Studying online

In addition to the face-to-face workshops and advice from Vitae and the Centre for Academic Leadership and Development, there is a wealth of information available online from other providers. Here is a summary of some useful links, if you come across another, please let us know so we can add it!

Your online profile

Research Gate: An online platform for collaborating, sharing projects, sharing papers, seeing statistics on your work, finding a job, finding answers to research questions.

Academia.Edu: An online platform for researchers to share papers, 52million academics worldwide use to share 18million papers.

Piirus: Brought to you by, the leading job board for academic, research and science careers, members connect with each other and apply their expertise to help solve problems and inform decisions across all sectors.

LinkedIn: The world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 500 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Originally used by industry, academia is growing pace – students and graduates are the fastest growing demographic. Find others, be found, list and describe your projects, and maintain a professional presence online long after your institution has removed your webpage upon moving on!

Twitter: Papers promoted online have higher citation rates. Keep in touch with colleagues around the world, see otherwise unknown opportunities. Make sure you’re aware of the University’s Social Media Policy!


Elsevier Publishing Campus: Free online lectures, interactive training courses, expert advice and resources from Elsevier to support you in publishing your world-class book or journal article, with certificates to recognise your efforts.

ORCID: A must these days for researchers, ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship, and innovation activities, and helps ensure that you are recognised for your work. The ID will follow you wherever in the world you go, and through your career.

External Diffusion: A dedicated web hub specifically built to spread the word about your work and make an impact through science communication and online outreach. By hosting your blog post describing your scientific publications they help their authors reach a wide audience through proactive social media communication.

Altmetrics: This site tracks a range of sources to capture and collate online activity of your work, helping you to monitor and report on the attention surrounding the work you care about. Now you can see in one metric how much your work is used on Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, blogs, Google+ etc.

Fast Track Impact: An international training consultancy in research and innovation, Fast Track Impact also provide resources for researchers on all things impact, including a weekly podcast, good practice case studies, templates to use to plan impact, and an online magazine.

Literature searching

Scizzle: A curator that automatically finds new and relevant research papers, so you spend less time searching, more time researching!

Meta: With thousands of papers published each day, how can you keep up with what’s new, what’s old, and which direction your discipline is going in? Meta is a new site aiming to use AI to track and predict where your field is heading.

Mendeley: A free reference manager and academic social network from Elsevier, that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research. Turn large collections of documents into a fully searchable, easy-to-manage library. Read and annotate content via desktop client, browser or mobile app. Link with Word to automatically create a bibliography.

EndNote: A free reference manager (through a Heriot-Watt license) that not only acts as a reference library, but can automatically download full text articles, find the right journal for you to publish a paper in, share a library with a team, and build a bibliography in Word. Both desktop and online versions exist. Training for using EndNote is available through Research Futures.


UKCGE Supervision Resource Pack: As part of the UK Council for Graduate Education's commitment to supporting excellence in research supervision, here is a resource pack for supervisors, enabling them to review and enhance their practice. It includes “Enhancing Practice for Research Supervision”, a collection of 10 blogs from the world's leading experts in the field of doctoral education; and “Research Supervisors Bibliography”, a comprehensive, 150-page bibliography covering 20 aspects of research supervision.

Postgraduate Research Supervisors Network: The Postgraduate Research Supervision Network has been newly created by the UKCGE to bring together Supervisors of any postgraduate research award, or colleagues who supports the supervision journey. If you are interested in being part of the network, you can subscribe to the network at the link above.


In addition to the Careers Advisory Service (available to students of Heriot-Watt University), the following may be of use when thinking about your career options and the paths to get there.

15minute Podcast: Taylor & Francis Author Services, supported by Vitae, produce a 15minute podcast on developing your research career, providing practical tips and insights on public engagement, academic mentoring, overcoming imposter syndrome, and career path options for researchers.

Undertaking your research

Royal Literary Fund Resources: The RLF provide writing skills support for both essays and longer dissertation/thesis projects. It’s not a conventional how-to guide, but rather provides a variety of voices.

ThinkWell: In addition to his workshops here at Heriot-Watt, Hugh Kearn’s consultancy, ThinkWell, has a wealth of tools freely available online to support you in planning and undertaking your research, from prioritising and team working to everything you need to plan your work through your project.

Research Data Management (an introductory webinar): This recorded and available online webinar aimed to introduce researchers and others to the concept of research data management (RDM). As well as presenting the benefits of taking an active approach to research data management – including increased speed and ease of access, efficiency (fund once, reuse many times), and improved quality and transparency of research – the webinar advised on strategies for successful RDM, resources to help manage data effectively, choosing where to store and deposit data, the EC H2020 Open Data Pilot and the basics of data management, stewardship and archiving.

Thesis Whisperer: This world-famous blog by Dr Inger Mewburn originally started as a small blog about doing a PhD. Thesis Whisperer is now truly global, with guest bloggers from all over the world, including Heriot-Watt!

PhD Comics: For some light relief, take a look at PhD Comics, Jorge Cham's humerous comic strip about undertaking research in academia. 

International researchers

Euraxess: A service network involving 40 countries across Europe, aiming to strengthen cross-border mobility of researchers and staff. The UK-based site provides valuable information on funding opportunities, jobs, information on visas, information on pensions and welfare, and advice and information for those coming to the UK.

Research Funding

RESEARCHconnect: a one-stop shop of research grants and funding calls from regional and local funds, to European and international opportunities. It uses a database built for and designed by the research community.