All courses of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center have been developed to assist students in the training of research skills and transferable skills that you need for a future both, in and outside of academia. Below is a list of skills we expect you to learn during your PhD studies.
For a more detailed description of competencies and skills that researchers should develop in Stage 1 of their PhD Studies, please see the Vitae Research Development Framework (2010).
The following objectives are cited and adapted from Joint Skills Statement (2001), Research Council UK (ed.):
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/rsa/assets/pdfs/research,traininganddevelopment/students/JointSkillsStatementJSS.pdf (accessed: 12 January 2015)
Training in Research Skills and Techniques – you will develop:
- The ability to recognize and validate research problems and to formulate and test hypotheses.
- Original, independent and critical thinking and the ability to develop theoretical concepts.
- Knowledge of recent advances within your field and in related areas.
- An understanding of relevant research methodologies and techniques and their appropriate application within your research field.
- The ability to critically analyze and evaluate your findings and those of others.
- An ability to summarize, document, report and reflect on your research progress.
Understanding the Research Environment and the Scientific Community – you will develop:
- A broad understanding of the context, at national and international levels, in which research takes place.
- Awareness of issues relating to the rights of other researchers, of research subjects, and of others who may be affected by your research, e.g. confidentiality, ethical issues, attribution, copyright, malpractice, ownership of data and the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
- Appreciation of standards of good research practice in your institution and/or discipline
- An understanding of the relevant health and safety issues and you will demonstrate responsible working practices.
- An understanding of funding processes and evaluation of research.
- The ability to justify the principles and experimental techniques used in your own research.
- An understanding of the process of academic or commercial exploitation of research results.
Research Management – you will be able to:
- Apply effective project management through the setting of research goals and intermediate milestones.
- Design and execute systems for acquisition and collation of information through the effective use of appropriate resources and equipment.
- Identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources, archives, and other sources of relevant information. Use information technology appropriately for database management, recording and presenting information.
Training in Personal Effectiveness – you will develop:
- A willingness and ability to learn and acquire knowledge.
- An ability to be creative, innovative and original in your approach to research.
- Flexibility and open-mindedness.
- Self-awareness and the ability to identify own training needs.
- Self-discipline, motivation, and thoroughness.
- An ability to recognize boundaries and draw upon/use sources of support as appropriate.
- Show initiative, work independently and be self-reliant.
Training of Communication Skills – you will learn how to:
- Write clearly and in a style appropriate for the purpose, e.g. progress reports, published papers, and PhD thesis.
- Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally through a variety of techniques.
- Constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and in examinations.
- Contribute to promoting the public understanding of your research field.
- Effectively support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring or demonstrating activities.
Networking and Teamwork – you will:
- Develop and maintain co-operative networks and working relationships with supervisors, colleagues and peers, within the institution and the wider research community.
- Be able to understand your behavior and its impact on others when working in and contributing to the success of formal and informal teams.
- Listen, give and receive feedback and respond perceptively to others.
Career Management – you will develop:
- An appreciation for the need for and show commitment to continued professional development.
- Ownership for and manage your career progression, set realistic and achievable career goals, identify and develop ways to improve your employability.
- Demonstrated insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside academia.
- An ability to present your skills, personal attributes and experiences through effective CVs, applications and interviews.