Our Programme for June is open for registration!

We have a range of new sessions on offer for the coming weeks, covering topics in project planning, working with other people and career planning. Further details are provided on the links below.

Webinars providing an ‘Introduction to Project Planning

These two hour sessions are provided in Zoom by Fistral Training and Consultancy and now collectively replace the full day face to face workshop originally planned, ‘Introduction to Project Management’.

01 June 14:00 – 16:00 1. Establishing foundations
08 June 14:00 – 16:00 2. Scoping the project
15 June 14:00 – 16:00 3. Creating the plan

Online resources: Fistral also provide a series of short videos focussing on topics around project management, which free to view by all: Fistral Training ‘Exspressos videos’

Webinars on ‘Influencing without authority’

Delivered by Fistral training these two hour sessions present a mixture of informative advice supplemented by online discussions.The sessions below may be attended as a series or you may book on a single individual session.

03 June 14:00 – 16:00 1 – Mobilising your personal power
10 June 14:00 – 16:00 2 – Assertive communication 
17 June 14:00 – 16:00 3 – Making your case

Online careers-related workshops

These two hour online workshops, presented by our careers consultant, Sally Beyer, will be delivered in Zoom and will provide a mixture of advice and discussions. For further information, please follow the links below:

04 June  10:00 – 11:30 Using Linkedln to Manage Your Career
11 June  10:00 – 11:30 PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp (for final year PGRs)
25 June  10:00 – 11:30 The Career Wise Researcher (for pre-final year PGRs)
02 July  10:00 – 11:30  Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Sally will remain on-hand for a half hour at the end of each session to answer any individual questions.

Writing Retreats

Our morning writing sessions will also continue on Tuesday mornings in June, on the 2nd 9th , 16th, 23rd and 30th. For further details see the registration form below to add your name to our email list to receive reminders of upcoming dates. (NB you only need complete this form once!)

Online Writing Retreats

Getting your Toolbox data ready for the Annual Progress Reports

The APR forms will be released on Monday 1st June!

Your PGR Portfolio of Activity and the Record of Supervisory meetings must be up to date by the 31st May for inclusion in this year’s APR form.

You are recommended to review your progress over the last year before this data is copied into the Annual Progress Report (APR) forms. Whilst the period prior to lock-down may now seem distant, it remains important to maintain a full record for the last academic year. 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 APR forms.

Below, we provide further information to help you complete the PGR Portfolio of Activity and the Record of Supervisory meetings before the records are added to the APR form. 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

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.

Please ensure that your Record of Supervisory meetings is up to date before the end of May. 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 have recorded meetings during periods of suspension.

Preparing your PGR Portfolio of Activity for the APR

The PGR Portfolio of Activity is your record of your achievements over the last year. You might 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 of course include any online activities that you have engaged in recently. In fact you can include  other activities that supplement your research and support your long-term development.

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)

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 2019 to the end of May 2020.
  • 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 this is 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 2019-20 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, please contact the LDC Development Team at pgro@liverpool.ac.uk.

Peers for PhDs: Surviving the PhD AND Covid-19

It’s week 6 of lockdown – it’s been six weeks since we left our university buildings, heads filled with disbelief and arms piled high with papers. For many PhD students, carefully planned research timelines have been scrapped. Junior researchers are in limbo, wondering how far their plans will need to adapt to this ‘new normal’, wishing things could go back to the way they were before. Although disruption has been experienced at all levels of academia, PhD students are so invested in just their one project – it’s understandable to feel that lockdown has really rocked the boat. 

As Peers for PhDs project leaders, we wanted to collect some tips for managing this time. These build on time and project management tools to help you make some progress if you are stuck. But it’s important that you look after yourself before your project – if you are struggling, speak to someone, whether your supervisor, IPAP reviewers, fellow PhD students or friends and family. We’ve included some advice on work-life balance and recognising stress, and hope you find the suggestions useful. 

Peers for PhDs is a student-led group to support the wellbeing of PhD students. We usually have regular group meetings, discussing a different theme each month as chosen by the group members. Recently we’ve moved onto zoom, and we’re meeting more often to allow more opportunities for PhD students to meet each other during this strange time. All postgraduate research students are welcome, so if you would like to join Peers for PhDs please email one of the project leaders (details below) to be added to the mailing list. 

 Our top 10 tips… 

 1. Build a comfortable working environment

First things first, are you working in a suitable environment? Is there anything that you can do to make it better? A tidy desk, an appropriate office chair, a scented candle – little touches can make all the difference to the feel of your work. If you can separate your workspace from the rest of your home, that’s even better.

2. Set your working hours

Your plan can include non-negotiable core focus hours and some fun or treats. I find I’m more likely to stick to my plans if there are perks as well as work in the schedule. Define your ‘off-time’ – you’re not expected to be on call continuously – and consider what notifications you might want to turn off over the weekend.

3. Prioritisation

To do lists are your friends, but keep them manageable – i.e. what do you have to do this month? If you’re not sure, try using the Eisenhower matrix to identify your urgent, important tasks and break down large work into smaller chunks.

5. Keep a record 

It can be helpful to record what you are doing each week, and you can archive these to look back and see how much you have done over the passing weeks. You might want to record one good thing each day, or note how you’re feeling, as a way of checking in with yourself too.

5. Let yourself off the hook

The productivity pressure is real! Avoid comparing yourself to imaginary others. Everyone has a different way of responding to these circumstances, they really are unprecedented, so it’s okay if all you’re doing right now is surviving. Don’t put more pressure on yourself than there already is.

6. Approachable goals 

It’s too easy, throughout the PhD, to set ourselves unattainable productivity goals and then beat ourselves up when we don’t manage it. Scale back your expectations – try to take baby steps in the right direction rather than a leap towards the finishing line!  

7. Pomodoro technique

Set a limited time for a task you’ve been struggling to do and set a timer – eg. 25 minutes. It’s an old trick but it’s a surprisingly effective way to make progress.

8. Connect with others 

Keep in contact with people, whether this is your supervisor, peers, friends, family, neighbours. Having a chat to break up the day is great for productivity and keeping connecting is really important for your mental health. Peers for PhDs has just started coffee mornings, which is an opportunity to meet other PhD students once a week.

9. Use technology 

There are so many productivity apps and hacks around – searching through them becomes procrastination in itself! I would recommend Mindful Browsing, which gives you gentle nudges away from distracting websites. There might be a new technical skill you’d like to learn or understand, and haven’t had time before.

10. Take a screen break

It’s important – not just for our eyesight – that we take some time away from the screens too. Can you mark some separation between work, play and sleep? Taking a whole day away from technology is an interesting challenge at the moment – but you might be surprised at the difference it makes.

Peers for PhDs is running regular coffee mornings each week. It’s a great start to the day and a relaxed way to meet people who understand the stresses of the PhD. You can join the mailing list or ask questions by emailing one of the project leaders:

Natasha Bradley natasha.bradley@liverpool.ac.uk 
Ella Fox-Widdows ella.fox-widdows@liverpool.ac.uk  
Mohamed Hammad mohamed.hammad@liverpool.ac.uk

Dates of next Peers for PhDs meeting: 

  • Tuesday 5th May: 9:00 am
  • Thursday, 14 May: 10:00 am
  • Tuesday, 19 May: 9:00 am
  • Thursday, 28 May: 10:00 am
  • Tuesday, 2 June: 9:00 am

The LDC Development team have recently announced their programme for May, continuing the Writing retreats and introducing interactive Mindfulness sessions.

Natasha, Ella and Mohamed