LDC Development Support for PhD researchers during Covid19

How solid are your plans for coping with the coming period of isolation due to COVID19? Are you confident of continuing with PhD work? What support would you like to receive from LDC Development over the coming period?

The University has recently announced the cancellation of all face to face workshops as part of the University’s response to COVID-19. In consequence, all face-to-face workshops in the LDC development programme are cancelled for the remainder of the Academic year.

Working at home for long periods can be a challenge, especially for those students who are used working on campus. The University encourages students to use Microsoft Teams to maintain formal meetings. Social contacts with peers and colleagues should be maintained online, too, to help us all retain the motivation and general well-being. Have you already arranged your support system? We would love to hear from you about different approaches, and to discuss them with other researchers, enabling everybody to stay engaged.

We are currently looking at how we can enhance our online programme. We would be very interested to hear your thoughts too! What kind of online programme would you like to see? Are there any topics we could add to our programme that would ensure further skills development? Please do get in touch and let us know what we can do to support you in this period.

Meanwhile, we are making significant changes to our programme as an immediate response to COVID-19 situation, which will include a greater range of online sessions as outlined below:

  1. Discussion-based webinars.

Webinar: Managing your PhD work during Covid-19’ 31 March 2020 12:30-13:30

This is a first in a series of webinars on maintaining research activities and social engagement throughout this unusual period. The focus will be on sharing problems and finding solutions. The idea is to move beyond just a presentation format and to encourage wider participation. There will be ample opportunities to ask questions and to share and discuss each other’s needs and experiences.

The webinars in this series will always take place around lunchtime, to give you enough time in the morning to focus on work but also to encourage you to take a well-deserved break!

2. Online careers events

Webinar: Developing effective CVs and applications 2 April 13:30 – 14:30

We are replacing the Workshop on Career Networking on the 26th March with a longer version of the webinar ‘Promoting yourself through networking’ and this will include additional exercises. The presenter, Sally Beyer is exploring options to provide additional online advice on career. More details will be announced soon.

3. Further online workshops

Many of our external presenters are offering to produce online versions to replace the longer workshops in our timetable for this summer that will no longer take place. We hope to announce further details soon.

4. Online writing retreats

Online Mini Writing Retreat 1 April 2020 09:45 – 12:00

During the period of Covid-19, we are moving our meeting online. We still hope that, by setting out specific and protected time for writing, the session can provide structure to your working day and a degree of community support. Please register for further details.

5. Online presentations

Many of you will be missing out on essential opportunities to give early presentations. Perhaps you were hoping to give a first talk at the ‘Your Voice’ PGR conference? The online environment is different, but we may be able to help you to deliver your talk, with accompanying slides and possibly an audience! Don’t forget that some people have to deliver their conference presentations online and that some job interviews are also done online.

We are looking to offer two forms of events:

  1. Practice session – similarly to ‘Academic Presentation’ workshops, the aim would be to give each participant 5 minutes to present their research. After the presentation, the participant would receive friendly comments on the communication, slides, voice etc. 2.
  2. Lunchtime short conferences with each talk lasts 10-15 minutes followed by questions from audience (other participants).

We understand that many conferences have been cancelled, therefore, if you have already prepared your presentation or paper maybe this is a good opportunity to share it. We are also exploring the possibility of organising mini-online conferences for different Faculties, or different field should there be wider interest. If you were wondering about your friends’ research maybe this is the right time to encourage them to apply and share their findings with you and others.

For these sessions you need to be able to access your microphone and send us your slides in advance. The session could be recorded, but with the recordings shared privately.

If you are interested in either of the above options, please email me, Shirley Cooper, shirley.cooper@liverpool.ac.uk with your proposed talk and any questions (NB Please use your University email as I need to know who you are!)

More details about all the proposed activities will be available soon. But should you have more questions please get in touch.

Similarly, should you have any other ideas or needs, please let us know! We can provide further support and discuss your ideas! Follow us on twitter, read our blog and keep an eye on our webpage (to be updated soon). All changes and new activities will be announced through these channels.

Shirley Cooper, shirley.cooper@liverpool.ac.uk

PGRs and Supervisors – what makes a good relationship?

Do you feel that personal disagreements between you and your supervisor are hampering your research? Do you want to improve your working relationship with your supervisor?

Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 25 March 2020 12:30 – 13:30      

A good relationship between postgraduate researchers and their supervisors is widely agreed to improve both the quality of the research and the student’s ultimate career prospects. Recent Postgraduate Research Survey 2019 Results confirm that that supervision is a top driver of PGR satisfaction. A good working relationship can generate long-lasting benefits for both the PhD researcher and supervisor. Hence, PhD students should review their relationship with the supervisor from time to time and consider if it evolving in the right direction.

How can you improve the chances of building a good relationship with your supervisor? Here are some advises and tips that you might wish to consider:

  • Check the institutional PGR  Code of Practice to see how the University defines the role of student and the role of supervisor. This formal document provides advice on the needs of the student, the skills required in supervision and the appropriate behaviour expected. For example, the supervisor is expected to provide feedback, but, the feedback should be delivered in ‘a constructive and supportive way’ (PGR Code of Practice, Appendix II – Policy on Research Student Supervision) Know your rights, but don’t forget responsibilities! 
  • Talk to your peers and try to find out how they manage their relationship with the supervisor. Try to establish what appropriate relationship means, what is a good practice, and how they have overcome any difficulties in the working relationship. Remember, it all depends on personalities, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve your relationship with the supervisor. 
  • Get to know your supervisor and allow the supervisor to get to know you, as a person! It is very important you both understand each other’s habits and personal preferences. Honest communication is vital for any relationship, and particularly in a close working relationship.

Webinars and workshops

There is a scheduled webinar on the relationship with the supervisor. Do apply and join us to discuss the challenges of the relationship and appropriate responses. 

Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 25 March 2020 12:30 – 13:30      

Further support: there are several related texts available, and you might consider the following:

The opinions expressed here are their own, but you may find ideas that can be applied to your own experience.

The LDC Development Team has developed a short online support page, with advice on the local support available.

Mate Subašić and Shirley Cooper

LDC Development Team

Peers for PhDs: Orientation and Planning session 29th January

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The Peers for PhDs group will have their first meeting of 2020 on January 29th.

Date & Time Wednesday 29th January 5:30 -7:30 pm 
Venue: Taylor Room (Sydney Jones Library)
Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peers-for-phd-orientation-and-planning-tickets-89740743981

‘January is a time for new beginnings, setting goals and reorienting ourselves to what we want to achieve, but it also brings anxiety about what’s ahead over the next year. Many PhD students can feel overwhelmed and lost throughout their projects, but it can be useful to reflect on the progress you’ve made and talk with your peers to find the motivation to focus on your goals and aims for this year.’

‘For this session we will get together and discuss as a group:
–       How to get through tough times when we feel lost.
–       Our goals and aims for the following year.
–       Tips on planning through the different stages of the PhD.
–       How to feel confident with your progress and how to refocus/reorientation’

”In this session, we will have some refreshments and also discuss these issues, as well as asking your opinion for further topics that Peers for PhDs could cover to make sure your voices are heard and your worries and questions are discussed in an informal and friendly space.’

Further sessions for 2020

The Peers for PhDs team have planned the following further meets for 2020:

27th Feb  Thursday  Imposter Syndrome 
26th March Thursday  Supervisory & Other Working Relationships in the PhD
30th April  Thursday  Wellbeing, mental health and sleep hygiene
28th May  Thursday  Networking, communication and negotiation 
25th June  Thursday  Stress relief with mindfulness

All take place in the Taylor Room in the Sydney Jones Library.
Watch out for the News announcements for details and registration.

Peers for PhDs is a student-led project aiming to improve PGR wellbeing at the university. We’re a welcoming and supportive group that hosts monthly meetings and regular social events with the support from Liverpool

Wishing you a stress-free break – with support in Liverpool for those who need it

We hope all post-graduate researchers can take a well-earned break at this time of year!

While many of you may be able to celebrate with friends or family, we realise that some may be mainly alone in Liverpool through circumstance or by choice. This can be a particularly lonely time of year. However, support is still available within the University and external services over this holiday period.

The link below lists recommended support if you have any health or wellbeing difficulties, or are concerned for a friend, together with a list of closure dates of  all university services :
https://student.liverpool.ac.uk/christmas-opening-hours

28 Dec 11- 2pm

On Saturday 28th December, 11am-2pm, Student services are hosting an event with cake and coffee, open to all students staying in Liverpool over the holidays.

Peers for PhDs – November session: First Year Woes

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Tue, November 26, 2019 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM GMT

Please register to help the group plan the session

Eventbrite registration



Peers for PhDs is a student-led project offering peer support opportunities for PhD students.

Peers for PhDs aims to improve the wellbeing of PhD students by hosting regular group meetings and social events, so that postgraduate research students can support each other through the challenges of the PhD journey. It is a friendly and welcoming group, open to all current PhD students at the University of Liverpool.

The theme of this upcoming session is ‘First Year Woes’. We will focus on group discussion and collaborative problem-solving to address some common challenges in the early phases of the PhD. Students in their second year and beyond are still encouraged to come – we are sure that you will have valuable experiences and advice about the PhD to share with first year colleagues.

In preparation, all first years are asked to think about what their three biggest PhD concerns are right now, and non-first years asked to think back to their three biggest challenges in the first twelve months and how they were overcome.

Refreshments will be provided. Please register on Eventbrite.

Career preparation – for all stages of the PhD

Are you wondering what career preparation you can do early in the PhD while keeping your career options open?

Or are you in the later stages of the PhD, and looking for advice to prepare for upcoming applications?

At the start of a three or more year research degree it is easy to feel that you have plenty of time to consider your choice of future career. In fact, you can take many actions early on whilst still keeping your careers options open. You have time to research information on potential choices and assess your personal preferences. You can also focus on your professional development, and develop skills within your research that will also promote your ongoing career prospects. This form of career planning is often referred to as ‘Planned Happenstance’, a career model that fits quite well with many academic careers. The aim is to focus on activities that motivate you and so to build a CV that will support you in a career that matches your preferences. To find out more see our online Career management resources.

The LDC Development programme provides workshops and webinars to help you at all stages of your career preparation, from more general career planning, to preparing for actual applications. We also offer further sessions to help you prepare emotionally for moving into your career after the PhD. In 2020, we will also offer a session to help you manage ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Our upcoming sessions are as follows:

Career planning and long-term preparation

Careers – The Career Wise Researcher07 Nov09:15 – 12:30
Careers – Effective Career Networking14 Nov09:15 – 12:30
Webinar: Using LinkedIn to manage your career21 Nov13:30 – 14:30
Webinar: Promoting yourself through networking5 Dec13:30 – 14:30

Preparing for applications

Careers – Shining at Interview 21 Nov09:15 – 12:30
Careers – Get that Academic job!28 Nov09:15 – 12:30

Managing yourself

The Emotionally Intelligent Researcher05 Dec09:15 – 12:30

You can find additional information in our career management online resources.

Our Development Programme for 2019-20

New events, new themes and a new teaching placement scheme

We, in the Liverpool Doctoral College Development team, have now launched our programme for the coming academic year, 2019-20. The workshops and webinars offered in Autumn are now open for registration and a full list of dates for our core programme for the year, organised by our programme themes, can be downloaded below.

Themes display

Programme timetable for Autumn 2019, including links for registration [web link]
LDC Development Programme 2019-2020 [PDF]

Programme themes: A fuller introduction to all our programme themes can be found on our website together with a short video introduction to each theme. This year we have made a slight change to our themes, to separate out the topics of Writing, Presentation and Productivity, which we believe are important topics for the development of all postgraduate researchers.

New sessions: We have several new workshops and webinars in our programme for the coming year, which include:

Regional workshops – Liverpool are part of a regional group of researcher development partners, which have agreed to openly share selected programme sessions.  There are two upcoming workshops offered by LJMU (registration not yet open) which University of Liverpool PGRs may attend.

  • ‘How to be Shy or introverted in academia’ – Thu 5 December, 2-3pm
  • ‘How to write well: some tips for PGRs’ – Wed 22 January, 2-3pm

Brilliant Club: For 2019- 2020, the LDC have an agreement with the Brilliant Club to provide five paid placements for PhD researchers. Under this scheme you would deliver lessons relating to their own research area in local schools, supporting pupils to develop the academic skills, knowledge and confidence needed to progress to highly-selective universities.

To find out more, see the website information on our Careers Theme page or join Webinar: The Brilliant Club: meaningful, paid teaching experience for PhDs at 12:30 on the 13 Nov.

And now,

So what’s your development plan for 2019-20?

PhD students invited to Summer Coffee Socials

All PhD students are invited for coffee and a chat at 92 degrees, Myrtle Street (opposite Vine Court) on:

  • Tuesday 6th August  – 1pm
  • Thursday 15th August  – 3pm
  • Monday 26th August – 1pm

                ‘Peers for PhDs’ aims to connect PhD students from across the university so that we can support each other through the ups and downs of postgraduate research. Campus can seem eerily quiet this time of year, so we’re hosting an informal series of Summer Coffee Socials instead of our usual monthly group meeting. This is open to any PhD student wanting to take a break, meet others and relax over a hot drink. If you’re new to Peers for PhDs, it’s the perfect way to get involved.

A group of PhD students began planning Peers for PhDs last Summer, and we held our launch event in October 2018. We typically meet monthly and discuss a different theme each time, as suggested by the group’s members. We’ve grown to more than forty member and have covered a range of topics including ‘First Year Woes’, ‘Lunchtime Destress’, ‘Protecting Your Mental Health’ and ‘Improving the Supervisory Relationship’. Research into the wellbeing of PhD students suggests that it is common for PhD students to lack opportunities to connect with others, leading to loneliness and increased stress. Social connections can often feel side-lined in a competitive academic environment, but we can all benefit from helping each other and making some new connections.

 You can join the Peers for PhDs mailing list by emailing hsrheah@liverpool.ac.uk and find the ‘Peers for PhDs’ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/LivuniPGRsupportgroup

Posted by Shirley Cooper on behalf of Natasha Bradley, PGR Support Group.

Looking to the future – or do you need to overcome your Imposter Syndrome first?

Do you need help making academic applications?
Do you urgently need support with your career thinking and planning ?
Are you constantly struggling with self-doubt?

We have three events coming up that can help you prepare for your future career, in research or otherwise, including one last event offering proven techniques to help those suffering from Imposter syndrome.

PGR ‘Career Ready’ Boot Camp  13-Jun      09:15 – 16:00

Delivered by Sally Beyer, this one-day interactive workshop is for those in the final year before completion to help you make  considered choices about your next steps, provide a structured process to identify personal career goals and to maximise your chances of career success.

“Great session for thinking about career goals and for putting in place a plan of action for career planning/preparation.”
“An engaging workshop to get you thinking about your career options. Very thorough and really helpful!”
‘A ‘Must Attend’.’          
Participants March 2019

Get that Academic Job!                                27-Jun      09:15 – 12:30

Delivered by Sharon Nicholson, this workshop will help you enhance your chances of success in your academic applications. The workshop will help you recognise what is required in academic applications and  provides practical tools to help you promote yourself and present your research, face to face and on paper.

This was eye opening – necessary for preparation and making a good application/interview”.
“Very useful & stimulating. A nice environment to work and learn in and share ideas”.  
Past participants.

Pushing Beyond Imposter Syndrome              04-Jul       09:15 – 12:30

Delivered by Sally Beyer, this workshop will help those suffering from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ through providing proven techniques to help you understand your issues and identifying ways to change your approach.

In a safe and supportive environment, we will consider what imposter syndrome actually is, where it comes from and which groups of people are more likely to suffer from it. Along with identifying how it emerges, you will be introduced to life enhancing techniques that help you to respond to, and progress beyond, your imposter experiences.