PhD/PGR Online Writing Retreats

It might surprise you at first that writing retreats have moved online. After all, some of the key benefits of in-person retreats (the provision of a quiet space & various delivery vehicles for caffeine) are no longer relevant when you’re sitting in your own room.

But there are good reasons to give online retreats a try. There’s the camaraderie, of course, but also externally imposed structure. You might be less likely to wander off to check the news if you know that other people will see you.

If you’re interested in attending, consider signing up for a session. There are two retreats held by the Institute for Academic Development on Nov 16th and 27th. There are also regular sessions every Monday and Friday held by Dr Mirjam Eiswirth, who worked for the PPLS Skills/Writing Centre for four years before moving to the University of Duisburg-Essen. She has held over 150 hours so far this year!

Both of these sessions are aimed at PGR and PhD students. Postdocs and other staff are welcome, too.

Something to do while we’re waiting

Eager for the semester to start? There are plenty of ways to build up your skills and knowledge in preparation for the upcoming year.  You could watch a recorded workshop on how to write an essay in philosophy, read about the different ways of conducting psychology experiments online, or learn how to use your computer to keep track of your notes and references. 

All of this and more is available to UoE students at the PPLS Learning Resources site.

Learn a new skill: Referencing software

Every year the number of publications you have to track will grow. This will become unmanageable around the same time that you will no longer have time to learn new software: when writing your dissertation. That’s why it’s a good idea to start using a reference manager as soon as possible. You’ll find that writing becomes much easier when your brain isn’t occupied with worries about tracking citations and updating your bibliography.

When I last surveyed staff members, Mendeley and EndNote were two of the most popular choices. Mendeley has ample documentation at their site, and there’s a LinkedIn Learning course called EndNote Essential Training.

For more on essential academic skills, visit “Developing your skills” at PPLS Learning Resources.

Dissertation Guides

Karen Fleet, our librarian in PPLS, has sent through a list of books on how to write dissertations that are available (at least temporarily) through DiscoverEd. To access this list, go to our Learning Resources site, select “DiscoverEd lists” from the menu at the top, and click on “Dissertation guides”. For a more general guide to academic writing, check out Booth et al.’s The Craft of Research (see “The fundamentals” for a description and a link).

MSc Dissertation Exemplars

Writing a dissertation is easier if you have an idea of what you should be aiming for. To see some well-received PPLS dissertations from previous years, head over to our Writing Examples page. We’ll add to this collection again.

PPLS Writing Centre Quantitative Workshops

The PPLS Writing Centre is holding its annual workshop series for MSc dissertation writers. These workshops are aimed at students who are doing quantitative research and are not sure how to write it up or visualise it effectively.

These workshops have both been held in two prior years, but have been newly adapted to online delivery by their creators, Fang Jackson-Yang and Andres Karjus. Because the “live” sections of these workshops are preceded by asynchronous online activities, you must sign up well in advance, so please pay careful attention to the dates. In past years, these workshops have filled up quickly, so sign up now if you’re interested by clicking on the date/time you want to book. Even if a workshop is full, sign up anyways: doing so will put you on a waiting list and will also let us gauge interest in a third round of workshops.

Writing in Quantitative Research (Fang Jackson-Yang)

This series of workshops is designed to show you how to write longer psychology essays with introduction, methods, results and discussion sections.  This workshop was developed with the guidance of psychology teaching staff and tutors, and will include activities throughout. Each round is preceded by videos and a forum activity.

Make sure to sign up for all THREE sessions in the round you choose unless you specifically want to attend fewer.

Round 1 (sign-up deadline: June 30)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 1 for completion by Jul 3. Videos to be sent on Jul 6.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 8 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 9 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 10 11:00-13:00

Round 2 (sign-up deadline: July 14 July 19)

Survey link to be sent on Jul 15 for completion by Jul 17. Videos to be sent on Jul 20.

Live workshop (Intro/Methods)
Jul 22 11:00-13:00
Live workshop (Results/Discussion)
Jul 23 11:00-13:00
Live Q&A session
Jul 24 11:00-13:00

Explore and visualise your data in R (Andres Karjus)

In this workshop, you will learn how to use R to produce informative, beautiful, and reproducible graphs from your data. No prior knowledge is assumed, all the software is free, and installation instructions will be provided. The introduction, online video, and exercises will start two days before each Q&A session.

Live Q&A session (sign-up deadlines: Jul 5 and Jul 26)
Jul 8th 14:00-15:00
Jul 29th 14:00-15:00