Student Barometer: have your say!

If you haven’t yet taken part in the Student Barometer, there’s still time to have your say! Add your voice to help improve the experience of doctoral researchers at Sussex, and to be in with a chance to win one of 5 great prizes offered to 15 participants each week.

Just ten minutes of your time also enters you into a final draw where two people will each win a £500 travel voucher to spend on the holiday or flight of your choice.

student barometer

In previous years the survey, run by i-graduate, has been sent to international students only – the survey findings have had a real impact, resulting in improvements to the arrival and welcome programme, as well as help with opening a bank account in this country.

Now, the survey has been opened to all undergraduates and postgraduate researchers at Sussex, to ask about your experience of student learning, support and general PhD life. Are you receiving the support you require? Are you happy with the services available to you? Are satisfied with your learning experience?

Adding your voice will have a real impact in helping to improve the experience of present and future post-graduate researchers studying at Sussex.

The survey takes just ten minutes to complete, is fully backed by the Students’ Union, and runs for the whole of November. Access the barometer here to be in with a chance of winning any of the following great prizes:

  • 2 x tickets to an allocated Brighton & Hove Albion Premier League football match
  • 4 x tickets for a 3D screening at the Odeon
  • 4 x tickets for the Sealife Centre – ‘Ultimate Package’
  • 4 x tickets for the i360
  • £60 Pizza Express voucher

Each week, 15 students who have participated in the survey will be chosen at random to pick their chosen prize.

Your views are valuable – make them count!








Lost in Statistics…searching for support…you’re not alone!

Are you tearing your hair out trying to figure out some stats for your project?  Wishing you had some previous experience of using stats software?  Desperate for a bit of extra help from the statistician but struggling to get their time?

Don’t fear, you are not alone!  This is a common scenario experienced by many doctoral students (myself included!) and the Hive wants to offer you some pointers to overcome this.    But first be honest with yourself, don’t put this off waiting for the eureka moment, and plan a strategy to overcome the stats with the help of the below:


  1. Discuss this with your supervisor(s) – pop them an email. You won’t look silly, and at least they will be aware of your concerns.  They may advise you that a particular analysis you are considering is not really needed.  Alternatively they may be able to give you a bit of teaching themselves or facilitate getting you a bit of time one-to-one with a statistician in the maths department or medical school.
  2. The Research Development Framework can support you, whether you fancy learning online or going to some hands-on workshops Although there is not a specific workshop as an intro to stats, the beginners workshop for SPSS (statistical software) is worthwhile attending as this goes through some basics.  It also gives you an opportunity to ask about how the software can help you overcome your difficulty, saving you a whole load of time on a calculator!
  3. The Sussex Skills Hub has a dedicated Maths, Numeracy and Statistics section to post you to a whole host of external resources. These range from YouTube videos with topic-by-topic teaching by our very own UoS statistics guru (Prof Andy Field) to pdf chapters that can be downloaded and printed (just so you can spend more time reading on the sofas in the Hive !)
  4. The library has tons of books, from short succinct guides to more detailed textbooks, some on the shelves and lots as an e-resource. The ones I found particularly digestible were Statistics Explained by Perry Hinton, and Starting Statistics: a short, clear guide by Neil Burdess.  The librarians are there to support you too so delve into their experience of helping other students seek out the right book for you!


Hope these are some useful pointers and as always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to ask anything more specific about the above.

Good luck!


Digital Innovation in Research: Podcast

This week we present our blog in an alternative digital format – the first ever Hive podcast!  As part of Sussex Digital Discovery Week we’re talking about tech and digital innovation in our own research areas; past, present and looking to the future…

Tune in to hear how digital innovation has transformed the fields of Law, Medicine and Ecology, from our personal perspective as doctoral researchers in these disciplines.

How has the digitisation of records, from historic texts and medical records to images of insect specimens, revolutionised our respective fields of practice? How will Artificial Intelligence shape the future of surgery? And are robot bees actually a good idea?

On a wider theme, has tech brought us a general narrative of acceleration – and how do we feel about it?

01m20s –> Tech in our very own research!

Legal databases in climate litigation, the life-changing power of referencing software, and the importance of digital cameras & frame-by-frame playback in animal behaviour studies.

06m50s –> Tech transforming Law, Medicine & Ecology.  

Electronic disclosure of legal evidence, digitised medical records & cybersecurity risks, conservation methods… and interpreting the waggle dance.

21m00s –> Looking to the future…

Cost-saving automation in legal clerking, AI in surgery, and more. Also, are we in danger of over-relying on technical advancement, for example to mitigate human-induced environmental change, and to take the human doctor out of patient consultations? And finally, are robot bees a good idea – and what are the ecological, legal and health consequences of bee drones?


After all our conversations, we came to some (quite sobering!) conclusions:

“In each of our research disciplines, whether that’s digitisation of records, conservation, or advancing patient care, every research area and every discipline needs to be able to harness tech appropriately; and I would cautiously say not get carried away – we need to keep our feet on the ground and know that we’re human”

“We need to keep advancing technology, keep using it to improve society, and improve the way we operate, as it without a doubt has, but be wary of some of the abuses of it as well.”

… as well as a final take-home message – we all love bees!

Digital Discovery week runs from 6-10 November 2017: check out the programme here, and get involved with some of the varied activities designed to develop your digital skills and practice! Follow the week’s events on Twitter using the hashtag #sussexddw


Veronica, Ketan and Nikesh*

*With big thanks to George Robinson and Sussex TEL  🙂

Do you have slow reader syndrome?

Hello fellow PhD students,

Having diagnosed myself with ‘slow reader syndrome’, I thought it might be useful to discuss with you my recommended treatment options!

Being a slow reader inherently made me feel disadvantaged from the outset.  Reading one research paper commonly will take me a minimum of one hour.  I always get people saying to me, ‘Oh, that’s normal’ but I struggle to believe most people take as long as I do.

So first and foremost, if you have also diagnosed yourself with this frustrating condition then you at least know you are not alone! And do not fear – acknowledge it, and then practice, practice, practice. Yes, the more you read the faster you will get.

The following two websites have been quite helpful, and I would urge you to have a read.

The first is the ‘mindtools’ website, which some of you may be familiar with. Although it charges for some articles, the following one is free so take a look.

Once I read this, it was clear to me that I did pretty much all the things that are mentioned that make for slow reading.  Particularly sub-vocalisation ie. Vocalising what you read in your mind!  This will resonate with some of you too.  SO here is another webpage that gives some tips on overcoming sub-vocalisation.

Basically you have to force yourself to not do it through practice, which may feel impossible but once you start practicing then you will progress to capture the ideas of sentences rather than focusing quite so much on each word.  This works because sentences are made of lots of words that are redundant to understanding the jist of the sentence, therefore the ‘subvocalising’ of these can be time-consuming with little benefit to comprehension.

Finally as with any PhD anxieties, you are probably doing better than you think! So, stay positive, keep calm…and carry on 🙂








Shut Up & Write is back next Friday

The next Shut Up and Write! will be Friday 3 November from 9:30am – 12pm. As before, we’ll 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’re running SUW! at this time slot for the first three biweekly sessions: Fridays at 9:30am – 12pm on 20 October, 3 November and 17 November, to get an idea of what works for everyone. 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 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!


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 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!


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

See you there!


Final Flyer_DD1 Imposter