Although I don’t currently have teaching duties, I lectured during my postdoc at the University of Kiel and had various teaching roles in Edinburgh during my doctorate. I have a Higher Education Academy Associate Fellowship.
In summer term 2018, I designed and delivered a lecture course called Research Skills, based on Neil Dodgson’s course of the same name, which I attended during my MPhil in Cambridge and found particularly useful. I don’t (yet) have the gravitas of over 20 years of research experience, so the course is largely based on material gathered from those wiser than me, peppered with some cautionary tales from my own experience. I am grateful to Neil Dodgson for sharing his teaching material and his advice while preparing this course.
This course provides practical training in the core skills required in research. Its focal points are critical reading, scientific writing, presentation skills and developing a research proposal.
It is aimed at postgraduate students in their first year of PhD or about to start their doctoral studies.
By the end of the course the students should have an improved understanding of the practical skills involved in research. They should:
Understand the requirements of English scientific writing, and apply these to their own writing.
Be able to review scientific papers.
Be able to write a research proposal.
Be able to give and use contructive feedback.
Be able to prepare and deliver an academic presentation.
The main topics this course will cover are:
Reading and reviewing: critical reading, the review process, developing a reading plan
Writing: how to write good research papers. Scope, organisation, style. Presenting experimental results, mathematics and algorithms. Editing.
Presenting: preparing and delivering a research presentation.
Experimental methods: how to design sound experiments, how to analyse and present data.
The research process: indentifying a topic, developing a research proposal.
Making the most out of conferences and other opportunities: A Ph.D student’s guide to conferences; technical interviews; Fantastic PhDs/jobs and where to find them.
The course consists of around 12 lectures, along with regular exercises. By the end of the course, the students are expected to write a project proposal and give a presentation. Depending on student numbers, I either offer mock interviews or include white-board coding practice in tutorials.
J. Zobel. Writing for Computer Science (Third Edition), Spinger 2014. (Second edition is also acceptable)
Simon Peyton Jones. How to give a great research talk
Simon Peyton Jones. How to write a great research paper
Matt Might. Responding to peer review
In Edinburgh, I tutored and worked as teaching assistant for various courses:
Don Sannella’s Functional Programming (1st year undergraduate): TA and tutor for several years
Julian Bradfield’s Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science (3rd year undergraduate): tutor
John Longley’s Formal and Natural Language Processing (2nd year undergraduate): TA and tutor