Doctoral researchers are an integral part of the School’s research culture. We believe a thriving research community encompasses action and values that can enrich the University experience at all career levels, affecting the ways researchers conduct their work and how they communicate the results to wider publics. A sense of community and belonging can help PGRs to not only build their professional networks, but to support wellbeing and counteract feelings of isolation.
Within the School we are working towards strengthening our PGR research culture particularly after the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years and to embrace the multidisciplinary nature of a larger School. As a first step we have created a new 6-month post – Doctoral Research Events Officer, who will be a doctoral researcher coming to the end of their studies, and will be able to build and connect our doctoral research community. Manuel Salazar was our first Doctoral Research Events Officer and passed the baton on to Nick Greenwood the following academic year. Joe Ironside is the current Officer.
Our aims to improve the research culture for doctoral researchers are:
- to build a sense of connection between PGRs
- strengthen department-level conversations
- create opportunities for researchers to meet with peers and faculty
- support the development of research and teaching skills
- to prepare doctoral researchers for academic and professional life, whilst also enhancing researcher confidence and celebrating successes.
Our focus is on encouragement and support through the organisation of research and social events, with opportunities for exchange and interaction. To achieve this, we are planning a vibrant term calendar of community-strengthening initiatives aimed at exchanging research in progress, discussing community-wide issues, promoting the benefits of peer support, and offering career guidance.
In the calendar, there are:
- induction events, with opportunities for newcomers to socialise and exchange initial research ideas
- research in progress seminars to help researchers hone presentation skills in supportive and peer-centred environments
- reading groups to stimulate academic discussion
- peer-support online group meetings for new students
- craft and chat wellbeing events and other social opportunities to socialise such as the weekly coffee mornings and get-togethers
- In May, the Doctoral Day conference stimulates the exchange of research results with presentations from PGRs from third years and up, giving a School-wide picture of the range of topics researched across the School.
Finally, we encourage PGRs to create networks and organise researcher-led initiatives by offering opportunities to fund workshops, panels, keynotes, conferences, colloquia, get-togethers, which have total support for logistics and marketing from the Doctoral Research Events Officer.
Contact Joe Ironside for more information at J.Ironside@sussex.ac.uk