Postgraduate Research Training Portfolio

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1 Postgraduate Research Training Portfolio (For Research Degrees including PhD, MPhil, MD, DDS) An Electronic version of this Portfolio can be found at; RTP Sept

2 Contents Page 1.0. RESEARCH TRAINING PORTFOLIO (RTP) WHY KEEP A PORTFOLIO? RESEARCH DEGREE PROGRAMME RESEARCH PROPOSAL RESEARCH PLAN ANNUAL ASSESSMENTS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PDP) WHAT SKILLS? CREATING A PDP TIMESCALES: WHEN TO USE YOUR PDP FEEDBACK... 7 APPENDIX A: INDUCTION CHECKLIST...8 APPENDIX B: RESEARCH PLAN...9 APPENDIX C: RESEARCH PROGRAM SUPERVISORY COMMUNICATIONS/ MEETINGS APPENDIX D: SELF-REFLECTION OF PROJECT SPECIFIC SKILLS APPENDIX E: SELF-ASSESSMENT SKILLS AUDIT AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PDP) APPENDIX F: MEETINGS ATTENDED APPENDIX G: TRAINING COURSES ATTENDED APPENDIX H: PRESENTATIONS APPENDIX I: PUBLICATIONS APPENDIX J: OTHER RELEVANT INFORMATION RTP Sept

3 1.0. Research Training Portfolio (RTP) Research degrees are highly regarded by employers and academics. The essential purpose of a research programme is a period of training in research and the generation of an original piece of work. During your studies you will develop a range of personal and professional skills. These skills will prove invaluable for the transition onto your next career. The purpose of the Research Training Portfolio is to provide a record of your personal development at the University of Newcastle. The portfolio is designed to assist you to get the most from your postgraduate experience, helping you to plan and reflect upon your research and how it will relate to future aspirations. It will help you to identify areas of strength and those areas you feel need more attention. By completing your portfolio you will be able to build on the learning and results you achieve, which will provide an ongoing record that can contribute towards your personal growth and career planning. The portfolio is intended to help you understand how your learning can be applied to a wide range of subjects and activities. It will help to improve your research and generic skills and identify opportunities for personal development. Your portfolio will include relevant information on the following; Research Programme Personal Development Plan (PDP) This portfolio is a means of planning/ developing and recording both research and generic skills and should be viewed as a serious method for your Continuing Professional Development (CPD). You will be responsible for the generation and maintenance of your portfolio, for which you will be expected to show commitment, planning, action and evaluation/ reflection Why keep a portfolio? The introduction of personal development portfolios for CPD has shown an overall positive effect and all members of staff and students are now encouraged to maintain one, primarily because it allows individuals to be in charge of their own development. The portfolio will also: Provide a record of your personal and academic development Record the acquisition of skills and self development, which will be useful for CV preparation Help you to understand and learn from life experiences and how these can contribute towards your future prospects by providing examples of skill developments Allow opportunities for reflection and self-evaluation on your progress and future needs Introduce the concept of continuous professional development Help you to demonstrate and be aware of that something extra which future employers value RTP Sept

4 2.0. Research Degree Programme This aspect of your portfolio will include a research proposal and plan (including a supporting statement from your supervisory team, where necessary). It is also important that you are aware of regulations and formalities regarding your research degree programme. An induction checklist has been included for your guidance (APPENDIX A), please ensure that you discuss these regulations/ formalities with your supervisor during your first formal meeting and keep a copy of this record within your portfolio Research Proposal If your research proposal has already been developed prior to your recruitment and has been agreed and funded by a research sponsor/ funding body, then it does not require further development or approval. However, if the proposal is developed by you the researcher (e.g. self-funding individuals, overseas government funding etc) it will need to be approved by a panel appointed by the Graduate School to ensure that the project is achievable within the time-scales and to confirm that sufficient resources are available. If there are any modifications to your proposal, please keep a record of these changes. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a research proposal agreed either previously by a sponsor/ funding body or by the Graduate School. Keep a copy of your research proposal in your portfolio, with a record of any approved changes Research Plan A research plan (APPENDIX B) must be completed for your studies and updated on a regular basis as discussed and agreed with your supervisory team. It is your responsibility to ensure that your research project is completed on time. Regular structured contact with your main supervisor (12 or 6 times per year minimum for full-time or part-time individuals, respectively) or supervisory team (3 or 2 times per year minimum for full-time or part-time individuals, respectively) to discuss academic and personal progress will help you to meet your targets. If your research proposal is to be agreed by a panel appointed by the Graduate School an in depth plan will be required that meets the Code of Practice for The Development and Approval of Research Project Proposals and will need to include a supporting statement from your supervisory team. In addition, progress reports for sponsors should also be copied and sent to the Graduate School Office. Throughout your studies, you will be monitored by your supervisory team, keep a record of formal supervisory meetings by completing the appropriate form (APPENDIX C). Keep a record of your research plan with progress updates and supervisory meetings in your Portfolio Annual Assessments/Reviews Each individual will have a formal annual assessment/review by a panel, who will submit a progress report to the Graduate School Office. Timescales for annual assessments will vary depending on your Faculty; but will follow a similar format described later (section 3.3). Assessments will involve one or more of the following: a written progress report, a project presentation and viva by the panel, or an open presentation with critical feedback. Please consult your Faculty Graduate School Handbook on the requirements for your Annual Assessments. The panel will assess evidence and decide whether suitable progress indicates your research project will meet the standards of the award. If necessary, action may be taken and another review date set. Keep a record of your research programme assessment presentations, formal meetings and feedback in your Portfolio. Keeping records about your research programme will help you to continually assess, plan and meet the needs of your research project and research degree requirements. It may also be useful to complete a project specific skill form (APPENDIX D), to help you focus on research project issues, which will assist with project planning and supervisory meetings. RTP Sept

5 3.0. Personal Development Plan (PDP) The Learning and Teaching Support Network defines personal development planning (PDP) as a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/ or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development. Jackson, N. (2001) Personal Development Planning: What Does it Mean?, PDP Working Paper 1, Learning and Teaching Support Network Generic Centre. ( neric&id=65) The PDP will help to highlight areas of strengths and areas for improvement by mapping your current skills against the skills training requirements for research students a joint statement by the Research Councils (RCs)/ Arts Higher Research Board (AHRB). This will be achieved by completing the self assessment audit and PDP in APPENDIX E and should be updated at appropriate times during your research. The PDP should be agreed in conjunction with your supervisory team and signed accordingly. The purpose of the portfolio is to record your skills progress, based upon your PDP, and assessors will want to see evidence of this. Each individual is responsible for their own Research Training Portfolio and should ensure it is up-to-date. The portfolio should include a description of the skills developed and the corresponding skill/ technique within the joint statement of the RCs/ AHRB training requirements. Records can be kept in the form of a diary, learning log, journal or whichever means is most convenient. The professional standard for recording your skills development are set out in APPENDICES F-I and can be used as a guideline if you want to keep a more personalised/ detailed record. The following is a list of essentials that must be recorded in the RTP: Lab meetings, seminars, conferences attended (including questions asked). N.B. Postgraduate researchers are required to contribute to the research environment by attending appropriate internal and external events (APPENDIX F) Training courses attended including faculty training courses (IT, library, safety etc, APPENDIX G) Abstracts presented at local, national and international meetings with other relevant information (poster, oral presentation, presenting author etc). N.B. You are required to give at least one formal presentation per year on your work (APPENDIX H) Publications, including manuscripts in press and abstracts where published (APPENDIX I) Work experience and other information relevant to your future career (teaching/ demonstrating, work placements with industry/ business etc, time spent within other academic institutions, APPENDIX J) 3.1. What Skills? The following is a summary of the skills defined by the RCs/ AHRB joint statement ( that you are expected to develop over your research degree; some of the skills areas will overlap: A 1-6. Research Skills and Techniques (carrying out research effectively) B 1-7. Research Environment (awareness of issues regarding research practice) C 1-4. Research Management (using information, producing and interpreting data) D 1-7. Personal Effectiveness (developing and identifying personal and skills opportunities) E 1-5. Communication Skills (communicating effectively in oral and written formats) F 1-3. Networking and Team working (working as part of a team and networking with others) G 1-4. Career management (continual professional and career development) RTP Sept

6 In conjunction with the skills above, the University encourages you to: develop relevant academic networks, attend seminars and conferences, present papers, publish papers, support your own career development, and contribute to your research environment by attending appropriate internal and external events Creating a PDP To create a PDP you will need to assess your skills abilities, following this identify your specific needs/ skills gaps and then decide what form of training can be used to meet these needs. Training can be both formal (courses/ workshops) and informal (supervisor/ research colleagues) and can include aspects of your research i.e. attending seminars, conferences etc. At appropriate stages during your studies, you will be expected to audit your skills and update your PDP. Your RTP should be continually updated with information on seminars attended etc. By setting goals and targets in your PDP it can keep you focussed on developing your skills. Continual reviewing and reflection will help you to determine whether you are effectively meeting these goals. The diagram below represents the CPD process. However it can be used in the RTP process. 1. Identify goals Completing your research degree and meeting the training requirements of the RCs/ AHRB joint statement 2. Determine the skills required - Assess your skills according to statements in APPENDIX E and note areas where you need to develop or learn a new skill/ technique 3. Plan to achieve development goals - Set targets for your development and seek opportunities to develop your skills (create a PDP) 4. Record Training - Build a record of your skills achievement and skills profile 5. Evaluate and Review At each stage of your research determine whether you are making progress towards your goals and re-evaluate your skills Identify goals What areas of my work are likely to change in the future? What do I aim to achieve? Evaluate and Review Have I made progress towards my goals? Determine the skills required What additional skills are required in order to meet my goals? Record Training What activities have I undertaken? Plan to achieve development goals How do I acquire or maintain the relevant skills to the required level? RTP Sept

7 3.3. Timescales: When to use your RTP Your role is to reflect on and evaluate your progress, therefore it will be important that you maintain and keep appropriate records. The PDP should be started at the beginning of your research, building on the information, experience and results you gain within each stage (see below). Each researcher will have their RTP assessed annually by a panel during their research studies, which will normally coincide with your research programme assessments (see below). All individuals will be advised to complete a plan at induction, which you will be able to reflect upon during your first assessment. At assessment you will be required to bring along your research training portfolio, which will be rated on a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory basis. Induction (months) 1st Review/ Assessment (months) 2nd Review/ Assessment (months) 3rd Review/ Assessment (months) Submission (months) MPhil (1 yr ft) MPhil (2 yr pt) MD/ DDS (2 yr ft) MD/ DDS (1 yr ft & 2 yr pt) MD/ DDS (4 yr pt) PhD (3 yr ft) PhD (1 yr ft & 3 yr pt) PhD (5 yr pt) / 57* Alternatively, set your own timescales Months are timed from the start of registration; 57* - PhD (5 yr pt) have a further formal assessment at 57 months. N.B. If the above timetable is not suitable for your purposes, set yourself a new timetable, which should be approved by your supervisory team and agreed by the graduate school. Please remember the generic/ transferable skills aspect of your portfolio is not a test it is your assessment of your development. It will be assessed but only on a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory basis Feedback To assist and improve the provision and quality of your training it is important to provide feedback to your Graduate School. A feedback form can be found on the internet/ Blackboard for your completion. At each formal assessment the panel will also discuss barriers/ recommendations for self-development and training; if necessary this will be documented and returned to the Graduate School. The University requires that researchers be responsible for helping to improve research provision by providing feedback. RTP Sept

8 APPENDIX A: Induction Checklist You should discuss the following key issues with your supervisor at your first formal meeting. It is your responsibility to ensure that with your supervisor you have/ are: Reviewed the relevant degree regulations TICK Reviewed the guidelines for research students and research supervisors Discussed and signed the formal Learning Agreement Discussed the overall timetable for your programme and its completion Noted constraints other than time (e.g. costs, equipment availability) Agreed and are aware of the importance of completing on time Considered and noted the requirements for Induction and other formal training Reviewed relevant safety procedures and responsibility for compliance Aware of other relevant members of staff, particularly assessors Discussed the standard of work expected (degree regulations, successful theses) Discussed good practice in storage/ maintenance of results, research protocols etc Been given preliminary guidance about relevant literature and other information sources Discussed the importance of publication and authorship of publications Aware of issues of plagiarism and fabrication of results Reviewed participation in meetings of learned societies and details of conferences Reviewed faculty assessment procedures Agreed a programme of regular supervisory meetings Aware of the need to maintain your Research Training Portfolio Aware of the monitoring and evaluation processes if progress of your research degree is unsatisfactory or does not meet the required standard for the award It is important that you are aware of and have discussed the following items: (1) The University s general guidelines which explain the student / supervisor relationship and the respective responsibilities of both individuals. (2) The periodical assessments of progress (APPENDIX B). (3) The system for recording meetings with your supervisor(s) (APPENDIX C). (4) The Research Training Portfolio for planning and recording activities/ achievements whilst a postgraduate researcher at the University of Newcastle. RTP Sept

9 APPENDIX B: Research Plan The purpose of this section is to help you develop clear research objectives in project planning/ implementation and in organising your time effectively. This form should be updated regularly. Date: Supervisory Team: Supervisor 1: Supervisor 2: Title of research project: Time period covered by this plan Objectives of Research Programme at this stage: Work plan with agreed milestones for this time period. RTP Sept

10 APPENDIX C: Research Program Supervisory Communications/ Meetings It is important that you have regular contact with your supervisor(s). This should be more than a brief discussion and should be additional to your day-to-day progress. You will need to keep a record of formal communications/ meetings within your portfolio. Name: Date: Supervisory Team: Supervisor 1: Supervisor 2: Record of Communication/ Meeting: (e.g. completed work matched against last agreed actions, supervisors view of progress, issues/ topics discussed, resource needs identified, usefulness of training received) Agreed actions with dates/ or modifications to Research Proposal. Date of next appointment: Candidate Signed: Date: Supervisor(s) Signed:.. Date:.. RTP Sept

11 APPENDIX D: Self-Reflection of Project Specific Skills All research programmes differ from one another and you may need to develop skills particular to your area of research. Understanding the aims of your research and identifying the specific techniques you need to apply are fundamental to the success of your research degree. Re-visit your responses to this section at various stages throughout your research and assess your ability in each specific technique you use. Date: What are you setting out to do? Why are you attempting to do this? Are you aware of previous research in this area? What contribution will your research make to the academic community? What techniques are you applying to your research? And at what level are you? Novice, competent, expert? (include techniques you want to develop) How do you know the techniques are the most appropriate? RTP Sept

12 APPENDIX E: Self-Assessment Skills Audit and Personal Development Plan (PDP) The Research Councils (RCs) and the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) play an important role in setting standards and identifying best practice in research training. The following self-assessment sets out a joint statement of the skills that individuals would be expected to develop during their research training. These skills may be present on commencement, explicitly taught, or developed during the course of the research. It is expected that different mechanisms will be used to support learning as appropriate, including self-direction, supervisor support and mentoring, departmental/ school support, workshops, conferences, elective training courses, formally assessed courses and informal opportunities. All skills described are appropriate to postgraduate research and therefore a level of awareness (see below) should be achieved for all the skills described. How each skill is developed and to what level will be up to the individual, however it is important that evidence of continual improvement is presented at assessment. How to use the self-assessment skills audit and PDP The self-assessment form is divided into 3 sections; the first section describes the skills/ techniques that you are expected to obtain, the second section is for self-assessment of your skills (see skill levels below) and the third section is your personal development plan (PDP). Mark each statement according to your skill level (it is suggested that you enter the date of assessment). Following self-assessment of your skills/ techniques, decide which ones you would like to develop and describe how you intend on achieving this, the third section will be the basis of your PDP. Consult with your supervisor(s), who will be able to advise you of appropriate training, if you are unsure. Following agreement of your PDP with your supervisor(s) please sign the form at the end of the self-assessment skills audit. At appropriate stages of your research perform the self-assessment, and update the original form accordingly. You will soon start to see evidence of progress when your skill levels increase. Skill Level: 0 Unaware. At this stage you think that a skill/ technique might be of use to you but you don't know anything about it. 1. Aware. At this point you are learning about the skill/ technique, perhaps by going on a training course, reading a book on it or informally from your supervisor or research colleagues. 2. Informed. Now you are ready to look for suitable opportunities, where appropriate, to put this into practice, but it will take conscious effort to use the new skill/ technique. 3. Capable. You are now using the new skill/ technique routinely, and are consciously aiming to improve by other methods. 4. Recognised. The people around you recognise the change in skill level and you are now so practised that the skill has moved from your conscious level to the subconscious. RTP Sept

13 (A) Research skills and Skill Level PDP techniques: Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills 1. I can recognise and validate problems. 2. I can demonstrate original, independent and critical thinking, and the ability to develop theoretical concepts. 3. I have a knowledge of recent advances within my field and in related areas. 4. I understand relevant research methodologies and techniques and their appropriate application within my research field. 5. I am able to critically analyse and evaluate my findings and those of others. 6. I am able to summarise, document, report and reflect on progress. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

14 (B) Research environment: 1. I have a broad understanding of the context, at the national and international level, in which research takes place. 2. I am aware of issues relating to the rights of other researchers, of research subjects, and of others who may be affected by the research (e.g. confidentiality, ethical issues, attribution, copyright, malpractice, ownership of data and the requirements of the Data Protection Act). 3. I appreciate and apply the standards of good research practice in my institution and/ or discipline. 4. I understand relevant health and safety issues and demonstrate responsible working practices. Skill Level Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. PDP 5. I understand the processes for funding and evaluation of research. 6. I can justify the principles and techniques used in my research. 7. I understand the process of academic or commercial exploitation of research results. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

15 (C) Research management: 1. I manage projects effectively through the setting of research goals, intermediate milestones and prioritisation of activities. Skill Level Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. PDP 2. I can design and execute systems for the acquisition and collation of information through the effective use of appropriate resources and equipment. 3. I can identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources, archives, and other sources of relevant information. 4. I can use information technology appropriately for database management, recording and presenting information. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

16 (D) Personal effectiveness: 1. I have a willingness and ability to learn and acquire knowledge. Skill Level Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. PDP 2. I am creative, innovative and original in my approach to research. 3. I am flexible and open-minded. 4. I am self-aware and able to identify my own training needs. 5. I am self-disciplined, motivated, and thorough. 6. I recognise boundaries and draw upon/ use sources of support as appropriate. 7. I show initiative, work independently and am self-reliant. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

17 (E) Communication skills: 1. I can write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose (e.g. progress reports, published documents, thesis). Skill Level Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. PDP 2. I can construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally through a variety of techniques. 3. I can constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examination. 4. I contribute to promoting the public understanding of my research field. 5. I effectively support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring or demonstrating activities. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

18 (F) Networking and Skill Level PDP teamworking: Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. 1. I am developing and maintaining co-operative networks and working relationships with supervisors, colleagues and peers, within the institution and the wider research community. 2. I understand my behaviour and impact on others when working in and contributing to the success of formal and informal teams. 3. I listen, give and receive feedback and respond perceptively to others. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

19 (G) Career management: 1. I appreciate the need for and show commitment to continued professional development. Skill Level Please describe how you intend to develop/ are developing these skills. PDP 2. I take ownership for and manage my career progression, set realistic and achievable career goals, and identify and develop ways to improve employability. 3. I can demonstrate an insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside academia. 4. I can present my skills, personal attributes and experiences through effective CVs, applications and interviews. Skill Level: 0 Unaware, 1 - Aware, 2 Informed, 3- Capable, 4 - Recognised. RTP Sept

20 PDP Agreement Please date and sign the following table following creation/ revision of your PDP and agreement with your supervisor: Date PDP created/ revised Date PDP Agreed Students Signature Supervisor(s) signature(s) RTP Sept

21 APPENDIX F: Meetings attended. You should record details of any research meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences (national or international) that you have attended (include whether you offered contribution e.g. asking questions). It may also be useful to record what was gained by attending the meeting. For presentations see APPENDIX H. Meeting Venue and date Other relevant information RTP Sept

22 APPENDIX G: Training courses attended You should keep an accurate record of training courses and workshops that you attend throughout your research programme. This information can be very useful in producing references and will provide you with a formal record of the 'added value' and 'transferable skills' elements of your training. Where appropriate have your attendance confirmed by the course provider. Course Date Authorised RTP Sept

23 APPENDIX H: Presentations. You should record all informal and formal presentations; this can be at a research group, school, faculty, national and/ or international level. Include information on how the research was presented (oral/ poster etc). For formal presentations you should identify whether you were invited to present and if your abstract was peer reviewed etc. It may be useful to record feedback and questions asked about your presentation. Meeting Venue and dates Feedback/ other relevant information RTP Sept

24 APPENDIX I: Publications You are strongly advised to develop your research programme with a view to producing good quality publications. You should include with this record copies of abstracts, published works and manuscripts in press. RTP Sept

25 APPENDIX J: Other relevant information Include here any other information you feel is not covered elsewhere in this record such as work placements with industry/ business, time spent in other academic institutions, demonstrating, teaching duties etc. RTP Sept

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