Roberts fund for skills training

Tim Kovacs, Sept. 2009

This fund is no longer available but you may want to browse the page for ideas on skills training

The Roberts fund is a pot of money given to the Computer Science department by the Engineering faculty each year to fund transferrable skills training for PhD students and RAs.

PhD students, RAs and staff can apply directly to the fund, although the first two groups should discuss it with their supervisor first. You can use the fund either for your own training (e.g. a PhD student might attend a summer school) or to train others (e.g. a lecturer might run an away day, or a PhD student might arrange for someone to run a workshop).

Because demand exceeds supply we put a limit on the size of requests. We try to fund up to 150 pounds of books which support transferrable skills (note: not ordinary textbooks or scientific books). We normally try to fund up to 800 pounds in one year and 1600 pounds over two years of travel, e.g. summer schools/workshops/conferences etc. This does not mean this amount has been earmarked for you; it means this is the maximum you can normally get.

Our policy is to fund requests up to 500 pounds. For larger requests we will fund the first 500 pounds and half the remainder up to a maximum of 800 pounds. E.g. if you need 600 pounds we will offer 550, if you need 1100 or more we will offer 800. You should request the remainder from your research group. Each group is given a budget by the department and the head of the group decides how to spend it. Your supervisor may also have a research budget which can be used, or you can apply for a travel bursary to e.g. a particular conference or the Royal Society.

We give priority to research visits over other travel, to smaller requests, and to applicants who have had less funding in the past. Otherwise the money is distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis until it runs out.

In 2008 the department received its allocation in June. Applications can be made at any time and for events up to 10 months in advance. When the department's allocation is received it will be announced by email.

Technically the Roberts fund is only available to EPSRC-funded students and RAs but to be fair the department tries to find funds for non-EPSRC people from other sources. For simplicity we gloss over this fact and simply refer to the Roberts fund, and ask everyone to apply the same way.


Application procedure

If you need a decision urgently (e.g. to meet a deadline) indicate when you need it.

Transferable skills training

This covers the following (category A is absent as it's not relevant):
B) Research Environment - to be able to:
1. show a broad understanding of the context, at the national and international level, in which research takes place
2. demonstrate awareness of issues relating to the rights of other researchers, of research subjects, and of others who may be affected by the
   research, e.g. confidentiality, ethical issues, attribution, copyright, malpractice, ownership of data and the requirements of the Data Protection Act
3. demonstrate appreciation of standards of good research practice in their institution and/or discipline
4. understand relevant health and safety issues and demonstrate responsible working practices
5. understand the processes for funding and evaluation of research
6. justify the principles and experimental techniques used in one's own research
7. understand the process of academic or commercial exploitation of research results

C) Research Management - to be able to:
1. apply effective project management through the setting of research goals, intermediate milestones and prioritisation of activities
2. design and execute systems for the acquisition and collation of information through the effective use of appropriate resources and equipment
3. identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources, archives, and other sources of relevant information
4. use information technology appropriately for database management, recording and presenting information

D) Personal Effectiveness - to be able to:
1. demonstrate a willingness and ability to learn and acquire knowledge
2. be creative, innovative and original in one's approach to research
3. demonstrate flexibility and open-mindedness
4. demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to identify own training needs
5. demonstrate self-discipline, motivation, and thoroughness
6. recognise boundaries and draw upon/use sources of support as appropriate
7. show initiative, work independently and be self-reliant

E) Communication Skills - to be able to:
1. write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose, e.g. progress reports, published documents, thesis
2. construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally through a variety of techniques
3. constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examination
4. contribute to promoting the public understanding of one's research field
5. effectively support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring or demonstrating activities

F) Networking & Teamworking - to be able to:
1. develop and maintain co-operative networks and working relationships with supervisors, colleagues and peers, within the institution and the wider
   research community
2. understand one's behaviours and impact on others when working in and contributing to the success of formal and informal teams
3. listen, give and receive feedback and respond perceptively to others

G) Career Management - to be able to:
1. appreciate the need for and show commitment to continued professional development
2. take ownership for and manage one's career progression, set realistic and achievable career goals, and identify and develop ways to improve
3. demonstrate an insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within
   and outside academia
4. present one's skills, personal attributes and experiences through effective CVs, applications and interviews.

What you don't need the Roberts fund for

The following are offered free by the University: Outside the University, Vitae runs development activities. It has taken over from the UK Grad programme, which is no longer running.

Last updated 15/9/09