About this site
What is PORT?
PORT (Postgraduate Online Research Training) is the public research training platform from the School of Advanced Study. The website provides online research skills training for postgraduate researchers in the humanities as part of the School’s national remit to facilitate and promote research.
The idea of PORT is to enable postgraduate researchers to gain or enhance their knowledge in basic and advanced research skills that are particularly applicable to, or provide the building blocks for, research in the humanities and to individual disciplines. A variety of courses and training materials are available on PORT for free and students can undertake these training packages whenever they wish and follow at a pace that suits them.
What is the School of Advanced Study?
The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities. SAS brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of nine prestigious research institutes in Bloomsbury to provide an unrivalled scholarly environment dedicated to the support, evaluation and pursuit of research which is accessible to all higher education institutions in the UK and the rest of the world.
Its institutes, many of which have long and distinguished histories, are:
- Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS)
- Institute of Classical Studies (ICS)
- Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS)
- Institute of English Studies (IES)
- Institute of Historical Research (IHR)
- Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS)
- Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR)
- Institute of Philosophy (IP)
- The Warburg Institute (WI)
The History of PORT
In 2014 the School of Advanced Study launched PORT as an online research training platform designed for postgraduates and early career researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The platform essentially began life as two individual websites, one run by the Institute of Modern Languages Research and another by the Institute of Historical Research.
The original PORT was built under the umbrella of the HEFCE-funded University Council of Modern Languages Collaboration Programme for Modern Languages in Higher Education. This project was one of 10 projects which formed the Collaboration Programme in Modern Languages in Higher Education. Additional funding was provided by the Vice-Chancellor's Development Fund, University of London.
PORT was maintained by the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies (now the Institute of Modern Languages Research). It was originally created by the Institute in partnership with Queen Mary, University of London and the Italian Research Consortium which includes Reading University, University College London, and Royal Holloway, University of London. Consultancy during the project design stage was provided by the PORT management committee, a group of academic advisors from different Romance Studies University departments in the UK, chaired by Professor Tim Unwin, University of Bristol.
Contributors to the early stages of the project were research assistants affiliated with the IGRS, QMUL and RHUL: Dr Patricia Montenegro, Dr Caroline Warman, Dr Ross Forman and Dr Phoebe von Held (IGRS), Dr Paolo Rambelli (RHUL), and Ionna Sitaridou (QMUL).
The project was originally devised and led by Professor Jo Labanyi, Professor Jill Forbes and Dr Guido Bonsaver. Professor Judith Still, Professor Jane Everson and Professor Michael Moriarty coordinated and supervised the second phase of the project; Professor Naomi Segal, Dr Katia Pizzi, Dr Eleanor Chiari and Dr Ricarda Vidal its phase since the merging of the IRS and the IGS; and Dr Pizzi has developed the project further under the IMLR.
Meanwhile the Institute of Historical Research undertook a separate ambitious project that became History SPOT. The site was launched in 2011 containing an ever-growing collection of podcasts from the IHR’s event calendar and a series of research training guides and courses. During its lifetime History SPOT contained seven courses, two of which were part funded by JISC. These were Designing Databases for Historical Research, Building and Using Databases for Historical Research, Podcasting for Historians, Sources for British History on the Internet, Data Preservation, Digital Tools (including modules on semantic data and text mining) and in association with other School Institutes, the first two modules of the InScribe Palaeography course.
In addition the IHR were awarded funding for tutorials on Managing your Research (data management) and on Material Cultures from the AHRC. These were not ready in time to launch on History SPOT, but will instead appear first on the new PORT system.
History SPOT was funded through an initial anonymous supporter with additional funding granted from the Deans Development Fund. The project was part of the IHR Digital initiative managed by Dr Jane Winters. History SPOT was developed, maintained, and managed on a day to day basis by Dr Matthew Phillpott with support from the IHR Research Training team (Professor Matthew Davies, Dr Mark Merry, and Dr Simon Trafford) and the IHR Digital team.
The new PORT website is designed from the infrastructure of History SPOT with the name and course material moved across from the old PORT website (the course material is now known as a PORT for Modern Languages). This fusion of the two training platforms is just a beginning point. SAS expect to work with and between its Institutes over the coming years to produce many more courses to help train the next generation of postgraduate and early career humanities researchers and social scientists.