How to peer review a paper: Elsevier training session

How to peer review a paper

Thursday 11 May

New Hunts House Lecture Theatre 2, Guy’s Campus


Leading scientific publishers Elsevier are coming to King’s once more to deliver a session for researchers (postgraduate or staff).

This researcher development session will provide:


  • An opportunity to hear about the process of reviewing papers from one of best known scientific publishers
  • A chance to speak with current journal editors about the peer review process.

Elsevier mainly publish scientific journals, so these sessions will have a science focus. However. this session is open to researchers from any discipline wishing to deepen their knowledge of the publication and peer review process.

Secure your place now by follow this link to the KCL Skills Forge booking page:

To find more courses for researchers, explore the Researcher Development pages to find training opportunities in Public Engagement and Communication, Writing and Publishing Skills, Online Courses and IT, and much more.






Arts & Humanities PhD Case Studies: the other side of academia

This interview, and the others to follow over the next few weeks, are with the employers represented at the recent King’s College London Arts & Humanities PhD careers event. They have been written by PhD candidate Valeria Valotto, to whom we are very grateful!

From Cultural Studies and Media Phd to Academic Services Research: the other side of Academia

Dr. Laura Speers

Current position: Laura is Post-Doctoral Associate at Queen Mary University London. She works in the Post-Graduate Training and Knowledge Exchange Unit.

Starting point:

I received a BA in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle. Prior to beginning my PhD at King’s, I studied for an MA in Telecommunications at Indiana University.

First turn – Temporary Research Position

Immediately after finishing my PhD I was not sure whether I should pursue an academic career. I got a temporary research position through my supervisor. This was at 53 Million Artists, a collaborative project between KCL Cultural Institute and an external organisation. My role involved helping shape the research agenda of the project, synthesising academic and policy literature for research reports, and devising evaluation activities to assess project progress.

Second turn – Post-Graduate Training and Knowledge Exchange Unit

My position, for which a PhD is a requirement, entails researching, developing and co-ordinating the delivery of research training and knowledge exchange activity for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as an associate member of the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), which is an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). The role involves the planning, programming, organisation and delivery of knowledge exchange activities by working closely with academic Schools, external partners and cultural institutions both in London and overseas.

I am very happy with the change. This postdoc position offers the best of both worlds (academia/outside) as I’m still in Higher Education so have university affiliation and library access (I’m in the process of publishing my PhD). I’m doing something new by applying my PhD experience and knowledge to researcher training and development. Researcher development is satisfying because it’s people-focused and you’re making a direct difference to the working lives and experiences of PhD students and ECRs.

How did you make it?

I encourage a twofold strategy to career transitions: hunting for information on the short run and chasing one’s interests and passions on the long run. Before applying for jobs I would make sure to shadow and interview people in that position, to understand better what the role implies. My active participation to extra-curricular activities led me to discover Post-graduate Training. As a PhD student I attended training sessions, which gave me the opportunity to understand the importance of Postgraduate Training and to understand how this service could be improved. At King’s I was Humanities PhD Students Representative, in such a capacity I organised workshops and gained valuable experience in chairing meetings and events. This made me realise that I enjoyed managing people and facilitating ideas exchanges. I had been cultivating these skills since her time at Indiana University, where I was an associate instructor, research assistant and served on the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) committee.

For an in-depth interview to Laura and for pratical tips about how she made the transition, see the following article on King’s Careers Blog.

Careers Inspiration: Researcher Development

A case study kindly contributed by Dr Laura Speers, KCL Alumnus now working at QMUL within researcher development

Can you remind us what your PhD was about at KCL?

My PhD, undertaken in the department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, explored the identity politics of participants of the London hip hop scene, focusing on how artists negotiate authenticity and what ‘keeping it real’ means lived out on a day-to-day basis. This involved looking at issues surrounding race, class, commerce, creativity and place.

How did you decide what the next best step for you was?

Towards the end of my PhD, I was unsure whether I wanted to continue in academia so began exploring various jobs both inside and outside higher education. There were many personal preferences that I factored in too. For instance, I wanted to stay in London and was not prepared to move abroad or around the UK to chase academic jobs.

I attended various career events exploring my options, making the most of the services whilst I was still a student. For example, sessions held at UCL as part of King’s membership to the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network. I also informally chatted to friends, family members and contacts I had in various sectors to get an idea of what opportunities were out there as it’s a common pitfall that humanities PhD graduates think the only career paths are academia or in the publishing industry.

I started applying for jobs immediately after submitting my thesis. I registered on and set up email notifications alerting me to any new jobs. I kept an excel spreadsheet of the roles I was interested in, the application forms required, type of CV (whether academic or not) and most importantly, deadlines. I also went to see Kate Murray, the PhD careers consultant, to get feedback on my CV and advice on applications.

I landed a temporary part-time research assistant post through contacts in my department which I really enjoyed. However, the whole time I was keeping an eye open for more permanent positions and applying to them. In total, I applied to 12 different jobs (roles inside and outside academia to keep my options open). I got shortlisted and interviewed for two different posts which was a really good experience before getting my current job at QMUL. Of the few sociology lectureships I applied for, I was informed by the institutions that they had received unprecedented numbers of applications. Around 200-300 applicants were chasing each position so most universities were not interested in junior, fresh-out-of-PhD candidates.

How did you get your new role, what are you now doing, and what do you do day-to-day?

My official title is Postdoctoral Associate for Knowledge Exchange and Postgraduate Training at Queen Mary University of London. I found the position on and immediately started compiling the application materials. I emailed the named contact on the job advert to ask specific questions about the role so as to tailor my application. I asked a colleague in my department whether I could see her successful postdoctoral application which was a really helpful starting point to structure mine. I had my CV and application form checked by the careers consultant at King’s.

After being shortlisted for an interview, I contacted a person in the Graduate School at King’s who was doing a similar job to the position I was applying for and asked whether I could do an informational interview with her. This was really valuable as it gave me an insight into the role and the type of issues I might face, which I brought up in the interview. I then had a practice interview with a careers consultant which was instrumental in me getting the job, as the feedback I received was critical in shaping my presentation and answers to tricky questions.

On the interview day I was required to give a presentation on three questions that were sent to me beforehand. There was a panel of five people asking rather challenging questions but I felt quite confident with all the preparation I had done. I was offered the job that very afternoon!

My day-to-day job centres on events management – basically planning, programming and organising innovative research training for PhD students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, I work one day a week for the London Arts & Humanities Partnership (LAHP), which is an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) so I also have a desk at UCL. For LAHP PhD students, I also programme training activities, though focus on collaborative training with external cultural partners. These various responsibilities involve working closely with all levels of the university – from the Executive Dean and the Director of the Doctoral College, to academics and PhD students, and professional services staff – and increasingly with external partners and cultural institutions in London.

Have you experienced any differences in terms of working in a different academic institution?

As LAHP is a consortium between King’s, UCL, the School of Advanced Study and QMUL as an associate member, I am getting to experience quite a range of academic institutions all at one go! There are immediate differences one encounters such as in the infrastructure of how the university works and the communication channels one has to go through. It’s quite a steep learning curve realising how bureaucratic academic institutions are – you can have a brilliant idea but it often takes months and months to make happen because of the chains of command and budgeting protocol you have to go through!

When your time at QMUL ends, what might you move on to do?

My current post-doc position is for three years and I’m still unsure exactly what I’d like to do afterwards. However, I’m coming to many realisations about my ideal working conditions and that I enjoy variety so I’m starting to think about a ‘portfolio career’ and working on a freelance basis. In an ideal world this would involve working maybe 2-3 days a week in a fixed post and the other two days working on my own creative projects or writing/research.

The 2014-15 Researcher Development Programme

The 2014-15 Researcher Development Programme (RDP) is run by the Researcher Development Unit based within the Graduate School. We provide personal, professional and career development opportunities for postgraduate research students and early career research staff (including postdocs) at King’s, ranging from short training courses through to personal support on careers, writing and work-life balance issues through coaching approaches. We also provide support for research degree supervisors and Principal Investigators on working effectively with their research students and research staff.

King’s is committed to retaining and improving its status as a world-class research-based higher education institution – consistently one of the top 30 universities in the world – and, as such, aims to develop a high level of wide-ranging skills for research students and research staff in order to produce the leading researchers of the future. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Research Councils and other funders are also very keen that all researchers should be enhancing their personal, professional and employability skills and the RDP is designed to ensure that their requirements are met.

All training and learning is unique to the individual involved and we strongly recommend that at the beginning of each year you have a discussion with your supervisor (for research students) or Principal Investigator/line manager (for research staff) on what training is most appropriate for you. For research staff, this discussion should be part of the annual Performance Development Review (PDR) mechanism. Please see the HR website for further details.  All researchers are encouraged to take up to ten-days worth of personal, professional and career development activities and there is a guide at the back of the RDP brochure as to what counts and what does not. Students are required to report on their training and development in their six monthly progress report form so that this can be monitored by their supervisor and School.

For help in identifying skills and appropriate development activities, please see our section on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) in theRDP brochure. A version of this is also available on Skills Forge, the online booking and personal development website. You can also use the questionnaire available on Skills Forge to help you to identify your development needs. Once you are clearer on these you can then select workshops which focus on the skills you want to improve. You will need your King’s username and password to access the system. Once a place has been requested, a booking confirmation email will be sent to you. A reminder email will be sent to you one week before the start of the course. If the course requested is fully booked, an email will inform you that you have been placed onto a waiting list.

Welcome to a world of development opportunities! We hope you will make good use of what’s available here during your time at King’s.