Sussex Researcher School

Festival of Doctoral Research 2021

Take a look back at the virtual festival highlights from July 2021

Covid may have meant we couldn't run the Festival 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 5th - Friday 9th July), there was ample opportunity across the week to learn, share, and connect with other doctoral researchers from across the University. 

Explore the full schedule of events below

List of winners

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the festival competitions in 2021! 

Research Poster Competition

2021 Poster competition entries [PDF]

Check out the winning entries

1st Prize: Brontë McDonald (Psychology)

Runner-up: Fiona Walker (Psychology)

People's Choice: Swati Bhargava (Business School)

Research Image Competition

2021 Image competition entries [PDF]

Check out the winning entries

1st Prize: Gabriel Popham (Global Studies)

Runner-up: Ishrat Khan (Global Studies)

People's Choice: Maggie Xiao (Life Sciences)


Monday 5th July  

Quick Queries: Drop-in Careers Advice - CEC (11.00 - 12.30)

  • Drop in for a chat with a careers consultant about any quick careers-related questions you have, and to discuss your current and future career plans.

Campus Walk - Students' Union (15.30)

  • Join the Students' Union and other PhD researchers for a chat and walk to Stanmer Village or the campus boundary walk (depending on accessibility requirements and what people prefer on the day) to open the Festival of Doctoral Research.

    Places are limited to 30, in line with current government restrictions for outdoor events, so you will need to book a place. Our meeting place will be emailed to you on the morning of the walk, which starts at 3.30pm. 

    Hope to see you there!

    Please consider taking a lateral flow test on the morning of this event, to ensure that you are well. These can be ordered for free on the Gov.UK website or you can book a Covid-19 lateral flow test on campus, though these are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at present. Please do not attend and follow government guidelines on isolating if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have received a positive test result in the last 10 days. 
Tuesday 6th July

Workshop: How to Adapt your PhD During a Pandemic: Mapping Alternative Routes to Completion - Dr Catherine Pope (11.00 - 13.00)

  • It's tough doing a PhD under normal circumstances, but it's even harder during a pandemic. Your original plan is no longer viable and you’re running out of time.

    Flexibility and adaptation are key skills for doctoral researchers. In this practical and interactive webinar, I'll help you get back on track. We’ll clarify your aims, map out some alternative routes, and create an achievable plan B.

Workshop: Understanding Publication Metrics - Library (13.30 - 15.00) 

  • What are bibliometrics? How do they underpin academia? How can you use them to promote your research - and could you spot if they were being used unfairly?

    This workshop will introduce some of the most commonly used bibliometric indicators and tools. We'll discuss the importance of using bibliometric data responsibly, the problems and limitations associated with its use, and which indicators are appropriate in which contexts. We'll also look at DORA and the University’s commitment to the use of responsible metrics.

Excursions Journal (Re)Connect Launch and 10th Anniversary Art Exhibition - Live! - Excursions editorial team (16.00 - 17.00)

  • Join the Excursions team for a first look at specially commissioned artworks and the new, hot-off-the-presses, issue of the journal!

    Excursions, the Sussex-based postgraduate journal, is celebrating ten years. To mark the occasion they've commissioned artworks inspired by each of their past themes, as well as the theme of the next issue. The artworks will be displayed at the Library on campus, and are supported by the Doctoral School's Researcher-Led Initiatives Fund.

    As well as a live exhibition launch, the Excursions editors will also be launching their 2021 issue "(Re)Connect", and giving away some copies of past issues, the new one, and a commemorative 10-year issue - so stay tuned to their social media if you don't want to miss it!
  • Catch up on the event on Instagram @exsjournal and don't forget to take a closer look at the exhibition next time you pop by the Library
Wednesday 7th July 

Webinar: Effective Job Search Strategies - Careers and Employability Centre (11.00 – 11.40)

  • We are living through challenging times due to the pandemic and there is a lot in the news about the job market. Come along to this bitesize session to find out where to look for vacancies, along with how to formulate effective job search strategies.

    By the end of the session you will be able to:

    • Identify vacancy sources
    • Understand your labour market and the pattern of where work may be
    • Learn about different creative job search strategies
    • Consider how to formulate a plan that is right for you

Panel: Adapting to Change: interruptions, challenges and responses (14.00 - 15.30)

  • Research plans often change as a PhD progresses, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc with many projects. Doctoral researchers are facing disruption and delays to data collection and fieldwork, alongside coping with the impact of the pandemic itself.

    In this knowledge-sharing panel session, Sussex PhD researchers will discuss the challenges they faced and the different approaches they took to tackle the issues, adapt their projects and continue with their research. We'll also hear from the Ethics team and there will be time for questions.

Open Access Mystery - Library (17.00 - 18.30)

  • You're at the 9th Advances of Research Conference when disaster strikes - there's a global lockdown of all research and it's up to you to work out who's behind it. 

    Will it be the professor who relies on the h-index? The early career researcher with imposter syndrome? The problem solver who works in publishing? Or perhaps it’s the paranoid researcher who thinks you’ve stolen her ideas? Pay attention, all is not as it seems…

    Can you solve the mystery and save the world? Take on a character and explore open access in this online whodunnit-style role-playing game, organised by the Library Research Support team. 
Thursday 8th July 

Festival Keynote - Kindness and Wellbeing: Why Social and Emotional Dimensions of Learning Matter - Prof Robin Banerjee (10.00 - 11.00)

  • Professor Robin Banerjee, Head of the School of Psychology, will deliver the keynote on research cultures at this year's Festival of Doctoral Research. Professor George Kemenes, Director of the Doctoral School, will chair.

    This event is for PhD researchers, doctoral tutors, supervisors, and anyone involved in or curious about the world of academic research. We are delighted to welcome colleagues from institutions beyond Sussex to the Festival for the first time.

    In this presentation, Professor Banerjee will share insights from his research into the social and emotional development of young people in educational contexts, and will consider the implications for creating learning environments that foster positive relationships, mental health, and wellbeing. There will be time for questions, and the session will be followed by the Festival prize-giving.

  • Recording to follow

Prize-giving Ceremony (11.15 - 12.00)

  • The keynote talk will be followed by our prize-giving ceremony. Prof George Kemenes, Director of the Doctoral School, will announce the winners of our Research Image and Research Poster competitions as well as the annual Adam Weiler Doctoral Impact Award, which recognises PhD students who demonstrate the potential to make a lasting, positive impact in their field.

    You can vote for the People's Choice awards from Monday 5th to Wednesday 7th July. See the Research Image and Research Poster pages for further details.
  • Recording to follow

LGBTQ+ Pride Wikipedia Editathon! - Library (11.30 - 14.00)

  • Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world, but it falls significantly short in representing the diversity of society, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer & questioning community (LGBTQ+). 90% of Wikipedia editors are cis white men, largely from the Global North.

    Brighton and Hove and the wider county is home to the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community, and Sussex PhD students form the most diverse constituents of the University of Sussex community. This is where you can make a difference in improving diverse representation on Wikipedia.

    Using your expert academic skills and knowledge as researchers by helping to edit Wikipedia's content about under-represented groups is a great way to redress the balance for open knowledge justice!

    No prior Wikipedia editing experience is necessary for this workshop – Library staff will equip you with the skills, tools and resources and together we can make Wikipedia more representative of LGBTQ+ knowledge and culture.

Workshop: LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Workshop for Researchers - Guilherme Klein, Diana Dragani and Jamie Chan (14.00 - 15.30)

  • 'Inclusivity' has become a popular word that gets thrown around quite a bit these days - but what does it really mean? What does good inclusivity look like? And how can you be inclusive in your research?

    It is important to talk about inclusivity; but more importantly, we believe in the need to practice it. That's why, in this workshop, we want to provide researchers with a safe space to discuss LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and the opportunity to share and learn in a non-judgmental way. We will break down the term 'inclusivity' by discussing aspects of inclusivity in everyday life, and highlight things we can do to be more inclusive in our work, research and interactions with people.

    We welcome researchers at all levels of their inclusivity interests and practices - it's a session aimed at reflecting and learning in a safe and non-judgmental space. Open to all researchers (LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+) - we strongly encourage non-LGBTQ+ researchers to participate.

    This workshop is led by Sussex PhD researcher Jamie Chan, trans advocate Diana Dragani and inclusivity expert Guilherme Klein.

PhD Creative Outlets Crafting Social - Katharina Hendrickx, Kate Meakin and Manuela Salazar (15.30 - 17.00) 

  • PhD Creative Outlets is a series of craft-and-chat social events open to all PhD researchers at the University of Sussex. This opening taster session, run by three researchers from Media Arts and Humanities, will include whatever crafty activity you’d 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. You could create something about how lockdown has been for you, something that represents or speaks to your research, or something completely unrelated.

    If you just want to come in and chat for a bit about how you’ve been doing and don’t necessarily want to do anything crafty, please feel free to drop in and you can leave whenever suits you. We’ll also be discussing our series of monthly co-created events starting in person from September onwards, so if you have any ideas and suggestions for these, please bring them as well.

    Look forward to seeing you there!
Friday 9th July 

Workshop: Seeking Balance in Doctoral Life - Tamsin Hinton-Smith and Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani (10.00 - 12.00)

  • This session will focus on balancing the demands of the doctoral journey amongst our wider lives. Focus includes some signposting of avenues for support and practical tips for maintaining balance in doctoral life, as well as reflecting on where you would like to make changes and how you can do this.

    Individual activities and group discussion will give space to explore challenges and develop new strategies, through approaches from freewriting and mini-drawing (no creative skills required!) to stretching and breathing.

Research Hive Happy Hour and Thesis on a Postcard Exhibition - Hive Scholars (14.00 - 15.00)

  • We're thrilled to be hosting an in-person event with the Research Hive! Join the Scholars in person in Library Square and socialise over a socially distanced drink on campus.

    The Scholars will have drinks for up to 20 doctoral researchers - you're welcome to bring lunch for a picnic and they will provide plenty of fizz and soft drinks. Booking is essential so that we can manage numbers in line with Covid guidelines. 

    The event will showcase the Thesis on a Postcard competition entries, and winners will be announced by the judges on the day. The announcement will be recorded and shared via the Hive's Twitter and Instagram accounts, for those who can't join us. The competition winner will receive a £100 voucher and there are also two runner-up prizes, so get your entries in! To enter the competition you must sign up to receive the Hive Postcards Package by 23rd June. If you wish to enter after this date please email See the Hive blog for further information.

    You don't need to have entered the competition to sign up for the Happy Hour, so join us for an end of year celebration - this will be Aanchal, Devyn and Louise's final event as Hive Scholars and they are very excited to see some of you in person for the first time in 18 months!
Online Activities throughout the week  

Research Image and Research Poster Showcase

The Research Image and Research Poster competitions showcase the richness and variety of PhD research undertaken at Sussex. Shortlisted posters were exhibited on the competition webpages throughout the Festival of Doctoral Research (5th - 9th July).

Judges were drawn from the research community, and Sussex students and staff voted for their favourites for People's Choice (5th-7th July). See the competition pages for more information.

First place, second place and People's Choice prizes were announced at the prize-giving ceremony following the keynote on Thursday 8th July. 

Research Hive Thesis on a Postcard Competition

Depict your PhD on a postcard and send it to the University Library for a chance to win a cool £100 (or one of two runner-up prizes)! This is a wonderful way to create a time capsule of research during the pandemic, following on from the Hive's QuaranTime Capsule and Collage projects, and for the Library to record (and perhaps even showcase) your research. 

Time to get creative if you want to win that cash. You can draw, collage with found materials or curated from online materials, use 3D techniques, calligraphy, or anything you can think of that will fit on a postcard. It must depict your research in some way, shape or form. Write a short summary of your PhD research on the back of the postcard.

See the Hive blog further information. Winners were announced by the judges at the on-campus Hive Happy Hour on Friday 9 July, and recorded for those who couldn't attend.

Sussex Researcher School