Embracing Chaos: issue 10.1 of Excursions postgraduate journal out now

Copies of the December 2020 Excursions journal issue Chaos.

Excursions is an open access University of Sussex journal run by and for postgraduate researchers. Read the entire issue on the Excursions website.

When Excursions chose ‘chaos’ as our theme for 2020, we had no idea how prophetic this choice would turn out to be.

A year ago, we published our Call for Papers inviting researchers to embrace chaos – and then, just a couple of months later, the world had to face a whole new level of chaos. Embracing chaos was no longer a choice, it was a necessity.

In this issue, Excursions had the pleasure of assembling a collection of papers that examine chaos in a variety of ways and inspires thoughts and dialogues: chaos opposes order and is fuel to a new order; chaos is violence and inspiration; chaos is part of being human and part of research.

Alongside eight articles, we also published eight essays by doctoral researchers examining the challenges of doing Research in Times of Chaos – our response to the global pandemic that has undoubtedly shaped this issue.

In the midst of this chaotic world and your own personal chaos, we hope you enjoy this issue. If 2020 taught us anything, it was to adapt and embrace chaos. So we invite you, yet again, to embrace chaos with us.

– Louise Elali, Excursions Managing Editor and Sussex PhD researcher (MAH)

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.

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.

Seminar: Open Academic Publishing – what it is, what it could become and why that matters

An 'Open' sign on the door of a bookshop.

Explore open publishing in this online research seminar on Monday 9 November, 15.00 – 16.30, covering both the fundamentals and the innovation of open access.

Lucy Barnes from Open Book Publishers will discuss how, as publishers, they have approached open access publication and also, her work with COPIM, the Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs project.

Dr Arianna Ciula from King’s Digital Laboratory will share her experience of integrating digital publishing with the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) process.

Dr Tanya Kant, University of Sussex, will share her experiences of supporting researchers with open publication through REFRAME, an open access academic digital platform for online practice, publication and curation.

Register for this event via Eventbrite, and for more information on the SHL Seminar Series see the Sussex Humanities Lab What’s On website.

Open Access Week 2020, 19-25 October: Explore open publishing and data practices and how they can benefit your research

Open Access Week 2020 logo. The theme of the week is Open with Purpose: Taking action to build structural equity and inclusion.

Open Access Week is an annual global event broadening awareness and understanding of open access to scholarly research results and celebrating open access to data, publications and more. This year’s theme is Open with Purpose: Taking action to build structural equity and inclusion.

The Library is hosting a series of events next week examining the current state of open access in academia, introducing you to some of the key concepts, and demonstrating practical ways you can open up your research, raise your profile and contribute to a more diverse culture of knowledge.

See the Library’s Open Access Week webpage for further details and to book your place on any of the week’s events.

  • Braving the Elements: weathering changes to your Sussex profile and research outputs
    Monday 19th October, 10.00 – 11.00
    Developing your online profile will increase the visibility of your work, expand the reach of your research and help to facilitate collaboration. This session will introduce you to Elements and share some tips to help you get started.
  • Making your research data available to support your publication
    Monday 19th October, 14.00 – 15.00
    Many journals now ask for research data to be made openly available to support publications. This session will explore options open to researchers to do this effectively.
  • Using open access resources for study [open to all students]
    Tuesday 20th October, 11.00 – 12.00
    This workshop will introduce you to some tools to help you discover scholarly publications and resources that are freely available to all, and look at techniques for evaluating materials that you find online.
  • How do funders and researchers work with open data?
    Thursday 22nd October, 13.00 – 14.00
    Prof Rachel Thomson will talk about developing collaborative approaches to archiving, sharing and reusing qualitative social research with the Everyday Childhoods collection and Reanimating Data project; Dr Sonya Towers (Wellcome) will explore how Wellcome supports researchers to maximise the impact of their research outputs; and Suzanne Tatham will give a brief update on the work of Sussex’s DORA Task and Finish Group.
  • Open Access Week Wikipedia Editathon
    Friday 23rd October, 10.00 – 12.00
    Celebrate and share your research expertise and contribute to the creation and dissemination of open knowledge. This workshop is for anyone interested in learning how to improve diversity by developing Wikipedia pages on notable women, LGBTQ+ and BAME professionals. No prior experience of web editing required.

Call for papers: (Re)Connect, Excursions Journal issue 11.1

The logo for the call for papers for the journal Excursions 11.1 titled (Re)Connect.

To connect is an integral part of the human experience. We are social, connected, beings. The unparalleled events of 2020 have made this even more evident — they have forced us to disconnect from life as we knew it and to (re)connect to history, nature, people, ourselves, and forgotten practices. This has weakened and strengthened our established bonds, while creating new ones. Ultimately, it revealed how dependent we are on our connections.

For their next issue, Excursions Journal invites researchers from all disciplines to (re)connect to the complex relationships between society, nature, things, science, and being human. They seek to assemble a collection of articles that aim to (re)connect, whether as part of a natural phenomenon in an objective reality or a socially-constructed subjective phenomenon. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Theories that explore (re)connections
  • Processes that (re)connect the biological, physical and social world
  • Popular culture and political discourse that examines (re)connection
  • Developments that incite personal or social changes through (re)connecting
  • Research methodology and reflections focusing on (re)connections

Alongside traditional academic articles, Excursions also consider alternative ways of communicating research, such as videos, photo essays, posters, and verse (please contact the editorial staff prior to submission via enquiries@excursions-journal.org.uk).

The deadline for extended abstract submission is 1st October 2020. For further details, including author guidelines and how to submit your work, see the Excursions Journal website.

Want to search peer-reviewed journals? Explore Web of Science with a free webinar (July and August)

A photograph of bound volumes on a bookshelf. A wooden library ladder stands in front.

Summer can be a quiet time for researcher development, particularly at the moment while campus remains closed. The RDP workshops are on hiatus until September, but we will be sharing any opportunities we come across for those of you who are still keen to learn!

The team from Clarivate are hosting free webinars throughout July and August to help researchers get to grips with Web of Science, a database that holds abstracts and indexes of articles from over 21,000 academic journals across all disciplines (not just the sciences!).

Sign up for a one-hour tour of the database and its associated tools, and learn some tips and tricks to help you navigate the world of research, find key articles and identify the experts in your field.

For more information on what the webinar will cover, and to register, choose one of the dates below – all sessions are the same, so pick the date that suits you best:

Web of Science is only one of the tools you can use to find relevant articles for your literature review and keep up to date with developments in your field. The Library subscribes to a range of abstract only and full text databases; take a look at the full A-Z of online resources, or use the Subject Guides to help focus your searching with some subject-specific databases.

The Library’s RDP workshops on topics including literature searching, keeping up to date in your subject and publication metrics will be starting again in the autumn. In the meantime, book a 1-2-1 with a research librarian to explore the best tools for your research, and work through some specific search examples to get you started.

Find out more about all of the ways the Library can help you on their Support for Researchers webpages.

Library starts Click and Collect service for print collections

Festival round-up: staying connected at a distance

A mobile phone below three pink speech-bubble-shaped post-it notes.

This year’s Festival of Doctoral Research posed a unique challenge – how to celebrate the doctoral community when we’re all working and living at a distance? How can we bring people together when we have to be apart?

Converting some of our regular events was straightforward – the 3MT live final, the new Finishing your Doctorate panels and the RDP workshops lend themselves to the Zoom meeting set-up we’ve all come to know, if not love! But we wanted to go beyond that and seize this opportunity to take the Festival properly virtual, using online platforms to provide activities and community spaces where researchers could share their experiences, connect and chat.

Thanks to some enthusiastic PhDers and our lovely colleagues over at the Library we did just that, bringing you daily wellbeing check-ins, celebrating PGR publications and online vivas, and gaming, quizzing and crafting together, while the Hive Scholars collected your quarantine images to build a collage of PhD life during lockdown.

Catch up on some of the virtual events below.

Daily Check-Ins and Lockdown Tips
As a way of starting each Festival day and encouraging conversations around lockdown and mental health, we interviewed a PhD researcher on the blog and hosted a Twitter chat around a theme: working at home, exercise and physical activities, games and hobbies, entertainment and creativity. We’ve pulled the interviews and resources together on the Check-Ins webpage so if you’re looking for ways to switch off and boost your wellbeing it’s a good place to start.

I Am the Doctor: Viva Survivor Soundtrack
Alice Corble from the Library created a Viva Survivor playlist on Spotify in honour of all Sussex PhD graduates and candidates who have recently defended or are about to defend their thesis online, crowd-sourcing tracks from recently graduated researchers. Taking your viva is a huge achievement and deserves to be celebrated! If you’re approaching a distant viva the university has issued guidelines to help you prepare, and Dr Fiona Scott wrote about her own online viva experience for the Research Hive blog.

Promoting PGR Publications
The Library used the Festival to highlight some of the work published by Sussex doctoral researchers over the past 12 months, sharing articles on a Twitter thread @SussexLibrary. If you want to get published but you’re not sure where to start, this Library publishing resource can help. It includes recordings of seminars on book proposals, open access and publication strategies, tips on choosing where to publish, as well as advice on getting your work noticed and information on PhD by Publication.

#QuaranTimeCapsule collage
To highlight the impact of Covid-19 on doctoral researchers, the Hive Scholars put a call out for your #QuaranTimeCapsule images on Twitter and Instagram, and created a virtual photo collage illustrating the experiences and challenges researchers at Sussex have faced in lockdown. As they say in their blog round-up, “Everyone’s experience during this pandemic has been unique, but one thing connects us: we have shown grit and resilience to manage the challenges of the pandemic. Whether that is pushing on and adapting our research and workspaces, juggling a multitude of responsibilities, or taking the time to look after ourselves and others.”

A collage of photographs of doctoral researchers' work spaces at home, including laptops, sofas, gardens and small children. One image reads, "lockdown life".
Doctoral researchers’ #QuaranTimeCapsule collage. Image: Hive Scholars

Festival Daily Check-Ins: Working from home and productivity tips (Monday)

We caught up with Carina Hoerst from the Excursions Journal team to start off our Festival Daily Check-Ins and Lockdown Tips

  1. What Working from Home (WFH) and general productivity tips have you got (back) into throughout lockdown?

Maybe most importantly, I try to keep a balance between work and time off (and am occasionally distracted by some four-legged visitors!). I have also started to use the time for reflection on what is good/ not so good for me, both personally and professionally.

Professionally, maintaining a structure has turned out to be the most helpful. Offline, getting up on time, and creating a designated working space helps me to literally ‘make space’ for work. Online, I make use of (new) technological opportunities like apps, online writing groups, free webinars, online courses etc, which are useful to help me structure the day/work.

  1. How have these helped you throughout lockdown/Covid-19?

I have started to embrace (the dependency on) technology. I can attend meetings, collaborate with colleagues, sometimes from all over the world, switch to a free webinar, and catch up with my friends – all in one day! I also think it helps to adjust if you can transfer your (pre-COVID-19) strengths to the new situation. For example, I like organising so I started convening weekly meetings with my research group on Zoom. I have got to know amazing new people through this and it has even provided me with new collaboration opportunities.

But, of course, living and working in the same place can get challenging and there are bad days, on which no routine works! Re-structuring the areas I work and live in helps immensely to make a cut between work and time off. I also learned to value baking, audiobooks, ‘calling it a day’, and I want to say running but actually… I still have a love-hate relationship with it!

I think that admitting you have a bad day (or days… even weeks!), or that the focus is simply gone, and being kind and patient to yourself, helps to take the edge off and to find your focus again eventually.

  1. What would you recommend for people interested in finding out more about WFH and productivity, and where can they access resources?

If you struggle with writing, check out online writing groups or boot camps, and try productivity methods (e.g. Pomodoro) or apps (e.g. Forest) that can help improve your work and overcome ‘Procrastinitis’. YouTube offers a variety of background noises and focus music (including for ADHD) to help you stay focused.

In the context of our weekly sessions, my research group has come up with a collection of thoughts and experiences, for example, on How to cope with working from home or How to overcome writer’s block, and the Excursions Journal has also started a call for essays on Research in Times of Chaos, which aims to collect and share how researchers deal with the situation.

But as much as working on your productivity directly, I think, realising that we are living in moving times and that it is challenging, and that most of us experience bad days, might help to be kind and patient to yourself and eventually find a natural focus.