Domain A

1. Knowledge base 

Knowledge of: 
  • The area of research, the advances within it and its relationships with other research areas. 
  • The methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research design. 
  • Sources of information, bibliographic software and other information technologies. 
  • Literacy and numeracy skills and language abilities appropriate for research. 
  • Makes original contributions to knowledge.
  • Identifies, applies and develops methods and experimental techniques appropriate for research projects. 
  • Conducts effective and comprehensive information searches. 
  • Records, manages and handles information/data using appropriate bibliographic software and other information technologies. 

2. Cognitive abilities  

  • Analyses and evaluates findings using appropriate methods. 
  • Thinks originally, independently and critically; develops theoretical concepts. 
  • Critically synthesises information from diverse sources. 
  • Evaluates progress, impact and outcomes of research. 
  • Recognises and validates problems; formulates and applies solutions to a range of research problems. 
  • Willing to give and receive constructive criticism.

3. Creativity


  • Develops new ways of working; has novel ideas and realises their potential.
  • Identifies new trends; creates new opportunities.
  • Develops convincing and persuasive arguments to defend research.
  • Takes intellectual risks; challenges the status quo.
  • Takes a creative, imaginative and inquiring approach to research.
  • Is open to new sources of ideas.


This session will use the SPSS software to enhance your knowledge of the applied statistics and of the package. We will consider data structure as well as the differences between samples and populations.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • Common statistical distributions will be introduced.
  • Useful methods for graphical, tabular and statistical summaries will be explored, along with various calculations, sorting, selection and transformation.
  • Finally, there will be both an introduction to hypothesis testing and Confidence Intervals using both parametic and non-parametic methods.

Facilitator: Dr Yinghui Wei
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 26 November 2018, 1300-1600
  • 22 February 2019, 1000-1300
  • 14 June 2019, 1000-1300

Introduction to Matlab environment and scripts

Matlab is a powerful piece of software that is a programming language, but which also has some features in common with statistical packages like SPSS, and other features that make it more like a spreadsheet or database. As a result it can seem bewildering and complex. However, at its simplest it is just a very sophisticated calculator with great graph drawing facilities which make many routine data analysis and presentation tasks a breeze. Give it a try before you decide.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • To introduce new and inexperienced users to the Matlab programming environment, basic mathematical and statistical operations on small data sets, using the GUI to draw simple graphs, exporting results to document preparation software, and an introduction to scripting.

Facilitator: Dr Martin Coath
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 19 February 2019, 1000-1300
  • 19 March 2019, 1000-1300

Matlab environment and scripts - intermediate

Suitable for those that have attended the introductory session or have a little experience with other programming IDE’s.

If you have grasped the basics of Matlab or if you are happy with the idea of programming languages this session will let you explore how to get exactly what you want, in ways that should save you time and effort. We will be exploring how Matlab goes way beyond a simple calculator or spreadsheet and find how new facilities can be added by programming, and how data is stored, retrieved, and presented in a multitude of ways decided by the user.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • To explore all aspects of the Matlab programming environment, mathematical and statistical operations using matrices, creating and editing graphs, use of scripts and functions, introduction data structures, introductory program debugging.

Facilitator: Dr Martin Coath
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 28 May 2019, 1000-1300

NVivo for beginners

This session will use the latest NVivo qualitative software package to enhance your knowledge of the application.

Intended learning outcomes:

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Navigate easily around the NVivo interface.
  • Import text, audio, video, pdf and image files into NVivo.
  • Be able to title and provide descriptions of the different media content.
  • Create nodes and coding across a variety of media.
  • Add titles and descriptions to different media sources and nodes.
  • Be able to organise your data in a hierarchical structure, and be able to add memos.
  • Create a Framework Matrix.
  • Apply NVivo's basic analytical functions, including text searches and word frequency queries.
  • Be able to create models and export them to Word and PowerPoint.

Andy Edwards-Jones
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 19 November 2018, 1600-1900
  • 28 January 2019, 1600-1900
  • 15 April 2019, 1600-1900

NVivo users workshop (intermediate)

This workshop style session is intended to provide you with some dedicated time to start, or continue working with your own research data in NVivo, with facilitator support on hand.

Intended learning outcomes:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Use your learning outcomes from previous introductory NVivo training and put them into practice using your own data.
  • Import and organise your own data.
  • Establish a coding framework for your own data.
  • Code your own data.
  • Use NVivo's basic analytical functions.
  • The workshop will be delivered in two parts. Part 1 will involve learning about specific functions of the application such as framework matrices, classifications, queries, autocoding, importing bibliographic databases, and visualisation with models. Part 2 will allow attendees to progress their own NVivo projects using their own data, and address specific areas of interest.

Facilitator: Andy Edwards-Jones
Applicability: This session is not an introduction to NVivo. It is aimed at research students and staff that have completed the NVivo introductory training workshops or have some working experience of the application, but would benefit from further guidance while progressing their own research work. Participants are encouraged to bring their own research data ready to import into NVivo, or a copy of an existing NVivo project or a laptop with an NVivo project already loaded.

Course dates and times: 

  • 1 April 2019, 1600-1900
  • 1 July 2019, 1600-1900

Understanding and working with quantitative data

This session will explain the principle methods involved in the analysis of data collected and the basic ideas behind each. The aim of the session is to increase your understanding of the use of statistics and how they are used in scientific and medical research.

Intended learning outcomes

  • highlight common errors made and how to avoid them.
  • demonstrating how to run each test using common software will be given without the use of over-complicated mathematical formulas.

Daniela Oehring
Applicability: Suitable for most research students

Course dates and times: 

  • 20 November 2018, 0900-1200
  • 13 May 2019, 0900-1200

Overview of library services and resources for researchers

This course is intended to provide an overview of available information resources. The Library offers a range of products and services to support researchers that can save time and money and help to make information retrieval more effective. The course will consist of a presentation and hands-on time as well as pointers to online material.

Intended learning outcomes:
Participants will be aware of how to access the following range of information resources via the University of Plymouth portal:

  • e-journals and newspapers
  • e-databases
  • ZETOC (for current awareness)
  • e-theses and conferences
  • eudio-visual material
  • accessing other libraries.

Facilitator: Information Specialists
Applicability: Suitable for students at the start of their research programme and anyone wanting an updating overview.
Researchers who have either attended the session before or wish to have more detailed support are always welcome to contact their Information Specialist for individual support. Please contact the Information Specialists or telephone the team on +44 (0)1752 587114.

Course dates and times: 
  • 12 November 2018, 1300-1500
  • webinar semester 1 - date to be confirmed
  • 4 February 2019, 1300-1500
  • webinar semester 2 - date to be confirmed
  • 3 June 2019, 1100-1300

Introduction to R

R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics, which can be easily downloaded from the web. It is now widely used for all types of statistical applications, from official and social statistics to modern methods for computationally based inference.

Intended learning outcomes:
After this short course the participant will have a basic knowledge of R. In particular, the following topics will be covered (some in limited detail):

  • using an editor
  • arithmetic
  • data in R
  • R Objects
  • summary statistics
  • graphics including ggplot2
  • linear models and correlation
  • t-tests and ANOVA
  • reading in data from files
  • data manipulation using dplyr.

The advanced workshop, which builds on the material presented in the Introduction to R course, covers (again in limited detail):

  • the general and generalised linear models
  • data manipulation using dplyr
  • data visualization using ggplot2
  • Bayesian statistical inference including hierarchical models
  • R Markdown
  • function writing.

Facilitator: Dr Julian Stander
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • Dates to be confirmed

Introduction to qualitative research methods

This course is intended as an introduction to qualitative methods used in research activities.

Intended learning outcomes:
The session will involve consideration of qualitative methods, their strengths and weaknesses and their potential for use in different types of research. It will cover interview, focus groups and observational methods as well as basic data analysis.

Facilitator: Rebecca Turner
Applicability: Suitable for most research students.

Course dates and times: 

  • 4 February 2019, 1100-1300 (provisional)
  • 29 April 2019, 0900-1100 (provisional)

Geographical information system (GIS) – An introduction

GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. GIS can be used to analyse topographic, environmental, geological, demographic and land use data to help you with your research project management. GIS is a very powerful decision-making tool that has a massive range of applications, whatever your research – environment, surveying, demographic studies, epidemiology, resource management, logistics, planning and transport.

This session will provide an introduction and overview of GIS and its’ two main platforms, ArcGIS by ESRI and the freeware QGIS. To assist you beyond the session it will signpost potential users to additional resources to help you get started.

Facilitator: Christopher Thorpe
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 12 November 2018, 1300-1600

Geographical information system (GIS) – Users workshop

Please note: this session is only available to participants who have completed the GIS Introduction session and are using GIS or, participants who have some previous experience of GIS and require a refresher training.

This session continues from Geographical Information System (GIS): Introduction and provides an opportunity to focus on specific project needs. Participants are advised to email any GIS related enquiries prior to the session to

This user’s workshop is designed for participants who have some GIS working knowledge and will signpost users to additional training resources.

Facilitator: Christopher Thorpe
Applicability: Participants must have used GIS prior to attending this session.

Course dates and times: 

  • 10 December 2018, 1300-1600

What is LaTeX? – An introduction 

This first session on the LaTeX typesetting software is for everyone, particularly if you have never heard of LaTeX. Even if you are already a LaTeX user come along and join the debate. The time will be split between demonstrations and detailed answers to students questions.

All academics have to write reports and papers of one sort or another. Of most immediate concern to most graduate students is the thesis or dissertation which represents the culmination of an intense and demanding period of study and research.

For almost 30 years there has been debate between those who support general purpose word-processors (such as Microsoft Word) and those who argue that academic writing requires a specialist tool. LaTeX is such a tool and represents the alternative to word-processing. LaTeX is free, designed specifically to handle large complicated cross-referenced academic documents, and has been used successfully for nearly 30 years in all academic fields.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • The aim of this introductory session is to allow graduates to discover what it is and to make an informed choice about whether or not to consider using it.

Facilitator: Dr Martin Coath
Applicability: Everyone. If you have heard of LaTeX and are not sure what it is then this is your chance to find out. If you have never heard of LaTeX then it could be what you are looking for. Please come along even if you are a LaTeX user and join in the discussion.
Prerequisites: none.

Course dates and times: 

  • 3 December 2018, 1000-1100
  • 25 March 2019, 1100-1200

LaTeX? – Getting started

The second session is aimed at those who are curious to find out more about LaTeX and those who are seriously considering using it. The previous LaTeX session is not a prerequisite but there will only be very limited time for debate and explanation so please do come to ‘What is LaTeX’ so you know what you are getting yourself in to! We aim to achieve three things in this session.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • to get LaTeX installed and running on every computer. You will need to bring a laptop running Windows 7 and on which you have full administrative rights. If you have a University issue laptop you will have to contact IT support to be sure you have been made an administrator (there will not be time in this session to cover installation for Mac and Linux users - if you want to take part install Windows in a virtual machine).
  • to create and edit some simple documents to illustrate as many of the general principles as possible in the time available. This should be enough for you to go away and start experimenting with your newly installed software.
  • to make everyone aware of the vast array of free LaTeX support material on the internet. After you have mastered the basics you will be able to find books and tutorials that are available to anyone who wants to go further.

Facilitator: Dr Martin Coath
Applicability: Everyone. If you have heard of LaTeX and are not sure what it is then this is your chance to find out. If you have never heard of LaTeX then it could be what you are looking for. Please come along even if you are a LaTeX user and join in the discussion.
Prerequisites: none

Course dates and times: 

  • 7 January 2019, 1000-1200
  • 20 May 2019, 1100-1300

LaTeX?- Pictures, bibliographies tables and other assorted problems

You will need to be familiar with the basics of LaTeX to get the most out of this session. For absolute beginners this means a) coming to both previous sessions and b) having done some practice and research in the time since session 2. Experienced users are very welcome to come along – there are always tips and tricks to be shared.

Intended learning outcomes:
If you have made it this far you will be starting to appreciate that despite the fact that LaTeX offers huge advantages it also has its share of frustrations. Many of these can be dealt easily with help from experienced users. We will deal with the most common problems first, but this session also has time to address any particular issue that you want to bring along.

In particular: the placement of figures, the handling of bibliographies, and the design of tables in LaTeX are frequently raised as ‘problems’, although in fact in most cases the ‘solutions’ are trivial but merely difficult to find. If you are convinced that LaTeX is for you then you should find this session very helpful. If you are still not sure then seeing some of the potential problem dealt with might help you to make up your mind.

Facilitator: Dr Martin Coath
Applicability: Everyone. Please come along even if you are a LaTeX user and join in the discussion.
Prerequisites: You must have attended both previous sessions and have done some practice and research.

Course dates and times:

  • 21 June 2019, 1100-1300

Introduction to EndNote (desktop)

This course introduces you to the desktop version of EndNote. The session covers: customising your library, importing your references and the ‘cite while you write’ functionality.

We recommend that you complete this course at the start of your research to get the full benefit from this reference management tool.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • To familiarise yourself with the key features of EndNote.
  • To learn to manually enter references.
  • To understand how to download selected references from relevant journal databases.
  • To learn to use the cite while you write functions of EndNote in Word.

Information Specialists
Applicability: Any research student who is not already using a bibliographic database package on a routine basis, but particularly students who are just starting their research.
Prerequisites: You should have either attended the 'Overview of library services and resources for researchers' course or have a working knowledge of the key journal databases in your discipline. Please contact your information specialist if you have any enquiries: or view our online guidance:

Course dates and times: 
  • 28 November 2018, 1400-1600
  • 20 February 2019, 1300-1500
  • 3 June 2019, 1300-1500

EndNote beyond the basics

This course is for those wanting to get even more out of EndNote, to go beyond the basics.

This course will cover SMART groups, preparing to publish, adapting styles and more.

Prerequisites: To have a basic working knowledge of EndNote Desktop.
Applicability: Suitable for most research students.

Course dates and times: 

  • 6 March 2019, 1300-1500 
  • 17 June 2019, 1300-1500

EndNote online session - Webinar

This is a more basic, web-based version of EndNote Desktop, which we recommend for those undertaking a distance course.

The session covers: setting up your library, importing your references and the ‘cite while you write’ functionality.

Prerequisite for this course: Familiarity with the library resources of University of Plymouth.
Applicability: Suitable for most research students.
Mac users: you must have Word for Mac installed in order to use the Cite while you write functionality.

Course dates and times:

  • 5 December 2018, 1400-1600 (UK time) Webinar

Critical thinking

This session explores how critical thinking is relevant to the researcher's career journey today and tomorrow.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • engage with own 'usual' approach to critical thinking in its daily context to research and job responsibilities
  • broaden awareness of feasible in-house and external activities to further enhance critical thinking skills
  • consider immediate opportunities to further enhance critical thinking through skills of observation, reasoning, decision making, analysis and judgement
  • reflect on own adaptions to 'usual' approach to critical thinking.

Facilitator: Ian Roberts
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • 21 March 2019, 1300-1700
  • 13 June 2019, 1300-1700

Introduction to Python

This is an introductory course for absolute beginners in Python who are interested in discovering and learning Python programming language. This course will make the participant understand different variable, functions types and performing basic maths operations. You will also learn how to import a local file and read its data.

Intended learning outcomes:

You will become familiar with the basic functions and syntax, in particular, the following topics:-

  • variables, data types, comments and math operators
  • strings and print
  • conditionals and flow control
  • functions and importing modules
  • lists, for loops, tuples and sictionaries
  • functions.

Facilitator: To be confirmed
Applicability: Suitable for most research students and research staff.

Course dates and times: 

  • Dates to be confirmed