Digital Skills Festival Recordings

Back in May 2021, the University of Edinburgh held its first Digital Skills Festival. There were a number of presentations and workshops that would be of interest to students and researchers in PPLS (e.g., Library Bitesize, Managing Your References, etc.).

For those who missed out, there’s good news: many of these events were recorded for posterity. Visit https://digitalskillsfestival.ed.ac.uk/recordings-and-resources/ to see what’s available.

Code Dojo

Have you got past the first stage in programming? Do you want to improve? Consider attending Alisdair Tullo‘s Code Dojo on 18 August 2021 (13:30-16:30) (click to sign up). You’ll work in teams to solve coding challenges. The default language is Python, but you can agree to work in another language with your teammates. The event will be hosted in Microsoft Teams (a link will be sent to everyone who registers).

First-year writing appointments

The PPLS Skills Centre has a new offering for first-year undergraduates. Traditionally, we’ve been focused on helping students in years 2 and up, but in 2021/22 we will provide one writing appointment per semester to students taking our first-year courses as well. You can use your appointment to discuss any essay you are writing for the following courses:

Semester 1

  • Introduction to Cognitive Science
  • Linguistics and English Language 1A
  • Morality and Value
  • Philosophy of Science 1
  • Psychology 1A

Semester 2

  • Greats: From Plato to the Enlightenment
  • Linguistics and English Language 1B
  • Psychology 1B

We won’t proofread your work or help you with content. Rather, our goal is to help you communicate more effectively. We will let you know if parts of your writing are confusing for your readers and will work with you on finding ways to make things better. For more information, please see “1-on-1 appointments” at https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources.

CVs and Academic Websites

On April 14th, Dr Itamar Kastner will be holding a workshop aimed at PhD students in MGRG. It will be about getting CVs and academic websites ready. If you’ve got something already (even if it’s just a draft), you can bring it along for discussion. But it’s fine to come just to talk — no preparation is required. The workshop will be held on the MGRG Skills Workshop team in Microsoft Teams. If you’re in MGRG but have not joined that team, please send Itamar a message.

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.

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).

Resources for MSc dissertation writers

This post is to make sure you’re aware of the resources for MSc students writing dissertations.   Of course, writing a dissertation is never a stress-free experience, but we would like to make sure that you’re adequately supported.  Accordingly, we’ve extended our offerings and will be organising a series of events to help you finish up.

1) One-on-one appointments

First, I’d like to remind you that PPLS Writing Centre one-on-one appointments are available in the summer months as well.  You’ve each been given three hours per month to talk with PhD tutors about your work.  You’d be welcome to bring in sections of your dissertation.   Make sure not to let your June hours expire.  Don’t forget to reserve your July/August spots as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

As always, the booking form is available in the “Appointments” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/).  Note that these sessions are not for proofreading – the reason we’re here is to make sure that you communicate your ideas in a way that matches expectations in your subject area.

2) Help with statistics

Students tackling quantitative work for the first time can run into all sorts of problems when analysing and interpreting data.  While you should always consult your supervisor first about questions of *what* to do (analysis planning), we can help you figure out *how* to do what you want to do (implementation).

If you need that sort of help, click on the “Request help (stats, etc.)” tab (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/more-help/), choose “PGT DISSERTATIONS” under “Statistics help for student researchers, and tell us about your project.  Once you’ve submitted your answers, they will be passed along to our PhD tutors and, in some cases, the Teaching Fellows for statistics.

Please be aware that it will take some time for your query to reach the right person.  The turnaround time could be as high as 2 weeks in some cases.  Make sure to request help well in advance of when you need it.

3) Writing and statistics workshops

In late June and early July, we will be running a series of workshops on writing quantitative reports and visualising data.  These workshops were developed by senior tutors working for the centre, and will, of course, be held online.  Exact dates will be announced within a week.

4) Programming

If you’re using jsPsych to collect data online, you can ask a PhD tutor for help with your code. These appointments are booked using the same interface as the writing appointments (https://writingcentre.ppls.ed.ac.uk/appointments/). Make sure to select “Programming – jsPsych” as the appointment type.

5) Learning resources

Don’t forget about our new Learning Resources site (https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/PPLSLearningResources).  We’ve gathered links to online resources that include past dissertations, skills training, and help with online data collection.  We’ll be adding new resources later this month – expect an announcement in a week or two.

As always, write me if you have any questions.