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Conversations about the doctoral experience

A report has been published detailing the proceedings and recommendations from the Postgraduate Researcher Symposium held in November last year. The event was co-hosted by the British Library, the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE), Vitae and the National Union of Students (NUS). Doctoral researchers, supervisors, librarians and staff supporting researchers were brought together to discuss how to improve the doctoral experience.

Doctoral researchers identified the following top ten priorities that would improve the doctoral experience:
  1. Doctoral researchers have a say in how they are supervised.
  2. Access to funding (bench fees, travel grants, bursaries, information about what is available.
  3. Adequate infrastructure to carry out research project, e.g. space for work.
  4. Universal system of progress monitoring.
  5. Proper recognition of the value of researcher-led activity and community, both social and professional.
  6. Inclusivity for different types of research/researcher.
  7. Provisions for the work of national bodies such as QAA, NUS, Vitae, RIN to filter down to doctoral researchers and supervisors. 
  8. More of a voice - holding institution to account, researchers taking responsibility for their experience.
  9. Clear, personalised training pathways.
  10. Clarity about the role and responsibilities of the supervisor and how supervision is delivered.
    Postgraduate Researcher Symposium: Conversations about the doctoral experience, p23.

A guide for doctoral researchers interested in running their own symposium on a regional/institutional basis is appended to the report. This includes good advice on guiding discussion groups, which may be of interest to any students currently engaged in group work.

The full report is available to download here


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