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PGR Symposium

Training Programme

This is a traditional Doctoral programme which has been designed to be completed in three years. The aim of any PGR on the 3-year programme is to complete the research and the writing up within three years. The planning must take this into account from the outset. The University regulations allow for one additional year beyond the third for completing the thesis, called Submission Pending. However, most funding schemes for 3-year Doctoral programmes will end after three years, and will not fund 3-year PGRs during Submission Pending.

Warning

It is now policy (since Sept 2012 intake) that PGRs must complete within four years! After four years, the registration will beterminated and no degree will be awarded.

There is every incentive to complete this programme within the allotted three years while the funding lasts. It is an absolute requirement that you finish within four year.

Therefore, the great majority time will be devoted to the main task, which is doing research and completing the thesis within three years. However there are other activities that three year PGRs are required to engage in, and yet others that they have the option of engaging in. The courses listed below are designed to help all PGRs in their endeavours. Activities such as laboratory demonstrating, mentoring and public engagement are optional though they encouraged as being conducive to the general experience of being a successful PGR and preparing for wider roles when PGRs take up their chosen careers.

The Main Event - Supervised Research

The main part of your time here will be spent learning to be a researcher, by doing research under the guidance of a main supervisor, aided by one or more co-supervisors. You will also be learning the techniques and tools of a particular field. By the time you get to your third year, you should be writing and communicating your ideas, and interacting with a wider research community. You might even know more about your research topic than your supervisor at this point, although you might not be aware of this.

There are a few guiding points which will help you succeed. First, being a PGR is a full-time pursuit. You need to put in the hours. Second, you need to meet with your supervisor(s) regularly. We recommend at least once per fortnight, but weekly is better. Third, it is highly advisable that you work in the Department, so that you can interact with the other members of your research group. Don’t just hide yourself in a garret somewhere. Discussion with others is an excellent source of ideas.

At some point, you might find yourself falling into one these traps. You start to feel, “I’m not good enough; I’m not good as these other PGRs”. This is fairly normal; most people go through this at some point. If you start feeling this, talk to your supervisor(s) about it. They might be able to allay your fears.

The second trap is the perfectionist trap. You don’t want to show your work to your supervisor until it is perfect, or you stop seeing your supervisor at all, because you feel there is not enough progress. This is a path to failure. Rule of thumb: when you least want to see your supervisor is when you most need to see your supervisor.

Research Integrity

The University expects the highest standards of research integrity from its PGRs. These standards are set out in its Code of Good Research Conduct [5].

All PGRs must complete the University’s Research Integrity [6] on-line training.

Those with concerns regarding Research Misconduct [7] can follow the process for reporting them.

Research Data Management

Research Data Management is part of good research practice, improving the efficiency of the research process and making your research more reproducible. There is support available across the University to assist you with this:

  • Planning: Data Management Plans [12] help you plan how you will collect and handle data and are also a requirement of the University for every new research project. You can find the data management planning tool, guidance on writing data management plans and a data management plan review service on the Research Data Management Website [13].
  • Storing: Research Data Storage [14] is available from Research IT services, providing 8TB of replicated storage per project, free at the point of use for funded projects (excluding commercial funders). NB: currently only staff can apply for storage space so ask your supervisor to apply on your behalf.
  • Sharing: Where possible the University recommends using discipline-specific data repositories to share data and you can find repositories for your subject via Re3data.org and fairsharing.org. Mendeley Data is the University of Manchester’s recommended general-purpose research data repository for researchers without a discipline-specific repository. Records from Mendeley Data are automatically added to Pure [8] and you can manually add datasets shared elsewhere to your Pure profile.
  • Training: here are courses on Research Data Management targeted for each faculty available via My Research Essentials [11].
  • Support: If you have any questions about Research Data Management you can send them to researchdata@manchester.ac.uk.

Mandatory Elements

In this section we list as a collection of things we require you do in order to be considered to be making satisfactory progress as a PGR. Of course, we cannot say that if you do these things, you will get a Doctorate. Ultimately, to achieve a Doctorate, you have to create and carry out a novel piece of research, write it up as a dissertation, and defend that work in front of a panel of examiners.

What is being said here is a list of things which if you don’t do, you won’t get a doctorate (or at least will put your ability to get a doctorate at risk).

Scientific Methods Courses (COMP80131, COMP80122 and COMP80142)

All PGR are required to take this sequence of three ‘Scientific Methods’ courses at the earliest opportunity. These start in semester one, usually the day before the Symposium. Timetables for these courses can be found CS PGR information [4]

The titles of these three courses are as follows:

‘Scientific Methods 1’ (COMP80131):
Full title: ‘Scientific evaluation, experimental design, and statistical methods’. See your personal timetable for full details.
‘Scientific Methods 2’ (COMP80122):
Full title: ‘Fundamental aspects of research methodology’. See your personal timetable for full details
‘Scientific Methods 3’(COMP80142):
Full title: ‘Scientific Writing and Impact Studies’ See your personal timetable for full details.

Introduction to Research — Essentials

This course is put on by the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE). You will learn more about this when you attend the FSE Faculty induction. You can also find a schedule for this and other University and FSE Faculty training courses by selecting the “Training Catalogue” from the menu on the left-hand side of eProg.

University and CS Health and Safety Courses

All PGRs are required by the University to pass a Health and Safety on-line course. If you want to be in the Kilburn build out of hours (outside the hours of 6pm to 8am), you will also need to pass the Department of Computer Science Health and Safety test. These tests can be found on Blackboard, which can be found at your MyManchester [9] page. Below are the instructions to take both tests.

  1. Log into Blackboard.
  2. Look for the “My Communities” block:
  3. PGRs: you need to click on the “CS-PGR-Welcome” community space.
  4. Now click on the “Health and Safety Course and Out-of-Hours Pass Information” folder.
  5. Complete the test called “Part 1: University of Manchester Health & Safety”: you need to score 100% to successfully complete it.
  6. Complete the test called “Part 2: Health & Safety within the Department of Computer Science”: you need to score 100% to successfully complete it.
  7. When you have scored 100% ON BOTH TESTS the “Out of Hours Access” folder will appear.
  8. Click on the “Out of Hours Access” folder.
  9. Read through the guidance document, and complete the “Out-Of-Hours-Pass Test”: you need to score 100% to successfully complete it.
  10. When you have scored 100% on the Out-of-Hours Pass Test, a link called “Out-of-Hours Completion Confirmation” will appear.
  11. Click on this “Out-of-Hours Completion Confirmation” link, and a confirmation page will appear.
  12. Take this confirmation page (either print it out, or show it on an electronic device) and your University of Manchester ID card to SSO (room LF21) who will issue you with an Out-of-Hours Pass for the Kilburn Building.

Out-of-Hours access is only available during the times shown on the back of your Out-of-Hours Pass. You must have both your University of Manchester ID card and your Out-of-Hours Pass with you to be allowed to work in the Kilburn Building outside normal hours.

Plagiarism Course

All PGRs are required to complete a short course on plagiarism. See the Section on Plagiarism and Academic Malpractice. This test is also found on Blackboard.

Engagement

Every PGR is expect to remain “engaged” with the programme. That means, being very committed to the research, maintaining contact with their supervisor, and participating in the mandatory elements of the programme. Each month, your supervisor is asked whether they met with you as expected and whether they judge that you are engaging with the research. More details on this are given in section.

eProg

eProg is the University-wide progression system and skills training catalogue for PGRs. It is used to document your interactions with your supervisors and other members of your support and assessment teams, so its use will be central. It is located at eProg [10].

*You are required to use eProg*. At various points in your programme, you will record your objectives and progress in eProg. For example, quarterly reports on progress are recorded here. When you have successes, such as publishing a paper, attending a conference, participating in a training programme, etc. you should record this on eProg. It is also used by your supervisors to record any issues which they might have, and to record the attendance. Your supervisors and the Department will record your progress through eProg, including the yearly review process.

Every PGR on eProg is on a pathway. Your pathway will be something like

PhD Comp 3YR FT Sept18

which means you are on a 3-year PhD programme in computer science, studying full time, starting in September 2017. If you click on the Pathway menu item, it will show you the milestones for your pathway. If you click on the Progression menu item, it will show a table of links to the forms you need to fill out, as eProg tracks you as you progress. Most forms are filled out by you, following or leading on to discussions with your supervisor(s). However, there are also forms filled out by your end of year assessors, and the attendance monitoring forms are filled out by your supervisor.

There is a facility to add documents and add meetings, and many supervisors will record every meeting in eProg.

As mentioned in Section, you can also access the training catalogue from eProg.

The Graduate and Researcher Development unit runs a number of short courses (one-day, half-day, two-hour) which are relevant to the final stages of the Doctorate, including: “Planning Your Final Year”, “Writing Up Your Thesis”, and “Viva Survivor”.

Optional Opportunities

Research Seminars

The Department runs a seminar series, which runs typically on Wednesdays at 2pm in Kilburn 1.4, but it does not run every week. Upcoming seminars are announced over the seminar-distribution mailing list. They can also be seen at the Department Seminar [15] webpage. All PGRs are strongly encouraged to attend.

During the first semester, Science in Practice (SIP) seminars will take place in Weeks 1.1 to 1.12 (1 hour per week) on Wednesdays, 5pm – 6pm. These will inform PGRs of the variety research activity within the Research Groups within the Department. They will be delivered either by the heads of the research groups themselves, or by suitably-qualified representatives. All PGRs are cordially invited.

Other training opportunities

There are a number of short courses which are available to you. The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) and the University run short courses on a number of “transferable skills”, such as “time management”, and skills directly related to your course, such as “academic writing”, “planning the final year”, “viva survivor”. One course is required for all research PGRs, which is “Introduction to Research — Essentials”. You are expected to find the appropriate training to complement your research activity and personal needs.

You can access a catalogue of training courses via eProg (it should appear on the menu list on the left-hand side of the page, when My eProg has been expanded. If you want to see a list of available courses, leave search term blank, but select appropriate training provider. Many of these courses are for staff, but FSE runs courses for its PGRs.

The Research Computing is a part of the University’s IT Services, which offers computing services to researchers. They offer courses which are sometimes appropriate to PGRs. Some of these courses may cost the Department money, so you will need to get permission before you take them. Talk to your supervisor.

The Manchester Enterprise Centre offers a course in Innovation and the Commercialisation of Research, which may be available to PGRs. This costs the Department money, so, as above, talk with your supervisor.

Publications

You should acknowledge the grant from which you are paid on any publications, including those grants which are from your own sponsor (who will likely have their own requirement) but also from the Department or the EPSRC RCUK via the Departmental awards allocation allocation. If you are a CDT student you would also acknowledge that too.

Note

‘The authors would like to thank the EPSRC Manchester Centre for Doctoral Training in Computer Science (EP/I028099/1) for supporting this work’ or ‘The authors would like to thank the Department of Computer Science Kilburn Scholarship for supporting this work’ or ‘This work was supported, in-part, by The University of Manchester Presidents Award.’

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

It is not enough for researchers to do significant research; we also must go out into our research communities to communicate it. The Department provides a small amount of money (called a Research Training Support Grant; RTSG - next) for each PGR which is currently £1,000 per annum (to be spent at any time over the programme length minus the submission pending period and any interruptions or extensions), so, for example, a 3 year PGR will accrue £3,000 total, for travel and training. We typically do not provide this funding to any PGR who has separate means (typically via sponsorship) to attend conferences or buy equipment; for example, EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership Accounts and the like.

The policy of the Department for spending this money is as follows:

£3000 Over the 3 Years

The money follows the PGR. The money is placed in the group RTSG account of the main supervisor and can only be used for the PGR activity. The money is to be used to best enhance the research training of the research PGR. However, the PGR should not feel that they can spend anyway they like, it is up to the supervisor and PGR to jointly decide the best use of the money. If the there is a disagreement then Simon Harper (HoPGR) [1] or Dr Bijan Parsia (DHoPGR) [2] are consulted for the final say.

Computer Equipment

Every PGR should be provided with a new machine of the standard Department spec or higher

After your first semester, all PGRs will move from PGR Home (which has machines) to your home labs. Prior to this move, PGRs should discuss with their supervisors what machine is required for their proposed research and order new machines. It is important that students take responsibility for discussing their compute requirements as early as possible with their supervisor and for ordering their machine.

This should have a specification which is equivalent to or exceeds IT Services standard desktop PC. There is no expectation that this be upgraded in subsequent years, unless the supervisor deems that necessary. Of course, the supervisor may judge that a particular PGR’s project requires a much higher spec desktop, or other equipment, and may spend more of the budget on that PGR. We want to avoid PGRs being given three year old machines which happen to be lying around the lab.

In this case, each student is automatically allocated funding for a machine in addition to their RTSG. Our advice is in most case to choose the Lenovo ThinkStation (P520c - at the time of writing) option (unless a laptop is needed) from the IT Services Extended Catalogue [16]. Supervisors will need to make the case in the order that your PGR has non-standard requirements (which I would expect all CS PGRs to have - as standard requirements are considered to be low compute administration tasks). Supervisors should make it clear on their order form that you are a Postgraduate Researcher and your machine will be used for research purposes. More information on IT Purchasing [17] is available.

If the PGR is going to use a laptop, consider purchasing a monitor and keyboard to protect them from upper limb disorders, repetitive strain injuries, and so forth.

Machine purchases can be discussed with IT services but this may well increase the time an order takes; and the simplest answer for a request arising from a discussion of non-standard equipment is ‘no’. We would suggest conforming to the catalogues if at all possible.

In cases where a higher specification of machine is required we suggest the workstation is ordered and then the upgrades are performed in house by using funding from the PGRs RTSG to purchase the additional parts (outside of the IT Services loop).

Danger

All machines must be purchased through IT Services. If a fully-spec’ed non-standard specification machine is purchased via IT Services then the PGR RTSG will be liable for the entire cost of the machine not just the difference between the Workstation and the non-standard machine.

Conference, Workshop, Summer Department Travel

Every PGR should have the opportunity to attend at least one conference or workshop.

It is an important part of research training that PGRs get the opportunity to participate in conferences and workshops and network with other researchers in their fields. It is preferred that some of these experiences are outside the UK. Although it is reasonable to wait until the PGR has a poster or oral presentation accepted, this is not a requirement. The supervisor and PGR might together decide to send the PGR to a workshop or summer Department in an early stage in the PGR’s research. The fact that a particular PGR has not managed to get a conference or workshop paper accepted by the end of the doctorate should not preclude the opportunity to attend one.

Public Engagement and STEM ambassadors

The Department is very involved in “public engagement”, which means promoting science and computer science to the general public. Our Department is particularly involved in two areas. The first is promoting computing in schools. The second is working with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) to promote science in science fairs and events. MOSI provides training to scientists and science PGRs in public engagement by qualifying them as “STEM ambassadors” (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). As a PGR, you should take the opportunity to get trained as a STEM ambassador and to participate in public engagement events. The School’s public engagement are run by Dr. Giles Reger [3].

[1]mailto:simon.harper@manchester.ac.uk
[2]mailto:bijan.parsia@manchester.ac.uk
[3]mailto:giles.reger@manchester.ac.uk
[4]http://studentnet.cs.manchester.ac.uk/pgr/
[5]https://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/environment/governance/conduct/
[6]http://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/services/rbess/governance/upcoming-events-and-training/
[7]https://www.manchester.ac.uk/researchmisconduct
[8]http://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/pure/
[9]http://my.manchester.ac.uk
[10]http://www.eprog.manchester.ac.uk
[11]http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/using-the-library/staff/research/support/my-research-essentials/
[12]http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/using-the-library/staff/research/services/research-data-management/data-management-planning/
[13]http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/using-the-library/staff/research/services/research-data-management/
[14]http://ri.itservices.manchester.ac.uk/rds/
[15]http://www.cs.manchester.ac.uk/our-research/seminars/
[16]http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=34496
[17]http://www.itservices.manchester.ac.uk/ourservices/popular/purchasing/work/