An Update on PGR Training and Support

Like other teams at the university, we in the Research Excellence Training Team are getting used to the strange reality of working remotely from home (we are enjoying seeing each other’s houses). We’re still here to provide a friendly (digital!) face, ongoing support, and training to the PGR community at York. Remember the research you are doing is important and has the potential to positively impact on the world, we need you to stay healthy and productive more now than ever. 

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, contact us at and one of the team will get back in touch.

Our regular training courses – an update!

The RETT team and our great colleagues from across the university and beyond have been looking carefully at what we can deliver for the summer term. As a minimum, we’re confident that we can provide a set of slides and a workbook with exercises for the majority of our remaining sessions. We’re also looking to make use of the VLE and other interactive tools to supplement and enhance those materials. 

Remember you can also access BERT (Being an Effective Researcher Tutorial) year-round in the VLE for a reminder of the tools and support normally available to you as you complete your research degree. 

Stay tuned to the YGRS Blog, and the RETT Twitter account @rett_york for any updates!

3 Minute Thesis

Thanks to all those who have submitted applications for 3MT York 2020. We’ve had a fantastic response and are now shortlisting. Applications are now closed.

We are very happy to announce that our 3MT 2020 competition is still going ahead! This a truly fantastic and enriching experience for PGRs, so we were determined to keep this event running (with some adjustments of course!). The closing date is the 1st of April so you’ve still got a few days to submit your application. At this stage we’re only looking for a catchy title and a 500 word lay summary of your work – but don’t delay!

Our lucky shortlisted applicants will then be invited to submit a video audition, and 10 finalists will be entered into an online University of York Final. We can’t wait to hear about your exciting research!

The Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

If you’re wanting to stay mentally active (and stop Netlfix constantly asking you “Are you still watching?”!), then why not take a look at the TNA and explore your training and skills development options? The TNA is a “London Underground” style map that takes you from your current situation, to a destination of your choosing.

So for example, say you want to focus on successfully completing your PhD (this is something you should all probably aim for!). The TNA can provide suggested routes for you to successfully reach that destination. This process can really help with creating a personal development plan, and should feed into your TAP and supervisory meetings.

Ideas for Working from Home

Being stuck inside we realise that working from home comes with a unique set of challenges! If you’re looking for a bit of structure in your days “at the office”, some of these points may help!:

Stay in touch with your supervisor, research group and beyond

  • Have regular virtual chats with your supervisor to plan your remote working
  • Attend virtual group meetings
  • Attend virtual coffee breaks
  • Set up a remote journal club with your group (and others)

Hold virtual TAP and supervision meetings

  • Write your TAP report (if not already done)
  • Hold a virtual TAP meeting
  • Hold virtual formal online supervision meetings (min. every 6-7 weeks – record on Skills Forge)

Get organised!

  • Organise your data/lab book
  • Write up methods for experiments you have done.
  • Design some new experiments
  • Create test plans

Broaden your knowledge

  • Read relevant papers
  • Write a literature review
  • Attend virtual seminars
  • Attend virtual Dept/University training (further details to follow in due course)
  • Watch lecture recordings of relevant undergraduate topics from 2018/19 on the VLE

Tell people what you’ve done

  • In discussion with your supervisor, work on a research publication or a review paper
  • Design a scientific poster
  • Enter the Three Minute Thesis competition

Work on your Thesis

  • Plan your thesis (Year 1)
  • Draft an introduction to your thesis (Year 1/2)
  • Draft chapters for your thesis (Year 2/3 and MScR)
  • Write up everything you’ve done and discuss with your supervisor whether you have enough results to submit your thesis for examination without further experimental work (Year 4)
  • Work on the figures for your thesis

Learn new skills

Plan your career

  • Update your CV
  • Take part in the Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers online course!
  • Go back over slides from sessions you attended (or didn’t attend!)
  • Set up alerts for job sites and companies
  • Look at job descriptions for jobs you might apply for and think about how to gain any missing skills/experience.
  • Set up/update your LinkedIn profile (also ResearchGate etc)
  • Register for an ORCID iD (or update your records)

Read a Recommended book!

Support and Wellbeing

Just as important as keeping a structured workload, is looking after yourselves. Make sure you’re taking regular breaks through the day and schedule-in days off. Here’s a list of some of the support and wellbeing initiatives that we’ve currently got in place:

  • Want to stay connected to your fellow researchers, but not sure how? Check out the GSA’s ‘Keep Home and Carry On’ campaign – providing online support and ideas on how to stay in touch!
  • Those of you who have already been to a PhD Survival Project workshop know just how helpful and supportive the sessions are. Now more than ever, contribute and make use of this fantastic student-led initiative!
  • Our Postgraduate Research Liaison Officer – Jamie Khoo – always welcomes ideas and suggestions on how we can support and bring together PGRs from across the university. Email her at
  • Be sure to check out the central University Health & Wellbeing pages for a wide-range of resources!
  • You also have a range of specific resources for research students on the YGRS Support and Wellbeing page, including access to ‘The Wellbeing Thesis’ online tool.

Stay safe and healthy and we look forward to ‘hanging out’ and ‘zoom’ing into your living rooms in the near future!

With very best wishes,
The RET Team, in conjunction with professional support teams, GSA and all the Colleges

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