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Researcher's Toolkit: B1 - Personal qualities

This researcher's toolkit has been developed to offer you practical advice and suggestions to help you design, carry out and write up a research project.

Reflective writing

These quizzes and videos will introduce you to some models and purposes of reflective writing and thinking   The books mentioned should be helpful in terms of making sure that your writing is pitched at the appropriate postgraduate level.  If you haven't previously had experience of reflective or experiential learning, you may also find it useful to look at the section on this in the Libguides.

See the Academic Skills Guide for more advice about structured writing.

Tools for reflection

Supervision

University of Suffolk is required to monitor students’ progress regularly throughout their period of study. This will occur informally at regular meetings with their supervisory team, and more formally via Annual Progress Reviews. During regular meetings with their supervisory team they will discuss their research schedule and progress, skills and training needs, and tasks or actions that they should aim to complete. The thesis must represent in all respects the student’s original work rather than the ideas of the supervisory team.

Summary of joint guidance for supervisory teams and students

  • Ensure that a professional relationship is maintained between the student and supervisory team, based on mutual respect and cooperation.
  • Ensure that, within three weeks of registration, specific training needs associated with the programme of study and research are noted and strategies for addressing these needs are identified.
  • Ensure that, within three months of registration (six months for part time), the research topic and a provisional working title for the thesis which is appropriate to the degree, working objectives of the project and a timetable for activity of the period of study are agreed and a copy lodged with the Graduate School.
  • Ensure that both the members of the supervisory team and the student understand their specific roles and responsibilities in connection with supervision and the monitoring of progress.
  • Ensure that the supervisory team and student remain in contact during the student’s period of study and registration.

Summary of guidance for the primary supervisor

  • Make sure it is clearly understood by the student and supervisory team who is responsible for making contact to arrange supervisory meetings (the first meeting to be arranged by the primary supervisor).
  • Ensure that responsibility for note keeping relating to supervisory matters is understood and agreed by members of supervisory team and the student.
  • Maintain appropriate contact with the student, monitor needs and achievements, assist in developing the work schedule, provide timely feedback, and ensure the other members of the supervisory team are well briefed on progress.
  • Respond quickly if the student fails to keep an appointment or falls behind in the schedule of work, informing the Graduate School as necessary.
  • Make it clear to the student what progress reports will be made to the Postgraduate Research Sub-Committee.
  • Ensure that the student is aware of the University of Suffolk regulations and those of the university at which they are registered which apply to the degree, including policy on research ethics and misconduct in research.
  • Know how the agreed deadlines for the completion of sections of work need to coincide with the regulations of the university at which the student is registered.
  • Collaborate with the student in assessing and meeting professional development needs.
  • Keep the student informed about the availability of training sessions, sources of reference and equipment.
  • Help the student understand the nature and methodologies of the discipline being researched.
  • Assist the student in developing professional contacts in the chosen field, through networking, conference attendance, publications and other appropriate methods.
  • Provide pastoral support and ensure that the student is aware of sources of independent academic and pastoral advice and support provided by University of Suffolk, the university at which the student is registered and other bodies such as the Students’ Union.
  • In the event of study leave or other prolonged absence, tell the student and arrange with the Graduate School for a temporary or new supervisor to be appointed as appropriate.
  • Make clear to the student any significant additions to the advice offered in this guide resulting from University of Suffolk policy or that of the university at which the student is registered.

 

Summary of guidance for the student

  • Make sure it is clearly understood who is responsible for making contact to arrange supervisory meetings.
  • Check University of Suffolk policy regarding registration requirements.
  • Read and understand the University of Suffolk regulations and those from the university at which you are registered concerning the degree. If in doubt, seek advice from your primary supervisory or from the Graduate School.
  • Understand where University of Suffolk practice may supplement the information provided in the Research Student Handbook.
  • Identify and seek advice on appropriate research methods and techniques before embarking on substantial research.
  • Be clear about your responsibility to arrange supervisory meetings.
  • Know what happens if the primary supervisor is absent for a prolonged period.
  • Devise and agree with your supervisory team a timetable of submission dates for sections of work including the final thesis.
  • Recognise that plagiarism is unacceptable in all circumstances.
  • Make sure your primary supervisor is aware of any specific needs or circumstances likely to affect your studies.
  • If a problem arises tell the supervisor as soon as possible or contact the Graduate School.
  • Be prepared to undertake self-appraisal and take responsibility for your own personal and professional development, taking advantage of the opportunities that are offered.
  • Prepare for supervisory meetings. Analyse progress and plan future activities for discussion. Decide appropriate questions and requests for guidance in advance.
  • Respond quickly if the supervisor fails to keep an appointment or falls behind in returning work, informing the Graduate School.
  • Identify conferences and workshops to attend which will enhance the quality of your research or provide appropriate training.
  • Ask for the opportunity to give presentations if this is not offered.
  • Understand that the quality of work is your responsibility.
  • Be realistic about the time needed to complete the thesis.

Role of the second supervisor at the University of East Anglia

  • To agree with the primary supervisor, the student and any other members of the supervisory team the frequency of formal supervisory meetings and the degree of input required from the University of East Anglia supervisor (noting that this may vary according to the discipline, the experience and expertise of other members of the supervisory team and the student’s stage of study).
  • To provide supervision to the student as agreed above and in accordance with the requirements of the University of East Anglia Code Of Practice for Postgraduate Research Degrees https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degrees until the thesis has been submitted and, where relevant, during any referral period.
  • In liaison with the Department’s Director of Research Students (or equivalent), to provide University of Suffolk with relevant information to be included in the student’s induction pack (including relevant departmental information and supervisor contact details).
  • To hold an initial induction meeting with the student at the University of East Anglia, to supplement the induction programme at University of Suffolk and to familiarise the student with resources and support available at the University.
  • To provide advice to the primary supervisor and the student on training needs, and to identify suitable training opportunities available at the University of East Anglia that complement training provision already provided at University of Suffolk.
  • To provide students with information on relevant seminars and events taking place within the Department or the wider University that would be of relevance to their research, and identify opportunities for students to contribute to such events.
  • To contribute as appropriate to reports on student progress generated by the primary supervisor.
  • To attend an Annual Progress Review meeting.
  • In liaison with the primary supervisor, to provide feedback on any written work submitted by the student.
  • To provide advice to the primary supervisor on possible external examiners.

Student responsibilities in relation to supervision

You should keep notes of all supervisory meetings. An agreed record of meetings with your supervisory team should be given to the Graduate School as soon as possible after the meeting. This record should indicate, in broad terms, the areas of discussion, conclusions and agreed action points and must be signed by you and by your primary supervisor. A blank form for you to use to record these meetings is available on the Graduate School page and as hard copy.

Your relationship with your supervisory team is a two-way process in which you both have rights and responsibilities. During your period of study, it is possible that you may encounter personal, financial or other difficulties that may affect your studies. University of Suffolk is committed to supporting you where possible. In the first instance, you should contact a member of your supervisory team, particularly if you feel that changing circumstances might affect your progress. It is strongly recommended that you seek help at the earliest possible opportunity. Your team is experienced and it is unlikely that you are encountering a problem that they have not heard before.

Supervision meetings

The UEA Code of Practice for Research Degrees requires a minimum of eight meetings per year for full-time students. There is an expectation of monthly meetings with the primary supervisor, which includes formal progress review meetings. Please refer to http://www.uea.ac.uk/pgresearch/regsandforms/Research+Degrees+Code+of+Practice for further details. During meetings with your supervisory team you will discuss your progress and all aspects of advanced research education, the development of your research project, related presentations and publications and the preparation of your thesis. You should also discuss any issue that relates to your performance or ability to progress in your degree studies with your supervisors in the first instance.

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Personal effectiveness

VItae personal effectiveness pages:

Personal qualities

  • Enthusiasm and perseverance
  • Integrity
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-reflection
  • Researcher's responsibilities
 

Self-management

  • Being aware of your values
  • Staying happy during your doctorate
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • Time management
  • Defeating self-sabotage
  • Time management
  • Defeating self-sabotage


Professional and career development

  • Creating luck in your career
  • Effective cover letters
  • Create an effective CV
  • Create and action plan for your career development
  • Managing your career and CPD
  • Take advantage of opportunities
  • Networking
  • Reputation and self-esteem

Completing and surviving your viva

Viva Voce (oral examination)

You will be required to defend your thesis at an oral examination, often known as a Viva or Viva Voce. You will have an opportunity to undergo a mock oral examination with your supervisory team and there are sessions within the University of Suffolk Researcher Development Programme and at the partner universities to prepare you for this aspect of your assessment. There will be a period of time between the submission of your thesis and the oral examination and you should use it to prepare. Your supervisory team will be the main source of support and guidance. 

The expectation is that the oral (viva) examination will take place at UEA with all appointed examiners and a Chair of Examiners present in the room with the candidate. In exceptional circumstances and with the approval of UEA, we will consider the conduct of oral examinations via video conference of Skype (or other appropriate technology). It is important that appropriate arrangements should be made to maintain the integrity, confidentiality and validity of the examination process. Recent changes to the viva at UEA have necessitated the publication of the following which explains the regulatory changes.

FAQ: Viva Assessment and Research Degree Award Regulation Changes

The expectation is that the oral (viva) examination will take place at Essex with all appointed examiners and a Chair of Examiners present in the room with the candidate. In exceptional circumstances, and with approval, Essex supports the conduct of oral examinations via video Link, Skype or an equivalent audio-visual service.

Conduct of Research Degree Vivas by Video Link, Skype or an equivalent audio-visual service

It is important that appropriate arrangements should be made to maintain the integrity, confidentiality and validity of the examination process.

The Researcher Development programme also includes a workshop on preparing for viva examination which you are strongly recommended to attend during the year before submission of your thesis.

Outcome

You will be notified of the outcome of your examination formally after your oral examination. 

(1) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are of sufficient merit they shall recommend that the candidate be approved for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy.

(2) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are of sufficient merit, but minor corrections are required, they shall recommend that the candidate be approved for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy, subject to completion of minor corrections within three months.

(3) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are not of sufficient merit for the degree of Master of Philosophy they shall recommend: either (a) that the candidate be permitted to submit a revised thesis. Such a candidate shall submit a revised thesis within one year and may be required to undergo further oral examination. A candidate shall not be allowed to submit a revised thesis on more than one occasion; or (b) that no degree be awarded. 

(1) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are of sufficient merit they shall recommend that the candidate be approved for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

 (2) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are of sufficient merit, but minor corrections are required, they shall recommend that the candidate be approved for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, subject to completion of minor corrections within six months.

(3) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are not of sufficient merit for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy but there is reasonable expectation that the thesis, if revised, could reach the standard required for the degree, the Head of School (or nominee) shall recommend either that the candidate be asked to submit a revised thesis or that the candidate be given the option either of submitting a revised thesis or of being approved for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy. A candidate who is given this option shall be allowed a period of not more than fourteen days from receipt of formal notification of the outcome of the examination to decide which of these alternatives to accept. A candidate who submits a revised thesis shall do so within one year and may be required to undergo further oral examination. A candidate shall not be allowed to submit a revised thesis on more than one occasion.

(4) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are not of sufficient merit for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and the Head of School (or nominee) is not of the opinion that the candidate should be permitted to submit a revised thesis, they shall, if the thesis and performance in the oral examination are of sufficient merit for the degree of Master of Philosophy, recommend that the candidate be approved for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy (with or without corrections).

(5) If the thesis and performance in the oral examination are not of sufficient merit to entitle the candidate to the degree of Master of Philosophy it shall recommend that no degree be awarded.

Your final award (degree) will be conferred by the University at which you have been registered. 

If the result is ‘fail’, the University of Essex’s Executive Dean (or his/her deputy) or Dean of Academic Partnerships (or his/her deputy) may on the recommendation of the examiners either permit the candidate to resubmit the thesis and be re-examined for a lower award within three terms or determine that the candidate be immediately eligible for the conferment of a lower award.  If a revised thesis is required, as a result of the examiners’ decision to refer the thesis or allow a failed thesis to be resubmitted for a lower award, there shall be a further oral examination, except when the University of Essex’s Executive Dean (or his/her deputy) or Dean of Academic Partnerships (or his/her deputy), on sufficient grounds submitted by agreement of both examiners, excuses a candidate from a further oral examination. Students who are referred will be required to register and pay the relevant fee and the re-examination fee even if working away from the University. 

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Attribution

All images included in this guide are available through Creative Commons licensing CC-BY-2.0