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Research skills audit

You may well already have many research skills. You need to assess and measure these so you will find it useful to audit your skills. Most universities offer research methods and skills training. Find out if yours does. You might specify needs, such as training with social science research analysis packages, for example SPSS. Alternatively, your needs might be more general, for example acquiring and managing knowledge. This is a larger writing project than what you undertook at undergraduate level - but it does need to be manageable and managed.

Activity

Here are some of the research skills you will need. Audit them now. Mark the extent of your current skills and your skills needs. [1 = new to develop, 2 = some skills, 3 = quite confident, 4 = confident, 5 = a strength of mine.]

Print table

Project planning 

Time management

Knowledge retrieval 

Knowledge management

Analytical skills

Calculation skills

Interpretation skills

Evaluative thinking

Problem-solving in different contexts

Creative thinking 

Reading for different purposes

Reviewing the literature critically

Writing for different audiences

Writing theses and articles

Structuring and presenting papers

Managing discussion

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

1    2    3    4    5

You may well have underestimated or even overestimated your skills in some areas and you might also think that skills developed so far just will not be relevant at this level of research. Be realistic. Think of instances in your study life and everyday life when you have used such skills and could transfer them to a research context. For example, if you have run a family budget you might be better skilled at calculating than you imagine. If you have carried out literature reviews for an undergraduate essay, or written a journalistic piece, these too are skills which can be developed and transferred. If you find genuine gaps in skills, then seize opportunities to work with others who have these skills. Seize development and training opportunities - develop, build and reflect on your skills as you carry out your research work. 

Reflection

  • Audit and update your research skills and recognise what you already have experience with in relation to research.

For further information see Chapter 5 of The Postgraduate Research Handbook by Gina Wisker.

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