Sussex Researcher School

Festival of Doctoral Research 2020

The Festival of Doctoral Research returned once again in June 2020. Lockdown may mean that we cannot meet in person, but that was all the more reason to bring together our doctoral community online to showcase and celebrate doctoral research at Sussex. Taking place over five days (Monday 15th - Friday 19th June), the Festival included a range of events, workshops, and competitions, with plenty of opportunities to get involved.

From our research image and poster competitions to a brand new careers workshop; panel discussions to a Wikipedia Editathon; the Three Minute Thesis final to a Hive Scholars Quiz, there were ample opportunities across the week to learn, share, and connect with other doctoral researchers from across the University. There was also plenty of fun taking place on Twitter, #SussexDocFest.

See below for the schedule of events, and follow the links for event round-ups.

Monday 15th June 

Workshop: Preparing Impactful Research Proposals - UEA Online Training Series (10.00 – 12.00) 

  • This session will consider the writing of effective research proposals and the best ways to create a compelling ‘case for support’. Coverage will include the generation of a clear rationale, the statement of a defined and delimited set of research aims and questions, the proposal of a study (or series of studies) - as well as appropriate methods and analyses - that will clearly deliver on the stated research aims.

Webinar: The Scholars Programme (14.00 - 15.00) 

  • The Scholars Programme recruits, trains and places doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in state schools across the UK to deliver programmes of academic enrichment to small groups of pupils. This webinar will explain more about becoming a Scholars Programme tutor, and taking your research into non-selective universities.
Tuesday 16th June

Panel Discussion: Finishing your doctorate (11.00 - 12.30)

  • Join this panel discussion designed to help prepare you for the mid-to-late stages of your doctorate. The panel will include Directors of Doctoral Studies and completed/late-stage researchers from across departments in your discipline. It's your opportunity to ask about the processes involved in finishing your doctorate, hear advice on how to approach them, and learn from the experiences of those who have just completed their PhDs.
    • Arts and Humanities 

    • Sciences

    • Social Sciences 

Workshop: Introduction to Open Access Publishing (14.00 - 15.30) 

  • This session provides an introduction to Open Access publishing from both a researcher and publisher perspective. We will explore the rationale for Open Access, the current state of the field, how to establish new journals and researcher/publisher funding opportunities, particularly in light of author-pays models.

Quick Queries: Drop-in Career Advice (16.00 - 17.00) 

  • Drop in for a chat with careers consultant Sarah Coleman about any careers-related questions you have. Bookings will open on Thursday 11th June, so make a note to check back here for a link to sign up!

  • To book a place: Log into CareerHub (can also be accessed on the right-hand side of the PhD researcher page) - Select Appointments, Select PGR Career Appointment from the list, Book one of the available slots for this date and time. 

Games Night (17.00 - 20.00) 

  • This is a relaxed, easily going and open-ended event where you can chat, have drinks, and play a variety of board games online. All participants will be sent a full list of games a couple of days before the event. One thing is for sure, cards against humanity will be there, and what more does one need under the current circumstances?

Wednesday 17th June 

Workshop: Networking and LinkedIn (11.00 – 12.30)

  • This workshop looks at ideas and methods to help you with your networking with organisations and people who might help your career choices. Building a network of resources and people who can help you can be important in researching and developing a career.

Yoga session from Sussexsport (12.30 - 13.30)

  • Based on flowing sequences and precise alignment, linked to full rhythmic breathing that will open up both body and mind. This class will improve your strength, stamina and flexibility.

Three Minute Thesis Finals (14.00 - 17.00) 

  • Developed by the University of Queensland, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that challenges doctoral researchers to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. 3MT celebrates the discoveries made by research students and them to communicate the importance of their research to the broader community.

    This year the event is taking place remotely! By booking your place you can tune in to find out more about the depth and breadth of doctoral research at Sussex, and to vote for your choice for the People's choice award. A prize-giving ceremony will take place after the 3MT presentations that will include prizes for the Research Image and Research Poster competitions, and the Adam Weiler Impact Award.

Thursday 18th June 

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon (Library) (10.00 - 12.00)

  • Everyone has the right to knowledge. Celebrate and share your research expertise while improving the world’s most used information source. In this workshop you’ll contribute to the creation and dissemination of open knowledge, and help to address underrepresentation and bias in knowledge. This workshop is for anyone who is interested in learning how to improve diversity on Wikipedia by developing pages on notable women, LGBTQ+ and BAME professionals and underrepresented issues missing from the free and open encyclopedia.

Workshop: Looking After Yourself During the PhD (14.00 - 16.00) 

  • Undertaking a PhD can be an exciting time. You are focusing on your own research in real depth, doing something which is personally meaningful and developing new skills, confidence and autonomy. But a PhD is a marathon, not a sprint. It is vital that you look after yourself and ensure you have the personal resources to succeed in a challenging environment.

    Built upon recent research, this workshop examines the mental health and wellbeing challenges linked with doing a PhD and provides tools to manage those challenges and maintain good mental health, as well as to cope with mental health difficulties.

Quick Queries: Drop-in Career Advice (16.00 - 17.00) 

  • Drop in for a chat with careers consultant Sarah Coleman about any careers-related questions you have. Bookings will open on Thursday 11th June, so make a note to check back here for a link to sign up!

  • To book a place: Log into CareerHub (can also be accessed on the right-hand side of the PhD researcher page) - Select Appointments, Select PGR Career Appointment from the list, Book one of the available slots for this date and time. 

Hive Scholars' Quiz Evening (17.00) 

  • Join the Hive Scholars with your family, friends, pets, plants -- all isolation buddies welcome! Amazon vouchers are up for grabs and we promise to bar the question, "how's your research coming along?" for the duration of the evening!
Friday 19th June 

Ethical Review - What it means to you and your research (11.00 - 12.00)

  • Lauren Shukru and Tim Parkinson from the Science and Technology and Social Sciences and Arts Cross-School Research Ethics Committees will be presenting a quick overview of the university ethical review process and offer you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

PhD Crafternoon (15.00 - 17.00)

  • This Online Crafternoon included whatever crafty activity participants like to spend an hour or so doing – you can doodle, sketch, paint, sew, colour, or even collage if you have some scissors, old magazines and glue lying around. Take a creative break from your research and cultivate a space to delve into something immersive and relaxing. You could create something about how lockdown has been for you, something that represents or speaks to your research, or something completely unrelated.

Online Activities throughout the week  

Research Image and Research Poster Showcase

  • The Doctoral Research Image and Research Poster Competitions showcase the richness and variety of PhD research undertaken at Sussex. Shortlisted entries were exhibited on our website 15th - 19th June. Visitors to the online exhibition had the opportunity to vote for their favourite image on the Monday and Tuesday of the Festival (one vote per person, duplicates voided). Judges' and People's Choice winners were announced at the prize-giving ceremony on Wednesday 17th June.

Research Hive Quaran-Time Capsule

  • Contribute a photograph or image of your quarantine experience to the Hive's Quarantine Time Capsule, or QuaranTime Capsule if you will! Post your entry on Twitter or Instagram, tagging @SussexResHive and using #QuaranTimeCapsule. The Scholars will create a virtual photo collage to illustrate the experiences and challenges of PhD researchers at Sussex during Covid-19, and complement the tangible collage that was started prior to the move to remote working. Entries will be entered into a prize draw to win a £15 Amazon voucher, with the winner announced at the end of the Festival on Friday 19th June. See the blog for full details.

Daily Morning Check-Ins (Doctoral Connections blog each morning at 9.30, followed by discussion on Twitter)

  • Every morning of the Festival we checked in with PGRs on Twitter @SussexDocSchool and chatted about ways you're looking after yourself during lockdown. Check out the Daily Check-Ins webpage to read the themes of the day and collated chats.

I Am The Doctor: Viva Survivor Soundtrack!

  • In the era of the online viva, where PhD candidates are unable to celebrate with their examiners and support networks in person, the Library have put together a crowd-sourced Spotify playlist of songs that have helped Sussex graduates get through their vivas and celebrate their doctoral achievements. Check out the Research Hive blogpost for more info, and add your recommendations to the playlist by tagging #VivaSoundtrack #VivaSurvivor.

PGR Publications 

Explore our programme of events above, or click on the links below to find out more about individual Festival events and opportunities.


Research Image Competition 2020 Entries



Research Poster Competition 2020 Entries


 If you have any questions or queries about the Festival of Doctoral Research, please get in touch with us at

Sussex Researcher School