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Your main focus during your DPhil will be to carry out your research and successfully complete your DPhil, and it’s important to think about the skills and competencies you will need to help you do this. For example you may need to learn particular research methods, statistical methods, how to present your research to others, how to write reports or for publication.

Pause for a moment and think of someone you admire who is successful in academia. As well as being an expert in their field, what other skills do they have? For example

-      How do they go about presenting their work, both verbally and in writing?

-      How do they manage their relationships / collaborate with others?

-      How do they attract funding?

-      How have they progressed their career?

Tools to identify, develop and track the skills you need 

Divisional: To start you off in thinking about the kind of skills and experience you need to develop, students and supervisors in the MPLS Division compiled a list of core skills you will need, and a training needs analysis to help you think about which you need to develop and how. The division has also developed a very useful questionnaire (the Project Initiation Plan) that will help you get started on your DPhil.

Both documents, together with other important and useful information about how to go about your skills development are on the page 'What training do I need?

University: The Professional and Organisational Development unit have some tools and resources on personal development.

The Careers Service is available to research students and offers a wide range of support. For example:

Information for students

Build Skills

National: The Researcher Development Framework (RDF): The RDF is a national framework for researchers. It describes the knowledge, behaviour and attributes of successful researchers.  You can download the RDF and access information and ideas on how it can support you on the Vitae website.

Ideas for developing skills

You can develop a lot of the skills you need in your day to day work. Working with your supervisor or other colleagues will help you develop knowledge and skills, as will other activities such as writing up results, presenting your work, attending conferences, working with a mentor, teaching, working with online resources, or outreach work. This list of activities is not exhaustive so look out for other opportunities to learn the skills you need. 

For more ideas see the Vitae resource on professional development for researchers.

Make sure that you keep a record of what you learn – perhaps directly on your CV or by using a learning log or journal.

Training Courses and Providers

If you have decided that you need to attend a training course to learn the skill you need, this is what is available to you:

The MPLS Division has a comprehensive training programme for DPhil students.

See also what is offered by other training providers in the University.

Vitae's researcher training resource

LinkedIn Learning have these related online courses: 

Getting Started on Your Professional Development

To get you started on your professional development, choose a skill or particular experience – perhaps from the RDF, your training needs analysis or project initiation questions (see above) - that you need to develop in the next month.

  • What are you to going to do to develop it?
  • When will you do it by?
  • How will you know if you have been successful?

Make a note in whatever form will effectively remind you to take this action. When complete, make a note on your CV and/or learning log and plan the next skill or experience in the same way.

Other Resources

Hints and tips on transferable skills on the website. 




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