Undertaking research may initially appear to be a daunting prospect but one, too, that should hopefully prove deeply rewarding.
You may be very clear about why you are undertaking research, but it may be useful to remind yourself, periodically:
At Anglia Ruskin we are committed to ensuring that our research students get the most out of their studies with us. The following advice has been designed to support you towards successful completion, submission and defence of your research thesis.
You should seek every opportunity to review your research skills and identify your development needs throughout your studies. A useful tool to help you do this is the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), which contains a total of 63 skills statements. Obviously, this is a large number! The RDF Framework has, however, four sectors at its core, each with three main skill sets. We advise that, in undertaking your research skills needs analysis, you focus on specific sectors of the Framework, or limit your analysis to about 20 of the skills given. Clearly, you should change the focus of your analysis each year so that you cover the entire set of skills during your period of study as a research degree candidate.
Alternatively, Vitae has developed lenses to help researchers focus on particular themes when identifying their skills training needs. To date these themes are leadership, enterprise, intrapreneurship, teaching, employability, and information literacy. For further information about these lenses please see http://www.vitae.ac.uk/rdflenses.
In either case you should use the research skills training needs analysis form to identify your development needs. Having identified your areas of strength and potential areas for development in relation to your research, you should consider how you plan to build on these through, for example, professional networks, research links, and further training. Together with your supervisor, you will need to identify priorities for skills development and discuss your progress in meeting them on an annual basis. These should be recorded in a Personal Development Plan (PDP). Click to download a PDP template and an example PDP.
You can then look at the Research Training Programme, to see what development opportunities and training are offered across the University, and links to find out about additional training provided within your own Faculty or elsewhere within the University. You should keep a record of the training you attend or access, together with any actions arising as a result. Linking this with your PDP and the research skills training needs analysis tool will be important.
In addition to developing your research skills, you should be thinking about your future. For further information on developing your research career, please see the Research Student Handbook; the Employability Service at Anglia Ruskin is always pleased to advise research students.
As you progress your research, it is also adviseable to record details of your professional development, including attendance and participation at conferences and seminars.
You will need to record details of your discussions with your supervisor(s) and all agreements reached, in the context of your research. Over time, this will offer valuable insight into your development, both academically and professionally, and will provide a useful resource to draw upon when preparing for the annual review of your progress. For Annual Review (see below), you will be required to attach a document incorporating all your meeting notes. You may find this template useful for keeping Notes of Meetings with Supervisor(s)
A reflective diary is a personal account of your research process, your responses to information received, and records of ideas you may have considered. It becomes a log, or source document of your experiences and achievements, both positive and negative. It may contain useful information, memos or reminders to yourself, brainstorming notes, and reflective thoughts and opinions. In other words, it should contain a lot more than just facts. As such, the reflective diary offers a space where you can report your thoughts and feelings about your research work as it develops. This in turn can act as a useful back-up for making decisions and resolving problems as you take your research forward. Your diary will also enable you to reflect on and identify your academic development needs. You then go on to address these key developmental needs in your PDP. Click here for more advice on developing an effective Reflective Research Diary.
All research students, except those registered for PhD by Published Works, are required to attend annual review meetings for the duration of their registration as a research student. In their first year, all research students except Professional Doctorate students are required to attend two review meetings. Professional Doctorate students have one annual review meeting in the 12 months after the approval of the research proposal. Review meetings are designed to be supportive, to discuss and acknowledge your progress and achievements, and your plans and objectives for the forthcoming year. Annual review meeting are run by an experienced supervisor (convenor) who is independent of your supervisory team and who has knowledge of the broad subject area of your research. This also provides you with the opportunity to receive additional guidance from someone external to your supervisory team, based on their experience of supervising other research students. Your First Supervisor attends, along with one other member of your supervisory team.
Your Faculty Director of Research Students is responsible for co-ordinating the meetings, and your Faculty will contact you to arrange your meeting. Students will be informed of the documentation they are asked to provide for these review meetings and given details about the meeting, but this will typically include your records of your meetings with your supervisors, your PDP, and your future plans.
As an entirely separate monitoring exercise, international students are required by the UK Border Agency to maintain regular contact with the university, which should be recorded. See the advice for international students and their supervisors for more information.
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