Teresa Phipps, Postgraduate Research Senior Officer (Skills Development and Training), Swansea University
And just like that, we have reached the last of our 23 Things! I don’t know about anyone else but it seems 5 minutes since we launched the first of our Things a few months ago. We’ve covered a host of different areas and have hopefully got you thinking about new topics - even some you may not have heard about before we started! Feel free to look back over the list of Things to remind yourself of all everything we’ve explored; the blog and website will stay live for a few more months for you to access.
Don’t forget the end-of-programme celebration meet-ups running on Thursday 8th June!
The aim of this final Thing is to think about how we bring all of these diverse subjects together and how as researchers we can conceive of and communicate our wide-ranging knowledge and skills to the world. It can often be (relatively) easy to talk about the specifics of the research we are doing, and the findings or impact of our studies, but harder to conceptualise how this translates to a wider set of skills and knowledge. Whether you envisage a long-term research or teaching career in academia, or may have other plans for your next steps, it’s increasingly important that we are able to identify and communicate our ideas and how our know-how transfers across a wide range of areas. The good news is that by completing 23 Things this year, you have a whole new list of areas to add to your list! But how can you go about identifying these skills?
If you are doing or have already completed a research degree, you will have developed and utilised most, if not all the following competencies – often without even realising it. All of these skills are essential in research, but also in a wide range of other professional contexts, but we often don’t realise this until we break them down.
communicating your ideas in a range of formats – written, oral, visual – and for different audiences
project design – determining what you are going to do and how, using what methods
collecting and dealing with large volumes of information and data (qualitative and/or quantitative) – processing, understanding, analysis and applying this information
processing and distilling information into key points and findings
project management – planning, meeting deadlines, time management, dealing with change, budgeting
working with others – supervisors, research group, stakeholders, and other colleagues
You might also be involved in teaching, representative roles on committees of academic networks (with associated administrative tasks such as taking minutes, putting together communications or policies and developing strategy), or event planning/marketing/delivery relating to conferences or seminars.
Hopefully, some of the Things we’ve explored here will have added to your list of skills and knowledge:
We’ve learned how we can better work with others, whether that’s online, in supervision relationships, through networking, or fostering better research cultures. And you’ve put this into practice through working with your pod and developing a new international network of your own!
We’ve explored a range of digital tools and approaches that equip us to conduct, manage and share our research and other information in the digital age, from data management and bibliometrics to AI and open access
We’ve delved into some of the most topical issues in research and wider society, inspiring you to think about how to make your work accessible, inclusive and how we can promote equality through research and the curriculum
and finally, we’ve given you plenty of food for thought in boosting your own profile, from thinking about your online presence and professional networks, to communicating your research through a wide variety of platforms and approaches
Some of these may be topics you were already familiar with, while others may have been brand new to you, and there are probably other things you’ve learned more about that I haven’t included here. Through 23 Things our aim is to introduce a wide range of areas and topics and give you some food for thought, but you will likely need to go away and do some further work and exploration on topics that are most relevant or important to you in order to be able to say you have real skills and knowledge in these areas. This is far from the end of the journey!
Now we’ve looked at some of the broader skills and knowledge areas associated with research, the crucial next step is being able to evidence your abilities in these areas. Whether you’re applying for research funding or for a job, you need to be able to prove your competency to your audience. Anyone can claim to be good at something, but it’s evidence and examples that prove this.
For example, I could write a job application that says I have advanced skills in coding and statistical analysis, and that I’m experienced in transcribing and analysing medieval documents. Only one of these claims is true, but without any evidence, it’s impossible to know – I could be making both things up! (It’s actually the medieval one – my stats training stopped at GCSE Maths).
So for our final task and reflection, spend some time thinking about all the skills and knowledge you use day-to-day, whether in your research or in any other role. This can be as simple as writing a list or drawing a mind map. If you want to be more sophisticated, you can try grouping your abilities into different areas. Alongside each area, note an example that could be used as evidence of your abilities. You might find that you can use some of the 23 Things topics and tasks as inspiration or even some of your examples.
If you need some inspiration, you could start by looking at Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework.
You’ll probably find that you also end up identifying gaps in your skills (no one’s perfect!) – make a note of these and think about how you could plug these gaps, perhaps by signing up for some training, seeking an opportunity or doing some research of your own.
So what’s next?
Armed with this array of new skills, interests and connections, we wish you plentiful success and enjoyment, in your research and the rest of life. Above all, we hope you enjoyed meeting your pods and other people on the course. Do stay in touch if you have questions or wish to share your future successes!
In the very short term, we invite you to let us know that you have completed the programme. If you are happy to self-declare that you have read all the blogs and have attempted at least half of the tasks or discussion points, please claim your special digital badge and certificate through this link.
And however much or little you were able to engage with the programme this year (we do know that everyone is extremely busy!), your feedback is vital. We use it to improve the content and structure, conduct research into researcher’s attitudes towards online tools, and evidence the impact of the programme. Please consider sparing us a few minutes via our survey.
To complete the questionnaire:
1. Log into https://app.gosoapbox.com/
2. Enter 199-088-759 and click Join Now
3. Click on Your Feedback on 23 Things
This should take 5-10 minutes, depending on the level of detail you’d like to provide.
The survey will be open until two weeks after the programme ends.
…and after that, it’s up to you. We can’t wait to see what you do with all that talent and charm.
Tūtawa mai i runga
Tūtawa mai i raro
Tūtawa mai i roto
Tūtawa mai i waho
Kia tau ai
Te mauri tū
Te mauri ora
Ki te katoa
[A Māori karakia which translates to:
Come forth from above, below,
within, and from the environment
Vitality and well being
for all Strengthened in unity.]