Research Skills

The workshops listed under this theme provide a wide range of skills and knowledge in becoming an effective researcher. They will allow you to directly apply new learning to individual research projects as well as refresh your skills in areas you are familiar.

Beginning Your Research: Getting off to a Flying Start

Facilitator: Neil Raven                      A1 – A2 – A3 – B2

Aimed at those starting their research, this session focuses on the early phase of the research process, ensuring that you get off to a good start! The workshop will consider: the selection of a topic; identifying an argument and hypothesis; examining the role of the literature; the phases associated with undertaking research; and how to plan and approach the thesis. The purpose of the degree and the range of skills required will also be explored, addressing your training needs and identifying sources of advice, guidance, and activities that can help you make the most of your experience. It will conclude with a set of recommendations for successful completion made by supervisors and examiners as well as recent researchers, including the importance of having the right mind-set and an effective record keeping system. Useful information about other University services, plus mandatory research ethics and integrity training shall also be provided.

The Viva: A Participatory Masterclass (College of Arts)

Facilitator: Jane Chapman            A1 – B1 – B2 – C2

This session is suitable for Arts and Humanities PGR students. This session provides essential information, tips, and recent reactions– from the viewpoint of an external examiner and supervisor, plus two students who have undergone the experience recently. At least half the time will be given over to questions. This participatory workshop, aimed at all PGR students who face a viva, will comprise:

Professor Jane Chapman will ask whether you should feel trepidation about, or welcome the help of the external? Jane will talk about expectations and reality from her experiences as both examiner and supervisor, and the learning points these personal thoughts may provoke (whilst preserving anonymity at all times). Two PhDs, Dr. Grace Harvey (Lincoln 2019) and Dr. Laura Gill (Sussex 2017) will each discuss their own memories and thoughts after the event. Q. and A. Summary of points that emerge from the inevitable event to come.

Interviews in Academic Research

Facilitator: Neil Raven                     A1 – A2 – A3 – B2

This session will examine the types of research interview available, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Consideration will also be given to some of the more widely used approaches to qualitative interviewing and when each of these approaches is best applied.The session will examine the key phases involved in the interview process, covering preparation work – including interviewee selection and pre-interview communication – before exploring the process of conducting the interview itself. Attention will be given to the role of the interviewer and practices for generating good quality data. The post-interview phase, including transcription, data interpretation and analysis, will also be addressed, along with the subjects of data storage, data protection and research ethics. The workshop will conclude by exploring how other methods can be used to complement the insights provided by interviews and the role of a pilot study in testing research methods and design.

The Focus Group in Academic Research

Facilitator: Neil Raven                      A1 – B2 – D1 – D2

This session will examine the types of focus group used and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Drawing on examples of research projects, it will also consider when to use focus groups and the factors determining the number to conduct, including a comparison with other forms of qualitative research (interviews and observation, etc.). The session will explore the key phases involved in conducting successful focus group research. This will cover preparation work, group selection, the development of a schedule of questions and the use of other data generating activities, before exploring the process of conducting the focus group. The workshop will conclude by exploring how other qualitative methods, as well as quantitative ones, can be used to complement the insights provided by focus groups, and the role that pilot studies can play in the testing of method and design.

Qualitative Longitudinal Research: Concepts & Approaches

Facilitator: Neil Raven                                   A1 – A2

‘Conventional’ approaches to qualitative research have certain limitations. They tend to capture data at a particular moment in time. Whilst still new to a number of subject areas, qualitative longitudinal research offers an approach that has the potential to overcome this drawback. Having provided an introduction and explanation of what QLR encompasses, attention will turn to its potential advantages and strengths, as well as its limitations and the challenges associated with its application. Some examples of QRL’s use in ‘the field’ will be given, with participants working in small groups to explore how it might be applied to a current area of concern to researchers. Concluding with participants considering how QLR could be deployed in their research.

Life Story Interviews

Facilitator: Neil Raven                               A1 – A3 – D2

The life story interview has been described as a ‘research tool that is gaining much interest’. As a qualitative methodology it has the capability of generating rich, narrative data. Consequently, it is starting to be adopted across a number of disciplines. This workshop will begin by providing an introduction to the life story interview – the origins of this approach as well as its key characteristics. Attention will then turn to an exploration of its comparative strengths and limitations, before consideration is given to a case study illustrating its application. The workshop will then explore techniques designed to maximise the quality of the data generated, including the role that the interviewer should play. The session will conclude with participants investigating how the life story interview – on its own or as part of a mixed methods approach – might be deployed in their own research work.

The Collection & Analysis of Qualitative Data

Facilitator: Neil Raven                      A1 – A2  – C2

For those using qualitative methods, this interactive workshop considers the application of these methods to the research question, alongside the process of data collection and data analysis. The workshop will consider the characteristics of qualitative data and its value to academic enquiry. A series of case studies will feature, providing participants with an opportunity to explore the most appropriate methods and research design to apply in each case. It will consider methods designed to ensure the generation of high quality data, exploring the various phases associated with data analysis, namely: transcription and data preparation; organisation and interpretation; plus the identification of themes and categories. Consideration will be given to expressing trends and tendencies, as well as recognising the concepts of saturation and triangulation. Participants can then apply their learning to an excerpt from an interview transcript.

Real World Research: Applying Research Methods to Contemporary Challenge

Facilitator: Neil Raven                       A1 – A2 – A3 – B1

This workshop will present participants with an opportunity to test and apply their knowledge of research methods to a contemporary and very real issue, and one likely to be familiar to many. With this objective in mind, the session will begin with an introduction to the particular challenge – its history and character – as well as an exploration of why it requires attention and why it demands an improvement in our understanding. The scene having been set, participants will work in small groups to devise a suitable research design and identify an appropriate set of research methods capable of meeting this challenge. The session will then provide an opportunity for participants to assess and reflect on the ‘solutions’ they have devised. It will conclude with a consideration of the principles that underpin successful research practice.

Qualitative Research Methods: The Essential Support Workshop

Facilitator: Neil Raven                               A1 – A2 – C2

There are a host of qualitative methods available to researchers, from interviews and focus groups, to observation and questionnaires. This session is designed to help participants prepare for their next steps in the research process. It does so by providing an opportunity for those attending to further explore the particular research methods they are thinking of deploying. It will offer participants the chance to identify and address any challenges, dilemmas or uncertainties they have in the selection of particular methods, as well as in the use of these methods in the field, and in the procedures and processes for the collection and storage of data. The interactive nature of this workshop also means that participants will have a chance to learn from others who are at a similar, or subsequent stage in their research. It is also designed with the aim of helping participants to develop strategies that will enable them to progress with their research and to maximise the potential of their chosen methods.

Programming in MATLAB

Facilitator: Robin Kramer                      A1 – A2  – C2

Increasingly, a working knowledge of the MATLAB software package is becoming a requirement for postdoctoral & research positions in experimental psychology. MATLAB is an extremely flexible and powerful programming language that can be used for the designing and running of experiments, as well as data analysis. This workshop will cover the basics of programming in MATLAB: data handling and plotting, data analysis, functions, scripts, and loops. The course is aimed at postgraduates who would like to start using the software package, and no previous experience with MATLAB is necessary. The workshop will be run by Dr. Robin Kramer, who is a Mathworks certified MATLAB associate.

Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo

Facilitator: Tochukwu Onwuegbusi       A1 – A2 – C2

 Aimed at those conducting qualitative research, this session will examine the process of using NVivo software for analysing qualitative data including when to use such a software. Drawing on examples of research projects, the session will provide step by step guide for using NVivo including how to import data (e.g., interview transcripts) into NVivo platform and add classifications to your project (i.e., demographic details of participants). Examples will follow the guidelines for thematic analysis (TA) and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which are part of popular techniques used in analysing qualitative data. 

Running Analysis in JASP

Facilitator: Tochukwu Onwuegbusi       A1 – A2  – C2

This workshop will focus on how to use JASP statistical software, which is an open-source, cross platform, user-friendly graphical software package that allows users to carry out Bayesian hypothesis tests for standard statistical problems. It has an in-built platforms for frequentist analyses (e.g., t-tests, correlation, regression, anovas) and Bayesian alternatives to these tests and provides annotated output for communicating your results. The interface is user friendly and allows for dynamic update of all results, thus giving you an immediate feedback.

Research Data Management Plans

Facilitator: Charlotte Carter          A1 – A2  – B2 – C2

This session is designed for all staff wanting to develop their knowledge about Research Data Management Plans and both the internal and external factors that influence data management. This session will provide an overview of the basic elements of a data management plan; including what is classified as research data and how this applies to all disciplines. It will focus on both the internal and external considerations required when thinking about how to manage research data. Learn the basic information needed when completing a research data management plans and understand where to find support for completing one.

Online: What Should a Literature Review Do?

Facilitator: Simon Watts                          A1 – A2 – A3

Every thesis must include a review of relevant literature. Indeed, conducting a literature review is often the first thing a PGR student is asked to do. This session discusses the purpose of this literature review and the importance of summarising, analysing and synthesising the arguments of others as a means of providing a context for your own research. It also considers some alternative models for writing and structuring a literature review chapter. Understanding your research ‘field’, and being able to guide your reader around it, are very important first steps on the road to doctoral success. This session is designed to facilitate that process.



Time Management, Motivation & Prioritisation

Facilitator: Joanna Young                 A2 – B2 – B3 – C3

Time management and motivation is not about working more, it’s about working smarter. This workshop is designed for researchers who are interested in developing their time management skills to optimise their working hours. With research activities, literature, publishing, tutoring, and writing to consider, it can be challenging for researchers to fit everything in. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to techniques to optimise their time and discuss working patterns with others. Participants will evaluate what they currently spend their time on, what they would like to prioritise, how to measure their progress and how to keep motivated by considering what works best for them.

Maintaining Momentum: Tactics for Keeping your Research on Track

Facilitator: Neil Raven                      B1 – B2  – C2

Research represents a substantial commitment in terms of time and dedication. Whilst pursuing a doctorate is likely to prove a stimulating, engrossing and highly rewarding experience for those who decide to take this pathway, there may also be circumstances and situations when it becomes more challenging, and when the risks of losing momentum – perhaps even motivation – loom large. This workshop is designed to help those encountering such challenges. Whilst complementing the introductory ‘Getting off to a flying start with your research’ workshop, this session is aimed at those who are now some months into their doctoral studies. As such, it will provide an opportunity for participants to take stock of their progress to date, share their experiences and the challenges they have encountered, and identify and devise tactics for overcoming these barriers to progression. Drawing on a range of sources, workshop participants will also have an opportunity to explore and assess examples of good practice from across the wider sector.

Surviving your PhD!

Facilitator: Anne Rixom                A1 – B1 – B2 – C2

This session is aimed at students at the beginning of their PhD, with a lighthearted and positive approach to build your confidence and increase your understanding of what lies ahead. The session will provide general pointers on how you might manage your academic study, the pitfalls you might face (and how to avoid them!) and offer ideas on how to develop time management strategies. Key academic elements of PhD study will also be covered, including what to consider when conducting fieldwork, analysing data and structuring the chapters of your thesis. Discussion will also cover your relationship with your supervisors, how you might approach writing up, what you can expect in the Viva and how it links to the thesis. The aim is to keep discussion informal, and from the perspective of what you as a PhD student can expect and how you might approach the challenges successfully.

(While examples are specific to the PhD process, all research students are welcome to attend)

Preparing for the Viva Examination

Facilitator: Anne Rixom                 A1 – B1 – B2 – C2

This session is aimed at students towards the end of their research, with a focus on the Viva, where you will be asked to defend your academic arguments and contribution to originality. The approach is discussed from the perspective of a student, considering what you can expect once you have submitted your thesis. It will discuss how you can prepare yourself for the final examination and make the academic shift from writing up to defending your thesis. Alongside general planning, the session will cover all the academic stages of viva preparation, including key research regulations you need to know, the appointment and management of your examiners, how to prepare for potential questions, understanding what will happen during the Viva itself, and the role of examiners and the independent Viva Chair. The aim is to keep discussion informal, and from the perspective of what you can expect and how you might prepare yourself to achieve a successful Viva.

Online: Preparing for Your Viva

Facilitator: Simon Watts                      A1 – B2  – C2

The session aims to increase PGR students’ understanding of the oral examination process, to understand how an examiner will assess their thesis, to provide practical advice on how to prepare effectively and to build confidence in the student’s ability to perform well at the viva. The session may be of most benefit to students who are within a few months of being examined, but it can also help to increase the knowledge and confidence of students earlier in their research journey.

Completing Your PhD

Facilitator: Neil Raven                     A1 – A2 – A3 – B2

Aimed at final year PhD students, this session deals with the final phase of the process and explores strategies to help ensure successful completion. By reviewing and evaluating work produced thus far, and locating remaining gaps, you will formulate a plan for completion. Attention will be given to strategies for good time management and the identification of effective working practices in the final stage of the PhD, as well as addressing editing your PhD. This will include preparing for the viva and, in so doing, will draw upon examiners’ advice.

(While examples are specific to the PhD process, all research students are welcome to attend)

The Mindful Thesis

Facilitator: Rebecca Jackson            A2 – A3 – B1 – B2

In this session, we discuss how important a healthy brain and calm mind are for an effective, engaging thesis. We evaluate and plan to use a number of mindfulness and stress-reduction tactics for researchers, and encourage researchers to re-frame “intellectual self-care” as a work task that directly contributes to the success of their research, as well as their ongoing researcher well-being. This workshop can be attended by any researcher at any stage.

Online: A Comparison of Qualitative Methods

Facilitator: Simon Watts                          A1 – A2 – A3

This session will compare and contrast the aims, data collection preferences, analytic style, limitations and appropriate usage of four different qualitative methods – grounded theory, thematic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis and narrative analysis – in order to identify the types of research questions to which each method is best suited. The possibility of conducting by-person or case analyses using qualitative data will also be considered.

Online: Qualitative Interviewing

Facilitator: Simon Watts                          A1 – A2 – A3

This session will consider three different types of interviewing (structured, semi-structured & unstructured), but with a particular focus on semi-structured or ‘qualitative’ interviewing. Other issues covered will include the nature of interview questions, the design and structure of an effective interview schedule and the mechanics of conducting a successful interview (with different people and to deliver on our research aims). The idea is to share experiences, knowledge and potential ‘tricks-of-the-trade’. Time will be allowed for raising questions and/or issues pertinent to your own research.

Online: Analysing Qualitative Data

Facilitator: Simon Watts                     A1 – A2

This session will consider and discuss a range of issues relative to the micro-analysis of qualitative data. Using example data throughout, issues covered will include the analyst’s perspective (the aims and nature of their engagement with the data), coding systems, how to choose extracts for analysis in a systematic fashion, the meaning and importance of interpretation, generalising from qualitative findings and various write-up issues, including the relationship between the analysis and discussion sections of a qualitative report and the creation of impact.

Online: A Basic Guide to Quantitative Research

Facilitator: Kimberley Bartholomew                A1 – A2

This session offers a methodological introduction to quantitative research. This is tailored to PGR students using quantitative methods and analyses for the first time, or those who feel in need of a refresher session. Important quantitative concepts such as variables, hypotheses, probability, reliability, validity, and Type 1 and 2 errors will be defined with a tour taken through a range of statistical tests that can be used to examine both significant associations and significant differences in your data set. Each statistical test will be mapped against the kind of research questions/hypotheses it is designed to answer and attendees will be shown how to run each test in principle, to interpret their results/output and to report the findings of each test in an appropriate format. If you’re intending to employ quantitative research techniques in your thesis, but currently feel uncertain about the correct procedure or method of data analysis, this session is for you.

Online: An Introduction to Scale Development

Facilitator: Kimberley Bartholomew          A1 – A2

This session will introduce students to the procedures used to develop reliable and valid scales, allowing them to accurately measure a variety of personal and social variables which would otherwise not be directly observable. Led by a tutor well-known for her scale development work in the context of self-determination theory – having designed and implemented both ‘The Controlling Coach Behaviour Scale’ (cited 166 times since 2010) and ‘The Psychological Need Thwarting Scale’ (cited 181 times since 2011) – the session will explore the scale development process from start to finish, beginning with item generation, and moving on to the piloting of items, through data collection, and concluding with a guide to various data analytic techniques, including exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, as well as appropriate tests of reliability and validity.

Online: An Introduction to Structural Equation Modelling

Facilitator: Kimberley Bartholomew                A1 – A2

Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) is a powerful multivariate statistical technique which enables researchers to examine several regression equations simultaneously. This session will provide an introduction to the key concepts involved in SEM, including latent, exogenous, and endogenous variables and their graphical notation. Students will also be introduced to the concepts of both the measurement and structural model, before being taken on a step-by-step journey through the process of data analysis, stopping off on the way to consider issues of model specification, data collection, model estimation, model evaluation, and model modification. The session will conclude with a demonstration of how to interpret the output of an SEM analysis and to report the findings/revealed model correctly using both text and appropriate diagrams/figures.

Why Do I Need a P-Value?

Facilitator: Maths & Stats Help                  A1 – A2

In this interactive workshop, we will look at a very simple dataset in SPSS and see how a t-test saves us from making a catastrophically bad decision.  The main aim is a deeper understanding of what a t-test (or p-values in general) really tells you, but also to start to think about exploring data in SPSS, and have a go at running and interpreting a t-test and p-values.

How to Start Analysing Data in SPSS

Facilitator: Maths & Stats Help         A1 – A2

In this interactive workshop, we will take a look at some real data from the General Social Survey, and build a set of steps for investigating that data.  We will chiefly focus on different types of graphs and the p-values that can give those graphs credibility.  It is highly recommended to attend “Why Do I Need a p-value?” first, but this is designed to be a standalone workshop if you can’t make it to that.

Getting Started in R

Facilitator: Maths & Stats Help                A1 – A2

A hands on beginner’s introduction to the R environment. This is for you if you don’t know where to start. We hope you’ll leave this workshop with the confidence to explore R further.

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