Recently started your PhD? Find out about paid tutoring, archives and peer review at our PhD Essentials event

Colourful bunting against a blue sky, above the arches of Falmer House.

If you started your PhD in September you will have received lots of information from your School, your supervisors and our induction sessions, which takes a while to process!

Now you’re a few months in and have got to grips with the basics, it’s time to explore some opportunities further afield that can enhance your research or help you develop as a researcher.

Our PhD Essentials event on Wednesday 9 December is your chance to hear about paid tutoring placements in schools that are offered to doctoral researchers by the Brilliant Club; the rich archival resources and support on offer to researchers at The Keep archives; and the opportunity to gain peer reviewing and publishing experience with Excursions, Sussex’s own postgraduate journal.

Presenters include:

  • Siri Minsaas from The Brilliant Club, an educational charity who work on widening participation in higher education by putting researchers into schools
  • Karen Watson, Sussex’s Special Collections Archivist based at The Keep, a world-class archive on your doorstep
  • Jamie Chan, part of the Editorial Team at Excursions, an academic journal for and by doctoral researchers

Book your place via Sussex Direct – and if you’re not a first year but you’re interested in any of the speakers you’re welcome to book the session too.


Get paid tutoring and public engagement experience with the Brilliant Club

(Re)Connect, Excursions Journal issue 11.1

All you need to know about peer review, from SAGE Publishing and the Hive

Books arranged on bookshelves in rainbow colour order, from red to purple.

The Research Hive Scholars may not be stationed in the Hive space in the Library at the moment, but they are busier than ever supporting Sussex PhDers virtually.

Each year, the Hive works closely with SAGE Publishing. Recently, SAGE hosted a webinar about peer review for Sussex doctoral researchers and answered questions about the peer review process.

The Hive Scholars have written their Top Tips and Takeaways from the webinar on the Hive blog. Head over for advice on getting started, when to say yes to reviewing, and how to write a good review.

SAGE have kindly shared the recording of the webinar so if you weren’t able to attend, you can catch up with the presentation and Q&A session online.

See the Hive’s November calendar for other events this month; the December calendar will be published on their blog soon.

Get paid tutoring and public engagement experience with the Brilliant Club

A teacher stands at the front of a classroom.

The Brilliant Club is a charity working to widen participation in higher education by putting university researchers into schools.

Its Scholars Programme offers doctoral and early career researchers a meaningful, paid professional development opportunity, delivering university-style tutorials to small groups of pupils in non-selective state schools.

Researchers design and deliver sessions based on their own research for pupils 13 and above, or deliver a pre-designed programme for younger pupils pitched at the appropriate level. A weekend of pedagogical training is provided to all tutors. The next application deadline is 30 November.

Why apply?

  • Get expert training and real experience to develop your teaching
  • Gain valuable public engagement experience
  • Communicate your research to a non-specialist audience
  • Boost your employability with transferable skills
  • Support local pupils from underrepresented backgrounds to access university
  • Join a nationwide network of like-minded researchers making an impact on university access
  • Earn £500 per placement

See the Scholars Programme webpages for further information, including the application form, and email if you have any questions.

Logo for the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme.

Work placement: Spotify is looking for PhD scientists to help their machine learning research

Spotify is recruiting PhD researchers for paid internships next summer, working with their data scientists in London to develop and evaluate machine learning methods, build new datasets to power the next generation of machine learning research, and help improve user interactions through personalisation and discovery.

The placements last for 10-13 weeks and start at the beginning of June. The deadline for applications is November 22 at 11.59 PM, EST (Nov 23rd 04.59 GMT).

Applicants must:

  • be pursuing a PhD in Computer Science, Data Science, Mathematics or related areas with a strong computational focus
  • have publications in communities such as WWW, SIGIR, WSDM, RecSys, CHI, KDD, AAAI, ACL, NIPS, ICML, or related, in the following topics: recommendations, user understanding, large scale experimentation or (more broadly) machine learning
  • have strong coding skills in the following languages/libraries: Python, Numpy, TensorFlow, Scipy or Pandas
  • have experience in one or more of the following fields: Machine learning, signal processing, probabilistic modelling and network theory

For more information, including how to apply, see the Spotify jobs website.

PhD Careers: free social sciences Business Boost Bitesize workshops from University of Surrey

If you’re a social sciences researcher and you’re interested in working with industry, sign up to these free workshops from the University of Surrey using the links below.

Business Boost 2020 is an ESRC-funded scheme to increase business engagement among social sciences doctoral and early career researchers at SeNSS universities. For more about Business Boost activities at Sussex, including work placements with local businesses, contact Mary Harris and follow @BizBoostSussex on Twitter.

Knowledge Exchange – Importance of Industry Engagement
Tuesday 24 November, 09.30 – 10.30
Book your place

With Jenny Ritchie, Senior Business Manager, and Dan Bance, Business Manager, Enterprise Programmes Innovation

This event will look at the benefits of ECR & PGR engagement with industry such as research validation and research application to solve real-world problems. Facilitated by the University of Surrey’s Business Enterprise Programmes Team, and supported by Senior Academics and ECRs, participants will gain insights into Knowledge Exchange, and the benefits of industry engagement to the academic, the institution and the company. The briefing will provide a top-level overview of various ways to engage and offer ideas on how to initiate or further develop industry relationships.

Writing with Impact for Professional Audiences
Monday 30 November, 11.00 – 13.30
Book your place

Facilitators: Dr Alison Yeung Yam Wah, Academic Writing Consultant, Purely Academic Ltd, and Dr Nadya Yakovchuk, Teaching Fellow in Academic Writing, Doctoral College, University of Surrey

The aim of this online workshop is to equip participants with valuable writing strategies for producing impactful text for professional and business audiences. In this highly interactive session, we will analyse social science-related professional/trade magazines to highlight some of the key differences between writing academic and professional texts, and to identify strategies used in professional writing to ensure that text is impactful. To maximise interaction, participants will be encouraged to discuss questions relating to three main themes: Motivations, Drafting and Writing for the Genre. The session will be structured around a balanced blend of input in the form of dialogue between the two facilitators, break-out room activities and individual tasks.

Experiences of Working with Businesses & Stakeholders
Wednesday 2 December, 13.30 – 15.00
Book your place

Panel discussion with Prof Bonnie Buchannan, Head of Finance and Accounting, Prof Sabine Benoit, Professor of Marketing, and Prof Glenn Parry, Co-Director DECaDE: Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy and Surrey Business School Impact Lead. Facilitated by Prof Andy Adcroft, Deputy Dean of Surrey Business School and Director of SurreyIDEA.

Join us for an informal discussion with three of Surrey Business School’s academics with vast experience of working with businesses and stakeholders. Deputy Dean Andy Adcroft will be facilitating the discussion. We will be welcoming questions during the session via chat on Zoom with a live Q&A at the end. If you’d like a read before the session, Professor Sabine Benoit co-authored an article last year: ‘Bridging the data divide between practitioners and academics: Approaches to collaborating better to leverage each other’s resources’.

‘Science can be nourishing but it does not have to consume you’: we talk to Sunayana Bhargava, joint winner of this year’s Adam Weiler Award, about her PhD experience and research into dark matter

Portrait of Adam Weiler winner Sunayana Bhargava.

The annual Adam Weiler Award goes to a doctoral researcher who shows the potential to achieve outstanding impact in their chosen field, the result of a generous donation from the family of a former Sussex student. This year, the prize was split between Sunayana and Halldor Ulfarsson (MFM/MAH). Read our interview with Halldor elsewhere on the blog.

> Tell us a little about your research.
My research is focused on studying the largest objects in our universe – clusters of galaxies! I look at these objects because they tell us how our cosmos evolved from the Big Bang till now. Galaxy clusters are incredibly powerful tools to help us understand astronomy’s biggest unknowns – dark matter and dark energy – and we are at an exciting junction where we have more data to uncover this than ever before!

> What impact do you hope your research will achieve?
Dark matter has been frustratingly elusive since it was indirectly discovered nearly 100 years ago. Investigations into dark matter signatures by studying objects in space are both creative and promising ways to understand where the missing matter in our universe lurks. To be able to constrain the properties of one possible dark matter candidate (the sterile neutrino) and forecast ways to possibly find it with future searches will hopefully help us to narrow our scope of what dark matter actually is!

> How will the prize money help you?
Once we return to a safe and stable state with respect to the current pandemic, I hope to travel overseas for a conference on dark matter to present my work!

> Tell us about your journey to the PhD, and what keeps you motivated.
I think the more time I spent studying, from my college days to my undergraduate, the more I became curious as to where the limitations of our knowledge were. It takes a lot of resilience to stay in a field which is often preoccupied with its legacy as being the most esoteric scientific discipline, upheld by celebrated titans like Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. But nurturing curiosity alongside resilience eventually pushed me towards a PhD.

However, I think I would not have stayed motivated were it not for the reminder that physics, no matter how abstract, is only as good as its physicists. I have met some wonderful people who reminded me that science can be satisfying and nourishing, but it does not have to consume you, and that does not make you any less of a scientist.

> What advice would you offer to new doctoral researchers starting out?
Try and build a community early! PhDs are very rewarding but can also be isolating. Having others around you to blow off steam and speak with in terms you both understand will help a lot. Throw yourself into your work! It’s a remarkable feeling to be paid to research your topic of interest. Talk to people, learn about what is interesting and meaningful in your field, put your name out there, make yourself visible. PhD students are the lifeblood of academia so never feel like your work is not significant. Then of course, take (proper!) breaks. This will stop you from burning out.  

> What is your favourite thing about studying at Sussex, or your favourite place on campus?
Sussex is both a very stimulating and relaxed environment, and I think that balance is hard to find in a lot of other universities. My favourite place on campus is any of the places where you can see the wildflowers growing in the spring/summer! They’re absolutely gorgeous.  

> There is life outside the PhD! What do you do away from your research? I am a poet and writer! I also spend my time organising with solidarity organisations. Otherwise you can usually finding me planning my next hike somewhere or practicing my homemade pasta techniques. 

> What’s next for you, in your work or otherwise?
I have recently started a position as a postdoctoral researcher at CEA Paris-Saclay, where I hope to continue untangling the mysteries of the universe from my little corner. 

Digital Discovery Week 2020, 9-13 November

A logo for Digital Discovery Week 2020.

Digital Discovery Week (9-13 November) is a week of workshops, seminars and online opportunities to enable students and staff to experiment with new technologies, showcase examples of innovations in teaching and research at Sussex, and horizon-scan for emerging technologies which will impact our sector.

For doctoral researchers, it’s a chance to think about how technology can enhance your research, to try out new tools and techniques, and to make connections with academics and teams across the university. Now more than ever, digital skills can help you to work more effectively, keep up with the latest research and stay connected with the doctoral community.

The Library has put together a jam packed schedule of events, from seminars on open academic publishing, fake news and immersive storytelling, to practical workshops on podcasting, web scraping and teaching digital skills to students.

The Digital Database a Day sessions will introduce you to new resources – the Mass Observation Online social history archive (Monday 9th), ORBIS business database (Tuesday 10th), Westlaw for legal materials (Wednesday 11th) and SAGE Research Methods Online, which will help you through each stage of the research process (Thursday 12th).

Are you #TeamEndnote, #TeamMendeley or #TeamZotero? The Referencing Round Table (Tuesday 10th, 16.00-17.00) pits three researchers against each other as they reflect on their citation practices, answer your questions and battle for supremacy. These tools have the same basic features – managing and organising your references and generating citations and bibliographies – but they each have their own quirks and unique features. Which platform will triumph? Sign up to find out.

Raising your online profile is increasingly important if you’re looking to get your work noticed, you want to build networks or you’re aiming for a career in research. Building your digital profile in Elements (Thursday 12th, 11.00-12.00) will introduce the university’s new research information system, and show you how to edit your profile, auto-claim any existing publications and deposit accepted manuscripts. Sign up via Eventbrite.

And don’t forget the Digital Productivity for Doctoral Researchers bitesize course, running over five days from Monday. Join members of the Technology Enhanced Learning team as they show you tools and techniques to support your research and get you working more effectively and collaboratively. Explore each topic in your own time (this should only take around 30 minutes a day) then ask questions and join in discussions with TEL and your peers as you learn together. See blog for further details.

Call for papers: Makings: Researching the Creative Industries journal on the theme of Alternativity

The editorial team of Makings: Researching the Creative Industries  journal invite researchers of all stages, including PhD, MA, and BA students, to submit 300-word abstracts for its very first issue after the relaunch of the Creative Industries cluster journal. 

The theme of the issue is “Alternativity”. The concept is flexible to accommodate wide-ranging discussions around the diverse aspects of creative, media and cultural industries practices. This issue aims to address the heterogeneous notion of alternativity within creative industries and cultural policy discourse. 

Contributors could address the notion of alternativity directly or explore ways in which this theme resonates with their own research. Submissions are welcomed from all disciplines, see the contributor guidelines for more information.

The deadline for 300-word abstract submission is 14 December 2020. Full submissions will be invited by 18 December 2020 and expected by 16 April 2021.  

For full details of the call for papers, including how to submit an abstract, see the journal website.

Grant opportunity for social anthropology researchers nearing the end of their PhD

The Radcliffe-Brown Fund offers financial support of up to £750 to social anthropology PGRs at British and Commonwealth universities.

The aim of the award, which is jointly funded by the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) and the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), is to help young scholars in social anthropology who are handicapped by lack of funds to work towards the completion of research upon which they have already embarked.

Candidates of outstanding merit could receive an additional grant from the Firth Trust Fund, using the same application process.

PhD researchers associated with British or Commonwealth universities who plan to submit their thesis within six months of the application deadline are eligible to apply for this award.

Grants are made at Trustees’ meetings twice a year. The closing date for the current round is 30 November.

For full application details and to apply go to the RAI website

Free webinars: First year PhD researcher? Get started with the British Library

The King's Library displayed behind glass in the central atrium of the British Library. Photo: Paul Grundy

What’s the British Library? What’s in the collection? How can I find what I need? Join them for a series of online webinars to pick up the basics and find out how to kick off your research.

The British Library houses a wealth of resources for doctoral researchers, both digital and physical. In early 2021 they will be offering all first-year PhD researchers the opportunity to hear from their expert staff with a series of free online webinars, explaining the practicalities of using the Library and its services, with an increased focus on digital collections and resources.

The webinars will take place every Wednesday afternoon between 14 January and 3 March 2021, starting with a general introduction followed by events exploring more specific collection areas.

Attend the first module Getting Started: Researching at the British Library on 14 January, then book your place on any of the other modules that interest you. All modules are free to attend.

The complete programme, and links to register, can be found on the British Library website.