Our PGR Charter: A Partnership for Success

 

Together at Huddersfield we will share excellent opportunities for learning so that our postgraduate researchers (PGRs) can embrace the challenge of advanced higher education.

We all aspire to realise our full potential and excel at what we do. This agreement has been jointly written by the University of Huddersfield and Huddersfield Students’ Union to enable good working practice within the Postgraduate Researcher Community.

Postgraduate Researchers should feel confident in raising any concerns that might arise during the course of their time at University, and support is available in Schools from your supervisors; School PGR Admin Support team and your Director of Graduate Education (DGE or deputy). Centrally PGRs will find independent support from our Researcher Environment team, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Students’ Union Advice Centre and the Disability and Wellbeing Service.


Joint responsibilities of PGRs and their supervisors:


1. Postgraduate researchers and supervisors share the responsibility for maintaining regular and frequent contact

At an early stage, PGRs and their supervisors should establish, negotiate and review ground rules around expectations of the supervisor and PGR roles, including expectations about contact and provision of feedback.

The nature and frequency of contact between PGRs and the supervisory team will vary depending on the discipline, stage and duration of the programme; approaches to the research; and the amount of support needed by an individual PGR, but our minimum expectations are that:

  • PGRs and main supervisors should meet at least once a month (or once every two months for part-time PGRs).
  • This time should include at least an hour of individual one-to-one supervision over the course of the month.
  • For PGRs who are not based on campus, supervision should take place face-to-face via Skype or similar, and also be supported via email. It should never be wholly by email.

If your student/supervisor relationship is not working well, you both have the responsibility to discuss problems at an early stage in supervision or to raise the issues with your School DGE (or deputy) who can support you to find a resolution.

 

2. Postgraduate researchers and supervisors share the responsibility for identifying training needs

PGRs and supervisors should work together – especially in the early stages - to plan a programme of training to support the PGR’s development as an independent researcher.

Training must include Research Integrity and may include training in research methods; academic integrity; research ethics; academic writing and academic English for non-native speakers.


3. Postgraduate researchers and supervisors share the responsibility for recording supervision.

PGRs should record the outputs of supervisory meetings and agree them with supervisors to ensure there is a shared understanding of mutual expectations. Records may contain information on objectives; progress made; key feedback areas; areas of discussion, debate or disagreement; concerns raised.

PGRs and supervisors are expected to use the online supervision log for this purpose (currently SkillsForge).


What you can expect from supervision:


1. Qualification for the role

In the supervisory team, there will be a combination of research excellence in a relevant discipline and experience of research degree supervision. Teams are appointed in line with Regulations that have been agreed by the University Research Committee (Section A3: Supervision of our Regulations).

All University of Huddersfield supervisors have compulsory training for the role, which they are required to keep up to date.

Although supervisors may sometimes direct PGRs to other members of staff who can offer guidance, they should have familiarity with:

  • The regulations for research degrees including timelines, progression, examination, interruptions, extensions.
  •  School PGR processes for induction, engagement and attendance monitoring, progression monitoring, conference funding.
  • Availability of PGR training.
  • Sources of pastoral support for PGRs in School and across the University more widely.


2. Contact between supervisors and PGRs

  • PGRs should meet with their main supervisors at least once a month (or once every two months for part-time candidates).
  • PGRs should have a meeting with the whole supervisory team at least four times a year (or twice a year for part-time candidates).
  • PGRs should remain in regular contact with their supervisor throughout any writing-up period; there is a reasonable expectation that supervisors will be available to review drafts of your work at least once every two months (please note: it is the PGR’s responsibility to send the work to their supervisor in good time, so that then supervisor has time to read the work and make comments ahead of any submission date).
  • An ‘on track to submit’ meeting should take place between the PGR and their supervisory team, at least 3 months before the thesis is due for submission (for Doctoral and MPhil candidates) or at least 1 month before submission (for Master’s candidates). The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the PGR is well prepared and on track to submit the thesis by the submission date and examination arrangements are in place. The meeting will also make final preparations for the viva voce examination for Doctoral or MPhil candidates.
  • PGRs should be able to contact their supervisors easily for advice and guidance, regardless of where they are based.
  • PGRs should know who to contact if their main supervisor is not available; normally there will be more than one supervisor on the team.
  • PGRs should know who their DGE (or deputy) is and how to contact them in case any problems arise.

 

3. Academic guidance

Supervisors are expected to provide academic guidance on all areas of research including: reviewing literature; planning the research; data collection and analysis; interpretation of findings; writing the thesis; research integrity (including academic integrity and research ethics); preparing for key milestones such as ethical approval, progression monitoring and final examination. Supervisors will advise on whether the thesis is at a suitable standard for submission (though ultimately the responsibility for submission is the PGRs).


4. Supporting professional development of PGRs

The supervisory team should encourage PGRs to be involved in the wider academic community both at University and externally.
Supervisors may encourage PGRs to write for publication - ideally in a form that supports the development of the thesis.
Supervisors should play an active role in guiding choices about appropriate journals and also conferences PGRs might attend or present their work at.


5. Administration

Supervisors will support PGRs to know the dates of important milestones in their programme and how to submit work, PGRs can also seek advice from the School PGR Admin Support team.

Supervisors must complete the following tasks to support research degree progress:

  • Identify appropriate progression assessors and examiners.
  • Complete administrative processes in a timely manner including: ensure progression monitoring is scheduled; counter-sign applications for ethical approval and expenditure; discuss interruptions and extensions; make exam arrangements.
  • Raise significant concerns about PGR engagement, progression or research with the DGE (or deputy) to make sure that PGRs are provided with the best advice and support

Supervisors should let their PGRs and the DGE (or deputy) know if they are going to be away for an extended period – for example, if they are going on sabbatical or maternity leave, etc – so that arrangements can be made for continued supervision in their absence.

 

What supervisors can expect from PGRs:


1. Engagement and personal development

PGRs are expected to take full responsibility for designing and completing their research within the expected timeframe under the guidance of the supervisory team. The thesis is the work of the PGR.

PGRs need to make a commitment to their research.

PGRs are expected to develop as independent researchers, and that includes taking full advantage of the advice and feedback they receive from their supervisors, and from other academics who assess the work during the course of the degree, such as progression assessors.

Advice from supervisors should be viewed as guidance rather than instruction, though in some cases a change of supervision team may be necessary if you wish to proceed in a direction they cannot support.

PGRs are expected to pro-actively engage with supervision and with training programmes offered at the University.

PGRs are strongly encouraged to engage with the wider research community, including the Students’ Union Postgraduate Society who put on a range of activities and events to help PGRs meet each other.

PGRs who are not campus based are expected to attend campus for at least 10 working days a year to work face-to-face with their supervisory team, this is in addition to time required for their initial induction and registration; progression assessments and for the final viva.

PGRs are strongly encouraged to attend School and University researcher conferences, the Huddersfield heat of the national 3 Minute Thesis competition or other events to gain experience in presenting their research to expert and lay audiences.

If PGRs are unable, for any reason, to engage with their research, they need to share this with their supervisors or School PGR Admin Support team, in the same way you would report absences to an employer. We expect PGRs to let us know of any circumstances which might be affecting their ability to progress their work so that we can provide timely support.

There may be times when PGRs are unable to engage with their research due to personal difficulties or health issues, which they do not feel comfortable discussing with either their supervisors or the School PGR Admin Support team. If this is the case, PGRs can contact their School Director of Graduate Education (or deputy), or if preferred can find support outside of the School by contacting either our Researcher Environment team, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Students’ Union Advice Centre or the Disability and Wellbeing Service. These forms of support can offer confidential advice and guidance which will only be shared if PGRs provide consent to do so.


2. Administration

PGRs are responsible for knowing the dates of important milestones in their programme, and when and how to submit work. If in doubt, they can ask their supervisors or the School PGR Admin Support team.

PGRs are required to adhere to safe working practices that relate to their area of research at all times, or any teaching assistance undertaken, and should be familiar with relevant health and safety policies.

PGRs need to make sure they are well informed and that they abide by University and School regulations and policies that relate to their research degree.

PGRs are expected to familiarise themselves with the sources of information and support available to them, which include:

  • The supervisory team.
  • Staff in the School PGR Administration office.
  • The DGE (or deputy) of their School.
  • The Researcher Environment team.
  • Training resources (including online materials) available via Brightspace and SkillsForge.
  • The Graduate School website.
  • Students’ Union Advice Centre.
  • Regulations for your programme and student regulations (including those around research conduct and dealing with unforeseen circumstances). These are all available online and can be accessed through MyHud.