INTRO – Getting Talks Started

Start with a Factoid

Did you know that over 99% of PhDs experience difficulty with their research at some point of their studies? There is a real need, in my opinion, for researchers to be exposed to helpful concepts and tools to simply allow them more time to get on with the really important stuff. So I want to share with you a selection of really useful tools – the Beginner’s Guide To Useful Acronyms (BGTUA). Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing eight posts to illustrate ideas that I have found really useful, both in my PhD and working with PGRs. I really want to hear your comments as I share these, and I’d love to know what your most useful acronyms are too! My aim with these posts is to show that acronyms are not just jargon – they are helpful constructs that can have big benefits.

That first paragraph, as well as being an introduction to upcoming posts, is a demonstration of the first idea that I want to share with you. It’s a neat little concept for starting talks that I’ve seen work really, really well in many settings. My good friend Dr Aimee Blackledge, a researcher-developer at the University of Liverpool, shared it with me, and now I pass it on to you. This tool is called INTRO.


I Need You!

YOU!!!!!!!I’m doing this blog for lots of reasons

A big reason is that this is a testbed for ideas. I alluded to this on Wednesday, but broadly speaking material that will appear here – material written by me – will at some point probably end up edited and reworked into books. Those books will probably cost money, but at the point here it will be totally free. You don’t have to pay any money or do anything in order to read it. You don’t have to sign up for anything, give me coin or contact details or even tell anyone in order to read these posts.

If you would like to tell people about this writing though, there are lots of ways to do that: follow me on Twitter (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors), like the Facebook page, put the Google+ page in one of your circles. I’ll be mentioning the Viva Survivors Podcast from time to time as new episodes come up, or if there is something new and interesting over there that I want to share more widely. Follow, like, put it in circles – and I’ll keep you up to date with posts and other things as they come up.



I’m doing this blog for a number of reasons:

  • I want to share thoughts with people;
  • I want to hopefully help PhD students;
  • I want to build up a good writing habit for myself;
  • I want to develop my own writing.

My first goal is to be consistent though: I want to publish one post, Monday to Thursday, every week of the next year (with the exception of holidays!) at a minimum. Quick back of the napkin calculation says that’s around 210 posts. Yikes.

So I’ll be writing and preparing some posts in advance, and I have a slush pile of ideas. I’m also keen (like I said yesterday) to hear what people think, and see what topics people are keen to hear about.

I’ll be starting the blog properly next week with a two week series of posts on acronyms.

Wait! Come back!


Hello World

Next week it will be six years since I started a business. After so many positive experiences during my PhD I decided to try being a skills trainer. I had an idea that I wanted to help lots of different people. Over time I realised that what I really wanted to do was help postgraduate researchers and research staff. I am passionate about helping people directly – being in a room with them, or in conversation, and sharing ideas and experiences, seeing what they need and if I can meet that need.

As long as I can remember, I’ve also been passionate about writing. And like many people passionate about writing, I have been incredibly scared of sharing that writing. I have novels in the bottom of drawers and on old USB sticks. I have books aimed at PhD students – several books on different subjects – that I don’t dare share (yet). In January 2013 I finally worked up the courage to share my first ebook, and finally realised that it was OK for other people to read what I had written.

Then life intervened – we moved house, had a beautiful daughter and it was suddenly eighteen months later. I kept writing, but again those old jitters came up on me. What was best to write? What would people want to read? What if it was no good?

The answer to all of these questions was to just write and share, take on feedback and keep on writing and sharing.

So that’s what this blog is: I’ll be writing and sharing. Some of these posts will be polished thoughts. Some will be things that I’m working out. Some will be things that I don’t know what I think (yet). All of them will be aimed at helping postgraduate researchers. If you’re a PGR or a PGR developer or are someone who just cares then please share this blog. Tomorrow I’ll share some details about what you can expect in the coming months (Monday-Thursday daily posts with occasional other updates), and on Friday I’ll share details of what you can do to support this blog if you’d like.

I’ll mention work from time to time, but this isn’t really about workshops that I do or trying to sell you on hiring me to deliver them (although if you want to then please don’t let me stop you!).

This blog is aimed at providing something useful. So my first question – and feel free to comment – what would be useful to you?

If you could see me write on any topic that would be useful to PGRs what would it be?