary Researchers
Violet Wei (English)

Violet’s project will build a platform for doctoral researchers to learn about the potential benefits of acupressure massage from a qualified practitioner, promote relaxation, and raise self-awareness of health and wellbeing, at a time when many of us are more sedentary than ever.

The Brilliant Club – Tutoring recruitment webinar (Wednesday 27th May)

The Brilliant Club is hosting a recruitment webinar on Wednesday 27th May, designed for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers to find out more about their Scholars Programme. Through the scheme, researchers are recruited and trained to deliver programmes of university-style teaching to pupils in schools that serve under-represented communities.

Why Become a Scholars Programme PhD Tutor?

  • Support local pupils from under-represented backgrounds to access university
  • Get expert training and real experience to develop your teaching and other transferable skills
  • Earn £500 per placement plus an additional £100 for designing a new course, and travel expenses
  • Disseminate your research to small groups of school pupils
  • Join a nationwide community of like-minded researchers making a huge impact on university access

Tutors are supported by a training programme, including sessions on tutorial pedagogy, assessment and designing a course handbook. Each Scholars Programme placement then begins with tutors accompanying their pupils on a university trip, followed by six further tutorials in their school. At the end of the programme pupils submit an assignment which is marked by their tutor.

You can find out more about The Brilliant Club and the tutoring opportunity and sign up for an information webinar on their website. To apply to work as a PhD tutor complete the application form. Successful applicants can select which terms they would like to work as a tutor in, and whether they would like to deliver multiple placements.

If you have any queries you can email The Brilliant Club at apply@thebrilliantclub.org.

Looking for a full-time position?

If you’re keen on working with young people and feel passionate about our charity’s aims, you can apply to our sister programme, Researchers in Schools. RIS is a full-time route into teaching for PhDs that incorporates elements from The Scholars Programme, along with a host of other features designed to get the most from your research skill set.

For more information on RIS, including funding and benefits, contact us on apply@researchersinschools.org or visit www.researchersinschools.org.

Ethics Applications issues during Covid-19: online drop-in sessions every Wednesday

This week, the Doctoral School caught up with Lauren and Tim from the Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance team to speak about some of the latest issues cropping up in their Ethics Drop-in Service, which runs online every Wednesday from 14.00 – 16.00.

It’s been a difficult time for doctoral researchers, especially where they have had to adapt their research plans to accommodate the university policy on no fieldwork. Both the Social Sciences/Arts/Humanities and the Science/Technology committees have been impressed with how students have creatively navigated these changes and looked for ways to ensure that their research is relevant and able to continue during these restrictions. 

For many research projects, these changes have included adjusting from face-to-face research to online questionnaires and interviews. Having the ethics drop-in has been really useful in terms of supporting researchers to think about the switch from in-person to online research and whether the nature of their research is suitable for online methods.  

Lauren and Tim have also been able to provide advice on practicalities such as using the right interview platform (Microsoft Teams!), data management, assuring confidentiality/GDPR compliance, and online consent processes. 

A recurring issue regarding information sheets and consent documents is that of participant withdrawal. A tip would be to make sure you clearly state the point at which participant withdrawal from the research is no longer possible, as this is often stated vaguely or overlooked. Telling participants the exact point up to which they can withdraw their data (such as a couple of weeks after an interview has taken place) will enable you to concentrate on writing up your research or collating your data without having to worry about subsequent requests for participant data to be withdrawn.

If you would like to discuss your ethics application with the team, the drop-in sessions run every Wednesday from 14.00 – 16.00. To book a slot email:

Responsible authorship and getting feedback in publishing – Wiley workshop (3rd June)

The Library, in partnership with the Brighton & Sussex Research Integrity Series, have organised an interactive online workshop on 3rd June (14.00 – 15.30) with international publishers Wiley. It’s open to all but will be of particular interest to doctoral and early career researchers.

Authorship is becoming an increasingly important issue in scholarly communications. Experts from Wiley will discuss how responsible authorship can enable transparency and openness with contributor roles, making sure that you get the credit you deserve for your research. The workshop will also explore the benefits to researchers of adopting open practices with feedback.

Usually, we would be holding our seminars in the Library – in our rather airless top floor meeting space – and providing you with lunch and time to chat. Sadly, there will be no refreshments on offer with this one but Wiley have produced a glossy pdf on ‘Top tips for getting published’ which they will distribute to all attendees.

We are hoping that the online workshop format will provide opportunities for you to see some new and familiar faces and to take advantage of having expert publishers on hand to answer your questions. Please go to our Eventbrite page to book your place.

Suzanne Tatham, Associate Director, University of Sussex Library

British Library Webinars (throughout May)

The British Library have a range of free webinars throughout this month focusing on research-related topics. The Introduction to EThOS session on 21st May might be of particular interest to doctoral researchers as it explores how to access unique research and download theses for your own doctorate.

Introduction to research data, data services and DataCite at the British Library (and beyond)
Thursday 14th May, 2.30-3.30pm
This webinar will provide an introduction to research data and how to use persistent identifiers such as DOIs to make research data and other digital outputs like theses and grey literature findable and citable online. This webinar will also provide an introduction to DataCite, an international non-profit organisation, which enables the ability to create DOIs for digital objects.
Follow this link to the British Library webpage for details and to sign-up

Introduction to EThOS: the British Library database of UK theses
Thursday 21st May, 2.30-3.30pm
The British Library service known as EThOS is effectively a shop window on the amazing doctoral research undertaken in UK universities. With half a million thesis titles listed, you can uncover unique research on every topic imaginable and often download the full thesis to use immediately for your own research. This webinar will offer a guided walk through the features and content of EThOS, and the research potential for making use of EThOS as a dataset.
Follow this link to the British Library webpage for details and to sign up

Project FREYA: How persistent identifiers can connect research together
Thursday 28th May, 2.30-3.30pm
This webinar will showcase the latest developments from the EC-funded FREYA project, including the PID Graph which provides a method to discover the relationships between different researchers and their organisations and find out the full impact of research outputs. It will also describe upcoming developments planned in the final year of the project such as a Common DOI Search. 
Follow this link to the British Library webpage for details and to sign up 

SPRU PhD Forum (Thursday 14th & Friday 15th May 2020)

The 26th annual SPRU PhD Forum is going online this year, with presentations live streamed on YouTube over two days. You can access the full schedule below:

Thursday May 14th – live on YouTube: SPRU PhD Forum Day 1
Friday May 15th – live on YouTube: SPRU PhD Forum Day 2

Two further sessions will take place on Zoom – on Thursday afternoon, a workshop on researcher wellness during Covid-19, provided by Sussex Doctoral School; and on Friday afternoon, a panel on academic career development from the ST Global Consortium. If you would like to join, email D.Wemyss@sussex.ac.uk for Zoom links.

Join the LinkedIn group and follow on Twitter for regular updates, and contact sprudoc@gmail.com for further details.

Research Project: Interested in learning to practice mindfulness? (free Headspace subscription)

Researchers at the University of Sussex would like to invite University of Sussex students to take part in an online study investigating the usage of mindfulness mediation, provided by the well-known course Headspace.

The PROMISE 2 STUDY (PRedictors Of MIndfulness-based Self-help Engagement 2) investigates how mindfulness can improve wellbeing and reduce levels of work-related stress.

By taking part in this study you will receive a free six-month subscription to Headspace, worth £59.94! You will also have the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw to WIN one of three £25 Amazon vouchers.

Follow the online survey link for more info or to participate, or follow the QR Code to the right:

If you have any problems with the link or QR code, please email promise2@sussex.ac.uk.

Write for Wellbeing with a Mass Observation diary on 12th May

Woman sitting on a lawn and writing in a notebook

By Suzanne Rose, Education & Outreach Officer at the Mass Observation Archive

[This post was originally published on the University of Sussex Library Staff Blog.]

“Writing is an incredibly powerful tool, because if you can be yourself when writing, then you have what might be a rare space in your life for completely genuine self-expression and self-reflection. Who you are is important – and finding and expressing that is important to Mass Observation, as well as to other people” – Kim Sherwood, Writer.

12th May is Mass Observation’s national diary day and we welcome day diaries from people across the country recording their everyday lives. The more ordinary the better. Of course, we are currently living in extraordinary times and so we are expecting this year’s crop of 12th May diaries to be anything but ordinary.

If, like me, you’ve been juggling home schooling, home working and looking after your own health and well being and that of your family, I would recommend sitting down and writing. You could even download and print off a diary template from the MO website, so your kids can join in too. We welcome drawings as well as written diaries and everyone is invited to take part.

A child's handwritten Mass Observation Day Diary from 12th May 2013, with a drawing of flowers, bees, butterflies and a yellow sun.
Example of a child’s 12th May Day diary and drawing. Credit: Mass Observation Archive

The benefits of writing have long been documented. It’s true, sitting down and taking time to breathe, let alone write, can only be a good thing. Life can be incredibly busy and anxiety inducing at the best of times, and it’s fair to say, we are currently living through, if not the worst of times, then certainly the strangest.

To this end, MO has partnered with the Oxford Centre for Life Writing to support a project called Life-Writing of Immeasurable Events, which will provide opportunities for people to write their lives and encourage creative responses. Professor Brett Karr of the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology and Regent’s University London, offers his personal reflections on the psychological urgency of life writing in an essay written to launch the project.

Of course, you might not have the time to write endlessly, but do remember to keep a day diary on 12th May. I will be recording my day. Not just because it’s one way that MO can record the present for future generations, but for myself. So I can take a moment to breathe, reflect and think about the small things. Everyday life often feels mundane, a bit Groundhog Day, sometimes easily taken for granted.

I want to take a moment to be mindful. To be thankful and to notice all the little things that make up my day. Whether that be walking my dog in the sunshine and watching him gleefully play with a stick. Standing underneath a blossom tree and scooping the fallen petals into my pockets, like I used to do as a child, or curling up on the sofa with a G&T at the end of the day. After all, these are the days of our lives.

Cherry tree covered in pink blossom
My local blossom tree. Credit: Suzanne Rose

Further information on how to take part in 12th May can be found here:

http://www.massobs.org.uk/write-for-us/12th-may

https://twitter.com/MassObsArchive #12May20