The demand for skills development in the molecular biosciences

Derry MercerBy Dr Derry K Mercer, Principal Scientist at Novabiotics Ltd & member of the Biochemical Society Policy Advisory Panel

The UK Government recently published a Green Paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ in which the urgent need for developing skills in further/higher education and the workforce was outlined. The document noted that while the UK higher education system was strong, our achievements in basic and technical skills was relatively poor and has led to the lower levels of productivity compared with other advanced economies.

The skills issues were outlined as follows:

  • lack of basic skills;
  • shortage of high-skilled technicians below graduate level;
  • skills shortages in STEM sectors;
  • the need for informed career choices;
  • lack of lifelong learning opportunities.

For anyone working in the molecular biosciences, whether in academia or industry, most of these concerns can hardly have come as a surprise and represents a huge problem for a growing sector that currently generates turnover of over £56 billion per annum. Indeed, the skills and productivity gaps were pointed out in an earlier UK government documentFixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ in 2015. Continue reading

The Very Best Things About PhD Life

By Gareth Raynes, Aberystwyth University

3While every PhD experience is unique, there are big areas of overlap between experiences of PhD students regardless of discipline; I’ve spent several months speaking to a number of PhD students from across the UK, all in different fields and at different stages of their projects. Despite this wide range of backgrounds and circumstances, several aspects jump out as being ever-present markers of a PhD project; the unifying factors that connect together to make PhD life what it is.
So what are these common factors? And why do they make PhD life so great? Continue reading

How to start writing your thesis

By Dr Ruth Nottingham, Impact Officer, University of Nottingham

ruth-nottinghamSo you are final year PhD student and the moment has finally arrived for you to put down your pipette and pick up a pen. It’s time to write a thesis!

This is an exciting time, it is the final hurdle of the PhD process and the finishing line is most definitely in sight. The tricky part is working out how to start, as whether you like writing or not the thought of writing something as large as a thesis can be a bit daunting.

To get past the fear of starting I leapt into the writing process, deciding that generating words however good or bad or in whichever order was the best way to get my thesis written. This worked out in the end but there are better strategies out there, so I thought I would share with you what I wish I had done. Continue reading

Why I think that the proposal to remove publication portability from REF2021 should be scrapped

By Charlotte Dodson, Research Fellow at Imperial College London

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Charlotte Dodson

“Do we know what’s happening about REF yet?” asked one of the participants at the departmental Principal Investigator (PI) meeting last term. There was a gentle shaking of heads around the table and we moved on. Shortly afterwards I knew the answer: the Stern Review (a UK Government-commissioned independent review into how Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 should be improved for next time) made its recommendations. There is now a consultation by HEFCE and its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on how best to implement these in REF 2021. Continue reading