Happy new year from IAD!

Happy New Year and a prosperous 2019 from the IAD!  imagesCAJDXVCV

As a new year starts we continue to provide a range of resources and workshops for Postgraduate Researchers.  Take a look at some of the things we are offering this year:

  • Writing Workshops: We offer a range of writing workshops including Getting Started with your writing, Grammar, Writing for Publication, Is my Writing Academic Enough? and Writing Abstracts.
  • Online Statistics: We run a 5 week online Introductory Statistics for Life Scientists Course
  • PGR Mid-Semester Welcome Event: This event is for students who have missed a University Welcome event this academic year or have arrived recently.
  • 3 Minute Thesis: The  annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition will take place on the 27th June 2019.  Training is available to anyone interested in taking part in this competition, this will take place on the 14th February 2019.
  • Prepare for Doctoral Success: this online course starts on the 11th February and will help you settle in to your doctoral studies by sharing essential information, tips and advice, and giving you an opportunity to interact with other students at the same stage.
  • Our brochure has more information on the workshop and support available to PGR’s – https://edin.ac/2MmF9Hg 
  • Follow us on twitter @iad4phd to keep up to date with the latest workshops and events

For more information on all of the above please see here


Dialogue: Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures!

Dialogue: Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures workshop 29th and 30th January 2019.

All researchers are expected to do public engagement – to interact with stakeholder groups and/or wider ‘publics’ in order to increase the impact of their research. Public engagement takes different forms in different disciplines, but in all cases it is most effective when researchers talk with people rather than lecturing at them, when we are open to hearing what other groups have to say.

This course gives practical guidance on how to go about such ‘collaborative conversations’ in a way that is relevant to your research. It builds on the principles of ‘dialogue’, which has proved a powerful approach to communication in public engagement and many other areas. Come to this course and you will:

•Learn to recognise and address where your publics are coming from;

•Build your skills in facilitating dialogue so that everyone is heard and contributes;

•Think strategically about how to design dialogic public engagement activities;

•Start developing the skills to reflect and improve upon your engagement and other communication practices long after the course has ended.

Our training approach combines theory and practice. We will take you through a series of focused exercises, interspersed with short presentations and time for reflection, so that you experience a range of approaches and techniques you can then use in your future work.

Whether you are planning to engage with government bodies, business, product or service users or citizens, this course can help make you more effective. You will leave with a toolbox of skills and techniques that you can use (and refine) in a range of different settings, including – but not only – public engagement with research.

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:

1.Recognise and address where your publics are coming from;

2.Build your skills in facilitating dialogue so that everyone is heard and contributes;

3.Think strategically about how to design dialogic public engagement activities;

4.Continue developing the skills to reflect and improve upon your engagement and other communication practices long after the course has ended.

Find out more here

Communicating your research via 3 Minute Thesis

Guest Blog Post from Owen Gwydion James, winner of the UK 3 Minute Thesis Competition.


Uber driver: You said you’re doing a PhD? What are you working on?

Me: …what’s our ETA?

Uber driver: 3 minutes.

Me: Well pal, strap in.

It might seem like an odd place to begin, but it’s a daily question that should be straightforward to answer, and yet can be tricky to get right. How do you give a stranger with an unknown scientific background a quick overview of what your PhD is about? Sure, you could take the easy route and give a short and simple answer (for me, “Neuroscience”), but this doesn’t give your new friend much to go on, and does a disservice to you and that huge beast of a project that major part of your life. The answer? Take part in the 3 Minute Thesis competition.

180 seconds seems like a phenomenally short amount of time to unload the details of your project on to someone—without sounding like you’re giving the rules and regulations on a radio advert. But taking part in the 3MT competition forces you to step away from the details of that day’s experiment and consider why you’re doing what you’re doing. What does it mean to you? What impact does your work have in the wider scheme of things? And hopefully, after some tentative introspection (and no small amount of edits), you’re left with some snappy sentences that come in handy for all situations—whether you’re talking to friends and family, a scientific audience, or the occasional Uber driver.

This type of communication has become as important to get right as all the publications, meetings and presentations that make up the bulk of academic life. In my lab, we regularly have visits from people with different neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, and their families, coming in to see what we do. Being able to communicate what our research is about, and what we are hoping to achieve with regards to understanding disease mechanism and identifying new drugs, is something I take great pride in. More and more, the academic community is reaching out to the general public to help educate people on science, health, technology—you name it! It boosts the public perception of scientists and enables more informed conversations that ultimately lead to evidence-based choices and change. Being able to talk casually about your research­—without jargon—is an important step towards this, and who doesn’t like talking about their PhD anyway?

The 3MT

I first became interested in the 3MT when I saw a previous student in my lab, Chen Zhao, win the Edinburgh University final three years ago. I was blown away. Here were 9 students, with very different projects, giving the slickest presentations that I had seen at PhD level. They were engaging, inspiring, clever and funny, and it was great to see how passionately and efficiently they talked about their research.

Coming up with a hook is helpful; a nice analogy that your audience can relate to. I was lucky enough to get feedback from my friends and lab mates to home in on this, and I even managed to get a (very small) joke in, which was a bit of fun. Training from the University after the college round helped a lot too; getting taught how to make eye contact with a crowd and the importance of slowing down to make a point. It’s a performance! And honestly, your nerves will stop jangling after the first time you do it.

Unfortunately, practise really does make perfect and I feel pretty bad for my girlfriend. She helped me a lot and after the number of times I went over it at home, her party trick is now performing my 3MT word for word! But all this work meant that I grew in confidence each time I did it and I ended up really enjoying each presentation.

Should you do it?

Definitely. I’ve learnt so much from competing in the 3MT. It has been one of the best experiences I’ve had during my PhD and it’s opened the door to more opportunities too. Since winning the final, I was invited to the University of Edinburgh Chancellor’s dinner at Holyrood Palace, where I got to meet the Princess Royal and the University principal. I was also asked to present my 3MT there, which was an amazing experience. A friend of mine even used my 3MT video as a teaching tool in her high school biology class! Next, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some fun new public engagement events with the generous prize money from UKRI—watch this space!

I would thoroughly recommend taking part. And even if you just go to watch, it’s a great cross-disciplinary event with a level of diversity in the talk topics that is rare to find. It’s brought me closer to my project and helped immensely with my public speaking.

Find out more about the 3 Minute Thesis Competition here 


Viva Survivor Workshop

Is your viva approaching?

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.

The viva is the culmination of the PhD process: a lot of work has led to this point, but a feeling of anxiety can accompany the sense of achievement at completing one’s thesis. For many PhD candidates the time leading up to the viva is filled with stress about the day, and uncertainty about how to prepare and what the viva will be like. In this session participants will:

  • learn realistic expectations for the PhD viva;
  • identify allies for their viva preparation;
  • explore practical strategies for preparation and the day of the viva;
  • discuss common viva questions.

More information and booking here



Public Engagement Workshops

The IAD offer a range of workshops to support the development of core public engagement skills, these include:

You can also find out more about the support for public engagement with research at the University of Edinburgh here

A Beginners Guide to Imaging Online Course

This is a 10-week course delivered through online distance learning within the University’s e-learning platform, Learn.

What will I learn? This self-paced, online course, gives a basic understanding of the history of imaging, an explanation about each imaging modality (MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Light Microscopy, PET and SPECT), as well as giving a basic understanding of image processing and image analysis.  This is a great starting point for those working on research projects in many different areas, including medicine, engineering, science, psychology and art.

If students wish to learn more about a particular modality or technique, they can progress onto the Edinburgh Imaging Academy ODL CPD teaching materials – which are offered as ‘read only’ for a vastly reduced price of £15 per 10 credits.

Target audience: We have had students from a wide range of disciplines including:

–       Political Studies – interested in using fMRI to assess people’s thoughts

–       Anatomy & Biology students – to gain a basic background in imaging

–       Psychology & Cognitive Science – understanding tools & techniques

–       College of Art – interested in using images for 3D design

–       Engineering, Physics & Chemistry

–       Veterinary Science & Bioscience

–       Medical & Biomedical Science students

When does it start? 22nd October 2018 – and it is FREE!

Time commitment: 4-8 hours per week

Want to learn more about one imaging modality or analysis tool?  Once students have grasped the basics, they may wish to go on to study a full 10 credit course in Light Microscopy or Image Processing. If they wish to gain credits then the PPD option is best, if not the CPD read only option is available.

The Edinburgh Imaging Academy offers the online CPD option, by giving students ‘read only’ access to the teaching material used in our ODL Master programs, for £15 per 10 credit course. Simply book through – http://bit.ly/EdinPhD .

For information on Edinburgh Imaging, and our imaging facilities based at the Clinical Research Imaging Centre, the Brain Research Imaging Centre, IGMM and The Roslin Institute – please visit www.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-imaging

List of Learning Outcomes. By the end of this workshop, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge and understanding of the history of imaging

2. Identify different imaging modalities and how and when they should be used

3. Apply a basic understanding of image processing and image analysis to their own research project

For more information see: https://edin.ac/2OzCafM




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, 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 youuntitledgyh

•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

•Catering is not provided – please bring your own refreshments with you

•Laptops are not provided

The sessions will follow the timetable below:


09:30-10:15 – Writing

10:15-10:25 – Short Break

10:25-11:25 – Writing

11:25-11:35 – Short Break

11:35-12:25 – Writing


13:30-14:15 – Writing

14:15-14:25 – Short Break

14:25-15:25 – Writing

15:25-15:35 – Short Break

15:35-16:25 – Writing

For more information see here

Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Practical Project Management for Research Students

25th April 2018

This workshop will introduce you to project management, with a focus on the development of practical skills. More information here

Simply Assertive

11th May 2018

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 here 

Speed Reading

11th May 2018

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

Effective Writing: Grammar

11th May 2018

Native speakers of English often have little knowledge of formal grammar and non-native speakers may know the grammar in theory but find the practice is a lot harder. This workshop starts by providing the vocabulary to discuss grammar. Using examples of academic writing from a variety of subject areas, we deal with common errors in sentence construction and punctuation in the work of native and non-native speakers.  Finally, we look at how a knowledge of grammar can help the writer communicate more effectively in a way that the reader will enjoy. More information here





Facilitation Skills for Public Engagement

Facilitation skills for public engagement workshop 10/5/18

Do you need facilitation skills to do your job? Probably: good facilitation skills are critical to team working, collaborating with other teams and organisations, planning and holding meetings, and small group teaching.

If you’d like to improve the communication and inter-personal skills needed to facilitate well, this workshop may be for you!network-1020332_1920

Skills You’ll Develop:

– Enabling everyone to speak openly about their views, interests and needs

– Thinking together to tackle difficult problems or get a job done

– Fostering creativity and realise the potential for ‘group intelligence’

– Handling dominant voices and ensure all participants are heard

– Working through conflict without confrontation

– Recognising different patterns of communication and encourage ‘authentic’ communication

– Using your power as a facilitator constructively

Training Approach:

Our training approach integrates some ‘theory’ with a lot of opportunities to practice. Specifically, we will:

– Introduce key concepts – about different forms of communication and styles of facilitation, and about collaboration

– Work on key skills and common challenges, giving you experience of some different techniques and approaches

– Make this relevant to your circumstances and needs, and encourage your reflective practice.

What this Course Does Not Cover:

Facilitation involves two skill sets: thinking strategically (for planning and evaluation); and attending to communication and inter-personal dynamics in these critical conversations. This workshop aims to build capacity in the latter skill set only.

While this workshop is extremely useful for people wishing to engage others with their research, this won’t be a specific focus on the day.


This workshop is intended for people who already do some facilitation and want the opportunity to reflect on and deepen their practice in this area. Those new to facilitation and dialogue, are encouraged to attend Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures instead.

For more information and booking see here


Places available: Upcoming IAD PhD Workshops

We have places available on the following upcoming workshops:

Structured Writing Retreat

11th April 2018

This writing retreat is an opportunity to make progress on a writing project and build confidence in your academic writing skills.  Writing slots will be interspersed with short discussions and reflections. More information here

Managing your Research Project

17th April 2018

Project management is a core skill for most jobs and being a researcher is no different.   This workshop is designed to help you take control of your research and support you in the successful completion of your PhD and future research projects. More information here

Searching Research Literature and Finding Bibliographies

17th April 2018

The 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 here

Conference and Events Organising

18th April 2018

The workshop is designed to cover event planning and design, management, finance, venues, online tools, marketing and promotion, attracting sponsorship and post-event actions. More information here

Good Practice in Research Data Management

19th April 2018

This workshop is aimed at all postgraduate researchers who are interested in finding out how to manage their research data effectively and efficiently during their post graduate research study. More information here

Finding Funding for Research

20th April 2018

This workshop will initially focus on examining the current funding landscape, helping researchers to identify the most promising sources of funding for their research. In the second part we will look at funding applications and they review process, highlighting the most important mistakes researchers make and defining a strategy for applying that will produce the greatest success. More information here