Research support plan and skills audit assessment

Introduction

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 (RSP) and a skills audit. 

 

The Research Support Plan

You should work with your supervisor to set out the programme of related studies necessary for the attainment of competence in research methods and of knowledge related to the subject of the work. The RSP should work towards ensuring your project is appropriate and viable.

The plan should include a completed skills audit, consideration of research ethics and integrity, Health and Safety and resources or facilities that are required in relation to the research project. More specific information can be found within the research support plan form (see below).

It is good practice to appropriately reference and provide a bibliography within your report. Speak to your supervisor for more guidance and to determine the appropriate referencing style for your discipline.

The research support plan must be reviewed and signed off by your supervisory team and ratified by an academic who is not one of your supervisors.

For questions about the research support plan or skills audit, speak to your supervisor or School PGR Admin Team in the first instance. You may also wish to contact your School PGR Admin Team to see if there are any specifi local requirements for the submission. 

 

The Skills Audit

The skills audit is an integral part of planning your research. You and your supervisors share the responsibility for identifying training needs and should work together – especially in the early stages - to plan a programme of training to support your development as an independent researcher.

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 and individual training requirements.

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.

 

Compulsory Research Integrity Training

All PGRs are encouraged to complete Research Integrity training, but for all PGRs who started their degree from September 2020 this is now a compulsory element of the programme. One way to achieve this is to complete the Research Integrity: (Concise) training. Details on how to access this are held on the Research Environment area on BrightSpace. Alternatively, you can attend any type of research integrity training, for example, training delivered by your School.

For Master’s candidates, it is expected that you complete this training before you submit your research support plan and you will need to declare you have attended training when you complete your Research support plan. 

For Doctoral candidates, it is expected that you complete this training before your submit your progression monitoring 1 report and you will need to declare you have attended training when you complete your Progression monitoring student and supervisor submission declaration.

 

Training and development

PGRs and supervisors share the responsibility for identifying training needs and 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 (see below) and may include training in research methods; academic integrity; research ethics; academic writing and academic English for non-native speakers.

To support you to identify any training needs you may require, you should regularly complete and update a personalised skills audit (see above).

You can find more information on our Graduate School webpage – Development opportunities for PGRs, and the following pages may be of particular interest:

  • Researcher development
  • Gain teaching experience
  • Use SkillsForge to search for workshops and training sessions
  • The Academic English Centre – provides support to international PGRs with academic writing and speaking
  • At the very beginning of your research degree getting a head start with your writing skills will benefit you later, explore SkillsForge to find available courses in particular our Writing Group (for peer feedback) and Shut Up & Write!

 

Forms

FormDescription
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 admin support team. 
Skills audit To be completed and submitted with your Research Support Plan and reviewed at regular intervals with your supervisor. 

 

Deadlines and how to submit

It is important to make sure you know what the deadline is for submitting the research support plan, as 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 any doubt, speak to your School PGR Admin Team or look in the relevant section in the Regulations for Awards for deadlines.

To submit your plan, email this to your School PGR Admin Team.

You must submit research support plan satisfactorily and by the required deadline, otherwise it may lead to your withdrawal from the programme.

 

What to do if you cannot submit on time

If you are experiencing any problems that affect your progress, please discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing either a short-term illness or personal difficulty you may be able to apply for an extension for up to four weeks (for full-time) and up to eight weeks (for part-time) candidates.

Please see our webpage Progression extensions for more information.