About iad4phd

This blog provides hints and tips, information and resources which are available from the Institute for Academic Development, for Doctoral students at The University of Edinburgh.

PGR Summer Writing Retreats

These PGR summer writing retreats provide you with a quiet time and space to focus on your writing without the distractions of the office, emails and daily life. These sessions are not facilitated, and catering is not provided, it is simply a dedicated space and time to progress your writing projects.

Thinking of coming along? Here is what you need to know:

•You will get the most out of the time by planning in advance and coming prepared to write

•Bring your laptop and any notes you may need with you

•You can use this time to focus on anything related to your work

• You can attend as many sessions as you wish

•You can attend for the full day or half a day, but please make sure you book a place on each session

•Please bring your own refreshments with you

The sessions will take place as follows:



Date Time
Monday 7th August 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm
Monday 7th August 2017 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Tuesday 8th August 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm
Tuesday 8th August 2017 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Wednesday 9th August 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm
Wednesday 9th August 2017 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Thursday 10th August 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm
Thursday 10th August 2017 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Friday 11th August 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm
Friday 11th August 2017 1.30pm – 4.30pm

Find out more here




3 Minute Thesis Competition 2017 – Winners


University competition winner: The winner of the University of Edinburgh 3 Minute Thesis 2017 competition was Euan Doidge from the School of Chemistry with his presentation ‘WEEE are Golden: metal recovery by solvent extraction’ Euan will now go on to represent the University in the UK and Universitas 21 competitions.

Runner Up: the runner up was Issy MacGregor from the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, with her presentation ‘Meiotic Recombination: The Great Genetic Bake Off’

 ‘People’s Choice’: Euan Doidge from the School of Chemistry also won the people’s choice prize with his presentation ‘WEEE are Golden: metal recovery by solvent extraction’

 Congratulations to all the finalists.

Find out more about the competition here


Dr. Kirsty Ross reflects on the experience and opportunities of Explorathon


It has been a while since I thought about EXPLORATHON, but the notification emails for 2017 have started coming in from the University and from Beltane, leading me to reflect on what happened last year and how we can make it bigger and better this year.

For those of you yet to join us at an EXPLORATHON event, EXPLORATHON is Scotland’s contribution to European Researchers’ Night. This is one night a year when researchers from across Europe come together the celebrate the wealth of research, EU funded or not, and try to engage with as many people as humanly possible.

Last year, our team of 21 researchers interacted with over 500 people over the course of 24 hours. By and large we were interacting with either children or family groups. As part of our engagement strategy, we always try to make sure we are engaging with hard-to-reach audience, such as those at WHALEArts.

My top tips for participants would include; counting interactions at each activity you organise vs just total number of people visiting your stand. Say you have 3 activities and 100 people visit your stand. That is 100 visitors, which is great. However, some of those visitors may have interacted with you once, twice or three times. In this example, you could have as many as 300 interactions or engagements, if you count visitors to each activity.

Another point is that it is worth breaking down your visitors into men and women, boys and girls. Obviously this is not perfect and doesn’t take into consideration the full diversity in society. However, it can be used as a short hand to work out if your activities are appealing equally to males and females, adults and children. It is important to consider whether you are deterring anyone in your audience by the way you are presenting and to make sure everyone has equity of access.

Finally, try not to fall into the habit of delivering the same old engagement activities to the same audience that you always do. EXPLORATHON is a fantastic opportunity to try reaching audiences you might never have considered, or using more collaborative and consultative methods. For example, we are going to try live drawing of scientists by comic books artists this year (not that sort of life drawing! No nakedness required). What new and innovative methods can you think of? Feel free to get in touch if you need any help to take your engagement ideas to the next step.


Registration to be part of Explorathon 2017 closes on Friday 30th June. You do not have to have any experience in public engagement to take part, as all participants will have the opportunity to attend specialised training that will help you develop engaging activities from your research interests. Further information, including the link for registration, can be found here: http://www.beltanenetwork.org/news-blogs-reports/beltane-news/fancy-being-part-of-explorathon-2017/


Dr Kirsty Ross is the outreach officer for two groups of researchers; Bionanotechnology @ Strathclyde University, and the EPSRC/MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Optical Medical Imaging (OPTIMA) which shared between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde. Kirsty is a microbiologist by training, discovered her public engagement vocation during her postdoc, and jumped in feet first in 2011. She has been on the Glasgow EXPLORATHON committee for 3 years, but took a step back last year into a delivery focused role.

Academic Writing Masterclass

Academic Writing Masterclass Workshop – Thursday 1st June 2017 and Wednesday 7th June 2017.

A Masterclass is tutor-led group session for academic writers who would like to get feedback on their writing from a small, supportive audience.

Prior to 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 well as any writing patterns that may inhibit clarity or make your writing less effective.

Find out more hereuntitledgyh

University of Edinburgh 3 Minute Thesis Competition Final 2017

Audience tickets are now available for the University of Edinburgh 3 Minute Thesis Competition Final on the 22nd June 2017.  The Three Minute Thesis competition requires doctoral researchers to compete to deliver the best research presentation in just 3 minutes and one slide.  Nine finalist from three Colleges will present a compelling presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

This year’s finalists are:

Name College
Isobel MacGregor CMVM
Toby Gurran CMVM
Laura Glendinning CMVM
Lulu Tucker CSCE
Euan Doidge CSCE
Jennifer Dodoo CSCE
William Kerr CAHSS
Tim Squirrell CAHSS
Vanitha Subramaniam CAHSS

You will also be able to live webstream the final from your own computer.

Find out more about the competition, and reserve tickets for the final here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/postgraduate/doctoral/3mt/3mt-final



PGR Mid-Semester Welcome Event 6/4/17

Postgraduate Research Mid Semester Welcome Event – 6th April 2017

Postgraduate students arriving after Welcome Week still have the opportunity to attend University welcome events

What will happen during this event?

This morning is for students who have missed a University Welcome event this academic year or have arrived recently. The event is being hosted by the Institute for Academic Development. You will be provided with information on:

  • how to manage your Researchwelcome_primarylogo_main
  • the support that is available to you at the University
  • current PhD students’ experiences

Find out more and book a place here

Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Presenting Made Easy – Delivering Presentations

20th March 2017

This workshop gives the opportunity to deliver a presentation.  Participants will present a prepared 5 min(max) talk on subject of their own choice or give an overview of their subject preferably using visual aids. They will then receive positive and encouraging feedback. More information and booking here

Searching Research Literature and Managing Bibliographies

22nd March 2017

This workshop is a mixture of presentations and hands on practical computer-based sessions to help participants understand the information research process and developing Good practice in literature searching.  More information and booking here

Proof Reading

22nd March 2017

This workshop looks at the many stages of copy-editing and proof-reading that must be done before the thesis is submitted or the academic paper published. We look at some myths about writing, identify common errors and offer a range of techniques for spotting them.  More information and booking here

Writing a Literature Review

23rd March 2017

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. More information and booking here

For a full list of all our workshops please see here


Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

Time Management and Goal Setting

Wednesday 8th March 2017

This workshop will explore how important and personal our daily management and goal setting can be to help us achieve our life and career goals. More information and booking here

Speed Reading

Wednesday 8th March 2017

This workshop will give you a number of tools to help you to read more quickly, more strategically and more critically. More information and booking here

Simply Assertive

Wednesday 8th March 2017

The aim of this workshop is to enable delegates to have a greater self confidence in difficult situations and feel able to express their opinions.  More information and booking here

Creating Effective Collaboration

Thursday 9th March 2017

This workshop is an opportunity for participants to reflect on their strengths, determine what they want and develop a constructive approach to current and future collaborations. More information and booking here

Viva Survivor

Friday 10th March 2017

Viva Survivor is a session for postgraduate researchers close to submission who want to gain insight on how to be well prepared for their viva.  More information and booking here

Creative Problem Solving for Researchers

Friday 10th March 2017

This workshop will focus on the needs and personal creativity styles of all the participants and will then will move on to explore: How to explore a problem and tackle it from a number of new angles; A range of creativity techniques and how to apply and implement them; A toolkit for evaluating ideas.  More information and booking here

You can find a full list of workshops here


STEAM Transcultural Science Communication Summer School

STEAM Transcultural Science Communication Summer School

3-12 July 2017; Marathon, Greece

Join us for a 10-days intensive training in science communication in Marathon (just outside Athens), Greece. STEAM provides training in science communication for university students, researchers, and educators and innovatively marries science and art in science communication practice.

University of Edinburgh students are eligible to apply for grants to cover fees, travel, accommodation and subsistence. Grant applications are due 7 April 2017. See: http://www.steamsummerschool.eu/register-steam/grant-conditions/

For more information see www.steamsummerschool.eu  or contact steam@um.edu.mt.

Funded by the Erasmus+ programme, STEAM is led by the University of Malta, with the following partners: European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations (EUSJA, France), Haaga-Helia University (Finland), science  communication company Science View (Greece), University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and Rhine-Waal University (Germany).