Category Archives: Research Students

CANCELLED – Shut Up and Write sessions for postgraduate researchers (PGRs)

*Edit – 28.05.19 – Just to let you know that, unfortunately, the Shut Up and Write pilot has been cancelled due to extremely low interest.

This means that there will be no Shut Up and Write on Wednesday 29th May or Wednesday 5th June.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

We will investigate whether to try running it at a different time later in the year.

If you have any feedback, please contact *

Library Services are starting Shut Up and Write sessions for postgraduate researchers (PGRs) on campus in Milton Keynes*. Sessions involve meeting with other PGRs in the Library building, writing for 25 minutes at a time then taking a 5 minute break. The idea is to make academic writing more productive and social.

If you are a PGR then simply turn up, bringing anything you need to write and to make yourself comfortable.

The first session is Wednesday 1st May, 13.00-15.00, using desks on the second floor of the Library. Signs will be put up on the day to guide you.

Subsequently, sessions will take place every Wednesday, 13.00-15.00 in the same place (unless notified otherwise). This will run on a pilot basis for 6 weeks in the first instance. If successful, Shut Up and Write will be continued.

Contact if you have any questions.


*Details of the Betty Boothroyd Library’s location can be found on our Contact us page and on the campus map.

Copyright and your thesis: new guidance for conquering copyright confusion

We are pleased to announce the release of a new guidance document entitled ‘copyright and your thesis’ (OU log-in required), designed to help postgraduate research students understand their copyright responsibilities during thesis production.

Copyright law can be confusing, but for anyone wanting to use third-party material in their thesis, it’s really important to get to grips with.

The Open University has been making postgraduate research theses publicly available online since 2010, via the Open University’s repository Open Research Online (ORO) as well as via the British Library EThOS service.

Along with a whole host of benefits, this online publication has created a new set of copyright responsibilities, making it particularly important for students to understand their obligations when it comes to using other people’s work in their thesis.

This practical guide helps users understand why, when, and how to obtain copyright permission, and what do if permission is not given.

We’ve done all the hard work for you and even included some handy templates for seeking permission from the copyright holder, so it couldn’t be simpler!


PGR Tea and Cake Social! 11th April

We’re developing our offering to OU postgraduate researchers and want to know what existing support you find useful and what other support you would like.

So we invite you to drink tea and coffee, eat cake, hang out with other PGRs, meet Library and Grad School staff, and give feedback on the PGR experience!

2.30pm – 3.15pm, Wednesday 11th April,
The Park, 2nd floor, Library

See you there!

University Mental Health Day: event for OU postgraduate research students

Many postgraduate research students experience common mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, but may not acknowledge it or know where to seek support. University Mental Health Day is Thursday, 1 March, and this year universities across the UK will be focussing on how they can build a more supportive environment for students’ mental health and well-being. The OU Graduate School will host a number of activities on social media and across the Milton Keynes campus. Please join the discussion on @OUGradSch #UniMentalHealthDay and/or drop by anytime 12:00-15:00 for free activities, refreshments and snacks (locations listed below).

Event timetable

12:00-15:00 OU Grad School library whiteboard takeover with free goody bags, refreshments and mindful colouring, Library foyer and atrium (ground floor)

The Graduate School will be taking over the library whiteboard to generate ideas for ‘what we can do to create a more supportive community’. The first 20 research students to contribute will also get a super-exciting relaxation goody bag. Representatives of the Graduate School, Library and Students Association will be there for a chat.

13:00-13:50 ‘Co-design for mental health’ workshop with Erika Renedo-Illaregi, PhD Student, STEM, Library Presentation Room (ground floor)

Bidean is a social enterprise that generates concepts to support wellbeing and recovery by co-designing with those who are experiencing mental distress. Co-founder Erika will facilitate a couple of activities that will serve as tasters to experience how we can all participate in design for wellbeing. Your participation will also help her journey as a research student as this is a key element of the PhD!

This will be broadcast to Stadium.

14:00-15:00 (14:00, 14:15, 14:30, 14:45) 15-minute Tai Chi taster sessions, Digilab, Library ground floor

Open to all staff and students. Fancy trying some Tai Chi? Then come along to the Digilab and join in! Hosted by Gill Hughes who runs Tai Chi for OU Club, this will be an opportunity to spend 15 minutes doing some specialist relaxation. No equipment or special clothes needed. This is just one of the OU Clubs you can join on campus – a great way of taking part in the wider community – see the full list here.

Join in by tweeting with #UniMentalHealthDay on the day: the theme is ‘how do we build a supportive community. You can also take a look at some of the GSN’s Wellbeing resources.

How to register:

Please signal interest for any of the Graduate School events via Facebook.

New MOOC for early careers researchers

You may be interested to know that a new free MOOC (massive open online course) for research students and research staff has just opened for bookings.  Called Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers, it aims to support researchers to explore their career options and make career plans:

“Being an early career academic researcher, whether you’re a doctoral student or research staff, can be challenging: should you pursue further academic research? What skills will help you progress in an academic career? What other career options are open to you?

On this course you will answer these questions and more, considering how to manage you career and reflecting on what you want out of a career. You will be encouraged to consider different career options, both within and outside academic research, and build your confidence in marketing yourself in applications and interviews.”

The MOOC is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, and University of Sheffield, and has been developed by careers professionals who are experienced in working with research students and research staff.

The first course will start on 5th March 2018. For more information and sign up details go to:

Introduction to EndNote training overview

Today  I ran some training for research students giving an introduction to EndNote Basic. EndNote Basic is a web-based reference management software programme which enables you to manage your references. It also has a cite as your write plugin for Word that enables you to automatically insert in-text citations and create bibliographies. The handout from the session is here: Introduction to EndNote training-handout

Getting to grips with Research Data Management

Yesterday I held a workshop for research staff and students on Research Data Management. As always this was an excellent opportunity for researchers to share their own experiences of data management and exchange tips (and grievances!). In particular there was lots of interesting discussion around the ethical implications of data sharing, which I will be taking forward to help evaluate the advice that we give researchers regarding managing and sharing sensitive, confidential and personal data.

This session was oversubscribed, so if you would have liked to attend but were unable look out for more RDM workshops on the Research Career Development programme next year; or if you are a research group we may be able to set up a bespoke training session with for you – please get in touch.

Training for postgraduate research students

This morning I ran a session for research students on research data management. The aim of the session was to go away with an outline of a data management plan to discuss with supervisors.

The session was well attended and generated lots of interesting discussion. Students used this template for an outline data management plan.

Slides are available on SlideShare and will also be uploaded to the VRE (Virtual Research Environment).


Training for research students

image by Jørgen Stamp –

This morning I delivered a training session to 54 full and part-time research students about Research Data Management. The students came from a wide range of academic disciplines, which made for an interesting session.

Topics covered in the session included the importance of data sharing, how to manage data during your project and why you should write a data management plan. There was a lot of lively discussion particularly around avoiding data security breaches and overcoming barriers to sharing data.

You can download the slides from the session by clicking here, or they are also available on the Research Data Management intranet site.

If you attended the session and have any follow-up questions or comments, please email