PhD Essentials

PhD Essentials
Crucial scholarly skills for a good start on your PhD

Course description

Starting in a PhD program can be as intimidating as it is exciting. While some students come directly from a masters’ degree, others have accumulated practical experience before returning to academia. In both cases, and regardless of specific disciplines, students must shift from being a consumer of knowledge to being the ones who produce it. In this process, they need to become well versed in their literature, proficient in their methods and masters of their data, all at the same time. What is more, underlying all of these are the essential scholarly skills doctoral students need to develop, in order to successfully carry on research that makes a contribution to their field. While the doctoral schools support PhD students in this endeavor, the university library can offer additional resources and guidance in developing the kinds of soft skill that cut across fields.  

The objective of this course is to introduce PhD students to fundamental aspects of academic life and equip them with essential skill for a successful research career. The course also seeks to provide an arena in which PhD students of different fields and meet and develop fruitful peer relationships that can support them throughout the PhD journey.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students:

  • Knowledge:
    • Have a good understanding of what is involved in the academic craft, crucial values in academic integrity, how academic publishing works, and how to be productive writers.
    • Have acquired knowledge of different approaches for searching, assessing and managing literature and secondary research data.
    • Have an overview of best practices for managing research data and how to write a data management plan.
    • Have a good understanding of the importance of other types of research dissemination and societal engagement from scholars.
  • Skills:
    • Are able to critically interpret a range of bibliometric indicators in academic sources, and identify markers of predatory publishing.
    • Can differentiate different purposes of literature reviews, match these purposes with different types of reviews, undertake searches in databased, and use reference management software.
    • Can identify different characteristics in research data (personal data, sensitive data, data that is protected by intellectual property rights, FAIR and open data) and are able to adequately plan the data management approaches for their own projects.
    • Can structure productive writing routines and employ tools to support academic writing.
    • Are able adjust their communication approach according to target groups and situations (in academic conferences, industry conferences, presentations to the general public).
  • General competences:
    • Can confidently navigate the academic environment, and know how and where to find additional information/support they might need through the doctoral program.
    • Can carry on with their research projects under rigorous academic standards and with academic integrity.
    • Are able to reflect on current themes relevant to the academic craft, such as open science, data management regulations, science dissemination and others.

Course schedule

DateThemePre-lecture assignment
18th September 9:00-15:30Finding, assessing and managing literatureIdentify at least one seminal journal article in your field or discipline. Based on your research proposal, think of the relevant keywords for your research project.
19th September 9:00-15:30Managing your research dataConsider what type of empirical data you will collect and/or analyse in your doctoral research, what characteristics these data presents, and what kinds of precaution is required in their handling.
20th September 9:00-15:30Getting words down on paperThink of a writing task relevant to your current research. It can be an abstract you want to submit to a conference, or an op-ed you want to write to a newspaper. You will use this for an exercise in class.
21st September 9:00-15:30Presenting and publishing your research(1) Reflect upon your experiences with public speaking and networking. (2) Consider the role of scientists in society and how you think research can make an impact outside academia. (3) Write an “elevator pitch” statement of what your research is about.

Course responsible

This course is offered by the university library at Nord University, and it is coordinated by senior research librarian Dr. Leticia Antunes Nogueira.

Dr. Nogueira has a PhD in innovation economics from Aalborg University in Denmark (2018). She has experience from the institute sector in Norway, where she participated in several international research projects, from grant writing to execution. Dr. Nogueira has published a range of academic outputs, including high-impact journals, book chapters, and research reports. She has also been active in research dissemination to popular audiences, from high-school students to business actors.

If you would like to know more about her research experience, check Cristin, ORCID, or Research Gate.


This is an elective course that does not include examination. A certificate of participation will be provided for students who take part in at least 75% of the course. The target audience refers to first year PhD students from any discipline. The course is free of charge for PhD students enrolled at Nord university. Master students who would like to take part in the course must ask their supervisors for a referral.

The language of instruction is English, and the course consists of in-person seminar and workshop sessions. An evaluation survey​ will be distributed to participants at the end of the course.

Sign up

The deadline for signing up is on 06th September. Note that there are limited places in the course, and we operate on a first-come-first-served principle. Upon signing up, you will receive confirmation of your interest automatically, and a confirmation of your registration within a few days.

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