Plymouth University Postgraduate Research Student Handbook 2016/2017
School of Art, Design and Architecture
School of Humanities and Performing Arts
2. Enrolment and induction
3. Taught modules for research students in the Arts and Humanities
4. The RDC.1 Project approval process
5. Ethical Research
6. The RDC.2 Confirmation of route process
7. Raising concerns
DTC Director: Professor Anthony Caleshu
Research Student Co-ordinators
School of Art, Design and Architecture: Dr Sana Murrani
School of Humanities and Performing Arts: Dr Lee Miller
DTC Administrator: Mandy Macdonald
The DTC is managed by a Committee which meets at least three times per year. The function of the DTC Committee is to:
Oversee the development and delivery of Arts & Humanities research methods training across the institution;
Ensure the robust operation of all relevant procedures by students and supervisors, through awareness raising, training and other means;
Lead on the evaluation and enhancement of the student learning experience, including monitoring and supervision arrangements and quality assurance issues;
Provide a two-way link between University Graduate Committee and relevant Schools/Research Centres/Training programmes;
Administer the allocation of scholarships where appropriate from externally and internally funded sources.
The Committee are:
DTC Director & Chair: Professor Anthony Caleshu
Associate Dean for Research in Arts & Humanities: Professor Alessandro Aurigi
Faculty Research & Creative Industries Operations Manager: Mrs Susan Matheron
Research Student Co-ordinator (Art, Design and Architecture): Dr Sana Murrani
Research Student Co-ordinator (Humanities and Performing Arts): Dr Lee Miller
Chair of Faculty Research Ethics Committee: Dr Katharine Willis
Academic liaison – Transart: Dr Anya Lewin
There is also student representation at each Committee meeting; this will be one of the six School Student Representatives on a rotating basis and a ResM Representative.
2. Enrolment and Induction
Please ensure that you follow all the instructions provided by your DTC Administrator with respect to your enrolment. Please also ensure that you are familiar with the Graduate School Research Degrees Handbook, which is available on the Graduate School pages on the University website.
Research Student Induction
During your first semester, you will receive a one day induction session as a new postgraduate research student. The morning sessions will be delivered by the Graduate School, and will help to familiarise you with the University and systems such as GradBook. After lunch, sessions delivered by the DTC will introduce you to specific processes and information relating to Arts and Humanities.
Local inductions will also take place for all Transart Institute (TI) and Planetary Collegium (PC) students.
In some cases, for students who start their programme of study in January, it is necessary to attend an informal induction from your DTC Administrator. Students commencing their studies in January or April will be expected to attend the April induction day. Your DTC Administrator will provide you with any one-on-one support you require prior to the formal induction.
Initial Supervisory Meeting
You should arrange a meeting with your Director of Studies (DoS) and the rest of your supervisory team within a month of your enrolment. At this meeting you should agree on the frequency of supervision sessions, seminars and other work for at least the initial semester. You should also discuss the development of your academic, research and transferable skills during this meeting (and issues related to completing a research skills audit). You will need to document this meeting using GradBook.
GradBook is an interactive online research student data system which allows students and supervisors to interact on all elements of a student’s research degree journey online. Students and supervisors will be expected to record both formal and informal supervisory sessions on GradBook, as well as to use the system to complete RDC.1 and RDC.2, annual monitoring, and ad-hoc changes to research degree registration as required. You will receive an introduction to GradBook during your induction, and your DTC Administrator can direct you to user guides for GradBook in addition to providing personalised help and support as required throughout the academic year. 5
Teaching & Learning:
There is no set formal programme of study or 'taught' schedule for the module. Instead, you are required to participate in:
a) Induction. You cannot successfully complete RDC.1 without attending the DTC induction. This runs twice per year with local inductions held off-campus for TI and PC students.
b) At least 12 research skills development/training hours (which may include the DTC session as above, but not any separate induction events). Although the DTC will offer at least 30 hours of research training, the nature and provider of this training is entirely up to you, based on your initial skills audit, your previous experience, your research methodology, etc. This should be discussed and agreed with the supervisory team and may take a very wide variety of forms e.g. DTC workshops/seminars or those provided by Planetary Collegium, CogNovo, 3D3, other ‘nodes’, research centres and groups, etc.; Graduate School training events; presenting a research seminar at the University; seminars and research events at other institutions, conferences or symposia; elements of masters level modules, etc.
The module is assessed by a portfolio that evidences key elements of your programme of study so far. The requirements of the portfolio are described below. There are no alternative forms of assessment available for individual students, except in cases of referral/resubmission. Please note that you will be assessed on a pass/fail basis only, using the Grade Descriptors for postgraduate students available at the end of this handbook.
The portfolio largely comprises formal documents and submissions that you complete from the point of enrolment onward (e.g. those produced for RDC.1, RDC.2 and Annual Monitoring), together with formal feedback from your supervisory team and any other relevant advisors/moderators. It also includes evidence that you participated in the requisite number of research skills development and training hours. You may be required to demonstrate in the portfolio (in a light touch way) how you acted on feedback or other requirements arising from RDC.1, RDC.2 and Annual Monitoring.
It is your responsibility to compile the portfolio and obtain/keep copies of all documentation required (although it is expected that copies of much of the material required will be available in the student file kept by the DTC, and the DTC will offer support and guidance).
When do I take this module?
Although you start working on fulfilling the module requirements from the point of enrolment, you are not formally assessed until after your RDC.2 process (i.e. your confirmation of route process) which is when you submit your portfolio. This means that you will not be formally registered on the module until at least your 2nd year (normally 3rd year for part time students), although you will be introduced to the module and its requirements from the very start of your programme.
You should decide with your supervisors when you will be ready to submit for this module. You will be enrolled on the module by the DTC Administrator once you have submitted for the module.
Required Portfolio Contents
Your portfolio should include the following:
1. Your initial Research Skills Audit (completed during your first semester). The form this takes is completely up to you – you can follow VITAE’s guidelines or use the RDF Planner application, or write ‘freestyle’ comments under the four RDF ‘domains’ (‘Knowledge and Intellectual abilities’, ‘Engagement, influence and impact’, ‘Research governance and organisation’ and ‘Personal Effectiveness’)
2. Your RDC.1 (Project Approval Form) plus
a. Schedule of work/Gantt chart
b. Research Prospectus
3. Your supervisors’ feedback on your RDC.1/Research Prospectus/Schedule indicating that you have met all learning outcomes (this will be provided on a standard form)
4. Any revised elements of your Prospectus requested by your supervisor in order to meet the assessed learning outcomes of task
5. If you are working with human participants, your application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) together with its response and any supplementary ethical documents e.g. Information sheets, questionnaires, etc.
6. Your Annual Monitoring form.
7. Documentation of your RDC.2 presentation (i.e. Text plus slides; DVD, etc.)
8. Reflection on at least 12 hours of research skills training (3,600 words in total). This is approximately 300 words per hour of training you choose to discuss. This is not an essay. Rather, you should list each ‘training’ event, indicating the number of hours of participation, and underneath each heading, outline the relationship to your skills audit, Annual Monitoring, RDF, etc. You simply need to state why you chose to undertake this training and what you gained from it (or not!)
9. Your RDC.2 submission (e.g. Extended essay, documentation of practice, etc.) or negotiated equivalent
10. Your supervisors’ feedback on your RDC.2 submission/equivalent indicating that you have met all learning outcomes for the task
11. Any revised or additional elements arising from RDC.2 submission/equivalent requested by supervisor in order to meet the assessed learning outcomes of the task
There will be one deadline per academic year by which you must submit your portfolios in order to be considered in time for an Assessment Panel. In the 2016/2017 academic year this deadline is 4 May 2017 which allows for the grade to be formalised at the Assessment Panels and Boards in June. This includes the review of the portfolio by the sub-committee and time for students to make additions if requested and for the external examiner to consider a range of portfolios for the purpose of quality assurance.
Please note that you do not have to wait for this deadline to submit your portfolio and receive informal confirmation that you have passed the module (subject to ratification at the next Assessment Panel/Board).
Your supervisory team assesses whether you have met the module’s ‘learning outcomes’ based on the tasks in the portfolio as you attempt them (in particular, at RDC.1 and RDC.2 stages). Following completion of these processes, your DoS will send you written feedback that is separate from that provided by the external moderators; this will be focused on your research skills development, and your demonstration of key research skills.
It is possible for you to successfully complete either RDC.1 or RDC.2 but for your DoS to request that you do additional work or revise specific elements of the assignment to meet the learning outcomes of the module. Examples of this might include asking you to represent your bibliography or list of sources if this had not been done correctly; asking you to reframe or articulate your research questions, etc.
If this is the case, in your portfolio you are expected to include your original submission, your DoS’s feedback form, any required amendments/rewrites and an indication from your DoS that these were completed satisfactory.
Following submission, your portfolio will be reviewed by the module leader, who may form a DTC sub-committee to undertake this work, which will consider whether you have undertaken all of the tasks and have followed all relevant guidelines and completed all recommendations and revisions set by your DoS. You will receive notification by email that you have passed the module. If you do not pass the module on a first attempt (either because your DoS has not indicated that you achieved all of the learning outcomes for your RDC.1 and RDC.2 assignments or because you did not include all of the required elements in the portfolio), you will be offered an appropriate referral assignment following the Assessment Board and be eligible to resubmit as a second attempt.
Each year, the module coursework will be considered by the MRes Arts external examiner, who will look at a representative sample of portfolios from disciplines across the DTC to ensure quality processes have been followed.
Relationship to RDC.2 Confirmation of Route Process from MPhil/PhD to PhD status
The RDC.2 process will trigger your opportunity to complete the module and gain credits for it. If the outcome of your confirmation of route process is to submit an MPhil rather than transfer to PhD, or if you withdraw from the programme, you will still be eligible to successfully complete the module, as its learning outcomes are at M (masters) rather than D (doctoral) level. The DTC will work with your supervisor to suggest alternative but equal forms of assessment to include in your portfolio.
Students who successfully complete the RDC.2 process may choose not to complete the module by submitting a portfolio (although it is mandatory for overseas students based at Plymouth and those in receipt of a University studentship). However, this decision will need to be formally negotiated and agreed with your supervisory team as being in your best interest. It is expected that all MPhil/PhD candidates in the Arts & Humanities DTC will engage in this module.
The RDC.1 Project Approval Process
1) The University requires all full and part time research students to complete their RDC.1 process within 6 and 12 months of enrolment respectively. The DTC recommends that you begin this process (e.g. by submitting first drafts of all material to your DoS) at least 3 months in advance of these deadlines. This will enable you to work together to successfully complete this milestone.
Candidates who do not meet the deadlines above may be asked to withdraw from the programme.
2) Students prepare the following and send them together as a package to their Directors of Study: Completion of the RDC.1 Form on GradBook
The fields on this form include details of the candidate and any collaborating institution; title of the project (which will be used on all formal paperwork and documentation once approved); a brief abstract of the proposed research project and its methodology (‘Description of Project’, approx. 300 words); details of research training to be undertaken (based on the student’s preliminary research skills audits and proposed methodology of the project).
For MPhil/PhD candidates: In the ‘research training’ box on p. 2, students must indicate the date they attended induction. RDC.1 forms will not be processed, and the process finalised, if the student has not attended this workshop.
A Research Prospectus of approximately 2000 words, not including bibliography/list of sources, uploaded to GradBook. This should align directly with and expand upon the abstract that is included on the RDC.1 form. Please see below for full details of the Research Prospectus.
A Plan of Work uploaded to GradBook (i.e. a schedule or timetable of key milestones and activities up to the expected date of submission). This can take any form that is productive for the student (e.g. a list, a table, a Gantt chart, a flowchart, etc.), as long as it is clear and legible.
3) Within three weeks, the Director of Study, after consultation with the rest of the supervisory team if necessary, should either a) provide feedback to the student (preferably in a face-to-face tutorial), suggesting ways to improve or enhance the documentation, with a deadline for resubmission; or b) indicate to the student that it is believed to be suitable for submission to an ‘Expert Commentator’.
4) Please note that candidates who fully discuss and submit drafts of all documentation to their supervisory team, either via GradBook or at supervisory meetings, and who respond positively to feedback prior to submitting the final version, are much more likely to have their Project Approval accepted on first attempt.
5) Once the supervisors agree that the project approval application is suitable, the forms should be approved on GradBook, which sends the documentation to an Expert Commentator for review.
Please note: It is the DoS’s responsibility to nominate an Expert Commentator (it is also recommended that the DoS confirms the Expert Commentator’s availability prior to nominating to the DTC). Please note that the Expert Commentator at RDC.1 stage may act as the internal examiner of the final thesis.
In exceptional cases where it is not possible to locate relevant expertise internally, an Expert Commentator who is external to the University may be proposed. If this is the case, the DoS must contact the School’s Research Student Co-ordinator first and make a case for this necessity. The DTC Administrator must also be notified so that the external reviewer can be granted access to GradBook.
6) The Expert Commentator should upload a 1-2 page written report to GradBook, taking into consideration the academic content and quality of the proposed programme of work to ensure that it is set at the appropriate level and achievable within the limits of the research programme. The Expert Commentator should confirm whether or not s/he feels the project is achievable within the time span and make any suggestions for improvements to the topic focus or methodology.
The Expert Commentator may recommend the acceptance of the proposal with specific conditions related to ethical approval (e.g. the submission and acceptance of an application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee).
If the Expert Commentator does not recommend the acceptance of the proposal, then the written report should indicate why this is the case and indicate potential changes and areas of improvement.
7) If the Expert Commentator has recommended acceptance and confirmed this on GradBook, the documentation is then available for the Research Student Co-ordinator to review.
NB: If the Expert Commentator has not recommended acceptance, then the supervisory team should work with the student to make appropriate changes before repeating the process above. It is not necessary to use the same Expert Commentator in the case of a resubmission.
8) For MPhil/PhD candidates: Immediately following the successful completion of the RDC.1 process, the DoS must also complete a form indicating that the student’s Project Approval documentation has met the specified learning outcomes of the Research Skills in the Arts & Humanities module (MARE 705); this is not necessary if the student has formally opted out of the module. The DoS may request that some elements of the Prospectus are revised to meet specific learning outcomes within a set period of time. This form must be sent to the student and copied to the DTC Administrator.
The student keeps all submitted RDC.1 documentation, the DoS’s feedback form, any requested revised elements and confirmation that they have been done satisfactorily. This material will be eventually submitted in the student portfolio for the credit-rated Research Skills in the Arts & Humanities (MARE 705) module. This can be stored on GradBook for ease.
9) Students whose projects involve research with human participants should apply for ethical approval from the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) as soon as possible following the successful completion of the RDC.1 process which has outlined your research methods.
The Research Prospectus which accompanies the RDC.1 form and Plan of Work should be between 2000-2500 words in total (not including the List of Sources/Bibliography). It clearly states what you intend to do (project aims) and how you intend to do it (your research methodology). It must indicate that you know enough about the area in which you intend to work to be able to adequately complete the proposed project to the required level.
Your Research Prospectus must include the following sections:
1. Project Aims
2. Research Questions
3. Background to Research
4. Research Methods and Strategies
5. Statement of Ethical Research
6. List of Sources/Bibliography (including reference to key texts, documents, performances, websites, videos, etc.)
It must be word-processed and fully referenced. Sections 3 and 4 must be written fluidly in sentences/paragraphs (you may even wish to include subheadings within these sections if you find this helpful). Sections 1 & 2 may be expressed in bullet points. Word counts for individual sections may vary according to the nature, structure and orientation of your project.
1) Project Aims (approximately 120-200 words)
These should comprise a series of statements that clearly identify the overarching intentions of the project, the context and nature of the intended practice
Make sure these are your aims NOW. They will probably have been refined, focused and developed since you applied or even started your programme. Be prepared to move on
3 to 4 aims are reasonable. Ensure that they all work together and are not pulling in different directions. The last two aims may be a clarification or a detail of the first
Your aims will probably relate to specific issues of knowledge, understanding, analysis, synthesis, creativity, reflection and evaluation
They should be appropriate to your area of study, your methods and methodologies, and the scope of your project
Your aims should be achievable, even if you know that you are only exploring one possible way in which they can be achieved
2) Research Questions (approximately 120-200 words)
It is inherent to the nature of research that you are able to define a series of questions, issues or problems that will be addressed in the course of your project
If your research is practice-led, then your own practice must be integral to the answering of these questions
There should be a need for these questions to be addressed
These questions should be appropriate to the aims, context and methods you outline elsewhere
3) Background to Research (approximately 900-1,400 words)
In this section you should demonstrate that you have knowledge of key texts linked to the project proposal and that you have sufficient understanding of the domain in which you intend to work to suggest that your research project will be adequately contextualised
You should consider using short quotations and where appropriate, writing footnotes. This section must be fully and properly referenced using a recognisable system
It is important that this section references works and ideas other than your own, demonstrating that you understand and have mapped the domain in which you intend to work and critically engaged with the key ideas and theories linked to your proposed topic
The mapping of your domain of interest will not be definitive at this stage in your research but should demonstrate detailed knowledge of some clearly identified and relevant areas
4) Research Methods & Strategies (approximately 600-1,000 words)
Here you should discuss exactly what you intend to do and how you intend to do it
This section offers a methodology for your research – i.e. how data, knowledge and understanding will be generated and captured
You should also make clear the forms your research findings will take (especially if practice-led or if you are including fieldwork or action research).
If relevant, you should indicate which archives you will be visiting, which communities or organisations you will be working with, the extent of collaboration with other people, etc.
5) Statement of Ethical Research
In this section, you must indicate whether or not you will be doing any research with human participants. This might include participation in interviews, questionnaires, or workshops. It should align with the methods and strategies you identify and discuss above
If you do not intend to work with human participants, please include the statement: “I do not intend to research with human participants and therefore do not need to complete an application for ethical approval.”
If you do intend to work with human participants, you must briefly explain here how you intend to do so. In this section of your proposal assignment, please include the statement: “An application for ethical approval will be submitted to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) following the successful outcome of my RDC.1 Project Approval process” OR, if you have already applied, please state when you sent the application to FREC
Please contact Claire Butcher (Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org) for the most recent version of the ethics guidance and read Plymouth University’s Research Ethics Policy before completing this section
Remember that you may not begin any research with human participants until you have received written approval from FREC
6) Bibliography/List of Sources
This is further evidence of the depth of research you have undertaken to date and the scope for future development
It should indicate the texts, performances, videos, images, etc. you have referenced in the research and consideration of the proposal
It must be presented in correct bibliographic form, using the system recommended by your Director of Studies (according to your subject discipline)
It may be categorised into different sections: Books and Journals, Websites, Videos
Do not separate works cited from a general bibliography
You may wish to consider compiling (and submitting) an annotated bibliography. If so, the following websites may be helpful to you:
Within the Arts & Humanities we are required to deal with ethical issues as much as any other academic discipline. For instance, any information generated through interviews whether anonymised or with named or attributable sources, must have the consent of the individuals who provided it. Indeed if the research involves any human subject, including the researcher themselves, there are ethical implications. The context and purpose of the research affects the way in which work is conducted. To this extent every application needs to be considered on its own merits.
If you intend to work with human participants, you must apply to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) as soon as soon as possible (usually, shortly after your RDC.1 has been approved) and always before embarking on that research.
Students should discuss all ethical aspects of their research with their supervisors. The DTC also offers an annual workshop on Ethical Research in the Arts & Humanities.
The purpose of ethical review procedures is to ensure that the well-being of participants is protected. Participants must be given adequate information concerning the consequences of their participation. The fact that a participant did not know or understand that something would happen to them is not an adequate defence of the fact that it did, even if they have signed a form. This is the principle of informed consent. Any ‘deception’ (whether intended or not) as to the use of research material is considered unethical, as is any change of its use where permission has been obtained for other purposes.
Participants should have the right to withdraw material and researchers need to make clear when methods prevent this (such as the examination of trends in discourse analysis) and provide clear cut off points. Mechanisms need to exist so that data can be made anonymous when required, but such that data can also easily be removed, given the withdrawal of consent.
The use of oral records within research also carries certain legal requirements. The law stipulates that the speaker retains copyright of their conversation. Any distribution of such material requires the transfer of copyright to be made. Further to this, the material itself could expose individuals to further action if the content is defamatory (The Oral History Society offers a useful guide, which can be found at here).
Ethical Processes and Procedures for ResM and MPhil/PhD students:
You must include a Statement of Ethical Research in the Research Prospectus submitted as part of your RDC.1 process (see section above)
Even if you think you do not need to apply for ethical approval, your supervisors or ‘expert commentator’ might think differently having read your Research Prospectus. Successfully applying for ethical approval may become a condition of approval of your RDC.1.
Remember that you may not begin any research with human participants until you have received written approval from FREC. Only FREC can approve your research with human participants (not your DoS). All students in the DTC have their applications considered by the Arts and Humanities Research Ethics Sub-committee (ArtRESC). Full guidance notes and the most up to date version of the FREC form are available on request by emailing email@example.com
You must fill in ALL FIELDS of the application form (especially the ethical protocol section).
You must also submit supporting documents like sample questionnaires, information sheets, etc.
You can only apply to FREC when you have a firm idea of your methods
This is usually shortly after you have successfully completed the RDC.1 process
Don’t apply too soon
You can apply sooner or later depending on when you realise that you need to research with human participants (and when this needs to take place)
You should work with your supervisor on the form and have your DoS’s approval to submit it to FREC
Applicants often need to clarify some elements to the committee.
Acceptance is granted for the methods outlined on your ethical approval application only
You need to apply again if your methods change or you engage in additional types of research that involves other people.
The RDC.2 Confirmation of Route Process
The Confirmation of Route process determines whether you transfer from the MPhil route to PhD, or if you are to remain on the MPhil route. You may also be asked to resubmit the RDC.2 for reassessment. The process provides you and your supervisory team with the opportunity to reflect upon your progress to date, and to look forward to future developments.
Your RDC.2 must show that you have a practical and theoretical understanding of your research topic and that your programme of work is capable of yielding a PhD thesis within the standard duration. In general, you must demonstrate that you have:
defined the scope and objectives of your research project appropriately;
been actively engaged in working on your project and have made progress commensurate with the time you have spent to date;
made an appropriate survey of relevant research literature and resources and that you are able to make critical evaluation of published work;
acquired appropriate knowledge and understanding of research methods applicable to your area of research and can explain and justify your choices;
developed an adequately detailed plan of work to enable the completion of a PhD thesis within the expected time period.
Please remember that the Confirmation of Route process must be completed within 18 months of registration for full time students or within 24 months of registration for part time students. Please also note that only one attempt at resubmission is permitted.
1) Completion of the RDC.2 form on GradBook
2) Submission of 1 or 2 draft chapters (approximately 8,000-12,000 words in total) or 1 draft chapter (6,000-8,000 words) and evidence of practice in the case of practice-as-research projects (this can be uploaded to GradBook)
3) Submission of a Transfer Report (approx. 3,000 words) with an up-to-date schedule of work (this can be uploaded to GradBook)
4) Delivery of a research presentation to an appropriate University research group.
5) Attendance at a Transfer Review meeting with the Expert Commentator (Important: While recommended for all students, a Transfer Review meeting is only a requirement if the Expert Commentator is unable to attend the research presentation above).
It is strongly recommended that you work on drafts of written material with your supervisory team, prior to final submission. You can choose to do this via GradBook (which will retain all previous versions and records of the feedback provided), or at your supervisory meetings. Once you and your supervisory team have approved your final submission and have completed the recommendations fields, your submission will be sent for review by an Expert Commentator (Please note that it is the responsibility of your Director of Studies to nominate an Expert Commentator, and that this should ideally be done prior to your final RDC.2 submission. Please do not approach someone to act as your Expert Commentator yourself; let the DTC Administrator know if you have been asked to do so.)
Your Expert Commentator will review your submission and – if they are unable to attend your research presentation – will ask you to attend a Transfer Review meeting. They will then make a recommendation to your supervisory team as to whether they feel you should:
transfer from the MPhil/PhD route to PhD, or
remain on the MPhil/PhD route, or
resubmit your RDC.2 for reassessment (please note that only one resubmission is permitted)
Your Expert Commentator will provide a 1-2 page written feedback report (usually uploaded to GradBook, but sometimes directly to your DoS to forward on).
Once your supervisors, Director of Studies and Expert Commentator are in agreement of your route, the School’s Research Student Co-ordinator will provide final approval. You will receive a notification from GradBook advising you of the outcome, and a further email from your DTC Administrator once your transfer is complete.
The final, submitted paperwork as uploaded to GradBook will be used as part of your MARE705 portfolio material.
Research Student Annual Monitoring
The purpose of the annual monitoring (AM) process for students located in the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) is to facilitate dialogue between research students and their supervisory teams and to enable the University to best help students complete their studies successfully and in good time. The AM forms reflect on the previous academic year and look forward to next year. They do so by asking questions about three different, but inter-related, elements of the programme of study: a) formal institutional processes (e.g. RDC); b) research skills training & development; c) research toward, and the presentation of, the student’s specific thesis project.
The process is as follows:
1) Students fill in the required AM proforma on GradBook by the deadline specified
2) Directors of Study (DoSs) fill in another AM proforma on GradBook on behalf of the supervisory team for each student, by the same deadline. It is expected that the DoS has liaised with the rest of the supervisory team in the completion of this form.
NB: There are different forms for students and supervisors to complete. This should be done independently and without consultation.
Using both forms (i.e. from the student and the DoS) as well as the student’s proposed/revised schedule of work as a basis for discussion, it is expected that an AM meeting must take place by the first week in November. This meeting should be attended by the student and the entire supervisory team.
This meeting should focus on agreeing a schedule of work for the coming year and ensuring that students and supervisors share expectations and understand and identify key milestones (formal and informal).
NB: If necessary (i.e. the student is not based on the same campus as his/her supervisors), this meeting may take place by skype, etc. as long as all documentation has been exchanged in advance.
3) Each School’s Research Student Co-ordinator and the DTC Administrator will consider all of the AM forms. This will enable them to intervene if any areas of concern arise for individual students. However, it also will enable the further development of student support and research training across the School, DTC and University. An overview (without mentioning individual student names) will be discussed at School and DTC levels and will feed into the AM report that the DTC sends to the University Graduate Committee each year.
Please also note the following:
1) The schedule of work which is agreed at the AM meeting should be discussed at the following year’s meeting. It should therefore be realistic and achievable. There should be consensus on it and any changes must be discussed and agreed between students and supervisors throughout the following year.
2) The consideration and documentation of research skills and career development processes is a major element of this annual progress meeting. You will be expected to list the research training you have undertaken over the past year and indicate the number of hours you spent on each activity. Please see the ‘Research Skills Development’ section above.
3) The AM form that is filled in by students is shared with supervisory teams (and vice versa). If there is something you would prefer not to discuss with your team (perhaps because it is about the nature/quality of your supervision), then please contact your School Research Student Co-ordinator, who will treat your comments with confidence and will work with you to find a solution
If you are supervised by your Research Student Co-ordinator, then please contact Professor Anthony Caleshu, DTC Director by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you happen to be supervised by Anthony – or you don’t know who to contact – then please email Mandy Macdonald, DTC Administrator email@example.com.
Routes for raising concerns
While your DoS (and/or Programme Leader, if you are a ResM student) should always be your first point of contact for all matters, you should contact your School Research Co-ordinator if:
you are experiencing difficulties with your supervisory team (if you do not wish to discuss this with your Research Student Co-ordinator, perhaps because s/he is also your supervisor, you should contact the DTC Director)
there is a breakdown in communication with your supervisory team, and you have connected anxieties about how best to progress following conversations and attempts at resolution there remains a need to reconfigure supervisory support
You might also contact your School Research Student Co-ordinator if:
you have any procedural questions connected to RDC.1, RDC.2, nomination of External Examiners, etc., and what role you might have in these processes
you identify specific training needs, and you aren't clear about how best to resource them
you have questions about the annual monitoring process
you just want to have a chat with an academic who is outside of your supervisory team.
The Role of Student Representatives
There should be at least 2 Representatives (Reps) per School represented in the DTC. Ideally one will represent full-time and one part-time students. If appropriate, Schools may also seek additional Representatives (e.g. to represent contracted staff members who are also PGR students or to represent ResM students if there is a large cohort). If at all possible, Reps should serve for at least two years and the introduction of new Reps should be staggered (so that there is at least one new rep each year but some continuity as well).
Additionally, students who are based off-campus should have a clearly defined method of representation at a local level and be given the opportunity to feed into the processes below (e.g. by emailing their part time School Reps with comments, etc.)
Roles and responsibilities of School Reps:
1. To gather views and suggestions related to PGR processes and provisions from PGR students (that is, ResM, MPhil and PhD) within their School and to bring comments to the attention of their School Research and/or Graduate Affairs Committee:
Reps should not act as mediators for the specific complaints of individual students, who should be directed to their School Research Student Coordinator in the first instance. The views or suggestions raised at Committee should be potentially relevant to more than an individual student.
If a Rep feels that an issue brought to their attention should not wait until the next scheduled meeting, s/he should contact their School Research Student Coordinator.
If a Rep is unable to attend a committee meeting, s/he should pass on any information gathered to another Rep in attendance. If extraordinarily no Reps are able to attend, then comments should be sent to the Chair of the meeting in advance for noting and discussion if necessary.
2. To convey information and feedback to comments/suggestions raised at School Research and Graduate Affairs Committee meetings to PGR students within their School.
3. To ensure transparency of School discussions related to PGR matters by observation and participation in the School Research and Graduate Affairs Committee:
Reps will only be required to attend those parts of their School’s Research and Graduate Affairs Committee meetings that relate to PGR matters.
4. To liaise with other School PGR Reps within the Doctoral Training Centre and to report as a group to the DTC Management Committee (see below).
5. If any issue is relevant to the wider University PGR community, to raise these with the PGR representatives on University Graduate Committee for discussion in this forum.