The PFDC offers essential courses, workshops and online resources to help you hone your skills in managing research from support with funding and job applications to guidance on research writing, impact and communications.


Other resources

Our annual programme of courses and workshops

We offer a wide range of courses focused on research skills. Scheduled courses can be viewed in our online calendar (above). Below are details of the related courses we offer throughout the year: 

Annual courses

How to Peer Review Research Papers

  • Tutor: Dr David T Jones - Independent Consultant
  • Usually scheduled: January, June
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled courses


The ability to review papers should be a core skill of every research scientist. With the growing number of manuscripts being submitted to scientific journals, editors are increasingly reliant on independent experts who can deliver good-quality reviews in a timely fashion.

This course is designed for postdocs and researchers at the early stage of their career who have little or no experience of peer-reviewing.

Key areas

  • How the peer-review process works from submission to publication
  • Recent developments such as “open” peer-review
  • The reviewer’s obligations
  • The criteria against which scientific papers should be evaluated
  • The requirement for objective, specific, constructive and balanced comments that will assist both the editor and the author(s)
  • The amount of time involved in reviewing a paper

What have past participants found most useful?

"How to break up the peer review process and limit it. Receiving a template for reviewing, nobody teaches this!"

"The session really helped me organise the reviews and familiarise myself with the whole process. It also helps me write good papers."

"Dr David T Jones is a perfect presenter and speaker; it was an excellent, engaging, practical session."


Introduction to great design

  • Tutor: Lucy and Peter Moore Fuller, infohackit
  • Usually scheduled: February
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled courses


Great design enhances written and visual communication, making it more coherent, effective and accessible. 

The foundations of great design are balanced composition, consistent and meaningful typography, appropriate and engaging colour and imagery - and good planning. You don't need to be 'artistic' or an expert to utilise these concepts; we believe that with a little knowledge and practice, everyone has the potential to improve their design skill. 

In this lively session we examine:

  • Key principles of design - we look at core concepts of composition, typography, colour and images, and how these apply to print and digital formats; understanding these fundamentals is valuable to all visual communication projects, from PowerPoint presentations to diagrams to infographics
  • infohackit hacks for creating a poster - we share our top tips and simple steps you can follow when developing a new design or improving an existing one
  • Planning exercise - preparation is essential for great design; we undertake an exercise to learn how by developing a plan for a visual abstract; you will need a research paper to use as source material (it doesn't have to be your own as this is an exercise only, but you do need to be familiar with the content)

Attendees will receive a summary document to remind you of the key lessons so you can apply them to your future design projects.

Delivered by infohackit: infohackit provide training in design and visual communication, targeted to the needs of PhD students and researchers. Peter and Lucy have had 20-year careers in information design, working with clients in research, Higher Education and health care. They founded infohackit in 2015 and have since trained hundreds of researchers to improve their visual communications, through in-person and online events:

Making the Most of your Postdoc

  • Tutor: Dr Karen Hinxman - Imperial College London and Dr Emma Williams - Independent Consultant
  • Usually scheduled: May
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled courses


This course is designed to equip you with the skills and resources you need to achieve success as a postdoc and launch your career as a researcher. It is a three-day online course for postdocs in their first two years.

In a structured and supportive environment facilitated by experienced trainers, you will gain a thorough understanding of your career options and develop tools and techniques to help you set and reach a series of short, medium, and long-term goals to maximise your success as a postdoc and plan for your next step.

Key areas

  • Examine what makes a successful postdoc
  • Develop strategies to move toward research independence
  • Learn techniques for working successfully with your PI
  • Research your career options
  • Build a toolkit to plan your career
  • Set clear and robust goals to ensure success for you and your work

Towards Managing Your First Research Group

  • Tutor: Dr Tracy Bussoli and Stefanie Edler-Wollstein – Imperial College London
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled courses


Making the move from working with others on research projects to managing and directing your own independently funded programme requires more than an excellent research record. Our research has shown that new Principal Investigators are concerned with management issues: time, staff and funding being the major hurdles.

This one-day course for aspiring Principal Investigators will enable you to explore some of these issues by working through a series of real-life examples to develop a personal plan for managing your first research group. At the end of the course day, participants are invited to a drinks reception followed by a celebratory dinner (finish time 20.30).

Key areas

  • Identify your personal strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations
  • Examine a variety of leadership and management approaches
  • Explore recruitment methods to attract and recruit the right people
  • Learn practical techniques to prioritise and manage your time successfully
  • Define and create a research profile for your laboratory or group

Writing for Publication: the essentials

  • Tutors: Julie King, Robin Mowat, Andrew Northern - Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: December, March
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled courses


This one-day workshop, developed and delivered by the (CfAE), provides targeted input and training to help you write more effectively for publication. The training is personalised to help you learn how to identify the features of successfully published texts in your discipline.

Key areas

You will learn:

  • To use your reading as a tool to develop writing techniques for successful publication
  • To organise and connect information in your text to enhance readability and flow
  • To make language choices that improve the impact and clarity of your writing

What have past participants found most useful?

“I will definitely apply the reverse-engineering method and I can already see the benefits in my reading and writing.”

“Main takeaways were the structure and modelling of writing research papers, as well as using compelling language to communicate the main message of the research.”

“I found the mix of teaching, small group work, independent work, and then discussion really useful.”

We also run pop-up workshops during the year. Here are some examples of recent pop-ups focused on research skills. Upcoming pop-ups on this topic will be advertised on this page, in the PFDC newslettertwitter and via the Postdoc Reps Network.

Workshop list

Data Protection – what you need to know about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  • Tutor: Robert Scott, Data Protection Officer, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: October
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

This session will be an introduction to GDPR and how the College has been implementing the required changes with a particular focus on research activities. It will explain the law in brief, the relevance to postdocs and fellows, and what the College is doing to assist staff to ensure their compliance. 

Engagement and Impact

  • Tutor: Societal Engagement Team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: January
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

Come along to this pop-up session to discover more about what public engagement is, why it is important and how it can benefit you and your work. We will focus on how engaging with members of the public, schools, patients, and community groups can help you to achieve research impact.

Find out tips on how to plan for impact through engagement, as well as achieve it and evidence it. Ideal if you are thinking about research proposals or fellowship applications, we will look at what the big funders think about engagement and impact, as well as having some time to consider what it all means for your own areas of research.

Getting media coverage

  • Tutor: Press office team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: May
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

Sharing the results of your research and gaining media coverage is an excellent way to show impact, as well as potentially bringing you new opportunities for collaboration and funding. During this workshop you will learn how the press office can help you promote your research to the media, what we consider when promoting stories, and how news stories and press releases are put together. You will have a chance to try it out for yourself by summarizing your research and pitching it for a press release.

In addition, if you’ve ever considered science communication as a career, we’ll talk a little about the different roles we’ve had in our careers, with plenty of time for Q&A at the end of the session.

Maximising impact

  • Tutor: Dr Inês Perpétuo, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: February, August
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

Your research is very important to you, but how do you make sure others look at it and understand its importance?

Can you clearly articulate the different types of impact you are making? How do you maximise your chances of really having an influence in your areas of interest?

In this session, we will look at what research impact is and why it matters and how you can create and maximise impact.

Research Computing Service & Research Software Engineering

  • Tutor: RCS & RSE Team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: November
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

This session will be an introduction to the Research Computing Service and the training, resources and support the team provides. Find out more about the Research Software Engineering service and how to engage with them to further your research.

Social media for academics

  • Tutor: Dr Inês Perpétuo, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: January, June
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

You know who you are and what your achievements and successes are, but how do you increase your visibility as a researcher?

Is social media a tool for visibility increase, science communication, or a bottomless pit of time wasting?

In this session, we are going to cover the why and how to increase your visibility, social media use, and some strategies to overcome barriers, both online and offline.

The Use of Responsible Metrics - DORA

  • Tutor: Library Services Team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: June
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

This workshop will critically discuss the use of metrics in research assessment, including the Journal Impact Factor and the h-index and will present evidence for their flaws as well as broader citation and publication biases. Responsible metrics concepts, in particular The Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), and the implications of DORA for decision making at the funders and research organisation level will be introduced.

Some practical ways that postdocs can embed these recommendations when presenting their own research or making applications will be offered and participants are encouraged to share experiences from their own research fields. 

Upskilling with Hackspace

  • Tutor: Hackspace Fellows team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: July
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

This session will be an introduction to the Advanced Hackspace part of the College’s Enterprise division. This is an opportunity to understand how Hackspace can support Postdocs and Fellows.

In this session you will get to know about the resources, facilities and expertise available to support your current research or future fellowships.


Writing a data management plan

  • Tutor: Research Data Management, Library Services team, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: May, November
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

In this session, the Research Data Management team will provide you with top tips on what to include in your data management plan.

Whether you are writing a fellowship application or just want to know what to consider for the sustainability and reproducibility of your data this session will provide you with basic information about what to include on your plan and time to start writing it!

Writing a lay summary

  • Tutor: Dr Inês Perpétuo, Imperial College London
  • Usually scheduled: June, December
  • Visit our online calendar to find out about scheduled workshops

Turning your carefully thought-out research programme into simple, concise English in order to be accountable to the general public – it’s become a standard part of funding and fellowship applications, and it’s the stuff of many a researcher’s nightmares. But the lay summary matters. It demonstrates neatly how clear your ideas are; the funders need it to evidence which projects they have invested in; and on a practical level, your lay summary may be the only part of your application, which is read by the entire panel.

This bite-sized, interactive session will look at what goes in a lay summary, which bits to leave out, and how to pitch your language.