Without the formality of a timetable and structured classes, it can be difficult to know what to do first when you start your research degree. Having an effective plan, including identifying areas for your own development, can help you to complete your award on time and with minimum stress.

Regardless of the award you are studying for, all PGRs are required to complete a research support plan and a skills audit. See below for the relevant forms:

Research support plan This is a formal requirement of your programme. The submission deadline will vary depending on the degree you are registered for and whether you are studying on a full or part time basis. If in doubt speak to your school PGR administrator
Skills audit To be completed and submitted with your Research Support Plan and reviewed at regular intervals with your supervisor

The skills audit is an integral part of planning your research. There are no set rules for how this should be filled in, but it should be a working document that is meaningful to you and reflects your actual skill level. Doctoral candidates must also include and update the skills audit as part of progression monitoring. The skills audit should identify gaps and priorities, include evidence of how areas identified as requiring work have been addressed and any future plans for development in those areas. To write more than the free-text areas allow, adapt the form to include further detail.Make sure you know what the deadline is for submitting this - it will vary depending on the research degree you are registered on and whether you are studying on a full or part-time basis. If you are in doubt, speak to your school PGR administrator or look in the relevant section in the Regulations for Awards for deadlines.

For questions about the research support plan or skills audit, speak to your supervisor or school PGR administrator in the first instance. Check with your school about the specific requirements for submission, as these may differ between schools.