PhD students from across multiple EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training and relevant research groups recently benefited from a two-day residential facilitated writing retreat, which was held at Beamish Hall in County Durham on 27-28 November 2018.
The aim of the residential retreat, which was attended by 28 PhD students from across 10 Universities, was to create a positive, quiet and productive environment in order to maximise writing productivity via eight time-facilitated sessions over the two days.
When registering for the event, attendees were required to specify what they would be using the retreat for, and they also discussed their short, medium and longer term writing goals in pairs at the start of Day One.
PhD students at various stages of their programmes, from across the following nine EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)/relevant research groups benefited from this event:
Cloud Computing for Big Data (Newcastle University)
Digital Civics (Newcastle University)
Embedded Intelligence (Loughborough University)
Healthcare Innovation (University of Oxford)
HighWire (Lancaster University)
IGGI: Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (Goldsmiths)
Media and Arts Technology (Queen Mary University of London)
Web Science (University of Southampton)
The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Loughborough University London)
The majority of PhD students present were concentrating on writing or editing their thesis, although other writing goals included drafting conference papers or journal articles, literature reviews, preparing for an annual review and coding.
Student feedback included the following:
“During this writing retreat I wrote an abstract for a conference. The DEN retreat helps create an ideal environment for producing quality writing material” (PhD Student – 2016 cohort, Embedded Intelligence CDT, Loughborough University)
“I set a challenge of writing the introduction to my thesis over the first day. The writing sessions helped me to focus on the goals and made the writing more manageable. I was able to achieve my goal of writing my introduction” (PhD Student – 2015 cohort), Digital Civics CDT, Newcastle University)
The feedback from the PhD student attendees indicated that they also specifically valued the opportunity to talk and network with peers over the breaks and dinner, share common research interests and expertise, as well as providing and receiving advice. This retreat provided an opportunity to meet with other CDT students they may not have necessarily have met, would it not been for an event such as this.
We are aware that the Digital Economy Network (DEN) PhD Student community is ever changing, with new CDT students joining the EPSRC-supported Centres to embark on their PhD journey, as well as graduates and alumni moving on to their postdoc career destinations.
DEN keeps your CDT Managers and Administrators informed on all the Network’s relevant events and activities that are taking place that will be beneficial and of interest to you, but new doctoral students can also join the DEN mailing list via the sign up form below, so that you can also be informed directly of any DEN opportunities. You can also choose to unsubscribe from the list at any time.
On 11-12 June 2018, 25 CDT students from across the Digital Economy Network attended a two-day facilitated doctoral writing retreat at Wyresdale Park, in Scorton.
PhD student attendees had the choice of staying in local overnight accommodation at Wyresdale Hall, glamping belltents or the nearby Priory at Scorton for two nights, so that they could participate in the retreat at the Apple Store Cafe, which was booked exclusively for the retreat so as to prevent interruptions. Some students also attended as day delegates.
As the sun was also out in Lancashire, delegates could also benefit from using the beautiful and peaceful gardens to focus on a PhD writing project of their choice.
PhD students attended from the following DEN CDTs:
Cloud Computing for Big Data (Newcastle)
Digital Civics (Newcastle)
Embedded Intelligence (Loughborough and Heriot Watt Universities)
Horizon My Life in Data (Nottingham)
Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (Goldsmiths)
Media and Arts Technology (Queen Mary)
Web Science CDT (Southampton).
DEN has plans to deliver a further two writing retreats during 2018/19 and details will be announced on the DEN website as soon as booking information is available.
The Digital Economy Network (DEN) hosted their second PhD writing retreat of 2018 at the idyllic setting of Thrumpton Hall; a spectacular 17th century English country house, set in the village of Thrumpton near Nottingham. PhD students from across seven EPSRC-funded Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) signed up for this event to have the opportunity to focus on research writing or associated work relating to their doctoral study.
18 CDT students from the Network’s Cloud Computing, Embedded Intelligence, Horizon, HighWire, Media & Arts Technology, and Web Science CDTs attended the two-day retreat.
The retreat, which facilitated by Andy Darby of Lancaster University, is a structured programme which aims to establish a highly productive and healthy relationship with writing over the two days. Each day is broken down into four writing sessions of either an hour or ninety minutes, with set break times, including an hour slot for lunch to allow people to move away from their work, talk with other CDT students from across the Network, have food and refreshments and to take walks in the surrounding gardens and parkland.
Attendees paired up at the start of day one and discussed with each other their specific writing objectives for the event, and then individuals evaluated their progress against their set goals at key points during the retreat.
CDT students used the retreat to work on various tasks including thesis chapters, literature reviews, interview transcription, data analysis, coding, journal submissions, conference papers, blogs and annual review reports.
The majority of the 18 students who attended, also enjoyed an evening meal in the Hall’s impressive and grandiose dining room and stayed overnight in the country house, and were extremely well looked after by the Thrumpton events staff. DEN had exclusive use of the Hall and various rooms for the duration of the event, which provided ideal conditions for people to focus on their work, and base themselves in different rooms across the two days.
The next two-day retreat will be held on 15-16 May 2018 at Elmore Court in Gloucester.
Thanks and acknowledgements:
DEN would like to thank Andy Darby of Lancaster University for facilitating the retreat, and providing writing coaching and advice to the individual delegates who required this. Thanks also to Paula, Lynn, Nancy and the other staff at Thrumpton Hall for doing such a great job of looking after us during our stay. Thanks to all the CDT students who attended and I hope you made the progress you aimed for.
The third Digital Economy Network Meeting took place on Friday 23 March 2018 in Nottingham, and was hosted by the EPSRC Horizon CDT in My Life in Data.
CDT and PhD students from Newcastle University, University of Southampton, University of Nottingham and Loughborough University London met at the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Conference Centre to discuss diversity and accessibility issues around the meeting theme ‘Access and Accessibility: The breaking down of barriers’.
After a pre-meeting evening networking meal at Las Iguana Restaurant in Nottingham City Centre (group photo below) on Thursday 22 March, CDT students from across four institutions met on the Friday to discuss, share experiences and make policy recommendations for the following:
Access and accessibility for postgraduate research (PGR) students.
Paid sickness leave policies for PGR students.
Mental health support provision for PhD students.
Support options for PGR students who have child care responsibilities for travel to research conferences and events.
Formalisation of a Digital Economy Network (DEN) Code of Conduct for DEN meetings and events.
After lunch, Chad Gowler, a Masters student at the University of York gave a talk to attendees on the subject of Accessibility on the Web.
The Digital Economy Network held it’s fifth two-day writing retreat on 7-8 March at the New Bath Hotel in Matlock Bath, located on the edge of the Peak District.
35 CDT and PhD students from across nine EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and University digital economy research groups attended the fully-subscribed residential event, which was held on the edge of the Peak District.
Although in a scenic setting, the Derbyshire-based venue was very easily accessible by train, with Matlock Bath train station being less than 1 mile away. PhD students travelled from as far as Newcastle and Southampton to attend the retreat.
Delegates used the retreat programme to focus on a variety of research writing priorities including thesis corrections, draft journal papers, Researchfish submissions and conference papers.
PhD students from the following nine EPSRC CDTs attended:
Cloud Computing CDT – Newcastle University
Digital Civics CDT – Newcastle University
Embedded Intelligence CDT – Loughborough University
Financial Computing CDT – University College London
Healthcare Innovation – University of Oxford
HighWire CDT – Lancaster University
Horizon CDT – University of Nottingham
Media & Arts Technology CDT – Queen Mary University of London
Web Science CDT – University of Southampton.
The Network will host it’s next two-day writing retreat at Thrumpton Hall in Nottingham on 24-25 April 2018, with two further retreats planned for May and June.
The Digital Economy Network (DEN) held a two day event at the Digital Catapult Centre in London on 1-2 February 2018 , which over 75 CDT staff, students, alumni and Network collaborators attended.
Over the two days, over 75 doctoral students and staff from the DEN member Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), along with representatives from the EPSRC and Digital Catapult, participated in the following programme of activities:
The one -day DEN Annual Meeting for CDT staff, students, key collaborators and the EPSRC as funders of the Network.
A DEN CDT Directors Meeting to discuss current and future collaborations, and relevant EPSRC calls.
A CDT table-top showcase where delegates could experience a flavour of the multidisciplinary research that is taking place within the DEN EPSRC-funded CDTs.
An evening networking reception, which commenced with three short talks by CDT students from three different Centres for Doctoral Training across the Network.
A one-day CDT Careers Symposium featuring talks from CDT alumni who had progressed to positions in academia, industry or had founded/co-founded their own start-ups.
DEN Annual Meeting Presentations:
At the start of Day 1 Professor Sarah Sharples delivered a DENupdate presentation to delegates on recent events and activities that had been initiated and supported by the Network.
John Baird, Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme Lead at the EPSRC delivered a themeupdate to attendees.
Rosie Bellini, Janis Meissner, Cat Morgan, Sean Peacock and Angelika Strohmayer, CDT Students gave an update on the Digital Economy Diversity Network meetingsthat had been held so far, hosted by the Digital Civics CDT at Newcastle University, and the Web Science CDT at the University of Southampton.
The Digital Economy Network (DEN) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) Managers and Administrators Group meet on a twice-yearly basis, and this week the Autumn 2017 meeting took place in London on 8 November.
Chaired by the DEN Manager, Felicia Black, this forum was initiated under DEN Theme 1 – Sharing Good Practice, and provides a mechanism for the CDT Managers and Administrators to get together to discuss common topics, subjects and issues around the leadership, management and administration of an EPSRC-funded Digital Economy CDT.
There is an open agenda for all to submit discussion topics for each meeting, as well as attendees receiving an update on DEN activities and events, and opportunities to shape future initiatives for the benefit of doctoral students across the Network.
Outside of the meetings, there is also a dedicated mailing list so that documents, advice, news, successes and events can be shared within the group throughout the year.
This most recent meeting on 8 November at the St Pancras Meeting Rooms, brought together 12 CDT Managers/Administrators across 11 CDTs, along with the Academic Engagement Manager from the Digital Catapult Centre, Dr Catarina Fernandes and the DEN Social Media Advocate, Chira Tochia.
At each meeting, all attending Managers and Administrators get to provide an overview to the group of what has been happening in their CDT, such as recent recruitment rounds, details of new cohorts of students, CDT events, staff/governance changes and success stories, which was the case again for Wednesday’s meeting. After individual updates, attendees again had the chance to pose questions to their peers to get advice, guidance and information on how they do things within their particular Centre.
Catarina Fernandes attended to give an update on how the London-based Digital Catapult is working in partnership with students from five EPSRC-funded CDTs, as well as informing the group on strategic priorities for future digital innovation projects and relevant forthcoming opportunities for students to engage with the Catapult.
Chira Tochia was attending her final meeting before stepping down from the DEN Social Media Advocate role, and led a session on how the CDTs use social media tools to promote the research activities and outcomes of their Centre, as well as engaging with new, current and past students and stakeholders via different platforms including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MailChimp.
Donna Palmer, Centre Manager for the CDT in Embedded Intelligence spoke about the delegate feedback survey results from the 2017 Digital Economy Summer School; Innovation Insights for the Digital Workforce of Tomorrow, which was a successful event for 75 CDT students held in July at Loughborough University London. This feedback report will help plan for the 2018 Summer School, to strive to meet the needs and values of the CDT students within the DEN community.
Thank you also to CDT Managers and Administrators Tish Brown (HighWire CDT – Lancaster), Yonita Carter (Financial Computing CDT – UCL), Emma Juggins (Horizon My Life in Data CDT – Nottingham), Brent Kiernan (CDE – Bath), Oonagh McGee (Cloud Computing CDT – Newcastle), Alison Tebbutt (Web Science CDT – Southampton), Jonathan Winfield (Media & Arts Tech CDT – QMUL), and Kate Wright (HighWire CDT) for sharing news and expertise from their respective Centres for the benefit of this forum.
The Horizon CDT in My Life in Data look forward to hosting the next CDT Managers/Administrators meeting at the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus on Wednesday 16 May 2018.
The Digital Economy Network delivered a two day entrepreneurship workshop and pitching competition specifically for Digital Economy doctoral students at the Digital Catapult Centre in London on 19-20 September.
Over 40 attendees from across 11 EPSRC Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Universities within the Network attended the event, which was led by Professor Philip Treleaven, Director of the EPSRC Financial Computing & Analytics CDT at University College London, who had put together an exciting and informative two-day programme of activities, including CDT alumni speakers, from which the students could gain valuable insights and expertise.
After being welcomed to the event, delegates benefited from masterclass seminars delivered by Professor Treleaven on idea visioning, branding, and funding pitches, as well as introducing three entrepreneurial case study presentations from former CDT students of the Financial Computing CDT at UCL, who had gone on to launch their own spin-out companies and products during and after completing their PhD. Chris Skilton, who is an entrepreneurship consultant, led a session on the components of the Business Model Canvas.
After lunch, the hackathon competition was launched by Dr Chris Carter, Assistant Professor of the Nottingham University Business School, and mentors Chris Skilton (Entrepreneurship Consultant) and Oonagh McGee of Newcastle University. The attendees formed small cross-CDT groups to work together on a chosen digital economy themed innovation idea, that would be pitched to a judging panel during the afternoon of the following day. The Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and EntrepreneurshipIngenuity Process was showcased as a suggested three-stage model to help the students identify and develop an enterprising idea.
The students continued working on their ideas during the afternoon and into the evening over dinner in the capital city.
After starting the day with coffee and croissants, Philip Treleaven delivered an informative presentation on company structures, intellectual property and potential sources of entrepreneurial funding.
The groups then continued working hard on their ideas ready for the competition in the afternoon. Each group had been given the brief of a five-minute presentation, with 10 minutes per group for questions from the floor.
After a well-earned buffet spread (which was a working lunch for some), the final afternoon session was dedicated to the ‘pitch-off, where the seven groups of PhD students presented their idea to the independent ‘Dragon’s Den’ panel, and there was a £1000 cash prize for the PhD student group who were judged to deliver the best five-minute pitch. Each group was kept strictly to time by the Dragons!
There were some truly fantastic novel ideas put forward by each of the groups, that aimed to address a broad range of technological, societal and economic problems such as middleware to help solve home-buying/renting challenges in London, supply of bicycle storage racks/spaces, and stress-level measuring software and apps.
Overall Winners: Huge congratulations were in order for CDT students Cristina Guerrero Romero (IGGI CDT – Essex), Youssef Hamid (Embedded Intelligence CDT – Loughborough), Yitong Huang (Horizon CDT – Nottingham), and Alex Owen (Web Science CDT – Southampton) who collectively won the £1000 cash prize for the best business pitch for their proposed innovative CycleRack app idea (see logo left), which aimed to match cyclists and local businesses for mutual benefit to provide affordable, secure and convenient bicycle storage space.
There was also a People’s Choice Award up for grabs, which was voted for by the other PhD students anonymously, using a interactive voting app. The Dragons were exempt from voting for this category. The winners were Carlos Gonzalez Diaz (IGGI CDT – York), Dr Ege Sezen (HighWire CDT – Lancaster), Tatiana Styliari (Horizon CDT – Nottingham) and Fabio Turchet (Centre for Digital Entertainment – Bournemouth) for their employment skills matching data anaylsis AI platform ‘EmployAIble‘, who were rewarded with £250 of Amazon vouchers.
DEN hopes to deliver the same event in 2018, as the feedback from the students who attended was extremely positive, and they relished the chance to learn from entrepreneurial experts, as well as having the opportunity to meet and work collaboratively with their peers.
Acknowledgments and thanks
DEN would like to thank Professor Philip Treleaven of UCL for putting together the extremely well received two day programme together, and also Dr Chris Carter (University of Nottingham), Chris Skilton (Entrepreneurial Consultant) and Oonagh McGee (Newcastle University) for co-organising, delivering and mentoring the students at the event. Thanks also to be extended to Dr Catarina Fernandes, Academic Engagement Manager at the Digital Catapult Centre, for being part of the Dragons Den judging panel for the group presentations, and to DEN Social Media Advocate Chira Tochia for social media coverage. Finally we would also like to thank the Financial Computing CDT alumni speakers who gave up their time to come and share their experiences with the next generation of CDT students.
We would also like to thank all the CDT/PhD students that attended and participated, which made it such an inspiring and vibrant event!
Inter/sections is an annual, week-long series of events and an exhibition organised by PhD students of the Queen Mary University of London’s Media and Arts Technology (MAT) Centre for Doctoral Training.
Each year, the programme of activities and associated exhibition focuses on a specific theme, which for 2017, was Politics and Ethics in Media and ArtTechnology.
This year Inter/Sections culminated on Friday 8 September via a one-day symposium,held at the Mile End Art Pavilion in East London for the second year running.
The specific aim of the event was to facilitate discussion and exchange between academia, industry and activists, and it attracted over 100 delegates.
Programme of activities
After commencing with a welcome from the symposium organisers, the event opened with lightening talks from eight of the exhibiting PhD students and artists who had the chance to inform the audience of the work behind their exhibit showcases.
The symposium also featured two keynote speakers, Dr Dan McQuillan a Lecturer in Creative & Social Computing at Goldsmiths College, University of London and Dr Stephen Minger, an expert in stem cell technology.
In the afternoon, an interactive problem-solving workshop ‘Technology, Ethics and the Arts Now’ was delivered by colleagues from The Culture Capital Exchange, which was followed by a panel discussion (sponsored the Digital Economy Network), entitled ‘Work Ethics in the Age of Automation’.
This hour-long panel session was extremely well-attended and was chaired by Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK, and offered a space for attendees to debate new ethical frameworks for current and emerging technologies.
Delegates were also able to view and interact with the 11 exhibits from PhD students and Artists that had been on display throughout the week in the Pavilion.
You can view some of the photos from the symposium taken by the DEN Manager, Felicia Black in the INTER/SECTIONS 2017 album on the DEN Flickr page.