LDC Development online resources are moved into Canvas

Front page on site in Canvas

LDC Development now have an area within the University’s new virtual learning environment, Canvas ‘LDC Development Online Resources’, which offers supplementary information to our face-to-face and online programme of events.

Access: This resource is open to all PGRs at the University of Liverpool and can be accessed at any time through the link below:

Access the ‘LDC Development Online resources area’

– You will need to log in with your MWS credentials, with your username in the format username@liverpool.ac.uk .

Content –  Our resources in Canvas are organised into two sections, with further information below:

  • LDC Development Online provision
  • Related training sources  for Postgraduate researchers

LDC Development Online provision

The resources are divided into our seven programme themes:

  • Taking Ownership of Your PhD  – materials from our introductory workshops for new PGRs, including edited recordings of some of the workshops for those new to the PhD.
  • Communicating in Writing – materials to develop your academic writing, for your thesis and research publications, including recordings of materials from the three webinars on ‘Developing Writing Techniques’.
  • Communicating through Presentations –  materials looking at the requirements for research presentations and academic posters, including content from of the two online workshops covering Research Presentation.
    This area also includes guidance for the PhD Viva.
  • Research Productivity – materials covering Time and Project management
  • Resilience and Well-being –  ways that you can manage the challenges of life as a researcher
  • Career Planning – guidance and an online course  help  to help your prepare for the next step in your career
  • Creativity & Critical thinking – an introduction to the problem-solving, innovation and critical thinking skills needed as a researcher
  • Support for the PGR Toolbox – including a video of a recent introductory webinar with a software demonstration.

Related training sources  for Postgraduate researchers

The section contains links to further development opportunities with the University of relevance to postgraduate researchers:

  • Research Ethics and Research Integrity – access to the recommended Epigeum courses on these subjects.
  • Cross-faculty training Opportunities – a list of training opportunities available in April 2021.

Progressing our lives: Why is it hard? What can we do about that?

“Star Researcher”: Team Missions to Help You Make Progress Now”,
Workshop series: 25th May, 1st June and 8th June.

We are pleased to share the following article, written by Dr. Adrian West, Company of Mind

What direction - image

What should be, or ought to be, is different from what is” (the error of ‘speculative thinking’ as defined by Robert Thouless).

What can we do to make sure the future we want happens?

Is that even possible, when so much is unpredictable and beyond our control? Especially if knowing what we “want” isn’t actually that straightforward.


Reality is Contingent

Much of what happens in our careers (and lives) is outside our control – however strong and single-minded our visionary belief. If you ask academics (or anyone) what chance events had a big positive impact on their careers, you always get interesting and surprising stories. Scientific laws define the boundaries of what is possible, but what actually happens is largely down to historical chance happenings: the “contingent” nature of reality as Stephen Jay Gould put it. If you apply for positions, fellowships and so on, the outcome will depend at least on who else happened to apply for the same positions – for example.

Path in a set of jumps

Do Something!
Yet it’s also true that you can “make things happen”. This is easy to see if we consider the alternative: if you do nothing at all it’s far less likely that much will happen! You can be confident and make Herculean efforts…that come to nothing; and you can make a tiny nudge that topples an empire. But in both cases you learn a lot along the way and create new possibilities – if you’re not so blinded by self-belief that you are able to see them. “Doing something” has a power – “problems” of any significance require us to start solving them just to understand what the problem actually is.

Capacities for success?
Taken together, those points advocate a strategy for success that is a combination of energy, action, wisdom, playfulness, persistence, courage, and common sense – as you might expect. It doesn’t say “what” to do, but it does indicate why those obvious qualities are, in fact, important.

What to Actually “Do”? (and Why We Don’t).
The common problem is to have a rather fixed view of what we want ‘next’, which at the same time is (perplexingly) rather vague: “some sort of fellowship”; “some sort of intermediate academic position”, or “I don’t really want to think about it”. Which are hard things to execute on.

But, maddeningly, other concrete things do have to be done ‘now’ and within our immediate focus – an experiment; writing a chapter; teaching tomorrow; a meeting…so it’s very difficult to put serious energy into the more vague, further away, futures. The difficulty of a task isn’t so much the technical challenge, it’s more about emotional resistance to doing it, or a lack of clarity about what exactly to actually “do”. We’ll definitely need to master this “managing the present, while creating the future” if we end up responsible for other people.

lighbulb imspiration

A Trick
The trick is to make the vague definite; the fixed flexible; and the not-doable long term, into short-term things we can easily “do” today. As a caricature, let’s use the ambition of becoming a “Star Researcher” for example. You can find out what you’ll need to have achieved by, say, five years from now. Then you can work backwards to identify steps you can actually execute on today. Time is shorter than we think; but you can achieve more than you imagine you can by making steady small steps of useful progress, from which we will at least learn, and perhaps therefore adapt our plans and goals as we progress. You will end up way ahead of people who never quite got around to it – which may include your ‘old’ self.

One Way to Get Going
Pushing and motivating ourselves can be lonely, hard and delusion prone. Many of us are more effective when working in a team towards a goal we all believe in. There’s an upcoming event taking place for people who enjoy collaboration and find the above relevant to their future. It is a team exercise, where each “research group” is in friendly competition with the other teams, to achieve the most progress for their individual members (much as a real research group functions). The series runs over a fortnight with 3 consecutive facilitated sessions “Ingenuity”, “Perseverance” and “Opportunity” online : If that’s for you, and you can commit to the time needed, then we’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Practise Skills; Build Capacities
If you attended our earlier series – Practical Thinking; Working with Difficult People; Getting Organised for Research (and Life) – you should be able to recognise where all of those tools apply to this. For example “Motivate the Elephant”? “Lateral Thinking”? “Horizons of Focus”? We won’t be re-doing that material, but it’s definitely an opportunity to apply what you have learnt for real. Why is that important?

Anthropologists tell us that the unique human capacity isn’t intelligence, but imitation. As a species we’re stunningly good at it, unknowingly. Think of language, civilisations, religions, cultures, skills, and professions. It is why humanity has made the unique kind of progress that is has. That being so, you’re perfectly adapted to transcend evolution because you can consciously make choices about what you ‘imitate’, and therefore what abilities you acquire, and hence what you become. We’re less ‘fixed’ than we think we are, which is reassuring really.

Dr. Adrian West, Company of Mind, March 2021

Register here for: “Star Researcher”: Team Missions to Help You Make Progress Now”, running 25th May, 1st June and 8th June.



Do you need to update the PGR Toolbox for the 2021 APR forms?

The APR forms will be released on Tuesday 1st June do you need to update the PGR Toolbox?

The PGR Portfolio of Activity and the Record of Supervisory meetings must be up to date by the 31st May for this data to be included in the 2021 APR form. Any data added to the  PGR Portfolio of Activity and the Record of Supervisory meetings after the 31st May will not be included in the 2021 APR form. You are recommended to review your progress over the last year to ensure that you have a full record for the last academic year.

Below, we provide further information to help you complete the PGR Portfolio of Activity and the Record of Supervisory meetings for the current academic year. Guidance to help you complete the APR forms will be available on the LDC Student Experience team web-site.

Preparing your Record of Supervisory meetings for the APR

Please ensure that your Record of Supervisory meetings is up to date before the end of May. The APR contains the complete list of the dates of all supervisory meeting records that have been signed off by your supervisor.  You may want to remind your supervisor that they should sign off all records before the 1st June.

You should check that you have recorded the correct number of required meetings:

  • At least one meeting per month if you are a full-time student
  • At least one meeting every two months if you are a part-time student

NB You can enter meetings retrospectively. The record should include relevant Zoom or Skype meetings.
You are not expected to record meetings for any periods of suspension.

Preparing your PGR Portfolio of Activity for the APR

The PGR Portfolio of Activity is your record of your activities and achievements over the last year, which supplements your research and support your long-term development. For example, the record can include the training and development workshops/webinars that you have attended, conferences and research meetings that you have participated in, work with industry or organisations outside academia, public engagement and public communication  and so on. This record can include any activities taken place online.

The APR form will display data from the PGR Portfolio of Activity  in a non-editable format, i.e. any changes to the Portfolio of Activity after the 31st May will not be reproduced in the APR form. We recommend that you revisit the Portfolio of Activity before the 31st May and check which of your records you want to be visible in the APR. All records for the past year are included by default, but you can de-select any activities that you want to be kept private.

The APR will include data from the PGR Portfolio of Activity under the four headings in the Portfolio of Activity, which correspond to the four domains of the Researcher Development Framework. The data that is transferred to the APR will be limited to:

  • Records with dates in the period from the 1st June 2020 to the end of May 2021.
  • The type of activity, the title, and the date of the events that you have recorded in the Portfolio.
  • Records that you have kept marked as ‘selected’ in the Portfolio.

The APRs will not include further information such as the longer record description or the ‘RDF descriptors’.

You may want to check the event titles carefully to ensure that this accurately represents the event, since the event description is not included in the APR. For example, if you recorded attendance at a three day conference, you might include the dates in the title.

Example of how APR form appears

Example of Portfolio of Activity data as it will appear in the APR    – set for the year 2017-18. Only items added in the year 2020-21 will appear in the APR for this year.

If you have not entered data into the Portfolio of Activity, the APR will include empty text boxes where you can add any additional information in relation to your professional development to record in the APR process. The choice of which of the four boxes to use to record each training or development activity is a personal choice, but could help you ensure that you can demonstrate a wide range of development.

If you have any problems with this process or you encounter system issues in relation to the Portfolio of Activity before the APR forms are released, please contact the LDC Development Team at pgro@liverpool.ac.uk.

Peers for PhDs coffee morning

drinking with friends

10-12am 27th of April

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peers-for-phds-event-semester-2-catch-up-coffee-morning-tickets-151775828589

Invite from the Peers for PhD team:

Next Tuesday (the 27th of April) from 10-12am, Peers for PhDs are hosting a Semester 2 Check in coffee morning where we can catch up and have an informal chat about how we are all doing over a cup of tea or coffee. Spring is a great time to check in with goals and plans, refocus and make sure we’re looking after ourselves. Join us for this coffee morning with your favourite beverage, check in with your peers and let us know how your research is going!

Please register via the link above, and the link to the zoom meeting will be sent out on the day

All PhD students at the University of Liverpool are invited to join the conversation. Please register in advance using your university email.

You can be added to the mailing list to hear about future events or ask questions by contacting ella.fox-widdows@liverpool.ac.uk

Job searching in (or after) a pandemic?


For those near completion and now in the process of job searching, the challenges of the pandemic can make this process more challenging than before.  This means that planning ahead and making essential preparation is particularly important,, as highlighted in a recent article from jobs.ac.uk, ‘Getting your post-PhD job during COVID-19‘.

Our upcoming programme includes a number of online workshops, delivered by our Careers Consultant, Sally Beyer,  to support your career preparation, including two workshops to help your mental preparation and mind-set:

22 April09:30 – 12:00The Emotionally Intelligent Researcher
20 May09:30 – 12:00Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

For those close to PhD completion, and for whom career preparation is urgent, we still have places on the next Career boot-camp

06 May09:30 – 12:00PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp

The programme includes further career-focussed workshops for those at all stages of their PhD:

15 April09:30 – 12:00Shining at Interview
13 May09:30 – 12:00Effective Career Networking
10 June09:30 – 12:00Creating Effective Job Applications

Past feedback: From the Career-Wise Researcher  Workshop:

“A great opportunity to really think about your personal and career goals and consider the steps you can take to improve your chances of success”

“Good for identifying your inspiration, reflection on what you want from your career and a reminder of why you signed up for a PhD in the first place”

Further ways to prepare for the future

If you are still far from completion you will have more time for career preparation, and time to review your interests and assess the activities that you should be engaging in now to further those interests. We have a new workshop series, based in an engaging game format,  to  consider how the ingenuity, perseverance and opportunity can help you reach your desired ambitions:

25th May – 8th June Star Researcher”:Team Missions to Help You Make Progress Now

If you are looking at other activities to supplement the experience in your PhD, you might also consider the opportunities to teach your research area in local schools through the Brilliant Club:

20-Apr13:00 – 15:00Webinar: The Brilliant Club & PhD Tutor Opportunities in the Scholars Programme

Peers for PhDs Event: Having fun outside of PhD work

30th March at 5-6:30pm

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peers-for-phds-event-having-fun-outside-of-phd-work-tickets-145651883705

Information from the Peers for PhD team:

In this session we’ll be discussing tips and methods in ways we wind down and enjoy our free time outside of research! Sharing resources, routes to go on walks, and all things we enjoy! This will be an informal discussion where we can share our hobbies and remind ourselves why it’s important to maintain a good-work life balance and be happy outside of our PhDs.

All PhD students at the University of Liverpool are invited to join the conversation.

Peers for PhDs is a student-led project for people undertaking PhDs at the University of Liverpool. We aim to support wellbeing by providing more opportunities for postgraduate researchers from across the university to meet, share practical solutions to common challenges and support each through the ups and downs of the PhD. You can be added to the mailing list to hear about future events or ask questions by contacting ella.fox-widdows@liverpool.ac.uk

LDC Development Programme: April – June 2021

We have opened booking for most of the remaining events for this academic year on March 5th. These cover a range of subjects and include some exciting events new to the programme. The workshops are arranged under the following headings:

NB you will need to register for each workshop in the lists below separately.
Places are still very limited – please only book if you can attend!

Also, if anyone is interested in the opportunities to teach your research area in local schools and hear about the work of the Brilliant Club, they are offering an upcoming webinar:

20-Apr13:00 – 15:00Webinar: The Brilliant Club & PhD Tutor Opportunities in the Scholars Programme

Workshops to develop your writing

The upcoming programme includes a range of workshops to help you improve your writing techniques including two new series of workshops provided by Dr Matt Lane, who delivered our ‘From Surviving to Thriving’ series.
Places on all workshops are limited so we ask that you only book on one of the following three workshop series, to allow others the opportunities (Thank you!)

1. Dr Matt Lane’s first workshop is aimed at those in their first year and are writing their Literature review or their First year report:

28-Apr09:30 – 12:30Writing the First Year: The Literature Review and First Year Report

2. Dr Matt Lane will also deliver a further series for those in their second year or beyond and are looking to advance their writing skills for research publications or their thesis:

04-May09:30 – 12:30The Foundations of Academic Writing, Part 1 – Laying the Foundation
11-May09:30 – 12:30The Foundations of Academic Writing, Part 2 – Effective Drafting
18-May09:30 – 12:30The Foundations of Academic Writing, Part 3 – Effective Editing

3. In addition, we are also offering three shorter webinars, delivered by Dr Shirley Cooper and based on the research writing webinars provided in previous years.:

14-Apr13:00 – 15:00Webinar: Developing Writing Techniques – Finding Motivation
21-Apr13:00 – 15:00 Webinar: Developing Writing Techniques – The Academic Document 
28-Apr13:00 – 15:00 Webinar: Developing Writing Techniques – The Editing Process

Research challenges and productivity

These remain challenging times and the following workshops aim to support you overcome general challenges as a researcher:

22-Apr09:30 – 12:00The Emotionally Intelligent Researcher
19-May13:00 – 15:15Surviving the PhD – The Middle Years
09-Jun09:30 – 11:30Webinar: Get Unstuck – Procrastination Busting Techniques
23 Jun09:30 – 11:30 Taking Charge of Your Time: Avoid Drifting

The following series from the Company of Mind will also help you gain control:

13-Apr10:00 – 12:30Getting Organised for Research (and Life) 1, Tasks that Plague our Minds
20-Apr10:00 – 12:30Getting Organised for Research (and Life) 2, Research Literature and Information
27-Apr10:00 – 12:30Getting Organised for Research (and Life) 3, Get Control of Life’s Projects

Finally it is a pleasure to welcome Dr Fraser Robertson of Fistral Training & Consultancy for a repeats of the Project management workshops:

7 May09:30 – 11:30 Introduction to Project Planning, Part 1: Establishing Foundations
14 May09:30 – 11:30Introduction to Project Planning, Part 2: Scoping the Project
21 May09:30 – 11:30Introduction to Project Planning, Part 3: Creating the Plan

Careers Preparation

The following workshops, delivered by our Careers consultant Sally Beyer, will help those preparing for a career at all stages of the PhD:

15-Apr09:30 – 12:00Shining at Interview
06-May09:30 – 12:00PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp
13-May09:30 – 12:00Effective Career Networking
20-May09:30 – 12:00Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
10-Jun09:30 – 12:00Creating Effective Job Applications

Details still to come:

We expect to continue our online writing retreats over the summer period. New dates will be share with all who have already signed up to the existing list for these retreats on the link:

Online Writing Retreats

New Series – We have now released details of a further series of team-based workshops by the Company of Mind (Dr Adrian West)., which are spread over the three dates: 25th May, 1st June and 8th June.

“Star Researcher”:Team Missions to Help You Make Progress Now

A full up-to-date list of all events is available on our programme timetable.

Peers for PhDs Event – Balancing PhD work with other responsibilities

25th of February – 12-2pm

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/141168529873

Information from the Peers for PhD team:

In this session we’ll be discussing tips and experience of undergoing a PhD whilst having responsibilities outside of research time. This includes caring responsibilities, part-time or full-time work, or other commitments and will  be an open informal discussion with like-minded peers on the best approaches to manage time and the specific struggles of students who have similar responsibilities.

All PhD students at the University of Liverpool are invited to join the conversation.

Peers for PhDs is a student-led project for people undertaking PhDs at the University of Liverpool. We aim to support wellbeing by providing more opportunities for postgraduate researchers from across the university to meet, share practical solutions to common challenges and support each through the ups and downs of the PhD. You can be added to the mailing list to hear about future events or ask questions by contacting ella.fox-widdows@liverpool.ac.uk