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Postgraduate research

How Study Days can benefit postgrads

16 December 2013

You know that thing that nobody ever *really* explained when you signed up to do a PhD?  That thing where you have to submit abstracts to conferences, and then go stand in front of other musicologists and speak on your original work?  And your insides feel like jelly and you get sweaty palms and you think you would rather crawl into a hole and go quietly into that goodnight?

Like it or not, speaking at conferences and in front of other academics goes with PhD territory, so you have to get used to it.  But how do you get used to it without putting yourself through it over and over?

One simple answer is to present at a PGR Study Day.  Study Days are an excellent opportunity to try out your presentation skills in a more laid back environment.  They are open to all postgrads, but are focussed on PGRs, who have the chance to present their work in any stage of development.  That means they can speak on a brand new idea or angle of their research, or they can deliver a paper that can be used at a future conference.

The most recent PGR Study Day was this past Friday, 13 December.  The day featured student presentations, as well as professional development help, with a discussion on applying and interviewing for academic jobs, and a visit from Michael Middeke, an editorial director from Boydell and Brewer Publishing.

In January, I’ll be attending the annual RMA Student Conference in Birmingham…and I’ll also be delivering my first paper to an academic audience.  My presentation at Friday’s Study Day allowed me to give my paper almost a month in advance of my presentation in Birmingham, giving me plenty of time to tweak the paper.  And since the Study Day was held at Cardiff Uni and was attended by colleagues I know and lecturers whose opinions I trust, I knew the feedback I would get would be invaluable.

The Study Day is a biannual event.  The next one will be held on Tuesday, 13 May 2014.  You should consider coming along, even if you don’t want to present your work.  It’s a full day that offers interesting new research straight from the people (your colleagues) discovering it, and FREE FOOD.  And if you’re ready to vanquish the evil that is presenting, why not get that little bit of extra practice?

Alicia Stark
Alicia is working on a PhD in musicology (Authenticity, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Virtual Band)

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