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FOREWORD From the Senior Tutor’s Desk


INTRODUCTION What is Research at St John’s?





Best Practices

From the Library to the Common Room


ACADEMIC SUPPORT Financial, Research, and Community Support





Advice and Tips from Current and Former Students

A List of Former and Current Postgrads Willing to Chat


DIRECTORY You’ll Need It More Than You Think

FOREWORD: FROM THE SENIOR TUTOR’S DESK This is a guide written by postgraduate scholars for postgraduate scholars. To understand why anyone would want to make that unselfish effort is to understand why a scholarly community matters and why it can be energising. The belief that all knowledge is interconnected can be an article of faith, as it was for John Henry Newman, or it can be a pleasurable hunch that one pursues when the chance arises. The paradox is that modern university scholarship and its regimes tend to push one in the opposite direction, until one speaks a language and talks about a small field of knowledge so particular that few others can enter into it -- a paradox at once inevitable and demanding of resistance. A practical path to resistance it is to nurture a scholarly community in a specific place where postgraduates share life and ideas together. This has to be recreated each year, but with your help it will happen. Scholarly enterprise demands the marshalling of all kinds of practical know-how and tips or shortcuts, and I’m sure you will find worthwhile answers and signposts in this guide. I look forward to being there when you first present your scholarly thoughts to your peers. All the best, Dr Mark Ogden


INTRODUCTION Congratulations on officially becoming a member of the St John’s College MCR! Your membership ensures more than just access to a community of fellow postgraduates: it provides you with the tools necessary for a fulfilling research experience embedded in a unique research culture. The research culture here at St John’s is one of fluid and interdisciplinary discourse aimed at total inter- and intrapersonal success for MCR members. As such, this guide will introduce you both to what the research environment offers you and how you can contribute to its continued life-pulse. Specifically, this booklet proves an invaluable resource for success, providing information in three key areas: research skills, research facilities, and academic support. Be sure to keep this guide handy for important tips and information as you embark on what is sure to be a challenging and worthwhile intellectual endeavor! Best wishes for your John’s adventure, Hannah DeMarco & Emily Weissang Your MCR Research Mentoring Coordinators




Academic research success does not rest on academic excellence alone. This kind of excellence requires an all-encompassing self-motivation anchored in a cohesive sense of purpose. When you know the why of what drives your research interests, you equip yourself with the foundational drive necessary to push you through to the end of your academic journey. You may already know this ‘why’-- if you don’t, do not fear! Continue to ask yourself, ‘How am I contributing to critical thought in a meaningful way? What am I hoping to gain from my research?’ Your ever-evolving answers will sustain you throughout your research.

Next, surround yourself with the tools and habits necessary for sustained academic research. Collect ideas from those around you, experiment with routines and environments, and - most importantly - reflect on what rhythms work best for your personal sense of healthy productivity. This means balancing new methods with knowing what works best for you. To get you started, here are some basic guiding truths to keep in mind when encountering the world of academic research. For further research skills help, visit https://www.











Create a consistent system for note-taking Keep your notes in appropriate folders Make use of efficiency apps like Evernote Save yourself extra work by making citations as you write notes


Dare to make interdisciplinary connections Keep asking questions and seek conversation with those studying different disciplines Experiment with cultivating a distinctive writing style Take some time to enrich your research with travel and local cultural events


Time yourself to see how long it takes you to complete specific research tasks Set realistic daily goals based on your tasks and alloted time Write out long-term goals and set them in a place you can see Make use of your calendar to-do lists, smartphone or otherwise


» Don’t be afraid to reach out to and connect with professors who might help you » Attend as many guest lectures, symposiums, conferences, and Broaderlands as possible » Consider delivering a paper at a conference




GOING BEYOND THE DESK Johnians have access to a breadth of research facilities, which you will learn about in the next section. But for those times you need to get away from the library, you should know there are plenty of great unconventional places to study and work in and around Durham! We’ve picked the brains of our postgrads for their favourite secret study spaces, so here is a sampling of coffee shops and bars, both big and small, that provide good research vibes.

Esquires Coffee House » If you like your coffee shops big and with a huge selection from which to choose, pop over to Esquires and give it a peruse. They’ve got two floors of seating, outdoor tables (even a few with a river view!), and a good selection of teas, coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, and even some alcoholic beverages for you wild ones. 10% student discount!

Velvet Elvis » The 90s called and wants you to pay a visit. If you like the idea of hip decor without the cramped space, climb up the stairs above their thrift shop and help yourself to some coffee and cake specials. The staff here are super friendly and the food is fresh AND cheap. No WiFi.

Flat White » If you’re most at home amongst artisancrafted drinks, vintage farm-meetsindustrial decor, and benches galore, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Flat White. They’ve got gluten-free friendly cakes and homemade sandwiches in addition to their top-notch beverages. No WiFi. The Library » You may limit this place to a cheap eats bar, but they don’t call it the Library for nothing. Grab a coffee or pint and find a seat in their front/back rooms or challenge yourself to some sun on their patio and get to work!




DURHAM’S LIBRARIES The world-class facilities available for John’s Postgraduate students are extensive and, therefore, it may be difficult to grasp the wide array of locations and materials available to you. While this guide is not exhaustive, it will direct you to the proper channels where more specific information is needed, especially for things such as library opening times, which vary throughout the academic year. For this reason, it is important that you keep this with you safely in a spot you will remember when you need to know how to get specific information, this guide will prove the most efficient way of getting there.








ST JOHN’S COLLEGE - Open 24/7 for All Johnians! -

This library is very much our college resource. You are encouraged to take an active part in helping the library expand its collection by making suggestions for book purchases!

As well as being open 24/7, there is also a librarian, Mrs. Ghosh, available to assist you from 9am-2pm during the week. She’s happy to help with your library-related queries.

Everyone is allowed to borrow up to 20 books at a time from the John’s library, in addition to your borrowings within the main university library system. There’s a self-service checkout system, for 24-hour book borrowing.


The college library is a versatile, relaxed study space in the middle of St John’s College. It is open night and day to all college members very handy for those of us who like to work unconventional hours! The library contains books pertaining to all subjects, but theology students will find its collection to be particularly useful. St. John’s librarian: Mrs. Ghosh, at: johns. library@durham.


The library website: https://www.dur. college/ug/library/

For book requests, contact Richard Briggs: richard.briggs@

Handbook: resources/johns/ publications/ LibraryUsers Handbook2013.pdf


BILL BRYSON - The Main University Library -

In Michaelmas term, the Bill Bryson holds organised tours to help you get to know the library. These tours are highly recommended to help you learn how to make the best of the different facilities.

There are many different kinds of study space available at this library, including private and group study rooms, and a dedicated space for research postgraduates.

Taught Postgraduates are allowed to borrow thirty books at a time, and Research Postgraduates are allowed forty books.


The Bill Bryson Library is the main university library. Relevant books for all courses can be found here, alongside a wealth of IT resources and varied study spaces. There is also a cafe which serves a range of hot drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. Make the most of the library’s size: explore it, and you’re bound to find a quiet corner that appeals to you! Opening times: library/using/libraries/ mainlibrary/#opening


Library website: https://www.dur. using/libraries/ mainlibrary/

Email: main. library@durham. Telephone: +44 (0)191 334 3042

Search Durham’s collections: https:// library/


BARKER RESEARCH LIBRARY - Home to the University Archives and Special Collections -

The Barker Research Library is rarely busy, making it a great alternative study space when the college library and the Bill Bryson are full of undergraduates cramming for their exams. And it’s close to the Palace Green cafe - perfect for a coffee break!

The inside of Palace Green Library can feel a bit labyrinthine. The signs to the Barker Research Library will take you through various exhibition rooms, but, if you’re unable to find it, the Library staff will be happy to point you in the right direction

It’s open and fully staffed from 9am5pm, Monday to Friday.


Housed inside the historic Palace Green Library, the Barker Research Library holds Durham’s special collections. You may have need in your research to access some of the archived collections, in which case the library’s staff will be on-hand and eager to help you. Even if you do not need access to the special collections, the Barker Research Library is a great place to work, offering a very attractive study environment conveniently close to College. Collection archive: library/asc/collection_ information/


Research Information: + 44 (0)191 334 2993

Primary Phone Number: +44 (0)191 334 2932 Primary Email Address: pg.library@durham.

Inquiries About the Barker Research Library: + 44 (0)191 334 2972


OTHER FACILITIES - Specific to Discipline and Location -



Located in Stockton, it contains books and resources for all subjects taught at Queen’s Campus, such as Medicine, Business, and Education. There are plenty of study spaces available, including 108 study carrels, and a dedicated PG study space.

The Leazes Road Library houses many of the University’s book and resources connected to the study of Education. It can be found in the main building of Durham University’s School of Education. It’s open 9-5pm, Monday-Friday.

BUSINESS SCHOOL The Durham Business School Library is tailored to the needs of the Business School students, providing access to thousands of business journals and theses, as well as a range of online databases. Open 24/7 to business students only.



The Main College Computer Room is bigger than the MCR Computer Room, with more study space, and a scanner as well as a printer. It has a quiet and focussed atmosphere, and, like the MCR Computer Room, it’s open 24 hours a day: just use your room key to open the door.

The MCR Computer Room exists conveniently for the exclusive use of MCR members. As well as several desktop computers, there is a printer that is free for the use of the MCR. You’re welcome to use it to print out essays and assignments! The computer room is nice and light, with a window onto the college gardens. It’s accessible 24 hours a day, and can be a great place to study.




John’s is committed to offering research support in a variety of ways. Chief among these is through fostering an academic community dedicated to intellectual and social development necessary to research success, offering opportunities to make connections and sharpen skills in academic communication. Support doesn’t end there, however. John’s understands the financial hardships that sometimes befall students and works alongside those in frustrating financial situations to work out solutions, whether it be through college bursaries or directing you to university assistance. We understand that when your emotional health suffers, so does your academic work. If you need personal support, your MCR welfare officer is there to offer you the support you need. Inkeeping with the college’s welcoming atmosphere, John’s adheres to an idea of ‘support’ that extends beyond the purely academic into the communal and the personal.






At St John’s College, you’ll find yourself to be a part of a diverse community of researchers, which, in itself, is a small and distinct part of a university-wide research community. The input from friends in other disciplines can, of course, be formative. Don’t make the mistake of seeing yourself as isolated within your work! Durham is a great hub of interdisciplinary conferences, and the collegiate environment is fantastic at encouraging connections outside of your own department. Make the most of these different communities by getting involved and being proactive in your communication.

Keep up-to-date with College life by using the College’s social media networks. @stjohnsdurham



Academic Events Your email is the first point of contact for finding out about conferences and symposiums. Keep an eye out for calls for papers, particularly for college based and inter-collegiate research symposiums. St John’s actually hosts its own postgraduate research symposium, which is open to all St John’s postgraduates. You can look forward to events like the South Bailey Research Forum, which brings together Bailey-based postgraduates from a variety of disciplines. These events are fairly informal and very supportive. They are an excellent way to practice your presenting skills and get feedback on research. A great way to get involved in the academic community within the MCR is by giving a talk at Broaderlands, an informal, interdisciplinary research event for St John’s postgraduate students, which enables the community to come together to support and learn from one another. These sessions are held regularly throughout the year. A postgraduate offers a short presentation on their past or current research, and this is followed by questions and discussion with other members of the college. Refreshments are also provided to fuel the discussion! In 2014-15, we had nine presentations from a wide range of disciplines, including music, geology, theology, and physics. These events could not run without you, so look for ways to get involved!

Look out for emails announcing MCR research workshops. These collaborative events make the most of the skills of the MCR members by initiating interdisciplinary dialogue and encouraging constructive feedback. The MCR also offers one-to-one language and writing support for those who would like some help with the formal aspects of their communcation such as grammar, style, and organization. Get in touch with your Academic Affairs Officer if you need more information.


About the Position of Academic Affairs Officer

The MCR Academic Affairs Officer is an elected position within the St John’s Middle Common Room, which aims to promote and support the academic and research environment among all postgraduates in the college. The Academic Affairs Officer is responsible for organising research-related events, such as Broaderlands, and the Postgraduate Research Symposium, which offers postgraduates a more formal opportunity to present their research to those in college. The Undergraduate Research Symposium, held each year in June, is organised by the Academic Affairs Officer and the MCR, and celebrates the valuable research being done by St John’s undergraduates. Opportunities to engage in research events with other colleges are also encouraged. The annual South Bailey Research Forum brings together postgraduates from St John’s, St Chad’s and St Cuthbert’s, and is designed to promote further collaboration between members of these Bailey colleges. The position of MCR Academic Affairs Officer is up for election in the first MCR meeting of the year (in October) so please do consider standing for the role, and help us to continue developing the academic life of our college.

Katie Woolstenhulme MCR Academic Affairs Officer 2014-2015 22


Managing your finances during your postgraduate studies can be a challenge. Both the college and the university are able to provide some hardship funds if you run into unexpected financial difficulty during your time at Durham.

» There’s plenty of financial support information online. For in-depth information on fees and finances, visit » The Student Immigration and Financial Support Office, based at the Palatine Centre, is the main point of contact if you find yourself in financial trouble. They can also help you access funds for extracurricular activities. More information can be found at » Full details of grants and bursaries available through St John’s College, including instructions on how to apply, can be found at welfare/guides/student-finance.


RESEARCH SUPPORT Though research is rewarding, everyone finds it challenging at times. Fortunately, there is a wealth of support and assistance that you can access to help you achieve your research goals. From group study facilities, to subject experts who can advise you on resources, there is never any need during your time at Durham to feel that you’re struggling unnecessarily. The college and the university both wish to enable the success of all their researchers, so make use of what’s available!




There are a number of ways to stay plugged into the current research happening at Durham. Durham Research Online is a service that provides access to all research conducted at the university. DRO maintains a database of abstracts, journal articles, conference and working papers, book chapters and reports. Often, articles and papers are available in their entirety through DRO.


Get in contact with DRO: » Email: » Phone : +44 (0)191 334 1586

If you have any questions or issues that are hindering your research success, you can contact James Bisset, the Academic Liaison Librarian for Research Support. He is based within Durham Research Online, as well as the Bill Bryson Library:

If you have questions about the library resources connected to your subject, you can contact the Academic Liaison Librarian for your subject. A directory of their names and contact information can be found here:

You can book individual and group study rooms at the Bill Bryson library and the Queen’s Campus Library at this address: 25



Karan Puri, MSc Management ‘If you had one piece of advice to give incoming postgraduate students, what would it be?’ Be intentional about taking an interest in what your fellow postgraduates are studying, regardless of your own degree. Postgraduates at Durham tend to feel strongly for their subject. I studied a Masters in Management, but the exposure I have received to different disciplines like Theology, Classics and English has been a great way to improve my mind.

Lexie Hunt, MA Museum and Artefact Studies ‘Describe a research hurdle you have encountered and how you overcame that difficulty.’ When researching something that had little published material relating to it, I relied on professionals in the field to guide me in my research. I conducted interviews, and asked for literature that I may not have known about. Everyone was very helpful and hopefully I can pass on my knowledge in the future as they did! 27

Evan Rieder, MA Religion and Society ‘What practice has most enabled your research success?’ I gave myself a 9-5 working day, meaning that I had structured time to do work as well as structured time to relax. However, if you decide to do this, don’t cheat. Keep a log of when you’re actually doing work, rather than procrastinating.

Hannah DeMarco, MA English Literary Studies ‘Describe a research hurdle you have encountered and how you overcame that difficulty.’ There came a time when I was conducting research for one of my first essays where I felt a compulsive need to read every single piece of literature that had anything even remotely to do with my topic. I realised soon enough that this was not only impossible - it was impeding my ability to synthesise and present my ideas well. Monitor yourself consistently, and know when to cut yourself off and just start writing! 28

Michael Raubach, PhD Philosophy and Theology ‘If you had one piece of advice to give incoming postgraduate students, what would it be? Embed yourself in your department. Get to know everyone. Try and have coffee or tea with every professor you can. Go to as many lectures, talks, and workshops as possible. Try and give at least one paper or presentation. The temptation is going to be to hover on the edge of everything because you don’t want to commit or you’re afraid of getting roped into doing extra work. But your time in Durham is going to fly by, so you’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity while you can.

Paul-Jamie Fox, MA Classics ‘Where’s your favourite unconventional place to study?’ My favourite place to study is the Head of Steam during the day. They have great music and just the right amount of bustle to make it feel a little less like work.



John’s understands that your research success oftens comes from the guidance of others who have experienced situations similar to yours. If you would like to reach out to some of our past and current postgraduate members for specific questions, tips, and advice, the following people would be happy to help! Simply shoot them an email and they will do their very best to assist you during your transition and journey here as a John’s PG student.


NAME: Jennifer Uzzell EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Study in Death and Life

NAME: Tom Rowan EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Fluid Mechanics

NAME: Liz Hollis EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Translation Studies

NAME: Xiaolyu Wang EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Culture & Dierence

NAME: Evan Rieder EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Religion and Society

NAME: Nicholas Whitworth EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Theology and Religious Studies

NAME: Li Li EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Management (International)

NAME: Hannah DeMarco EMAIL: COURSE: MA, English Literary Studies

NAME: Emily Weissang EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Medieval Literary Studies

NAME: Dove Jang EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Theology and Religion

NAME: Alistair Bounds EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Atomic Physics

NAME: Katie Woolstenhulme EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Theology

NAME: Xueli Tang EMAIL: COURSE: MA, Education

NAME: Matthew Funnell EMAIL: COURSE: PhD, Marine Geophysics



Find all the contacts mentioned in this guide for easy reference!



RESEARCHER SUPPORT, MR. BISSET » QUEEN’S CAMPUS LIBRARY » +44 (0)191 334 027 » LEAZES ROAD LIBRARY » +44 (0)191 334 8137 » PALACE GREEN LIBRARY » +44 (0)191 334 2932 » DURHAM BUSINESS SCHOOL LIBRARY » +44 (0)191 334 5213 DURHAM RESEARCH ONLINE » +44 (0)191 334 1586 »


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