Getting Started with Graduate Research and Generic Skills Workshops

Well, I really have to congratulate CACSSS Graduate School on the workshops they’ve offered for Postgrads and PhD students – what a great programme of events! I attended the first of these on Friday at 9am. The day began with a short introduction of what the 4-day workshop aimed to cover, and then at 9.30 we were treated, (I don’t use this term lightly), to a most illuminating talk by Prof. Graham Allen of the English Dept. on what exactly a thesis is, and how to narrow down the research we do to a point where we have a clear and concise topic on which to focus. Prof. Allen covered such topics as the various ways we may look at our research question, and the different methodologies we may use to do this. Suddenly it all became clear, light dawned, and I could almost hear the far-off strains of a heavenly choir!

Maria Dempsey spoke to us on the topic of Research Conduct and Ethics which is something I had completely forgotten about, thinking it never would apply to me and my research, but of course, conduct and ethics forms such a huge part of everything we do in relation to others.

Silvia Ross gave a really interesting talk on how we know our research is ‘original’ – a topic that must haunt every research student since the dawn of time. Ms Ross showed us that with the application of new methodology, any material worked on may become ‘new’ again.

The final part of the evening was a discussion on presentation skills by Mary McNulty. I do believe that my biggest fear, (apart from the cold), is public speaking. Ms McNulty offered some interesting and useful tips on how to control the ‘stage fright’, and while I don’t admit to coming away ‘cured’, I did leave armed with a number of different ways to handle the situation. I will never give a lecture to a class of 200 people, but maybe I can learn to speak without incurring a heart-attack in the process. 🙂


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