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

3 Minute Thesis Competition Information Session 22/11/18

Are you thinking of entering the 3 Minute Thesis competition and want to find out more?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an international competition celebrating the exciting research conducted by PhD students. Developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, the competition requires contestants to condense their research into a three minute, one-slide presentation for a non-specialist audience.

This information session will give you the opportunity to find out more about the competition and how you can take part, and will cover:

  • What is the 3 Minute Thesis Competition
  • Who is eligible to take part
  • Why should you take part
  • The rules and judging criteria
  • Competition structure
  • Training available
  • Q&A

There will also be an opportunity to hear from previous winners and finalists

Find out more here


Writefest 2018

Write Fest 2018

November is Academic Writing Month. This annual event was established as a way to support academic writing via the #AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter.

During November 2018, the Institute for Academic Development will be running WriteFest, a local contribution to this academic writing month, with the aim of bringing people together to raise awareness and celebrate academic writing.

WriteFest is a collaboration with the Universities of Manchester, Sheffield, Exeter, Bristol, Kings College London, Keele, Sheffield Hallam, Liverpool, Newcastle, Derby and Adelaide.


The festival aims to provide protected time and space for writing to help you to:

Write Fest aims

During WriteFest the IAD will be running writing retreats and ‘just write’ sessions to provide you with space and time to write, along with a selection of workshops and resources to support your writing.

How to get involved 

  • Book onto a workshop or writing retreat – have a look at our list to see what is running.
  • We will be regularly blogging during the festival from iad4researchers.wordpress.com and iad4phd.wordpress.com, where we will share some experiences, promote events and courses and reflect on academic writing. It will feature a range of voices from the researcher community in The University of Edinburgh and beyond. Please do go and have a look.
  • Use the hashtag #AcWriFest18 to share your progress with other researchers, and follow @researchersated and @IAD4PhD to keep up to date with what is happening during the month.
  • Also use the Academic Writing Month hashtag #AcriWriMo to get some inspiration from Academic Writing month overall.
  • Festival of Creative Learning: You many consider running a Pop-up event as part of the Festival of Creative Learning, linked to academic writing.  Both staff and students are invited to apply to run events in the Festival (February) and throughout the year as Festival Pop-up events, in order to encourage new ways of learning and teaching. There is a great deal of support to help you design and deliver your idea.

For more information see: https://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/research-roles/writefest

Go Abroad

Erasmus+ funding available – any subject area!

Going abroad isn’t just for undergraduates or language students. Find out how you could go abroad as part of your Research Masters or PhD – and get funded to do it.

PhD and Research Masters students can apply for Erasmus+ grants worth between €400-450 month, to help you undertake work or research abroad. As the funding is towards your travel and living expenses, it isn’t restricted to a particular activity or subject area; it just has to be in an Erasmus+ programme country, and last between 2 and 12 months.

Some examples of what you could do with the funding are:

  • A supervised research placement at another university, at an institute, or with an expert in your field of specialisation
  • Field work for data collection, or to test your research findings
  • Hands-on experience in a laboratory or specialised organisation
  • Using your expertise as a specialist within a work organisation

Erasmus + funding is available for both paid and unpaid placements, and you can still get it if you’re receiving a salary, PhD bursary, or student loan. Already received Erasmus+ funding during your undergraduate degree? Don’t worry, you’re still eligible!

Applications are open year-round. For full eligibility criteria and to find out more, visit https://www.ed.ac.uk/global/go-abroad/work-abroad.

Any questions? Email workplacements@ed.ac.uk or pop into the Go Abroad Office on central campus for our weekly drop-in sessions – Tuesdays 2-4pm and Thursdays 10am-12pm.

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




Introductory Statistics for Life Scientists Online Course

Introductory Statistics for Life Scientists is a 10-week on-line course within Learn. It will introduce students to the basic principles of statistical thinking and outline some of the most common types of analysis that might be needed for Masters or PhD research projects.

You can access this course at any time of the year, there is no fixed start or end date.

Target audience

It is aimed mainly at students undertaking research projects (at either Masters or PhD level) in the College of Medicine (particularly 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 background in clinical research, public health and veterinary medicine. The principles taught, however, are universal!

Course contentdddd

Each week, participants will use resources such as recorded PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, and directed reading to investigate a topic, and will try some practical examples in Minitab, a statistical package available on the University’s Managed Desktop and in general-access computing facilities. Support is available through discussion boards that allow queries on specific points. The course runs asynchronously – participants work on course material and exercises in their own time, and interact via the discussion boards when required.

The following topics are covered:

  1. An introduction to the course and VLE
  2. Basic principles of statistical inference and exploratory data analysis
  3. Some basic concepts in probability
  4. Confidence intervals
  5. Hypothesis testing
  6. Study design – randomisation and blocking
  7. Study design – power calculations
  8. Correlation and simple linear regression
  9. One and Two-way analysis of variance models
  10. Method comparison/ reproducibility studies

Find out more here: https://edin.ac/2QUXevt