Workshops for Researchers

The Doctoral School in collaboration with the Office for Human Resources Management & Development is offering its Professional Development Programme for post-doctoral researchers.

This page will provide an overview of the workshops on offer for doctoral researchers and post-doctoral researchers, including Research Support Officers III, IV and Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Research Officers, who are currently employed at the University of Malta. These workshops are also offered to Scientific Officers as well.

In the case of doctoral researchers, interested participants must be employees of the University of Malta and reading for their Ph.D. at a foreign institution.

Some workshops are also on offer for Research Support Officers II. These will be indicated accordingly in the registration form. 


General Workshops

Preparing for the Viva

Tutor: Professor Ronald Sultana
Study-unit code: DOC6002
Duration: 3 hours 

This workshop sets out to help doctoral researchers prepare for their oral examination. The form and style of viva voce examinations differ depending on the academic discipline involved. They also vary depending on the traditions and rituals associated with different higher education institutions. Nevertheless, while acknowledging this diversity, the workshop will identify the key components common to viva examinations, the expectations that examiners have of doctoral candidates, and the behaviour and responses that are most likely to lead to positive outcomes. The workshop will also provide participants with the opportunity to experience a mock viva and to benefit from feedback about their performance.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  •  be familiar with the nature of doctoral viva examinations and traditions underpinning them;
  • understand the expectations that examiners have of candidates sitting the viva;
  • be acquainted with the kinds of questions that are likely to be asked during the viva, including the sequence in which they might occur (e.g. general questions followed by questions on context, methods, analysis and findings, discussion, conclusion/ implications);
  • be able to give a synthesis of the main findings and/or main arguments in a thesis as well as its contribution to knowledge;
  • understand how to respond to questions in ways that do justice to the work invested in the thesis;
  • be aware of different examiner styles and how to respond to them;
  • be able to identify typical errors made by students during a doctoral viva, and know how to avoid them;
  • understand the different possible outcomes of a viva and the follow-up to it before graduation.


Writing and Communication Skills

Debating with the Media

Tutor: Rev. Dr Joseph Borg 
Study-unit code: DOC6020
Duration: 6 hours - this workshop is split into two sessions. Attendance is required for both sessions.

Writing for the media is radically different from writing an academic piece. In a similar manner, speaking on the radio or on TV and addressing academic gatherings require very different skills. Researchers do their utmost to be precise, base their conclusions on solid information, and refrain from rendering matters trivial or sensational. The media, on the other hand, does not harbour such ‘scruples’ many times. Also whereas an academic audience listens with attention, media audiences are not as attentive.

In a world dominated by the media, it helps a researcher to also be a savvy media user. Given the right skills, researchers can use the media sagely to increase the impact of their work, increase visibility, influence policy (if this is part of the scope of their research), give back to society and attract others to research. The aim of this workshop, which will consist of both a theoretical and a practical element, is to help instil in participants the necessary skills to communicate effectively and efficiently with the broadcasting and print media, and with the media audience.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • aware of their message;
  • cognisant of their medium;
  • conscious of their audience;
  • familiar with different kinds of interviews for print and broadcasting;
  • equipped to handle different situations, including the phone-in format.

Convincing and Debating

Tutor: Professor Andrew Azzopardi
Study-unit code: DOC6006
Duration: 3 hours 

Debating is a fundamental part of everyday life. Our ability to discuss lies at the heart of a democratic and open-minded society. Added to this, to be critical is central in the life of any scholar. Structured and well-thought-out strategies in expressing oneself have the potential to unpack one’s scholarly competencies and expertise. This workshop will help candidates develop and exercise debating skills. More importantly it will help stimulate doctoral researchers' critical thinking by shaking them free from time-honoured and conventional opinions.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • be familiar with the major themes related to convincing and debating;
  • understand the value of critical thinking;
  • understand how they can benefit from critical thinking in the cultivation of analytical discourse;
  • have improved their critical and analytical abilities in philosophical work;
  • have developed a more acute awareness of how to approach a debate and convince;
  • have developed practical skills on how to improve communicability.


Research, Integrity and Valorisation

Research and Entrepreneurship – a Harmonious Duality 

Tutors: Professor Juanito Camilleri and Professor Russell Smith
Study-unit code: DOC1037 
Duration: 3 hours   

The first part of this workshop aims to give a brief introduction to entrepreneurship and the process of starting off a business and draws parallels with doctoral research and the process towards writing and defending a thesis. The second part of this workshop aims to further illustrate this synergy by explaining the process of developing business finance proposals and going over equity finance presentations that were successful in real life. 

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to understand:

  • what entrepreneurship is;
  • what entrepreneurship is not;
  • the steps involved in setting up a start-up;
  • the process of using the ‘Problem – Solution – Benefits’ model to identify key outcomes from a programme of research and how to use those in order to illustrate its ‘value’.

Understanding Intellectual Property (IP) 

Tutors: Dr Ruth Vella Falzon and Dr Ing. Anton Bartolo
Study-unit code: DOC6007 
Duration: 6 hours - this workshop is split into two sessions. Attendance is required for both sessions.  

Intellectual Property (IP) is a term frequently bandied about without much understanding of its meaning and implications. The concept of IP is crucial to the existence of universities and their academic programmes, yet even here the awareness and understanding is often lacking. The aim of this workshop is to give the doctoral researcher an understanding of IP, explain the legal basis around IP Rights (IPR) and discuss practical applications of IP and IPR within and outside universities.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to understand:

  • understand the meaning of intellectual property;
  • understand the value of intellectual property;
  • appreciate intellectual property rights and their legal basis;
  • understand IP and IPR in practical situations (plagiarism, journal submission agreements and the copyright obligations and implications therein, studies involving data owned by a third party, confidentiality embargo, publication vs. protection of IP, publications and IP in collaboration and contract research projects).

Research Impact: Make Yourself RRI Ready

Tutors: Dr Edward Duca, Ms Daniela Quacinella and guest speaker
Study-unit code: DOC6008 
Duration: 3 hours

Most funding opportunities for doctoral researchers (such as the EU Horizon 2020 programme) aim to embed RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) in research and research institutions. Incorporating the concept is essential to receive funding.

RRI is based on the principle that society should be involved in every step of the research process. This helps ensure a greater commitment to addressing societal needs, an understanding of stakeholders’ needs and role in the research, reflection on the impact that today’s decisions may have in future, and increased transparency and openness in the research and innovation processes. Critical awareness and a sense of social responsibility are also considered necessary skills in RRI.

This workshop will break down the concept of RRI into a series of tools and processes that will allow doctoral researchers to put RRI ideas into practice and become “RRI ready”. By engaging in group activities and mapping exercises, the workshop will encourage researchers to critically reflect on how RRI can be practically implemented in their own domain and context, and demonstrate how RRI can be incorporated in grant proposals to increase funding success.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • understand the concept of RRI;
  • understand its implications on the researcher’s work;
  • creatively incorporate the concept of RRI into their own work;
  • change their research process and writing in the hope of increasing grant application/project writing success.

Personal Development 

Introduction to Student Mentoring 

Tutor: Dr Sandro Lanfranco 
Study-unit code: DOC6032
Duration: 3 hours

This interactive workshop aims to introduce participants to the process of mentoring other students through a series of hypothetical ‘situations’ that may arise. These will include mentoring of individuals and small groups. Situations requiring sensitivity to cultural or behavioural diversity will also be introduced. The importance of the mentor as a role model, research guide and general advisor will be tackled.   

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • have acquired knowledge of the most frequent situations that are likely to arise during interaction with students;
  • become more aware of how to interact effectively and sensitively with students, including under difficult circumstances;
  • have attained knowledge about the role of the mentor;
  • have acquired knowledge about the limitations of the role of the mentor.

Basic Lecturing Skills 

Tutor: Mr James Cilia 
Study-unit code: DOC6033
Duration: 3 hours   

This workshop is intended for doctoral students who would like to develop basic skills in lecturing large groups. The first part of the workshop will focus on the lecture as a legitimate teaching strategy and on different types of lectures. An overview of formal paper-reading lectures, story-telling lectures, discussion-based lectures, visually enhanced lectures, demonstration lectures, online lectures and interactive lectures will be provided. The second part of the workshop will focus on educational strategies to enhance the lecture, such as: activating prior knowledge, capturing attention and emphasizing important points, using multimedia and technology effectively, making concepts meaningful through examples and using questions to promote critical thinking. The workshop will also include a short demonstration of the instructional technology available in a University of Malta lecture theatre. 

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • recognise the advantages and disadvantages of teaching a large group;
  • identify ways of maximizing interaction and learning during a lecture;
  • describe the steps needed when planning and developing an effective lecture. 

Enhancing Small Group Teaching and Learning 

Tutor: Dr Gillian Martin
Study-unit code: DOC6034
Duration: 3 hours   

This workshop will delve into ‘learning-by-doing’ with the aim of demonstrating its effectiveness as an active learning experience. The groups will be introduced to a variety of hands-on techniques, and will be invited to reflect on the benefits of small group teaching, learning and cognition as a social and cultural process, and on power dynamics, authority and trust. 

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • identify the advantages of small group teaching and learning;
  • describe the key requirements in planning and facilitating a session using inquiry-based learning;
  • discuss the importance of power, authority and social and cultural context in the learning environment.

Basic Research Supervision Skills 

Tutor: Dr Ing Glenn Cassar 
Study-unit code: DOC6035
Duration: 3 hours   

This workshop is intended for doctoral students involved in supervising undergraduate research. Supervising research requires supporting students, providing guidance to ensure that students get the most out of their project, helping them manage project outcomes and deadlines, and ensuring that they have the necessary resources. This workshop will present general skills, applicable to all fields of study, including the development of student research proposals and corresponding outcomes, meeting ethical and safety standards, and communication strategies. This workshop will also provide a practical toolkit to improve the students’ learning experience throughout their research work via effective supervision as opposed to intensely prescriptive mentoring approaches. Participants will also be able to share their supervision practices with their peers, allowing for members to improve the effectiveness of the supervision they provide with the consequence that the supervised students can make the most of the learning opportunities presented by a research project. 

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • have become aware of his/her responsibilities when undertaking a supervisory role (including the need to ascertain project feasibility and the availability of resources/funding, as well as the need to procure knowledge and training if required);
  • know what procedures need to be followed for projects involving ethical and safety issues;
  • have become aware of the necessary skills to plan and manage a project to completion;
  • be able to devise a communication and meeting strategy suitable for the particular student;
  • have acquired knowledge on how to motivate and guide students in their research;
  • have become more aware of the importance of prioritising student learning over obtaining the best possible project outcomes;
  • have become more aware of how to support students who struggle and/or fall behind during their project;
  • have attained knowledge on how to make best use of the time available/allocated to each research student.

Leadership for the 21st Century 

Tutor: Professor Christopher Bezzina 
Study-unit code: DOC6009
Duration: 3 hours   

The aim of this introductory workshop is to engage participants personally and collectively with the notion of leadership and what it means to be a leader in today’s world. It does so by exploring a number of areas, namely the self, positive leadership, sustainability and context. The focus is on developing a model that helps us look at the importance behind character, presence and connections, and the impact these have on us. It will help participants engage and critically reflect on their own existing leadership and professional relationships and the impact these have on their performance and that of others. This introductory workshop is aimed at setting the scene for other workshops where the importance behind leadership traits, one’s personal philosophy and style of leadership, and leadership skills among others, will be explored.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should have:

  • understand themselves more deeply through engagement with a model of leadership that is more inclusive;
  • critique rapport with others and situations in the different institutions that we form part of;
  • relate to the dynamic relationship between leadership, people and context.

Dealing with Conflict Situations 

Tutor: Professor Gordon Sammut 
Study-unit code: DOC6036
Duration: 3 hours   

Conflict is a pervasive aspect of human existence. This workshop will introduce participants to the psychological underpinnings of conflict that are rooted in human evolution and will provide candidates with a skill-set to identify, understand and negotiate conflict situations. Through recreating a series of landmark psychological experiments, participants will experience natural occurrences of conflict. They will then be able to observe and try out different conflict resolution strategies in an attempt to overcome a relational impasse. Participants will also be provided with the opportunity to evaluate strategies in light of the fact that conflict manifests itself in situations involving competing interests.  

By the end of this workshop, researchers should have:

  • acquired skills to identify conflict situations from the start;
  • developed an understanding of how positioning may help de-escalate or aggravate a situation of conflict;
  • attained reflective skills for negotiating solutions;
  • tried out different techniques to overcome an impasse. 

Understanding and Developing Assertiveness

Tutor: Dr Natalie Kenely 
Study-unit code: DOC6004
Duration: 3 hours 

Assertiveness is respecting yourself, being clear about what you want and taking responsibility for it, while at the same time respecting others. It is a skill, and as such can be practised and learnt. An assertive person can communicate well, and can deal well with different personalities, in different situations. A certain amount of self-confidence is basic to assertiveness.   

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • describe assertive, non-assertive and aggressive behaviours;
  • distinguish between these behaviours when observed in different contexts;
  • recognise verbal and non-verbal features of these behaviours;
  • apply verbal and non-verbal features in becoming more assertive;
  • demonstrate self-confidence and the ability to communicate assertively.

Recognising Stress and Developing Coping Strategies

Tutors: Ms Sharon Martinelli and Ms Niamh Donoghue
Study-unit code: DOC6003
Duration: 3 hours 

The doctoral journey is not an easy one. Academic stress experienced by doctoral researchers is often not given its due attention. Evidence suggests that stress may hinder the performance and efficiency of individuals on a personal and professional level. Stressors, the perception, the reaction, and coping mechanisms constitute a personal journey. The aim of this workshop is to provide a safe space to explore, identify and share experiences of stress and coping techniques to support all participants through their doctoral journey.  

By the end of this workshop, researchers should be able to:

  • be able to distinguish between pressure and stress;
  • be able to identify the impact of stress on health and wellbeing;
  • be able to recognise doctoral researchers’ stress and coping mechanisms;
  • be able to explore different practical coping techniques;
  • have shared effectively through conversation.


Looking Beyond Graduation  

Employability Skills: Perspectives from Employers 

Tutor: Dr Anne Marie Thake 
Study-unit code: DOC6038
Duration: 3 hours   

The first part of the workshop will provide participants with a foundational understanding of the importance of employability skills and what institutional actors (Government, employers, professional associations, higher education institutions) are looking for in graduates. The second part of the workshop will focus on eliciting from participants what they view as the necessary skills to be able to enter the labour market.

By the end of this workshop, the researchers should:

  • have a better appreciation of the importance of non-technical skills;
  • be aware of what institutional actors are looking for in terms of skills;
  • have reflected on which skills are needed to be employable;
  • have identified which interpersonal skills need to be enhanced;
  • be conversant with various thematics of employability.  

Writing Effective CVs and Job Application Letters 

Tutor: Dr Karen Cacciattolo 
Study-unit code: DOC6013
Duration: 3 hours   

This workshop will delve into three types of CVs, namely the academic type, the competency type, and the chronological type, depending on the job one would like to apply for. It will offer an explanation and also encourage discussion on what should and should not be included in a CV, and on how to present a sound job application letter. There will be group and individual case studies wherein the participants will be presented with sample job application letters and CVs, and will have to identify the type of CV presented as well as which CV and job application letter are the most attractive and likely to lead the ‘applicant’ to be called for an interview. One of the case studies will involve participants drafting a letter of application and a CV, which will be assessed during the workshop by their peers in line with the criteria presented during the workshop.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • be equipped with the necessary tools to draw up their own job application letter and CV in an appropriate, clear and presentable manner in accordance with the type of job they would like to apply for.

Preparing for a Job Interview 

Tutor: Dr Karen Cacciattolo 
Study-unit code: DOC6014
Duration: 3 hours   

The workshop will outline what to prepare before the interview as well as what to do and what to avoid on the day of the job interview. Sample interview questions and answers will be discussed as well as questions the interviewee should ask the panel during the interview. A couple of simulated academic interviews will take place in which participants will be asked to take on various roles. The participants will also have the opportunity to offer their views and discuss the outcome of the simulated interviews.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • be equipped with skills to prepare for a job interview;
  • understand better how to react to and answer interview questions;
  • understand better what questions to ask the interviewing panel.

Writing Winning Grant Applications 

Tutor: Dr Axel Steuwer 
Study-unit code: DOC6012
Duration: 3 hours   

Are you new to the funding scene? How should a proposal be written? What is the difference between a winning proposal and a scientific paper? Who are evaluators and what do they look out for? How do you structure a winning consortium? These questions, plus many more, will be addressed during this workshop. The model used will be Horizon 2020, however, the methodology may be applied to any type of funding application.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • navigate the participant portal;
  • search for calls matching their area of research;
  • build a winning consortium;
  • write a proposal with salient points in mind;
  • write a funding application in line with an evaluator’s expectations;
  • read and analyse evaluation summary reports.

Practical Aspects to Implementing EU-Funded Projects 

Tutor: Professor Suzanne Gatt 
Study-unit code: DOC6044
Duration: 3 hours   

This workshop will focus on practical aspects of implementing EU-funded projects. A number of challenges will be delved into, such as understanding commitments made in a project proposal and learning how to ensure that work done is aligned to outputs specified; understanding financial rules and using funds appropriately; learning what documentation of work carried out needs to be kept; learning how to organise dissemination efforts and how to document them; becoming familiar with issues of authorship and ownership; becoming aware of difficulties in working with academics who have different language competences; learning how to exploit project results during and post-project phase; and learning how to prepare the final report. During the workshop, real examples will be presented. This workshop is relevant to doctoral researchers who wish to gain confidence in project implementation, or who have limited or no experience of EU-funded projects.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • take a project proposal and identify what commitments of work have been made as well as how flexible one can be with the deliverables;
  • use a programme’s financial regulations to decide how to use the budget to cover costs to implement the project;
  • plan work on the project within their existing work schedule as well as that of project partners;
  • deal with difficulties of communication and collaboration, and missed deadlines with academics of different nationalities;
  • tackle conflicts which may arise within projects;
  • identify different opportunities for dissemination of the project and its outputs;
  • identify which project rules apply to ownership and/or authorship of project outputs or dissemination initiatives (such as papers in journals);
  • consider different possibilities to exploit project results during and after the project cycle;
  • collect the proper documentation needed for both financial and academic reporting.

Beyond your Ph.D.: Designing Documents for Supranational Organisations and International Institutions

Tutor: Dr Robert M Cachia 
Study-unit code: DOC6047
Duration: 3 hours   

The workshop addresses a need for doctoral researchers who are curious, ambitious or enterprising and who wish to seek out openings in a knowledge economy with an increasing internationalisation of outlook. Organisations, public and increasingly private, draft key documents treating cultural, scientific, socio-economic and socio-technical themes, sometimes featuring together. These may involve fieldwork, desk study/archival research and laboratory/instrumental methods outside university environments. In this workshop, doctoral researchers will learn about formal documentation and will bring their varied subject synergies and interests to bear in critically analysing and evaluating real-world documents from supranational/inter-governmental organisations. Beyond their Ph.D., in the workshop title, embraces the prospect of making a career articulating documents – knowledge assets – within institutions such as the European Space Agency (ESA), World Trade Organisation (WTO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), European Council, European Commission, European Parliament, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Indeed, doctoral graduates may seek such opportunities not necessarily within such bodies, as private international organisations make numerous submissions, proposals and studies shaping the emerging agenda and debates.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • understand the meaning and value of document design and validation;
  • understand and apply methods of formal drafting and document articulation for international bodies;
  • appreciate the qualities institutions strive for in authoritative publications, such as authenticity of source and method, integrity of data and information, and reliability;
  • critically analyse short real-world documents, such as a strategic plan, a climate change study, a food safety report, and an innovation study.

Communicating Research to Diverse Audiences

Tutors: Dr Edward Duca and Ms Daniela Quacinella
Study-unit code: DOC6011 
Duration: 3 hours

Would you like to improve your public speaking skills? Would you like to engage citizens further with your research? This workshop will provide you with tips on how to give short talks and how to communicate ideas to different audiences, among others. It will help you develop how you think about your audience (who they are, their motivations, and how to give an impactful experience). It will also provide you with tools such as how to build a narrative, jargon busting, use of questions, gripping introductions, signposting and correct use of body language. The skills learnt in this workshop will not only be useful during your doctoral journey but can also be applied throughout your career.

By the end of this workshop, researchers should:

  • become aware of the theory behind public speaking;
  • improve communication skills;
  • learn how to speak to different audiences.