B4 - Recipe for success? Creating a vibrant academic community for doctoral researchers which fosters their development

Day 1 at 16:30 - Recipe for success? Creating a vibrant academic community for doctoral researchers which fosters their development
Day Day 1
Session B
Start time 16:30


Postgraduate researchers 

Code B4

Dr Tim Hopthrow, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, University of Kent

Suzie Morris, Graduate School Manager, University of Kent

Dr Jo Collins, Postgraduate Development Advisor, University of Kent

Carla Doolan, Postgraduate Development Coordinator, University of Kent

Workshop outline

The Kent Graduate School has established a strong sense of doctoral community across a multi-site institution through the introduction of a structure and range of initiatives to foster postgraduate development and disseminate research. Initiatives have included a ‘Kickstart your PhD’ workshop, responsive Researcher Development Programme, postgraduate newsletter, regular research cafes, postgraduate research festival and postgraduate experience awards.  Senior staff and student engagement and feedback have been key to making this a success. The presentation will also explore Kent’s mechanisms for communicating across its doctoral community and the system introduced to review its researcher development programme.  Kent was commended by the QAA in its 2015 Higher Education Review for the range of informal and formal opportunities it provides to doctoral students which it considered created a vibrant and interdisciplinary academic community. This workshop will provide an overview of Kent’s strategy and current challenges as a basis for group discussion, best practice sharing and problem solving.

Workshop topics:

The session will:

  • Consider the importance of a strong academic community to postgraduate researcher development;
  • Explore successful initiatives to create an academic community which fosters postgraduate researcher development and debate the best mechanisms for engaging such a community;
  • Discuss current challenges such as engaging supervisors with new initiatives and creating academic communities across large collaborative doctoral training partnerships;
  • Provide an opportunity for participants to discuss their experiences, share best practice and problem solve with a focus on planning for the future.

Themes covered:

  • Engaging research leaders, principal investigators and supervisors to transform professional development of researchers and embed professional development in the research environment
  • Researcher development within structured doctoral programmes, including perspectives on doctoral training centres/ partnerships, Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) and other cohort based models; including European and international collaborations and organisational benefits and challenges in managing diverse researchers' experiences

Workshop outcomes:

Participants will:

  • Share successful initiatives in the creation of doctoral communities and explore its role in researcher development.
  • Debate strategies for overcoming challenges in this area.


Formal presentation followed by participant-led small group discussions. Participants should come prepared to share their own successes and challenges in this area.