How to do your research project

Transferring your research skills

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Congratulations! You've completed your dissertation or project, so now what? Are you planning further study, or will you be looking for graduate employment? Whatever you choose to do, you'll need to demonstrate the skills you gained or developed during your degree course. Potential employers or PhD supervisors might not be impressed by the listening skills you developed in lectures, but they'll be very interested in the skills you have developed during your dissertation or project. Employers are looking for graduates with good 'transferable skills': skills that you can transfer to the work place.

Remember, your dissertation is unique to you, and you have to use it to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Activity: transferable skill development - 10 minutes

By planning, researching and writing your dissertation or project, you'll have developed many valuable transferable skills that you can use to get a great job, but first, you need to identify these skills.

1. Think back to when you first started your research project and consider all the steps involved from start to finish.

2. For each step, write down the skills you developed, together with an example of how you developed this skill; for example: Time management - created a plan of work which was agreed by my tutor - and stuck to.

3. Think carefully about all aspects of the research process, and be imaginative - you'll have developed more skills than you think.

Employers are looking for graduates with good 'transferable skills': skills that you've developed that you can transfer to the work place. You need to identify the transferable skills you've developed and to match them to the skills needed in the job or studentship you want to apply for. For example, if you collected and analysed data on smoking cessation since the recent smoking ban, you'll have good transferable data analysis skills, which are useful in a wide range of jobs.

Matching your skills to the skills required for a job is not always easy, and sometimes you'll need to be imaginative. How will your research skills get you a job in the police force? Easily! For a start, you'll have developed excellent written communication skills, and you also be able to demonstrate that you pay attention to detail, and have self-discipline, time management and planning skills.

Activity: transfer your skills - 10 minutes

1. If you've already identified a job or course that you want to apply for, find out what skills you need for the position. You can find this information in the job details or course literature. If you've not yet identified a job or course you'd like to do, think about your ideal job and write down the skills or attributes you think you'd need for this job.

2. Using the list of transferable skills you created in the previous activity, match these skills to the skills required for the job or course. Include an example of how you developed and used each skill. For example...

Skill required - applicants require good time management skills

Match to my skill - I developed excellent time management skills while completing my research project. I created a realistic project plan which was agreed by my supervisor. I adhered to this plan throughout my dissertation and met or exceeded all my deadlines.

Try finding a job you'd like to apply for, or a career you're interested in. Look at the skills required in this role, and see if you developed any of these skills while doing your dissertation.

Recommended Further Reading

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