PhD poster presentation

Last Thursday (12th March) I attended the Skills Development Scotland’s Collaborative PhD Programme Launch and Networking Event, which was held in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel. There, a number of stakeholders representing SDS, ESRC, SGSSS and SKOPE gave talks which focused on the innovative nature of the PhD programme, its purpose and potential benefits to everybody involved, including the Scottish labour market and economy at large.

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A key focus of the event was the actual research being carried out by each of the PhD students, including that of my own project. To this end, we each had a poster on display for everybody to peruse in between networking with other delegates and drinking cups of tea. You can see my poster here.

For anybody thinking about undertaking a PhD, poster presentations are a common method of displaying or presenting your work at events and conferences. The poster is a graphic aid which represents your subject, and should act as both a conversation starter and a stand-alone piece for when you aren’t there to discuss it with passers by. Don’t panic if you aren’t a graphics expert though, because there are loads of great resources online which can assist you in the process. Also, seeking advice from colleagues is advisable (my office-mate Frances had some great tips for which I am very grateful). And of course, don’t forget to check out any training events that your institution may be putting on.

I thought the whole event was a great success. It was particularly nice meeting the other students and their supervisors, who are all based at other universities. As well as chatting with some interesting people about my own poster and work, I got to browse everybody else’s and get a flavour of what they are up to. I think these events have the potential to be quite daunting (particularly in the bourgeois settings of the Grand Hotel!), but thankfully the atmosphere was very laid back and welcoming.

On a personal level, I was dead chuffed (as we academics say) to win joint best poster prize on the day. And I even managed to round the occasion off with a swift pint in Central Station (the pub has acquired massive comfy chairs since my last visit), before traversing back to Edinburgh for a couple more with the other PhD students from the School of Computing, in celebration of completing our RD4/5/6 progress reviews. I’ll explain a bit more about those (the reviews, not the drinks) in my next post.

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A trip to Glasgow

It is currently 16.33pm on 4th March 2015. I am pleased to report that the office window is open, there is a cool breeze drifting across the room, and it looks fresh and bright outside. Hopefully that signifies the start of Spring, but I don’t want to jump the gun too much – at this time yesterday it was dark, blowing a gale, and the rain/sleet was going sideways. One of those days when you just know the heating is going to be broken on your bus home (the heating was broken on the bus home).

I haven’t been blogging much, as you will see if you scroll down. It’s not for a lack of things to blog about, because if anything there’s too much going on – I just need to give myself a shake and get some regular writing time penned in the diary.

Incidentally, I was at a talk by Edinburgh Eye (a.k.a Jane Carnall) recently, put on by InGSoc here at Napier University. She is a prolific and increasingly influential blogger in these parts, with a keen focus on current affairs issues. She actually noted during her presentation that her page views rose substantially when she started posting blogs on a daily basis. I don’t think I’ll have time to reach that level of output, but it has certainly given me something to think about.

Anyway, what have I been up to?

On 27th February I attended a meeting at Skills Development Scotland with my one half of my research supervisory team, Professor Hazel Hall. There I met up with another doctoral student called Kane Needham of Stirling University, whose research topic is very similar to mines (although he is approaching it from a Sociology viewpoint, as opposed to my own Information Science perspective). The main SDS office in Glasgow is situated in George Square, and I have to say I enjoy any excuse to go back to my home city, even for a fleeting visit.

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At the meeting we had a very interesting discussion with Rosie McCready and Robert Doyle of SDS. Robert is my sponsor, and as such has a vested interest in the outcome of my research. It is hoped that in addition to a knowledge contribution in the Information Science discipline, the study will yield sufficient information about the social networking habits (both off-line and online) of the Scottish labour force to make practical recommendations for careers guidance services.

For me, the practical output of the project is very important. In order to make a valid contribution, I feel that I will need to gain a working knowledge of how careers services are delivered by SDS and its various partners. This is a point I raised at the meeting, and hopefully in the near future I will be able to organise some form of field work in this regard. Ultimately, I don’t want my understanding of the labour market, education and careers services to come only from books, articles and policy documents – I’d like to see how it actually happens in reality, and understand where and how my work could make an impact.

Overall, the meeting was very informative – I got to see how my project will align with Kane’s, and to reaffirm in my mind what exactly SDS seek to gain from it. It was also a chance to discuss the upcoming networking event SDS has organised for its doctoral researchers and various stakeholders, at which I will be delivering my first PhD poster presentation. I have created a poster for the event, which is a visual represenation of my study, and will hopefully spark some discussion with onlookers. I’ll post a picture and review of the event here afterwards.

So yes, I promise to start posting more updates. The problem with doing infrequent posts, is that so many things happen in between times that it becomes difficult to choose a topic to write about, and to keep it short and on point. I mean, it is now 18.37pm, and pitch black outside. Genuinely.

(For a bit of background on the SDS and ESRC funded PhD programmes, please follow this link).