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Welcome to the PFDC newsletter

April 2020

Welcome to April’s newsletter! During these uncertain times for us all, we have pulled together information to help you continue achieve your goals from home. Whilst eating your Easter Eggs you may find it useful to reflect on your personal and academic goals for the year, and remember the PFDC Team is here to provide you with support.

Colourful Easter eggs

For more information about the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) please:

Contact us with any queries:

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Note that information about grants and fellowships are posted on our Twitter feed.

If you have any information, events or surveys that you would like to advertise which are relevant to postdocs, fellows and clinicians at Imperial College London, please email the PFDC team. We would like to hear from you!

For College advice on Covid-19 please visit the guidance page here.

In this issue:

  1. PFDC programme of support
  2. PFDC online resources and tips for video interviews
  3. PFDC Parents Network
  4. LinkedIn Learning
  5. Blog of the month
  6. PFDC ten development days survey
  7. Wellbeing resources
  8. Funder updates
  9. REF update
  10. Parent Scheme: COVID-19 resources for working parents
  11. MedTech SuperConnector Challenge Accelerator
  12. Publisher agreements and discounts

PFDC in Focus:
HR Excellence in Research Award

The PFDC is delighted to announce that Imperial has been awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award, following the external peer review of the College’s renewal documents by the European Commission in March 2020!

The HR Excellence in Research Award is a recognition that Imperial is committed to supporting all of its researchers and ensuring they have the opportunity to maximise their potential for their future career while at Imperial.

Imperial has been committed to the HR Excellence in Research since 2012, it is a College-wide initiative bringing together colleagues and researchers from across the College to ensure that researchers are recognised, consulted, supported and rewarded. A summary of our progress since 2012 can be found here: Our progress since 2012.

With the renewal of the Award, we have set out new actions and targets to progress our commitment under the European Charter and Code and the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers to ensure Imperial is a welcoming and attractive place to do research. We strive to attract, develop, reward and retain a diverse community of the highest calibre of staff and students. Imperial’s strategic plan for 2015-2020 states: “we will build a supportive, inclusive and highly motivated staff community across all disciplines, functions and activities… to help us to attract and retain the talented and diverse staff we need to achieve our mission” – to achieve enduring excellence in research and education in science, engineering, medicine and business for the benefit of society.

As part of the renewal process, Imperial has established a new Committee to oversee and progress the actions over the next period of implementation, chaired by Vice Provost of Research, Professor Nick Jennings. 

To read Imperial’s submission documents and see Imperial’s HR Excellence in Research Award timeline, follow this link: Imperial’s HR Excellence in Research Award. 


1. PFDC Programme of Support

An open computer sitting on top of a table Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the PFDC programme of support is being adapted to provide development opportunities online where possible. The PFDC team is working towards creating online courses and pop-ups. We will be providing these sessions as soon as possible, so please check your emails and sign up when we go live!

Please note that one-to-one appointments and mock interviews can still be scheduled as normal, but will be carried out remotely. To book, please visit our website and complete a request form: Individual Support.

During this time, PFDC staff members are still available to answer queries and provide support as normal. To contact us, please email

2. PFDC online resources and tips for video interviews

Thinking of updating your CV? Applying for a fellowship application?
Looking at career paths outside of academia?

The PFDC offers a wide range of online resources, ranging from tip sheets to useful links to help with all these things and more! To access these resources, please visit our website and log in with your Imperial username to access the tip sheets: Online Resources.

Please also check out our new online module: What’s your Research Vision?. This short online module talks through key questions to help you articulate who you are as a researcher now, what you want to be a future academic leader in, and what your research vision is. A clear idea of your research vision is essential as you progress on the academic career path, as an explanation or discussion of your research vision is often required in both fellowship and lectureship applications and interviews. 

If you have a video interview coming up, we have also created a document with useful tips for you to prepare. You can access this here: Tips for video interviews.

3. PFDC Parents Network

For those of you who would like to know more about what Imperial offers parents, the PFDC Parents Network webpage will introduce you to the many things that the College provides for parents or parents-to-be. It covers information on:

  • Family-friendly initiatives at the College
  • Policies that may be of interest
  • Workshops for new parents
  • Other support schemes

Our next network meeting was scheduled to take place at the end of April. However, due to the pandemic developments, we are considering running this online. If you are interested in a remote meeting or would like to know more about the PFDC Parents Network, please contact Karen Hinxman.

4. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn logo
As a member of Imperial College you can access LinkedIn Learning to teach yourself how to use the latest version of software packages in a wide range of creative and business-related subjects!

You can find more information on how to register here: LinkedIn Learning.

5. Blog of the month

Blog of the month: Science-ing from home

Two hands working on a laptopDue to the ongoing situation, many labs have shut down or are minimising work until circumstances change.

In this blog post, you have views from different lab group leaders across the world on how they are managing and coping themselves with the lab closures. At the end of the article, there are some useful tips to build a virtual lab community, such as adjusting expectations and keeping in touch.

During this time, PFDC staff members are still available to answer queries and provide support as normal. You can still book one-to-one appointments and mock interviews as normal and these will be carried out remotely. Keep safe!

6. PFDC ten development days survey

Idea process graph

To support you as a postdoc or fellow at Imperial, you have ten development days written into your contract. Please see the PFDC Plan to succeed – 10 Development Days tip sheet and webpage for further details.


The PFDC are conducting a survey with two purposes:
1. To inform/remind postdocs and fellows of your ten development days
2. To collect information from postdocs and fellows across the College on your knowledge/uptake of the ten days.

The survey will take less than five minutes. The PFDC aims to always consult and work with postdocs and fellows at the College to ensure that the support you require is reflected in the PFDC resources and services. We would appreciate your input in this survey.

A summary of the results will be shared. Please note that the data will be aggregated and anonymised; therefore, individual comments will not be shared.

Please follow this Qualtrics link to take the survey.

7. Wellbeing resources

With all of us facing a period of uncertainty, it is important to look after our health and wellbeing.

Imperial offers a wealth of wellbeing resources that you can access, including free professional and confidential help from Confidential Care.

For more information on the resources available to you, please visit the College’s health and wellbeing webpages: Health and wellbeing.

Confidential Care logo

8. Funder updates

The Research Office has a webpage containing guidance on research applications and awards: COVID-19 – Impact on Research Funding, and has created a webpage providing links to funder guidance on the impact of Covid-19 on research funding: COVID-19 funder guidance.

Please review these pages and the funders' own webpages regularly for updates.

9. REF update

REF logoResearch England has announced that the 27 November 2020 deadline for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) will no longer apply, and will give at least eight months’ notice of the revised deadline.

The 3 April deadline for nominations to expert panels has also been lifted.

The Strategic Planning Division is working on a revised College timetable for REF preparations. At present, Research England intend that the REF census date of 31 July 2020 should continue to apply. 

10. Parent Scheme: COVID-19 resources for working parents

A screen displaying the words "COVD-19 questions"For working parents, school and nursery closures and lockdowns are raising challenges around balancing family responsibilities with work.

Parent Scheme has launched the webpages below to support parents and those with caring responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic:

The guidance has been developed by frontline doctors, lawyers, HR professionals and wellbeing coaches. It is not intended to replace or change the advice given by Public Health England, NHS England or your personal healthcare providers, which remain the authoritative sources for guidance.

The content will be updated on a daily basis.

11. MedTech SuperConnector Challenge Accelerator

MedTech SuperConnector Challenge Accelerator - entrepreneurial training opportunity

In partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare Next & Beyond teams, this six-month ‘MTSC Challenge Accelerator’ programme will give ECRs, postdocs & PhD candidates the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills whilst realising the commercial potential of their medtech innovation.

  • Virtual information session: 16.30-17.30 on 30 April 2020. Find out more and register on Eventbrite.
  • Applications are open until Sunday 10 May 2020.
  • Apply here: MTSC Challenge Accelerator.

Remaining agile and responsive to the changing circumstances is MTSC's number one priority. MTSC's delivery team are monitoring the situation closely and will be carrying out all recruitment activity digitally, along with the learning the portion of the programme for the foreseeable future.

Early Career Researchers will receive:

  • Consumables and travel allowance (up to £45,000)
  • Entrepreneurship training
  • Business mentoring
  • Access to incubator / accelerator facilities
  • Access to industry networks
  • Salary replacement (amount to be confirmed at offer stage)

Principal Investigators will receive:

  • Opportunity to demonstrate the impact of research
  • Fast-track commercialisation
  • More commercially aware postdocs and students
  • Consumables allowance for prototype development 

Applications are open until Sunday 10 May 2020. Visit the website to apply or find out more, or email Programme Manager, Hiten Thakrar, on

12. Publisher agreements and discounts

New agreements signed by the Library allow Imperial corresponding authors to publish open access without paying Article Processing Charges (APCs) in 1,609 Wiley journals. We also have similar agreements with Institute of Physics Publishing, Company Open access logoof Biologists, Portland Press, Microbiology Society, European Respiratory Journal, and IWA Publishing, and we expect more to be added in the future (conditions apply, so please see the details on our website to check whether your article would qualify).

This is in addition to continuing our Springer Compact agreement, which covers APCs in Springer hybrid journals (excluding BMC and Nature journals), our PLoS institutional account programme, and a variety of other discounts and memberships (see our page for details).

If you have any questions about specific deals, or Read and Publish agreements in general, please contact the open access team.

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