PhD student parent event!

I’m Marian and last year I was one of the Hive Scholars. During my year as a scholar I worked hard to start a community of Student Parents here at Sussex, since I myself am one and faced many challenges when trying to juggle both family life and academic studies or the pursuit of an academic career. Furthermore, I found it to be incredibly rewarding and helpful to surround myself by other student parents who were in a similar situation. That is why I decided to continue with this effort to build a stronger community for our families here at Sussex.

In order to continue with this initiative, we have created a mailing list, a Facebook group and a Twitter account for us parents to be in touch with each other and find different ways of offering and asking for support, both from other Student Parents and from the University.

We want to kick start this year with a Welcome Event where we will hopefully meet new people in our situation, and discuss what kind of support we would like to have and how we could help each other more and better. The event will take place in the Quiet Room of the Meeting House on Thursday, 19th October at 12:30. Needless to say, kids are welcome!

Here is a rough idea of what we’ll be talking about on that day:

  • I will introduce myself and let you know a bit about what was done last year and where we are at at the moment, what we have achieved and what we had in mind when we started this group. I also would like to talk about the possibility of applying for the Student Experience Grant to see if we could do something about that. And to explore possible collaborations with the Childcare Facilities on campus.
    • Maria Smith (Library Planning & Support Services Supervisor) and Emma Watson (Library Support Supervisor) will come and talk about a project to plan and pilot a space specifically for parents with young children in the Library!
  • Helen Hampson (Researcher Development Officer from the Doctoral School) will introduce herself and talk about how the Doctoral School can help us but mainly she wants to hear what we think we need and how we think the Doctoral School can help
  • Hannah Mullarky (Campaigns Coordinator University of Sussex Students’ Union) organises events for families on campus, she will tell us about what they’ve done in the past and what they have planned for this year.

All this talking shouldn’t take longer than 20 min or so, mainly the idea of the meeting is for us to say what we need and how we are experiencing the challenge of being parents and students/researchers at the same time. We want to get support and our efforts are really already showing results, but we need to keep working together and we definitely want to go to this type of meetings to network and know that support is coming!

So please book a place under this link https://direct.sussex.ac.uk/page.php?page=staff_development_booking_form&trail=staff_development&ac=1180 or go to the events page of the researcher development department of the Doctoral School.

Please sign up and join us for this event, also please spread the word!

Marian

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Exploring Imposter Syndrome: a Doctoral Discussion

Announcing our first Doctoral Discussion on Friday 20 October, 12:30-2pm: Exploring Imposter Syndrome in early career researchers.

Do you have a niggling (or overwhelming) feeling that you’re a fraud? That you don’t know enough, aren’t clever enough, and it’s only a matter of time before someone finds out? You’re not alone; Imposter Syndrome is a common psychological phenomenon in men and women of most professions, and is rife in academia.

As doctoral researchers, we are all vulnerable to this syndrome. We probably undermine our achievements, pass successes off as luck, or consider ourselves to be where we are simply through coincidence or some kind of fortunate planetary alignment. We might be a perfectionist, afraid to let even the slightest mistake show. The vast sea of studies we haven’t read makes our small pool of knowledge pale into unsettling insignificance.

Imposter Syndrome can negatively impact mental health through feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and anxiety. It can also affect career choices, causing us to aim lower than we should to avoid potential failure. This has been shown to affect women more than men, and is also more common in minority groups.

In one example, a survey of 460 doctoral students showed that 11% of women ‘downshifted’, ie., moved away from higher goals in academia to which they had initially aspired, compared to 6% of men. This was found to be caused by feelings of imposterism, rather than concerns about the family-friendliness of an academic career. Is this one more thing holding women in particular back from Professorships and high-level academic careers? What is the solution?

Well, you can take online tests to define your level of imposterism, and even sign up to weekly “Imposter Buster” confidence builders… More seriously, there is an increasing abundance of fascinating published research that explores the topic of Imposter Phenomenon, and even compiles suggested strategies for addressing it.

We’ll be exploring Imposter Syndrome ourselves, and finding out exactly what it means for doctoral students here at Sussex, in our first Doctoral Discussion on Friday 20 October, 12:30-2pm, in the Careers & Employability Centre in the Library. 

Come along to hear from PhD speakers from across the University, with themes including personal experiences, wider perspectives on Imposter Syndrome in academia, and tips for overcoming our own imposter feelings while helping to engender a supportive environment for ourselves and our peers.

We are delighted to have PhD students Kate Fennell (Neuroscience), Gizem Guney (Law), Charlie Nation (Physics) and Nehaal Bajwa (Education) on our panel, promising a truly interdisciplinary conversation.

Lunch will be provided, and you will have the opportunity to contribute to a lively discussion around this important theme!

Book your place here

Final Flyer_DD1 Imposter

Kickstart your Fridays with Shut Up & Write!

We’ve finalised a date and time for the first Shut Up and Write! session of this year – thank you to everyone who emailed in and participated in our Twitter poll.

The first SUW! will be Friday 20 October from 9:30am – 12pm. We’ll all meet in the library café to get everyone a coffee (on us!), and once everyone’s had a chat and enough caffeine we’ll head up to the Hive at 10am for a couple of hours of writing in a quiet, friendly space.

Come along and beat your Friday procrastination with an ultra-productive morning of work alongside fellow researchers, for a chance to catch up and to end the week on a good note (and did we mention the free coffee?).

We will be running SUW! at this time slot for the next three biweekly sessions: Fridays at 9:30am – 12pm on 20 October, 3 November and 17 November. We’ll gather more feedback before making this a permanent time slot, so please do get in touch.

Look out for regular updates on Twitter and via our SUW! mailing list (be sure to email us at researchhive@sussex.ac.uk to be added to the list).

Let us know if you plan to come along, and, as always, any feedback or suggestions are welcome on email, Twitter or in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

Shut Up and Write! (What time works for you?)

This year we’ll be running Shut Up & Write!, an opportunity to mix up your writing strategy! Back by popular demand, Shut Up & Write! is a scheduled group writing session, fuelled by a free coffee and a chat before knuckling down to work.

Now a trending concept for research students all over the world, SU&W! originated in San Francisco Bay Area to “help members reach their writing goals in a supportive, social setting”. Feedback from previous years suggests that writing alongside others in the Hive can strongly improve focus and productivity, while regular sessions at a fixed time creates a unique and sociable impetus for your work.

Join us for the first session soon! We’ll meet in the library café and get everyone a coffee, then head on up to the Hive to shut up, knuckle down and write.

We’re working on finding the best day and time for regular sessions, so please do help us out by participating in our Twitter poll (@sussexreshive) or emailing us (researchhive@sussex.ac.uk) with your preferences.

We’ll be sending updates via email about upcoming sessions and more – join our SU&W! mailing list by emailing us at researchhive@sussex.ac.uk.

Further details of the first session will be posted soon – watch this space!

The Doctoral Bubble Hop: Welcome Event for Doctoral Researchers

Calling all doctoral researchers! Whether you are brand new to Sussex or an existing doctoral student, we would love to welcome you to the Hive at our Doctoral Bubble Hop event on Tuesday 3rd October at 3:30 – 5pm, with a *free drink* afterwards.

The event will be an opportunity to see the Hive, take part in an activity or two, and find out more about what the Hive can do for you. Moreover, it will be a chance to expand your Sussex bubble and meet fellow students from all areas of doctoral research.

It’s all too easy to become familiar with our own bubbles of university life, as we work, socialise and spend time within our own departments. Meeting researchers from other disciplines can become all too rare, however, we think it’s important to ‘bubble hop’ every now and then! Why not start the new academic year with a bang (or a pop?), and get involved with the wider doctoral research community through the Hive?

The Hive Scholars Ketan, Nikesh and Veronica, will be on hand at the Welcome Event to tell you all about the seminars, events, discussions and occasional mad-cap schemes facilitated by the Hive so far, and how we plan to continue the work of previous scholars over this academic year.

We can answer your questions, and we also want to hear all your challenges, hopes, fears and expectations for your time here. We would love to know any suggestions you might have for our peer-to-peer support of doctoral students at Sussex.

We’ll be heading on to a bar after the event, so come along to claim your free drink voucher and join us!

Sign up now

We look forward to meeting you,

Ketan, Nikesh & Veronica

Nb: If you have any questions about the event, please do post a comment below, or drop in and see us in the Hive (see our About page for our shift calendar).

Introducing the New Hive Scholars: Ketan

profphotocropped (2)3. I’m Ketan.
I started my academic career at Sussex some years ago, having obtained both my professional law degree and master’s degree at our wonderful institution. During and after my legal studies, I worked variously for local tax authorities, an investment bank, a charity advocating for rights for disabled persons, and corporate law firms.

My vision as a Hive Scholar is to harness this space — physical and virtual — to mobilise interdisciplinarity among doctoral researchers. That term is thrown around a lot, but perhaps nowhere is it more linked to both institutional identity and historical circumstance than at Sussex. This commitment, formed by our founders in response to perceived shortcomings in higher education on the international scale, originally took the form of a ‘core and context’ system for undergraduate students, whereby taking any degree required a combination of general and specialist study.

Like American higher education, undergraduates were to take some general study regardless of their intended specialisation — i.e. every student in the humanities or social sciences had to take a common paper on philosophy. But unlike our transatlantic counterparts, interdisciplinary education here took the form of seminars convened under the joint tutorship of academics from different disciplines. By way of example, a module entitled “The Industrial Revolution and the English Literary Imagination,” in the School of English & American Studies (as it was then) sought to enrich formalist textual analysis (taught by English professors) with wider historical context (taught by History professors).

The purpose of this system was not simply ‘create better thinkers’ out of undergraduate students, but rather to produce better specialists. It was a system of study designed to foster independent research with a view to cultivating the skills for novel research, rather than encouraging the proliferation of trivial or ‘handbook knowledge’ across a number of disciplines. In essence, it was meant to cultivate, among other things, the skills that characterise good doctoral research. For many of us, by the time we enter doctoral study, the principle underpinning interdisciplinarity — that clarity of peripheral subjects can illuminate the core — is familiar.  Far less familiar are techniques to understand how we might achieve that clarity through interactions with our academic peers. One cause of this myopia can be found in our subject-based silos, themselves produced by research needs and patterns of departmental organisation. Where and how we research, whether in labs or shared office space, directly influences what kinds of ideas we are exposed to. This is of course not helped by subject-specific vocabularies and methodologies that serve as disincentives for wider research paradigms.

My hope that through the Hive, we can start the right conversations. Interdisciplinarity often provokes more questions than it answers. How do we solve the academic language barrier? Can historically fruitful interdisciplinary exchanges be generalised and systematised into some kind of method, or are they transient wonders of chance? Even those questions are not new, and perhaps they will remain insoluble. However, it is my firm belief that a platform for doctoral researchers can avoid the pitfalls of a purely symbolic or nominal interdisciplinarity. Arriving at this stage of our academic careers should make it possible to avoid intellectual dilettantism (or Ruskin’s ‘handbook knowledge’), that practice of selectively invoking concepts or studies from outside one’s field for the sake of appearances, which is at best self-congratulatory and at worst an excellent way to cross-sterilise to the two fields at issue.. Framed correctly, however, knowledge exchange ought to result in the cross fertilisation of our research landscapes. If not, at least we will have tried. In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

Introducing the new Hive Scholars: Nikesh

2. Nikesh

Nikeshphoto

Welcome all new doctoral researchers!  As daunting as it may feel for many of you to be back in university surroundings, take a moment to congratulate yourself on being in this privileged position!  These upcoming years will no doubt be positively challenging, and a wonderful opportunity to delve deep into your academic interests.  There is support all around you, and whilst it may take a little while to familiarise yourself, the Hive Scholars are here for you!

 

Yes that’s right – I am a ‘Hive Scholar’, otherwise known as a friendly guy called Nikesh who is here to support you in your Sussex doctoral journey!

My background is in medicine, and I am training to be a GP.  I am on a break from this to pursue my research interest of medication-related harm in older adults.  I’m entering my third and final doctoral year with Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and it has been a journey with ups and downs as is life more generally.  And with the same golden tools that help us cope with the ups and downs of life, humour, friendship, resilience and patience are essential in your doctoral years.  I suspect there will be few times (if any) times when you feel you are breaking the boundaries of your research field, and lots of times that you feel you are stuck and not progressing.  This is ENTIRELY normal, don’t panic!  Studying a PhD is not about winning a nobel prize (good on you if you do however!), it is about learning through supervision how to become a good, independent researcher.  And to nurture this through an academic interest of your own.  This is an amazing opportunity, and always think of it as such, rather than a struggle.  You are only getting wiser during the process!  And as some say, the more you know…the more you realise you don’t know!  Well that’s fantastic, because if you can stick a fraction of that stuff you don’t know by the end of your doctorate on paper…!VOILA!…your ‘further work’ bit is done 🙂 !

Over the year, myself and Ketan and Veronica want to be a peer-support that you can rely on if you need a bit of peer-guidance.  We will be organising social events, study events, ‘shut-up’ events (will explain later!) and much much more.  Keep in touch…don’t hesitate to be in contact and make suggestions to improve the Hive doctoral community and support on offer here.  We will keep you up to date via the Hive website and twitter feed, and by email as appropriate.  Come and spend time at the Hive, 2nd floor of the library.  It is a comfy home for doctoral students, the Hive scholars will be about each week, and as they say in Costa (I think)…you never know who you might meet over coffee…!

Cheers,

Nikesh