Early career researcher workshops

To meet the development and training needs of early career researchers and research staff we offer a bespoke programme.  

Please be aware: all development workshops are virtual at present.

Being an early career researcher at Surrey: The unofficial guide

We will endeavour to meet all new research staff when they arrive at Surrey for a short chat about how we can best support you.

During this meeting you will receive a copy of "Being an Early Career Researcher at Surrey. The Unofficial Guide."  If you are already at Surrey and would like to meet with a member of the RDP team then please request a one-to-one appointment.

As well as the following workshops, training and events, you can also get involved with:

Workshops and training schedule

For more details and to register for any of these events, please email rdp@surrey.ac.uk

View a full list of the learning and development opportunities available to all staff on SurreyNet.

November 2021

01-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
02-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Preparing for a Postdoc
03-Nov-2110:00 - 11:00Bright Club Training: Presentation Skills Plus
05-Nov-2110.00 - 12:00Unconscious Bias Training: Understand, Identify, Act
08-Nov-2110:00 - 12:00Mentorship Training
08-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
08-Nov-2111:00 - 12:30Data Management Plans
09-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Research Funding: The Basics
10-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Marketing yourself: CV workshop
15-Nov-2110:00 - 12:30The Focus Zone - Virtual Time Management Session
16-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Critically
16-Nov-2110:00 - 12:00Presentation Skills Essentials
16-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Presentation Skills in Practice
17-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
22-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
23-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Coherently
24-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Preparing for Online Interviews
25-Nov-2111:00 - 12:30Becoming an Open Researcher
25-Nov-2115:00 - 16:30Research Data Management
29-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Concisely
29-Nov-2110:00 - 11:00Plan It, Do It
29-Nov-2110:00 - 12:30The Focus Zone - Virtual Time Management Session
30-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual

December 2021

06-Dec-2110:00 - 12:30The Focus Zone - Virtual Time Management Session
07-Dec-2111:00 - 13:00Editing
07-Dec-2114.00 - 16:00Poster Presentations
08-Dec-2115:00 - 16:30Data Management Plans
10-Dec-2110:00 - 12:00Building your Professional Network: An introduction 
14-Dec-2110.00 - 11:00Plan it, Do it
15-Dec-2110:00 - 13:00MINI Writing Retreat - Virtual

January 2022

14-Jan-2210.00 - 12:00Mentorship Training
19-Jan-2214.00 - 16:00Research Funding: The Basics
20-Jan-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course
21-Jan-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course
21-Jan-2210:00 - 11:30Data Management Plans
25-Jan-2213:00 - 14:30Research Data Management
28-Jan-2213:00 - 15:00How to develop Research Integrity: A Virtue workshop
31-Jan-2211:00 - 12:00Plan It, Do It

February 2022

03-Feb-2210.00 - 12:00Presentation Skills Essentials
03-Feb-2215:00 -17:00Presentation Skills in Practice

March 2022

03-Mar-2213:00 - 14:30Data Management Plans
16-Mar-2211:00 -12:30Research Data Management

April 2022

12-Apr-2213:00 - 14:30Data Management Plans
21-Apr-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course
22-Apr-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course

May 2022

03-May-2214:00 - 15:30Research Data Management
23-May-2211:00 - 12:30Data Management Plans

June 2022

10-Jun-2210:00 - 11:30Research Data Management
30-Jun-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course

July 2022

01-Jul-229:45 - 16:00NVivo Two Day Course
14-Jul-2215:00 - 16:30Research Data Management
20-Jul-2214:00 - 15:30Data Management Plans

Workshop descriptions

Read the workshop descriptions to find out more.

Career development

This workshop is for any Early Career Researcher who has recently made the move from research student to research staff member (e.g. postdoc, fellow, officer, etc.). You no longer have the pressure of preparing a thesis and a looming viva (!) but you may still feel like a student and are wondering what you should be aiming for now.  

If you are asking yourself questions such as:

  • What is expected from a postdoc / fellow / research officer / early career researcher?
  • What is different from being a research student?  
  • How can I become a valued member of staff?  
  • What do successful ECRs do?  
  • What does my P.I. / line-manager expect from me?
  • I am on a short fixed-term contract; how can I make the most of my time? 

Then please come along to this workshop.

Explore opportunities beyond academia, possibilities, resources and support for bridging the gap. Includes:

  • Discussing individual career ambitions and factors influencing career decisions
  • Identifying a range of career opportunities from research in academia and the private sector to the wide range of employment opportunities beyond
  • Evaluating strategies to research the options, uncover opportunities and build a network
  • Identify next steps towards an effective career plan

An introduction to different theories of career planning followed by a practical planning session in which ECRs, either individually or in groups, identify short- and long-term goals and make a step by step plan using a range of techniques. Concludes with individuals making a commitment to themselves and their plans.

Building and maintaining your network is key to your continuing professional development, whatever field you may work in. In the current circumstances, online networking is increasingly important. This introductory workshop is designed to help you build your confidence when networking both online and face to face. We’ll introduce strategies for successful networking in different contexts such as career development and exploration, job search and raising your profile at conferences.

During the workshop we will:

  • Reflect on experiences and understanding of networking
  • Audit your current network to consider how to build and strengthen your connections
  • Prepare for, and practise, online networking
  • Explore the benefits of social media and online platforms
  • Develop confidence in their own authentic networking approach and strategies

An interactive workshop covering the practicalities of effective interview preparation, presentation, performance and review, including:

  • Answering challenging interview questions, including competency, technical, and strength-based questions
  • Preparing an elevator pitch
  • Evaluating different assessment techniques including AI and video interviews
  • Reviewing employer expectations

Review of a range of job search techniques, examining factors which contribute to successful applications, including:

  • An evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of different job search strategies, including working with recruiters, and application techniques
  • Making appropriate career choices
  • Accessing careers and employability support to develop transferable skills
  • Networking for career success

In recent years, there has been an increased national strategic drive to encourage researchers to evaluate and take control of their skills training and professional development. 

Researchers need to be able to articulate and promote their research skills, whether they are competing for academic jobs or demonstrating the transferable value of their PhD studies to an industry employer.

This short workshop will introduce researchers to Vitae and its wealth of free resources that are designed to support researchers with their ongoing professional development.

Researchers will take a closer look at the Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and learn how to use it in order to conduct their own research training needs and skills analysis.

  • You will leave the workshop with an understanding of how to access nationally recommended professional development tools and resources.
  • You will be able to use the Vitae RDF to evaluate your own training needs and identify your strengths and weaknesses as a researcher.
  • If you are a PhD student, this workshop will help you prepare content for annual reviews and confirmation reports.

Aimed at mid stage or final year doctoral researchers, this workshop explores options after the doctorate and offers the opportunity to review career plans before entering the next stage in your career. Are you on track to make the most of future opportunities?

  • Researching and evaluating opportunities
  • Key drivers and values – what is important to you?
  • Reviewing achievements and marketing your transferable skills
  • Consolidating professional development
  • Career planning strategies, long and short term

Are you currently seeking work or planning an active job search? Whether a postgraduate or early career researcher this workshop offers the opportunity to discuss strategies in a competitive and currently unpredictable labour market, and how to make effective applications.

  • Analysing the labour market and finding vacancies
  • Evaluating job search strategies, including working with recruiters
  • Bridging the gap - professional development
  • Effective applications - marketing your transferable skills
  • Planning for career success

Are you considering a career in academia? Relevant to any postgraduate researcher considering or planning to continue in research beyond their doctorate, this workshop explores postdoctoral roles. We examine the skills that applicants are expected (or encouraged) to demonstrate, and what you can do during your doctoral studies to meet these criteria. We also explore the differences between postgraduate and early career researcher roles.

Preparation is the key to impressing at recruitment interviews and even more so now that interviews are being held online. As with face to face interviews online interviewers want to hear examples that best demonstrate your suitability for the role and organisation and also what to gauge your enthusiasm for the role. Knowing you have done all you can to prepare for an online interview will help you approach the experience with confidence.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Understand the different types of online interview you might face
  • Develop strategies on how to prepare for different types of questions using the STAR structure
  • Be able to effectively present yourself, your skills, experience and motivation for the role

This online workshop is interactive and will include exercises during which you can practice asking, answering online interview questions, as well as gaining feedback. You will be expected to have your camera turned on during this workshop, just as you would in an online interview. 

Is your CV up to date?  Could it be strengthened? For those with less experience of CV writing or wanting to explore ways of using their CV more effectively, this workshop examines different styles of CV, academic, narrative, technical/skills based, commercial CVs for example. Share ideas about how to tailor CVs to meet employers’ expectations across different sectors

In the workshop we will focus on what makes a successful CV, including:

  • Comparison of different styles of CV.
  • Targeting the content of a CV to an advertised role
  • Effective CV presentation - layout and language.
  • Application Tracking Systems and CV submission, including cover letters.
  • A chance to review your own CV's checking they are up to date and where they need strengthening.

Communication and dissemination

There is a great deal made about star ratings of academic outputs.  Pressure is put on early career researchers to produce three or four star outputs to enhance their career prospects.  But what does it mean to write a four-star paper?  What gives it that star quality and how do you know if your paper will be ‘good enough’? Within this workshop we will demystify star ratings and discuss common qualities of papers and of the journals they are likely to appear in which make them more highly rated. 

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Understand what 4 star journals are looking for
  • Explore how to attract the broadest possible readership
  • Learn simple techniques to help you start to write in a 4 star way.
  • Think about opportunities to make the system work for you

Everyone knows that conferences are important for your CV and for your career progression, but are you really getting the most out of your conference experiences?  In this workshop, we will explore how to best promote your research and yourself in the context of an academic conference.  To do so we will look at a variety of common aspects of conferences, including delivering presentations, attending presentations, networking events and conference dinners and even interacting with the various publishers and companies selling their wares at the conference.  There are a wide range of opportunities and this workshop will help you become aware of these and plan to ensure you truly get the most out of your next conference experience.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn how to use conference presentation to best advertise your research.
  • Create networking goals and strategies to enhance your chances of meeting and impressing key people in your field.
  • Think outside the box about how an academic conference can enable you to learn about a wide variety of career options and help you on the first steps to a career either within or outside of academia.

We all know it is often difficult to find the time to devote to writing. The Doctoral College offers virtual writing retreats, which are aimed at researchers who would like to benefit from a supported environment to assist in the progression of a piece of writing. Support, mentoring and motivation will be available from the academic writing teaching fellow and the Researcher Development Programme team. This is an excellent opportunity to progress with journal articles, funding bids, reports, or book chapters, within a structured and motivating schedule.

What is a Virtual Writing Retreat?

Our idea is that researchers can participate from any work space, either on campus or not; so, distance researchers can take part from their home office for example.  It will involve setting a plan, plenty of time for writing, checking in with your mentor at set time points via email, phone or video conferencing to update them on your progress.

Please note:

  • This is an intensive single-day writing retreat, during which you will have large blocks of time for writing
  • We particularly encourage participation by distance and part-time researchers.  Preference will be given to these groups of researchers
  • Participants will be contacted by their writing mentor prior to the retreat to discuss their aims for the retreat

All workshops are on line.  A link will be sent to you before the workshop

Much as we would like to get it right first time, editing is an inevitable part of writing. Whether you're working on your thesis, articles or other projects, making editing part of your research and writing process is essential.

Here we will talk about breaking editing down into specific stages: substantive editing, copy-editing and proofing. This can make your attention and your work schedule more effective. As well as tips and techniques for general editing, we'll adapt the methods and checklists used by professional academic copy-editors to the requirements of thesis writing.

Editing is an essential skill, applicable to many different career paths. You can also develop yourself in several areas of the Research Development Framework, including A1, literacy and information management; A2, Critical Thinking and Evaluation; C2, Research planning , and D2, Publication.

Through this workshop you will:

  • Learn about different types of editing and their functions;
  • Practice copy-editing and be introduced to helpful tools and techniques;
  • Discuss best practice and innovative approaches to editing with other researchers

This workshop is part of our writing skills support. You may also find these workshops useful:

  • CORE writing workshops: Writing Critically, Coherently, Concisely
  • Getting started with Thesis Writing
  • Engaging with your Literature
  • Writing for 4-Star Publications
  • Turning your Thesis into a Book

This workshop aims to help you communicate effectively and confidently in an academic context.

Presenting your research can be daunting, but is a crucial part of sharing your research and establishing yourself within the field. In this workshop we address best practice for several aspects, including structuring your talk, connecting with your audience, and preparing yourself for questions. We’ll consider how to maximise audience attention, and understanding the expectations of different audiences and disciplines.

The workshop includes some preparatory material that you can download when you register on the event. It includes a set of slides with links to other resources and videos. On the day we will mix time for discussion with practical activities to try out different techniques in a supportive environment.

Presentation skills can boost you in several areas of the Researcher Development Framework, including Personal Effectiveness (self-confidence) (B1), Networking (B3), Engagement and Impact (D3) and Communication (D2).

Through this workshop participants will be able to:

• Visualise the structure, content and tone of a presentation
• Consider different audiences and occasions
• Discover how to best use their own strengths and preferences to good effect
• Prepare for answering tricky questions
• Share experience about what makes for a great (or weak) presentation

You may also like to combine this workshop with:

  • Presentation Skills in Practice
  • Writing and structuring a conference paper
  • Bright Club: stand-up comedy training for academics
  • Visual aids and infographics
  • Networking

This practical workshop is designed for people who have some experience of presenting and understand the basic principles involved, but would like to get more hands-on practice to develop their academic presentation skills at a higher level.

You will have the opportunity to plan, prepare and deliver a 5-10 minute mock presentation within a small, friendly and supportive peer group of fellow researchers.

After delivering your presentation, you will receive constructive feedback that will help identify your strengths and weaknesses, build your confidence, and find new ways of enhancing and improving your presentation style.

During the workshop participants will:

• Present to a peer group
• Exchange feedback with their peers
• Gain an understanding of their style and how to improve it further
• Be given the option to have their presentation video recorded, which many presenters find to be a very useful exercise.

Presentation skills can boost you in several areas of the Researcher Development Framework, including Personal Effectiveness (self-confidence) (B1), Networking (B3), Engagement and Impact (D3) and Communication (D2).

Please Note:

To get the full benefit from this session, all participants should arrive with their own materials for a presentation that they want to work on. This can include pre-prepared slides and content, although you will be given time to build and design your workshop in the session.

If you have a specific presentation that you are hoping to deliver (e.g. for a forthcoming conference), then you can bring in the materials for that and use this workshop to practice for it. Alternatively, your practice presentation in this workshop can be based around a topic related to your research (e.g. ‘The inspiration for my research’ or ‘Why my research is important’).

We strongly advise that participants first attend our workshop on ‘Presentation Skills: Essentials’ before attending this interactive workshop, as it will allow them to pick up on best practice that they can try and apply in their own presentations.

Recommended for: All stages of study and research staff.

You may also like to combine this RDP workshop with the following ones:

  • Writing and structuring a conference paper

  • Bright Club: stand-up comedy training for academics

  • Networking

Research funding

Fellowships aimed at supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are a fantastic opportunity to progress one’s academic career.  They provide funding for a researcher's own independent research, enabling them to establish their own individual research area. Therefore, fellowships are an attractive opportunity for ECRs wishing to pursue an academic career.  However, fellowship applications are time consuming and the competitions are highly competitive. 

Within this workshop we will explore requirements of various fellowships, enabling you to make informed choices about investing in fellowship writing now, or building your personal/research profile to improve your future chances.  Furthermore, we will discuss the basics of fellowship writing to help you gain the skill and knowledge to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

Within this workshop you will:

  • Develop an understanding about the difference between applying for Fellowship funding and standard grant funding.
  • Identify different types of fellowships for which you may choose to apply.
  • Began a professional development plan to ensure you are able to meet the ‘person spec’ requirements of a fellowship.
  • Start to define and articulate your specific unique research niche.
  • Learn how to adjust your writing approach and style to successfully demonstrate how you meet the criteria for a Fellowship.

This workshop will be helpful to ECRs and PGRs wishing to understand what research funding involves, particularly those who may be intending to apply for their first research grant.

This workshop briefly introduces researchers to the research funding landscape and focuses on the grant-writing process. 

Researchers will learn to adopt best practices and effective strategies when applying for funding grants and putting in a research bid.

By the end of the the session you will have:

  • Learnt how to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with research applications
  • Understood how to tailor your application to meet funder requirements
  • Developed an awareness of what a good research funding application looks like

Note: Although a variety of funders may be introduced as examples, this workshop is not designed to advise attendees on where to apply for funding.

Research leadership and management

This is a compulsory workshop for all those new to doctoral examining in the UK. Examining at doctoral level is different to any other form of assessment.  This workshop looks at the rules and regulations for doctoral examination of both Confirmation and final Viva at the University of Surrey. We will share experiences and the basis for academic judgement within the context of these assessments.  Within the workshop, we will also discuss the role of the internal examiner as chair of the viva.  Through the use of real life case studies we will identify various techniques and approaches examiners can use to not only ensure the process is conducted correctly, but enable and empower doctoral researchers to perform to the best of their ability.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn the rules and regulations of doctoral assessment at the University of Surrey.
  • Share best practice examples and a variety of approaches to assessing at Confirmation and final viva stage.
  • Use creative problem solving to establish ways to overcome potential problems that may occur in a viva situation.

By the end of the session you will:

  • Understand how to build a data management plan or DMP
  • What funders expect from a DMP and why DMPs matter to funders
  • Become familiar with the DMPOnline tool

Read more information and registration details.

By the end of the session you will:

  • Identify what research data management, open research, and open data means for you
  • Learn how to best fulfil policy expectations around data sharing and preservation
  • Pick up some best practices for file management, documentation, storage, security of data, sharing, and preserving data at Surrey.

For more information and registration details.

One-to-one coaching sessions are available to investigate what you can do to “manage your manager” and discuss strategies for building an effective working relationship with your manager.  

Building a professional working relationship with your PI or direct line manager is important in creating yourself a happy and productive working environment.  Sometimes there are challenges in maintaining this relationship that can get overlooked or swept to one side in our busy schedules.  These one-to-one coaching sessions will investigate what you can do to “manage your manager” and discuss strategies for building an effective working relationship with your manager.  

Topics for discussion can include:

  • The roles and expectations of researchers and their PIs / managers
  • Ways to ensure that a good working relationship is maintained between you and your manager
  • Ideas for dealing with common issues

Public engagement and impact

Can you see the funny side of your research?

Bright Club takes a group of researchers and turns them into stand-up comedians for one night only.

Interested? Then read on. Each researcher does an eight-minute set seeing the funny side of their research (and wider academia and science) in a local pub with a supportive audience of about 70. Its great fun, good for those communication skills, confidence and your public profile development and allows an audience to easily access your research.

This workshop is a training session to equip you for this challenge, though there is no obligation to perform if you attend. You'll be guided through some techniques for shaping and presenting your ideas in an informal and engaging way. We recommend this for anyone who'd like to improve their presentation skills and confidence. It makes a great extension to the Doctoral College 'Basic' and 'Advanced' Presentation Skills workshops.

23 Things

Digital tools for your professional and personal development

23 Things international is a unique collaboration between universities at opposite poles, offering participants fantastic opportunities to build their network, develop skills with research tools, and establish their professional profile. The Universities of Otago, Victoria Wellington and Surrey invite you to explore some amazing connections. 

Our aim is for this course to suit researchers at different stages of their careers, including doctoral researchers, early career researchers and supervising academics. Whether you’re looking for project management tools, careers coaching, or a refresher in new apps and websites, there will be something for you. With the right support and community discussion, this should be valuable for everyone from beginner to expert.

The course consists of 23 ‘Things’, each of which is a useful tool or technique that you may not have encountered before, or may want to develop further. We release a blog post each week with two new Things (plus a couple of break weeks), so you can work through them to a simple regular timetable, or at your own pace. Most of the Things invite you to complete a short task to trial or reflect on the tools. By the end of the course we hope you will have your own professional academic website and profile, as well as hands-on experience with the tools discussed.

Learn more on the 23 Things website.

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Researcher Development Programme
10 LB 05
University of Surrey