Jong-Wook Ban and Paul Dijkstra, DPhil EBHC students
An increasing number of students enrol for the part-time DPhil in Evidence-Based Health Care (EBHC); we are a very diverse group living and working across the planet and across discplines. Pursuing a DPhil can be a long and lonely journey. Although part-time studies have advantages such as having opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills in the workplace, part-time students may feel especially isolated.
The DPhil in Evidence-Based Health Care programme holds face-to-face DPhil seminars during the Department of Continuing Education’s termly Graduate School training week. In addition, virtual DPhil seminars are offered throughout the academic year. These seminars provide an ideal opportunity for part-time students to present their work, learn and progress, network, connect and engage with fellow students and faculty.
Opportunity for academic debate
A few years ago, I (Jong-Wook) presented an abstract of my research in one of the parallel sessions at a Cochrane Colloquium. I was excited because I spent several months collecting data using rigorous methods, conducting cumulative meta-analyses, and writing up the results. It wasn’t until a professor from another University asked me a pointed but quite obvious question that I realized I had never presented this in front of anyone before. DPhil seminars provide an excellent opportunity to present our research in front of friendly audiences who are interested in helping us. Questions and comments received at DPhil seminars can be extremely helpful when preparing for conference presentations, examinations, and peer and editorial reviews.
Connect with fellow students
Participating in DPhil seminars provides opportunities to connect with fellow DPhil students in various stages of their degree who may be struggling with or have struggled with the same challenges that you are having (e.g. transfer of status). Sharing these common challenges will most likely make this journey less lonely. In addition, most DPhil theses will include a research project that requires collaboration with other researchers (e.g. conducting a systematic review). Fellow DPhil students with similar research interests might be a good source for finding a research collaborator.
Learn from each other
The DPhil experience is often narrowly focused on only a very small area of research; DPhil seminars provide excellent opportunities to broaden our understanding in various topics, study designs, and methods by listening to presentations from fellow students and engaging in discussions. These discussions often provide insight into how other students overcame their research challenges. It is also an ideal opportunity to get invaluable input from faculty members other than your supervisors.
While in Oxford for face to face DPhil EBHC seminars, we can also exploit other opportunities to advance our research skills, including various courses offered during Graduate School training week at the Department of Continuing Education. Many useful research skills courses are available from Medical Science Division Skills Training as well as IT Learning Centre throughout the academic year.
We would really like to encourage all DPhil students to take part in these seminars to practise their presentation skills, get to know each other and get valuable feedback on research design and methods.