PGR Skills Workshop held at the University of Liverpool

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In order to guarantee international competitiveness of researchers they must be provided with the necessary skills for a future career in both the academic sector or in industry. For that purpose, an interdisciplinary 4-day training program, designed for the particular needs of early stage researchers, was held between January 22nd - 25th 2013 at the University of Liverpool for postgraduate students from the departments of physics, chemistry and mathematics.

This training was organized and carried out in close collaboration between the QUASAR Group, the physics department, the University's Graduate School, as well as expert trainers. The agenda was based on the successful first year training course that was developed in 2009 for the fellows of the DITANET project. It consisted of a project specific part and a more generic 'outreach' part, which was based on group work. A half-day long presentation skills session on Wednesday required all participants to give short presentations about their PhD project in small groups. These were video-recorded and then reviewed critically with feedback provided by the students themselves, their peers and professional trainers with the aim to identify best practice whilst giving every participant the opportunity to identify a presentation style that works best for them.

To promote group work and discussion small groups of seven people were asked to develop a 'bid' for a 10 k£ outreach event. They worked on this throughout the workshop with project-specific parts and theory sessions on project management interleaving group work sessions.

The groups developed a concept for an event that promotes research to the general public. This confronted them with resource planning, identification of stakeholders, decisions on marketing concepts, characterization of the potential impact and development of both, a project report that would serve as a grant application and a presentation with which they competed against the other teams.

Intense discussion and giving/receiving feedback were a central part of this training which received excellent feedback from the participants. Two international workshops for the LA³NET and oPAC projects will follow this example later in 2013.