There is a profound difference between life as an undergraduate student and that of a postgraduate research student. Not everyone finds the transition easy. The expectations of you are very different.
Important points you should be aware are as follows:
- It is your responsibility to seek advice and supervision from your supervisor and it is your right to receive them. Although your supervisors are busy people, they should always respond to requests for discussion. Remember that your supervisors may not be able to see you immediately - make an appointment if necessary
- You should have regular meetings with your principal supervisor. This should be at least once a fortnight during the first 3 months. Make sure that you are absolutely clear about your short term objectives, as well as the longer term aims. Ensure that a written record, signed by you and your supervisor(s), is kept of all substantive meetings. A pro forma, which you may wish to modify to suit your needs, is available for this purpose.
- You must keep detailed notes of all your experimental work. Laboratory work should be recorded in a lab book, and should be in a form which is straight-forward for you and others to follow. Remember that you could be asked to produce the records of your experimental work at your viva. Although it is likely that some of your data will be saved in an electronic format, you must keep dated, hand-written notes and keep the raw data. Your supervisor is expected to keep your lab books and unprocessed data for 10 years.
- You must attend compulsory events associated with the postgraduate training programme, and produce reports and give presentations as required.
- Postgraduate training now includes a generic skills training programme, which is currently under development.
Events in which you MUST participate include:
You have the ultimate responsibility in deciding when to submit your thesis. Although it is desirable that you take the advice of your supervisor, their role is as advisors, and the responsibility for the final content of the thesis is yours.
Responsibilities of the Postgraduate Research Student
(from the University of Dundee's Code of Practice) include:
- accepting ultimate responsibility for his/her own research activity and candidacy for a degree;
- ensuring that s/he is familiar with relevant aspects of health and safety and academic rules and regulations of the University;
- successfully completing any training programme arranged by the University or via a third party;
- discussing with his/her supervisors the type of guidance and comment they find most helpful, and agreeing a schedule of meetings; taking the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, however elementary they may seem; maintaining the progress of the work in accordance with the stages indicated by the supervisors including, in particular, the presentation of written material as required in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussion before proceeding to the next stage; keeping a written note of meetings with the supervisors (or appropriate member of the supervisory team), which should include items for action;
- providing as required, brief formal reports to the relevant postgraduate thesis monitoring committee with the assistance of the research supervisors;
- developing responsibility for the direction of and innovation in the research project as it progresses;
- deciding when they wish to submit their thesis, taking due account of the opinion of the supervisors, which is, however, advisory only.