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8 Things All Pupils Undertaking a Nuffield Placement Should Know

Undertaking a research placement in a field you have no expertise in can be a little bit daunting. But don’t worry! Here are 10 things you should know to make your placement go as smoothly as possible.

1. It is completely fine if you do not have a lot of knowledge about your area of research.

The first few days of your placement may seem quite confusing. I took a couple of days to understand the basics of my project but following the steps below helped me find my feet quickly!

2. Make sure you ask your supervisor for a short summary of your project before you start!

A couple of weeks before I started my placement, I asked my supervisor to send me a short summary of my project. This gave me the opportunity to read up about what I was researching beforehand so I wasn’t completely baffled when I began. It is helpful to have some background knowledge not only so your supervisor can see you are enthusiastic, but so you can have peace of mind knowing that you at least understand the basics of your research.

3. Write down everything you do.

I must admit, I would tell myself, “I’ll write it down later”, whenever my supervisor told me something. But the truth is, you will forget it, especially when you are constantly being told new information. Whether or not you think what you are being told is important, WRITE IT DOWN! It will inevitably be useful later on when writing your report.

4. Ask as many questions as you like.

A lot of people are afraid to ask questions because they think they will come across as annoying. However, this is not the case. Supervisors love it when students ask many questions as this shows your enthusiasm and that you are interested in what you are researching.

5. Your supervisor may allow you to carry out some experiments on your own!

You are a mature and responsible individual which means you may be told to carry out experiments independently. This is a great opportunity for you to build your confidence – so definitely go for it!

6. You will receive all necessary training.

Another thing a lot of people tend to worry about is “will I be able to use the equipment?” Before starting your placement, you will definitely receive training as this is one of the requirements. If there are any doubts, make sure you ask questions.

7. Mistakes will happen but remember this is a learning process.

There may be times where an accident happens, or your final results do not turn out as expected. The most important thing is that you learn from it and develop new skills. A good question to ask yourself would be “If I was to do this again, what would I change?”


One of the most important things about this placement, is that you enjoy your time and do not panic if something goes wrong. After all, you are not an expert… yet! If anything does go wrong, just have a laugh about it, learn from it and move on.

Good luck on your placement!