Bitesize Workshops for Researchers

We run a series of ‘bitesize’ workshops for Doctoral Researchers and Research staff:

Bitesize: Pitch Perfect: Public Speaking, Networking and Engagingimages

Friday 9th October 2015
9.30 – 12.30
Resource Room, IAD, 7 Bristo Square

This workshop will cover various situations that academics are faced with regularly with regards to verbal interaction. We will cover delivery of oral presentations, how to get the most from your poster session at a conference, how to pitch your research and how to network effectively. Participants will be introduced to various techniques that they can use and adapt for a variety of situations; how do you respond to difficult questions? How do you turn a conversation to your advantage? How do you effectively engage with senior academics?

More information and booking:

Bitesize: Financial Skills Training

Friday 23rd October 2015
09.30 – 11.30
Resource Room, IAD, 7 Bristo Square

This workshop is designed to give Researchers an overview of the financial system available in the University e.g. our expenses management system, eTime – timesheet recording system, WebFirst – Financial Reporting system, eFinancials and eITs for internal ordering and billing. The workshop will also provide an overview of the University’s financial coding structure and how you can interact with Finance to get payments made to individuals or suppliers. This workshop is aimed at research staff and PhD students to give an overview of the systems and support available to help them with their research.

More information and booking:

Bitesize: Conference and Event Organising

Friday 6th November 2015
9.30 – 13.00
LT5, IAD, 7 Bristo Square

This workshop is designed specifically for staff and students who are interested in planning events, workshops or conferences. Organising a conference gives researchers the opportunity to boost their profile, develop new skills and to meet other academics in their field.

More information and booking:

Bitesize: An Introduction to Social Media Platforms

Wednesday 27th January 2016
9.30 – 11.00
1.09 Main Library

This introductory session provides an overview of social media, including the popular social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, blogs, and professional/research sites, such as LinkedIn and; time-saving platforms for scheduling information (e.g. tweetdeck); the benefits of using social media; as well as an opportunity to ask questions and hear about other workshops and resources.

More information and booking:

Bitesize: Designing Effective Slides

Tuesday 16th February 2016
13.30 – 16.30
1.07 Main Library

Most of us use slides in our presentations, whether these are for short departmental meetings or major presentations at international conferences. However, one of the commonest features of all presentations is poor slide design.

Slides are visual aids to help our audience understand and follow what we are saying. Unfortunately, the slides presenters use are often overcrowded, difficult to see and badly designed. As visual aids they fail both visually and as aids for the audience.

More information and booking:

For information on all of our workshops please see here


Checklist for Academics and Researchers – Online Presence

Academics and researchers often want to disseminate research findings, promote publications, engage with others in the field, and highlight conferences (and more) but where do you start?

Creating an effective online presence can be challenging. The first step is to create a strategy and identify 1) who your audience is likely to be, 2) what you want to tell your audience, 3) what the best platform is 4) and how you will evaluate the effectiveness.

What else do you need to do? This checklist highlights a few considerations:

Creating an effective online presence (checklist)

  • Map out who your audience(s) are, what your purpose is, the best platform(s) and how you are going to evaluate the impact
  • Set goals (measurements for impact)
  • Update PURE (if applicable)DF_cmyk_maxquality
  • Get an ORCID ID
  • Brand You: name, image, updated profile(s) for all online presences
  • Delete old/unwanted online presences
  • Link profiles together (if appropriate)
  • Personal vs professional – make it clear!
  • Appropriate images (creative commons/copyright)
  • Add details to your email signature
  • Do you need a page to promote your presences – School website?
  • Evaluate your online presence and modify/update where needed
  • Consider your digital footprint and create an effective online presence

Further information, workshops and resources can be found on the Digital Footprint Service website

International COMPASS Programme 2015 – 2016

COMPASS Programme Outline

The international COMPASS programme is a series of courses and events for international research postgraduates studying in Scotland.

compassThe programme aims to provide:

  • The opportunity to socialise, network and learn about Scotland
  • The opportunity to visit other parts of Scotland.
  • Transferable skills training
  • Professional and career information and advice

We have several workshops and an event taking place this semester.

COMPASS Induction Event – Wednesday 14th October 2015

COMPASS Academic Communication Skills – Wednesday 21st October 2015

COMPASS Visit to the Scottish Parliament – Thursday 26th November 2015

For more detailed information on the courses please go to

Welcome along/back!

A warm welcome to new students to the University of Edinburgh and a welcome back to returning students! This academic year has another packed programme of events and workshops here at the Institute for Academic Development.  We will use this blog to provide useful hints and tips as well as keep you up to date with events throughout the year.

Check out our website for course details here

You can find our monthly newsletter heresocialmedia2

For details of postgraduate essentials click here

For the International Compass Programme click here

Follow us on twitter: @iad4phd


Louise McKay

Doctoral Training Manager at the IAD

Writing Skills Workshops for Doctoral Researchers

This academic year we have a range of writing workshops designed to meet the complex demands of academic writing.

The suite as set out below aims to cover the principal writing needs of researchers in the course of writing their PhD.

The Writing Process: Getting Started333

For many researchers, starting to draft is one of the most challenging aspects of writing a PhD. How do you know whether you are ready to write? How do you overcome that sense of paralysis or overwhelm that often accompanies the early stages of the writing process? This workshop provides tools and tips for when and how to get started; for generating, focusing, targeting and structuring material; and for developing a first draft. All of these will be put into practice through the development of a short text. This is a half day workshop.

Text: Coherence, Structure and Argumentation

We all want our writing to be coherent and well-structured – but what does that mean in practice? This workshop focuses on what makes a text ‘hang together’ in a way that makes sense to your reader. Course topics include ensuring focus and unity; ordering sentences and paragraphs; signposting to support logic and smooth transitions; and developing a coherent argument. This is a half day workshop.

Effective Writing: Grammar

The course covers: Modern grammatical terminology, Constituents of a sentence, the structure of phrases, Plurality and agreement, Tenses, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, aspect and voice. This is a full day workshop

Writing a Literature Review

The literature review is a key component of a PhD, because it motivates and contextualises key research issues. Developing a review is a complex task which involves selecting, organising and evaluating source material; reading actively while taking effective notes; and shaping relevant information into a coherent piece of writing. This workshop offers practical ways of making this process manageable and beginning to develop a review. This is a half day workshop.

Writing Well: Language and Style

This workshop focuses on stylistic aspects of writing and the way these may make a text more elegant or more pleasurable to read. We will identify key aspects of good writing – such as economy and flow – and analyse, by means of examples, how these qualities are realised linguistically. We will also consider stylistic advice from authorities in the areas of both academic and creative writing, and put principles into practice through a range of exercises. This is a half day workshop.

How to be Your Own Best Editor

Skilful editing will transform a draft and turn a good piece of writing into an excellent one. This workshop aims to equip you with strategies for editing effectively. We will identify key aspects of good writing – such as clarity, conciseness and flow – and analyse, by means of written examples, how these qualities are realised linguistically. Working with a draft text, you will learn to focus on different levels of your text and make appropriate editorial decisions. This is a half day workshop.

Writing for Publication

Publications are central to the success of departments as well as the careers of individuals, but getting your work published can be daunting, challenging and even perplexing. This workshop aims to demystify the publication process by breaking it down into stages and providing information and tips for each step. We will look at developing a publication strategy; revising material into a publishable article; targeting journal; preparing a manuscript; working with editors; and making the most of the review process. This is a half day workshop.

 Writing Abstracts

Abstracts are an important academic ‘micro-genre’: they serve to attract the interest of an article’s potential readership and to engage its actual readers. In this workshop we will be scrutinising abstracts, taking abstracts apart and putting abstracts together. We will consider their function; their typical components and structure; abstract-related conventions in different disciplines; and the stylistic conventions associated with abstracts. We will also compare the abstracts with introductions and conclusions. This is a half day workshop.

Writing Clinics

Writing clinics enable researchers to get one-to-one feedback that focuses on their writing habits and challenges. You will be asked to submit a piece of writing in advance and book a slot, during which you can discuss any writing-related problems you may have, and/or get constructive suggestions for improving your writing. (25 minutes per student)

Beating Writer’s Block

You know you need to start (or continue) to write – so what is stopping you? Writer’s block can occur at any stage in the process of writing a PhD, and typically not only affects planning but well-being and motivation as well.  In this course, we’ll look at how writer’s block manifests, what causes it and what strategies you can adopt to re-connect with your research, your writing, your confidence and your voice. This is a half day workshop.

Is My Writing ‘Academic’ Enough?

Does academic writing have to be dull or obscure, or can it be engaging and clear? This workshop explores the standards and expectations associated with academic writing. We will look at relevant linguistic and stylistic choices (active or passive? first or third person? plain English or jargon?) and consider academic conventions in terms of organisation and writing style. This is a half day workshop.

Academic Writing Masterclass

A Masterclass is tutor-led group session for academic writers who would like to get feedback on their writing from a small, supportive audience. If you are offered a place on the Masterclass, you will be invited to submit an extract (approximately 1000 words) from your academic writing two weeks in advance. All submissions will be circulated, anonymously and in strict confidence, to other course participants. If your writing is discussed at the Masterclass – something which depends on the number of submissions – your text will be approached as a ‘minimal viable product’ rather than a finished piece. Feedback will focus on the strengths of your writing as and any writing patterns that may inhibit clarity or make your writing less effective. This is a half day workshop.

 ‘Just Write’

Are you a PhD student writing your thesis? Or trying to write for publication? Are you struggling to find the time to write without interruption? The aim of a ‘Just Write’ session is to facilitate a time and place for you to write without the distractions of emails, Facebook, Twitter and everyday life. The session will provide you with a space to focus exclusively on your writing, with a member of staff present, to ensure that everyone abides by the rules. This is a half day workshop.

Structured Writing Retreat

Come to a writing retreat if you want to make progress on a writing project (such as a thesis chapter or a journal article) and build confidence in your academic writing skills. At this structured retreat, writing slots will be interspersed with short discussions and reflections. The retreat format of working alongside (and sometimes in conversation with) others has been shown to generate pages as well as solutions to writing problems. This is a full day workshop.

For more information please click here


Enterprising Women Workshop 2015

Do you feel equipped for the challenges ahead?

Whatever your career objective, be it continuing in research, moving into a commercial role, entering the public or charity sectors or building and managing your own company you need a broader set of skills and attitudes than those developed through your research.

Enterprising Women is a three-day course spread over three months that was developed at Edinburgh University with two external enterprising women who have experience of research, commerce, social enterprise and running their own business.   Along with its counterpart Ingenious Women (shortlisted for a 2013 THE Award) we have worked with close to 100 women on this programme over the last two years. This free course, aimed at female researchers, takes place over the following three days:

Day 1
Wednesday 7th October 2015
Theme One: Creativity

Creativity is not a mysterious gift possessed by some and envied by others. It is a set of behaviours which can be easily learnt and applied in everyday life. Learn how to boost your own creativity, understand more about the creative strengths you have and develop a strategy to improve your innovative approach, whatever work you do and whatever career lies ahead. Leave the course with your own tailored creativity toolkit.

Day 2:
 Friday 6th November 2015
Theme Two: Cash

What is your attitude to money and finance? Something scary…or exciting? The initial focus of this workshop will be to explore and understand your own attitudes and behaviours with money and then to develop the most effective approaches. You will learn how to value and cost your ideas, be they for a business, research project or your own time. We’ll cover how money can be found to fund projects, how it can be managed and explore your own feelings about risk. This is a highly interactive money related day (but there will be no need to disclose your own financial position at any point).

Day 3:
 Wednesday 2nd December 2015
Theme Three: Control

Managing a career is challenging. We may not always feel that we can control our environment, the people around us or even ourselves. This workshop will help you to articulate your career vision and work out how to achieve it. We will look at how to work effectively with others to help you secure your vision. Techniques will include negotiation, relationship building, self-awareness and priority setting.

For more information, or to book a place, please see here

Statistics Support for PhD Researchers

In academic year 15/16 we are running the following statistics workshops for PhD Researchers:

Introductory Statistics for Life Scientists – Level 1 and Level 2dddd

This is a 5 week course delivered entirely on-line within Learn (the University’s virtual learning environment, VLE). It will introduce students to the basic principles of statistical thinking (statistical inference) and one or two of the most common types of analysis that might be needed for Masters or PhD research projects. It is aimed mainly at students undertaking projects (at either level) in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (particularly in lab-based subjects), but it may be of more general use, too – we welcome participants from any discipline, although the examples used will tend to reflect the instructors’ backgrounds in clinical research, public health and veterinary medicine. The principles taught, however, are universal!

More information and dates can be found here

Statistical Consultancy 1:1 Session

This is an opportunity to discuss your research one-to-one with an experienced medical statistician during a 45 minute slot. Please bring along your queries about your study design or data.

More information and dates can be found here

Statistics for the Terrified

Statistics for the Terrified is a self-paced, online, basic statistics tutorial, written in plain English, with only a tiny bit of mathematics. It explains common statistical concepts using common sense terminology and explanations, and includes plenty of interactive exercises and animated illustrations.

More information can be found here