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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Researchers in the Making: Overcoming the Challenges of Transition

Higher Education
Carolina Silveira
University of Glasgow
Carolina Silveira
University of Glasgow

The aim of this paper is to explore the transition into becoming a research student. It is grounded in hands-on experience with a programme instituted in the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) aimed to innovate and improve the quality of the transition into a life as a research student in social sciences. It is claimed that by ensuring a structured induction into both research community and methods, the quality of the education as a whole is lifted. The student-led ‘Doctoral Training Week’ implemented at UWS had three main objectives:

1. Induction into postgraduate research study: Changing from working life/taught studies to research studies can be a daunting and confusing experience - often exacerbated by a change of city or even country. The DTW provides a structured start to the PhD process that helps the newcomer feel at ease in what is sometimes a chaotic journey.
2. Introduction to theories, tools, and tricks of the trade: The week provided introduction and training in basic theories and methods relevant to both students and researchers of politics and social sciences. This created inspiration, helped identify training needs, and ensured a solid foundation to build on for the entire cohort.
3. Sense of community: By inducting the new research students through sessions that are also relevant to staff, we aimed to strengthen the research community more broadly. The DTW helped to foster social connections among new and existing researchers and research students.

The present paper begins by reviewing the literature on academic transition, then the idea behind the Doctoral Training Week (DTW), followed by a report on the execution of this pilot. Finally, the lessons learned of the proposed program are be summarised, to set the stage for the DTW model as proposed.
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