Appendix 3. Guidelines for the Annual Review

[To be read in conjunction with Regulations 3.55 and 3.56.]

A student’s first Annual Review should be held promptly twelve months after first registration. Thereafter it should occur yearly, but may be held flexibly within the calendar year in accord with the needs of the student. It should be a serious intellectual consideration of the student’s research project and of how that research can best be taken forward.

1          The review panel should comprise at least three people: the Research Officer, the first supervisor, and one other member of staff from the department or related department. Where the Research Officer is the supervisor then s/he should appoint a different chair; other overlaps should be treated in the same way. The panel might ideally comprise more people, the supervisor and Research Officer sensibly drawing in other members of staff with expertise that might aid the discussion. What is crucial is that the panel comprise both staff closely involved with the research project, and one or more staff at a distance from the project, to give perspective and an outside view.

2          Both the supervisor and the student should write a brief report on progress for the Annual Review. If the student wishes, s/he may also fill in the first part of the Postgraduate Feedback Questionnaire (Appendix 8) to form the basis of discussion. (Even if this is not formally done, the headings in the questionnaire may usefully be considered as providing some key points for discussion.) For the first Annual Review a copy of the student’s detailed research proposal/plan should be circulated beforehand so that it can be a focus for discussion. For all later reviews experimental data/extracts/chapters from the student’s work-in-progress should be circulated prior to the review so as to form the basis for discussion.

3          The aims of the review are to assess the progress of the research project but also, as much as is possible, to aid with that progress by free and open intellectual discussion. The review should be an opportunity for the student to raise problems about the work-in-progress and obtain candid feedback about how these matters might be solved. It is an opportunity for pooling knowledge and for other members of staff to aid the supervisor(s) by giving their perspective on the project. It is also an opportunity to think through the plan for the next year’s research, to consider, for example, resource implications, upcoming conferences, software needs, etc.

4          After the full discussion has run its course, the Research Officer, or chair of the panel, should ask the supervisor(s) to withdraw for 5–10 minutes. In this time, the Research Officer (or chair) and the other panel member should ask the student candidly about how well the supervisory arrangements are working and whether there is anything that could be improved. This is an opportunity for the student to raise any difficulties in the relationship with the supervisor(s) and to consider with the help of others if there are ways in which these could be alleviated.

5          At the end of the Annual Review, the Research Officer (or chair) should write a brief report, a copy of which should be sent to the student and another copy of which should be sent to the Registry for inclusion in the student’s central file.

Download Annual Review report form (.docx file)