Personal Development Planning For Postgraduate Research Students

career and personal development • become more effective in monitoring and reviewing your progress • demonstrated that you can access and use the aids and tools provided by Queen’s to help you reflect on your own learning and achievements and plan for your own personal. independent and confident self-directed researcher and learner Figure 1 The PDP cycle Reflecting Reviewing PDP Planning Doing . Some of these should be revisited regularly by you individually and sometimes with your supervisor(s).Self-assessment and evaluation . Benefits to you The benefits to you if you participate in PDP are that when you have completed your research programme you will have: • engaged in a holistic approach to your educational. and annual monitoring . differentiation. performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal. Key features of PDP: • PDP is an ongoing process. achievements and skills . which should then reveal new needs and goals (Figure 1) • PDP requires a series of documents. the Postgraduate Office. • PDP is a structured and supported process. • It provides you with the opportunity to plan.Postgraduate Personal Development Planning 1 INTRODUCTION Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a process already present in most PhD supervision and study practices. your supervisor(s) and the University.Planning a course of action to meet these needs and goals . not a single document. qualities and achievements which you can use when applying for future employment or furthering your research career • become a more effective.Your research diary or log book or project management file .Identification of needs and goals . The documents belong variously to you.The Skills Analysis Questionnaire . nor is it carried out at a single point in time. educational and career development • prioritised development goals throughout your research programme and identified opportunities to improve perceived weaknesses and enhance your strengths • created a record of your skills.Records of meetings with your supervisor(s) .Carrying out your action plan and recording your achievements .Your evaluation and reflection of your progress. • In addition to the benefits listed below.Formal reviews – 3 month. PDP supports the timely completion and submission of your thesis. your colleagues and other staff in the School.Records and evidence of your achievement . PDP is ‘a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning. The structure and support is provided by: .Reflecting on the outcomes and evaluating your progress. This handbook provides guidelines for Postgraduate Research students at Queen’s on what PDP involves and to help you to get the most out of the process. • PDP formalises good practice in working for and supervising a research degree. development and achievements.Training plans .Support comes from your supervisor(s). educational and career development’ (QAA 2001). Please note that there may be slight variations or specific requirements for you in your School or subject area. the Careers and Counselling Services • PDP is a continuous cycle of: .The Postgraduate Skills Training Programme (PSTP) . reflect on and record your progress.

The PDP E-folio (see Figure 2) contains templates to assist you in creating Action Plans. such as MS Outlook. a record in Word or make use of other tools. You should discuss your achievements and goals with your supervisor(s) and draw up a plan of action for achieving the goals (research plan). WORKING THROUGH PDP: 1. medium and long term.uk/home/). knowledge and ideas. a record in Word or make use of other tools.qub. Reflecting helps you to make sense of your experiences. and to identify what to do in the future. You need to identify goals that you can complete over the short. How you maintain your portfolio is up to you.qol. You may find the PDP E-folio for Postgraduate Research students in Queen’s Online useful (select the “PDP E-folio” option on the left side of your Queen’s Online homepage https://login. also contains a link to the Postgraduate Skills Training Programme (PTSP) software and also includes a reflective self-help page “My School” for students within your School. Alternatively. CV’s etc that can then be stored in a PDP Folder in your student Home Drive and taken with you when you leave the University. Learning Logs. to realise what is effective and how things could be improved. thoughts. you may prefer to keep a paper record.ac. aspirations or goals. You need to record your achievements and update your skills set (project specific and generic skills). Table 1 is a series of prompts for reflection at different stages of your research career. By revisiting these you can see how you have made progress and improved your skills during your time at Queen’s. Figure 2 PDP E-folio Table 1 Reflecting and reviewing What work has been completed? Areas of Reading Coursework (if appropriate) Data Collection Field/lab work Yes No Ongoing Chapters drafted Discussion papers drafted Discussion papers presented Discussion papers published What training has been completed? When? What did you achieve? Do you require further training? .2 Postgraduate Personal Development Planning PDP PORTFOLIO Your PDP portfolio is your way of maintaining the PDP records that you generate in the course of your time at Queen’s. REFLECTING It is important to take time and reflect on where you are in your professional and personal development and to evaluate your progress towards meeting your ambitions. such as MS Outlook. Alternatively. you may prefer to keep a paper record. The E-folio also contains a link to the Postgraduate Skills Training Programme (PTSP) software and also includes a reflective self-help page “My School” for students within your School.

help to organise a seminar series or conference. what other ambitions would you like to achieve during your research career/period? For example. career. and if so how did you overcome them? What was the result? Who is your PhD research knowledge for? How is your relationship with your supervisor progressing? . have teaching experience. do you aim to be published before completion. career and academic) Initial Supervision Meeting(s): Planning Aims Outline of work schedule – Literature review – Training priorities – • Research methods • Generic skills What areas of strength did the Skills Analysis Questionnaire reveal? Have you got the evidence? What areas for improvement did the Skills Analysis Questionnaire reveal? What plans do you have for improving this/these skill areas? What do you wish to achieve in the next 6/12 months? What do you need to work on? Annual/Continuous Review Form – Personal thoughts and reflections Is progress on schedule with your Initial Plan? How do you feel that the research is going? Are you confident about your research methodology? Are you clear about your research aims and objectives? Have your aims and objectives changed in the past 6 months? • • • • Have there been any major changes to your plans? Do you envisage any problems that are likely to affect progress in the future? What has been your most significant experience in the past 6 months? What have you enjoyed most? What would you like to achieve in the next 6 months? How will you do this? End of Year Review/Evaluation – Personal thoughts and reflections What gave you most satisfaction this year and why? What gave you least satisfaction this year and why? What was your most significant achievement this year and why? What would you like to achieve next year? What else have you been proud of/pleased with this year and why? How has your work improved this year? How was this achieved? Which areas do you think you still need to improve on? What will you do to achieve this/these improvement(s)? Have your priorities/goals changed this year? If so. personal? The purpose of this is to ensure that you and your supervisor have the same expectations of your research programme. how and why? Do you feel your progress has been on target this year? If not. Previous knowledge and experience What skills have you developed through your previous education or experience? Which aspects of your previous work did you find most engaging and rewarding? Motivations and Expectations What are your reasons for doing a PhD? What do you hope to achieve from undertaking a PhD? What do you expect from: • your supervisor • your discipline/School • Queen’s University Belfast • yourself Are there any areas that you would like to specialise in during your research? What key skills would you like to develop during the course of your research? Including the successful completion of your doctorate. why not? Did you encounter any obstacles.Postgraduate Personal Development Planning 3 Table 1 Prompts for Reflecting and Reviewing Initial Supervision Meeting(s) Preparation What are your achievements to date? Academic. present a paper to a major national or international conference? What other personal and professional aims and aspirations do you hope to achieve in your first year? In your second year? In your third year? by the end of your research project? How will you realise your goals? What are your long term ambitions? (Personal.

. This will help you to plan the steps needed to achieve your goal. Present seminar paper Seminar paper presented presentations Seminar series PSTP course on feedback presentation of work to date and Date Complete draft literature review Draft literature review Literature Guidance from supervisor on literature review Fits with research plan Date . DOING As you work through your goals. academic and career development. gather evidence of the new skills and achievements and make review notes. You need to ensure that you record your goals so that you can then record your achievements. What did you expect to achieve? What did you achieve? What can you do to build on strengths or improve weaknesses? Why did you not achieve what you expected to? How can you overcome this in the future? Table 1 provides other prompts to continually review your progress. Defining your SMART goal will help you decide what you are going to do and what the expected result will be (Table 2). It is important to record the goals set. This will help you when you come to review your goals. Research and training goals will be set by you and by your supervisor(s) in discussion. 4. you should learn more about yourself and be in a position to enhance your personal. PLANNING You need to think about and record a plan of action to achieve your goals and research plans. A good starting point is to define your goal the SMART way to make sure you have the resources and time to complete it. 3. It is important to review each goal as you complete it. REVIEWING If you spend some time reviewing your goal after you have completed it. Table 2 Examples of SMART goals Specific goal plan Measured by outcome Achievable resources Relevant to development/ action Need to analyse data to demonstrate contribution of variance Timed – date for completion Learn ANOVA in SPSS Able to analyse field data using ANOVA PSTP course Data analysis complete by . Take time to think about your expectations for each goal. Develop your action/research plan clearly. so that you can record what you have achieved. You need to make active use of the feedback you receive (see below). This is called the Doing and Reviewing process.. A GANTT chart can be produced in MS Word.4 Postgraduate Personal Development Planning 2. consider what still needs to be done and what you can do to improve your approach in the future. MS Excel or the timeline of MS Outlook Tasks. You may find that a GANTT chart helps with this.

You can print out a list of the courses you are registered for as well as a list of completed courses. When you have decided which courses to undertake. The PSTP also enables you to record any other developmental activities you undertake such as conference attendance. These should then be incorporated into your research/action plan. These can be attached to your report forms as evidence. To decide which courses you should undertake a Skills Analysis Questionnaire (SAQ) is provided. The training opportunities offered are based on the UK Research Councils Joint Skills Statement (Appendix 1).Postgraduate Personal Development Planning 5 POSTGRADUATE SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAMME The Postgraduate Office provides opportunities for you to undertake skills training. You should complete the SAQ honestly and discuss the results with your supervisor(s). You should revisit the SAQ at least once a year and update your training needs. Table 3 Examples of recording evidence of skills Skills Research skills and techniques – to be able to demonstrate: The ability to recognise and validate problems A knowledge of recent advances within one’s field and in related areas An understanding of relevant research methodologie and techniques and their appropriate application within one’s research field The ability to critically analyse and evaluate one’s findings and those of others A valid research proposal Supervisor Supervisor feedback on 3 differentiation report. It is good practice to record the evidence base for your self assessment (Table 3). Depending on the nature of your project the courses offered will provide you with generic and also project specific skills. A research proposal Score 1-5* Evidence Examples of data analysis . They will be able to advise you which courses are appropriate and timely to meet you needs. these should be booked online as part of your PSTP.

When to do PDP There are many points in time during your research career that provide good opportunities to engage with PDP (Table 4). i.e. over coffee. action points and allows you to plan your work for the next supervision. • Supervision meetings Supervision meetings are perhaps the most important part of your training and development. It is likely that your supervisory team will have its own practice concerning the frequency of formal supervisions and who is involved.6 Postgraduate Personal Development Planning PDP AND FEEDBACK An important part of PDP is to take account of the feedback that you are given during the course of your research. The University’s guidelines are that you meet with your principal supervisor at least six times a year and with your second supervisor at least twice a year. monitoring reports • during and following seminars • at workshops and PSTP courses • at conferences Use that feedback to review what you have done and reflect and plan what to do in the future. reports. However.4 ca 12 weeks 9-12 months June-August year 1 June-August year 2 Variable At least 6 per year Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable Variable ca 6 weeks following . subject area or School • research students and staff from other institutions or organisations and in a variety of contexts: • during formal supervisions • during informal discussions. it is good practice for you to make a record of the meetings that take place. Remember it is an on-going process and is unlikely to end with the finished thesis. You should send a copy of the meeting record to your supervisors. This is especially important if you Table 4 Examples of opportunities for PDP during your research career Occasion Induction 3 month initial review Differentiation Annual Review Annual Review Monthly/interim reports Supervision meetings Attending seminar series Presenting a seminar Research cluster meetings Attending a conference Presenting a paper at a conference Organising a seminar series or conference Undertaking training via the PSTP Following a subject specific module(s) Teaching or demonstrating Working with industry or companies Writing papers/chapters Others Examination preparation submission When Weeks 1 . Whoever was present at the meeting should agree that it is correct. Feedback can come from a variety of individuals or groups: • your supervisor(s) • your research student colleagues • other staff in the research cluster. This enables you to refer back to points of discussion. in the lab or in the field etc • written feedback on drafts of chapters. Your supervisors then have copies for their own records.

You are advised to submit a research plan that clearly indicates what has been done since the last review. • Preparing for your viva voce examination This is a time to review and reflect on what you have done and have a plan for the future. . the Joint Skills Statement encourages you to develop your skills in theses areas and issues concerning these may arise during the opportunities for PDP identified in Table 4. what are your longer term ambitions. whether the work is going according to the planned timetable and whether you have attended any training courses or conferences or had any work published. • Induction or during the first month During this time you and your supervisor(s) will be getting to know each other and developing a research plan. its academic needs. In your viva questions such as the following may be asked as part of the discussion: What did you expect to find when you started this project? Why this topic? Tell me about the 2 or 3 papers (articles) that influenced your thinking most? What would you do differently if you had your time over again? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? What are you going to do with your thesis? You may have had particular difficulties with the research which are mentioned in you thesis. and looking forward to differentiation and beyond. You will need to submit this for the review. if not in what ways did it not. were there unexpected benefits (such as making a new contact) and then moving on to think about what you could do yourself to improve your performance or build on your strengths. It may be that your supervisor(s) want to maintain their own records of meetings. but the examiner wants to explore these further – what did you do? Why? What impact might another approach have had? What did your PhD do for you? • Other developmental activities Other opportunities for PDP occur when you attend seminars. There will also be those things that ‘you’ve always wanted to do’ and your time at Queen’s may provide you with the opportunities to fulfil these goals or start working towards them – develop a foreign language. receive feedback and also for you to indicate why you might not be on track. You will probably want to do this at the macro scale and then break it down in to smaller timetables depending on the stage you are at. When you review or evaluate these activities you need to ask yourself about what you expected to get out of the activity. and where you see the research developing? It is useful to think about these issues as they are about your expectations and provide the basis for future review as well as a basis for planning your initial action plan. carried out and can be reviewed. PERSONAL/CAREER PLANNING Of course. It may well be that you have completed some of your goals already which may well include any training needs. Part of that process will perhaps be to establish why you want to do a PhD. Then once you have differentiated a plan that takes you forward to the next milestone. you will need to provide evidence of training courses or conferences attended or papers published.Postgraduate Personal Development Planning 7 only see your second supervisor occasionally because as this keeps them in the loop. In the first instance a detailed plan taking you up to your three month review. As part of that process you have to indicate whether your supervisor has helped you to draw up a timetable for your research. whilst most of your PDP will centre on your research project. It will also be necessary to carry out an initial skills analysis both for the project that you are working on and for your generic research and interpersonal skills. whether the outcome matched your expectations. Your PDP portfolio will help you with this. These services will also provide you with opportunities for individual assistance in personal and career planning which you can build into your PDP. (Tables 1 and 3) • Initial review By the three month initial review you should have a research plan and timetable. You will be asked to submit your research plan and your training record. and conferences or make presentations. probably a report and attend an interview. These provide opportunities to discuss your work. You will need to have a detailed plan for the next stage. training courses. Some Schools and subject areas have specific requirements concerning meeting records. • Differentiation Differentiation is a time to review what you have done. You will need to consider and act on any feedback you receive. what you expect as a research student at Queen’s. you will also have personal and career goals that you will want to fulfil during your research project and you can build these into your PDP cycle. Each of these is a developmental activity and which you will have planned for. reflect on what needs to be done next. learn a musical instrument or pass your driving test. In some Schools it is necessary to present a poster or oral presentation. Your plan should include the scheduling of any training needs that you have. • Annual monitoring You are required to complete an annual monitoring form – you will not be able to register for the next academic year without doing so. If the work is not going as planned you need to state why. Indeed. so you should be sure that you are aware of these. and project and generic skills needs. what your needs are and to make a plan to allow you to fulfil your goals. A detailed plan should take you through to differentiation and/or the end of your first year. Your research plan will set out the stages of your research over the course of the 3 year period ending with the timely completion and submission of your thesis. Equally. The Counselling Service and the Careers Service provide the Personal Effectiveness and Career Management courses as part of the PSTP.

Listen. of research subjects. malpractice. within the institution and the wider research community 2. demonstrate awareness of issues relating to the rights of other researchers. be creative. conferences. design and execute systems for the acquisition and collation of information through the effective use of appropriate resources and equipment 3. in which research takes place 2. motivation. A) Research Skills and Techniques – To be able to demonstrate: 1. understand the processes for funding and evaluation of research 5. thesis 2. show a broad understanding of the context. recognise boundaries and draw upon/use sources of support as appropriate 7. attribution. an ability to summarise. and identify and develop ways to improve employability 2 demonstrate an insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside academia 3 present one's skills. at the national and international level. supervisor guidance and coaching. These skills may already exist for some students or developed during the course of their research. demonstrate self-discipline. published documents. e. recording and presenting information D) Personal Effectiveness – To be able to: 1. Understand one's behaviours and impact on others when working in and contributing to the success of formal and informal teams 3.8 Postgraduate Personal Development Planning Appendix 1 Joint Skills Statement from the Research Councils This statement sets out the skills that postgraduate research students would be expected to have or develop during their PhD. write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose. the ability to critically analyse and evaluate one’s findings and those of others 6. and other sources of relevant information 4. innovative and original in one's approach to research 3. the ability to recognise and validate problems 2. intermediate milestones and prioritisation of activities 2. original. construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences. applications and interviews . use information technology appropriately for database management. independent and critical thinking. copyright. work independently and be self-reliant E) Communication Skills – To be able to: 1. personal attributes and experiences through effective CVs.including formal training courses. set realistic and achievable career goals. document. constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examination 4. effectively support the learning of others when involved in teaching. colleagues and peers. progress reports. give and receive feedback and respond perceptively to others G) Career Management – To be able to: 1 appreciate the need for and show commitment to continued professional development take ownership for and manage one's career progression. demonstrate flexibility and openmindedness 4. School support and informal opportunities. understand relevant health and safety issues and demonstrate responsible working practices 4. and thoroughness 6. e. justify the principles and experimental techniques used in one’s own research 6. identify and access appropriate bibliographical resources. report and reflect on progress B) Research Environment – To be able to: 1.g. demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to identify own training needs 5. and the ability to develop theoretical concepts 3. a knowledge of recent advances within one’s field and in related areas 4. Develop and maintain co-operative networks and working relationships with supervisors. ethical issues. mentoring or demonstrating activities F) Networking and Team working – To be able to: 1. apply effective project management through the setting of research goals. demonstrate a willingness and ability to learn and acquire knowledge 2.g. archives. ownership of data and the requirements of the Data Protection Act 3. seminars. understand the process of academic or commercial exploitation of research results C) Research Management – To be able to: 1. and of others who may be affected by the research. show initiative. formally and informally through a variety of techniques 3. confidentiality. an understanding of relevant research methodologies and techniques and their appropriate application within one’s research field 5. It is expected that different training mechanisms will be used in the development of these skills .

audio CD and Daisy CD.uk/postgraduate This publication is also available in alternative formats on request. including large print. tape.Training Programme Queen’s University Belfast Research & Regional Services Lanyon North Belfast BT7 1NN Tel: 028 9097 2591 www.ac. For further information. Braille.qub. CDS N112300 . please contact the University’s Publications and Website Unit on +44 (0)28 9097 5332.

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