Post by King’s PGR students Onna Malou van den Broek and Fabian Bohnenberger.


Fed up with your research? Losing focus? Hitting roadblocks?

Doing a PhD is a learning experience. But it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel when you face everyday research challenges. Why not follow the examples of experienced researchers?

The Project: Unfolding Research

Over the past two years, we tried to “unfold” the research process. More precisely, the many challenges that researchers at all career stages and across disciplines face in their daily work. As such, we have collected strategies that established researchers rely on in their daily work and tested them with PhD students. This set of easily accessible problem-solving strategies is tailored to the needs of PhD students and early-career researchers. Our aim is to share these proven and reliable working habits with new generations of scholars across universities and disciplines.


The Categories

In total, we collected over 80 problem-solving strategies, divided into four main categories: wellbeing, progress, flow and connection:

  • Wellbeing
    This category helps you stay positive and healthy. It provides advice on how to better balance work and life, deal constructively with criticism, build resilience for future challenges, bolster your inner drive, and put support structures in place.
  • Progress
    This category helps you to get started with your work and overcome roadblocks. It encourages you to be creative and think more innovatively. It also offers strategies to identify key arguments, discover new perspectives through alternative framing, and better structure your writing.
  • Flow
    This category helps you maintain an effective working process. It enables you to boost focus, effectively prioritize tasks, set meaningful targets, manage your work schedule, and get the most out of your supervisor relationship.
  • Connection
    This category helps you create new bonds with both people and ideas. It pushes you to make your work relevant to others, to engage with new professional groups, to expand and cultivate your network, and to leverage interdisciplinary methods and theories.

The App

Unfolding Research is designed to be as relevant to the everyday research practice as possible. Faced with the current pandemic, we have decided to make all strategies publicly available (for free). Everyone deserves some additional PhD support to get through these challenging times! To do so, we developed a web-app, which you can access from all devices here.

How to use the app

Step 1: Generate a Deck

Click on the categories to select what you are struggling with. Then press “Generate Deck” to create a personalized set of strategies. Not sure what to pick or feeling adventurous? Click on “Random Card”

Step 2: Put the Strategy into Action

The app shows you one strategy at a time. Trust the card even if you struggle to understand its immediate relevance or feel you already know this. The key is to put your knowledge into action!

Step 3: Continue Experimenting

Once you’re done, swipe to get the next strategy. You can access all used cards by selecting “Discarded” at the bottom of your screen. You can empty the discarded pile and draw a new deck at any time.