A while ago, some of the other PhD student’s ad I applied for some funding form our Research and Innovation Department which aimed to help improved skills of researchers. Sean, Cedric, Andreas and I applied to create and run a one day launch event of a workshop series we had in mind. Our funding proposal comprised an outline of our activity and proposed timetable as well as justification of why we wanted this event to be carried out. We also had to explain how our event related to the Researcher Development Framework, a told used by PhD students in their own training and development as a researcher. I think creating and writing a research finding proposal is an important skill for doctoral students and we have had the opportunity to improve our skills in this area from planning and organising this event.
We were successful in our funding bid and were awarded a grant to officially plan and deliver our event and here is a quick run-down of how that planning and delivery went. The planning stages were somewhat difficult as we had to coordinate everything as a group. We had to ensure that the practical things were done – such as booking rooms, ordering lunch and setting up IT equipment but we also had to ensure our event was planned and advertised accordingly. We worked together as a team, each of us taking on roles and responsibilities as part of that team. We all gave feedback to each other on elements that were going public and we all made sure we contributed fairly to the event so that nothing was left untouched. I think this was one of the most important parts of making sure the event went well and making sure that everything was done. If we had fought or argued continuously then we probably would have batted heads and the whole thing could have gone down the drain.
The running of the day was rather smooth and there was no problems on the day at all. You can see that we had a variety of speakers on our programme here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9tqD58MuafTNERkRjY2RFRkWnM
We started off with a quick introduction of what was to come and why we were here. The purpose of the event was to launch a workshop series so we wanted to give students a flavour of what was to come but also encourage them to volunteer to share their skills with students for the series that we are planning to carry out in the future. I think we did just that!
Our first speaker was Dr Laura Muir form Edinburgh Napier and she talked to the students about research design. Now research design is really important as it’s often the first things students need to think about when planning research and sometimes (as in my case) we forget this until part way through. Laura’s talk was welcomed with lots of questions about research philosophies, methods, design and practicalities of these as well as questions about where more information could be sought. You can tell by the information on twitter feeds here, here, here, here, and here that many people tweeted about the event and I would like to thank everyone did so to promote the event worldwide.
Our second speaker was Professor Bill Buchanan OBE who talked about data analysis. This focused a lot on how to present data and analyse data properly, and focused on the use of Python as this is where Bill’s experience lies. Bill also used students as examples of data and asked students to fill in question polls about data analysis motivation, what makes a PhD and important factors in gaining a PhD to demonstrate the use of data analysis but also bring home the fact that a PhD is completely worth it and thee is a reasons for us being here too!
Our third speaker was Professor Adrienne Muir for Robert Gordon University who kindly made a 6 hour round trip to talk to our students about research ethics. Adrienne made an excellent talk about how ethics should be considered as part of research in general and held discussions on how ethical considerations should be made. Adrienne spoke form the heart as she has not only researched legal and ethical issues but she has also supervised students too. Adrienne touched upon some of the things Laura Muir talked about in research design and took this one step further to help students think of ethical implications in research carried out and expressed in the media. Students were then asked to think about ethical implications in their own research and whether things such as values, should be considered when exploring which direction to take.
Our final speaker of the day was Dr Laura Jenkins form Strathclyde University and she had lots of statistics to talk about! Laura has a vast amount of experience in teaching research methods and statistics to students so we felt her expertise was perfect to help students understand consideration they need to make when thinking of statistics in their own research. Laura talked about the different ways data can be presented and then explained how often, just explaining data in a descriptive way may not be the most appropriate thing to do (especially of you are looking at patterns in data to support a research question). She then spoke about the different kind of statistical tests that can be carried out and emphasised the importance of choosing tests to suit the data type, research aims and research questions created. Laura has only recently completed her own PhD research (only last year!) so she was fully equipped to answer the questions about statistical type and data variation which she had to consider in her own quantitative research.
For all of the talks, the speakers and content were received well. We had a little panic early morning thinking out audience would be a grand total of 5 but soon realised how popular the talks were going to be and had to get more seats for other rooms and add them to our set. We were very impressed at how interactive all sessions were and would like to thank the students for coming along and participating… and asking lots of questions for our speakers to get involved in!
As a team, we would also like to thank all of our speakers of taking time out of their days to present to our students and we would welcome them back anytime that would like to make a return. We would like to thanks our Research and Innovation Department who held the Researcher Development Fund 2017/18 competition to which we bid for and won the funding, and to all of the other people who helped us out on the day (catering, IT, facilities) as we could have not held this event without your help.