Loughborough Doctoral College

2. Staff roles

How the different members of academic staff support the research student.

This Policy sits alongside and should be read in conjunction with the Terms and Conditions of Study which form the contract between applicants, students and the University.

2.1 Principal Supervisor

The principal supervisor will be responsible for managing the student’s overall research programme. He/she will:

  • Ensure the student has access to appropriate facilities and advice to pursue their programme, agreeing with the secondary supervisor and the student how the programme will be conducted including how the responsibilities of students and supervisors listed below will be discharged.
  • Ensure the student understands the progression requirements and the format and standard of work which is required of them during each Part of the programme including the provisions of Regulation XXVI and this Code.
  • Take the lead in advising the student on their transferable skills training requirements.
  • Be responsible for signing off any requests from the student for periods of study away from the campus (full-time students), holidays, leave of absence, parental leave etc. and ensuring the impact of any such arrangements on the research programme are clarified and documented if required.
  • Take the lead in the academic supervision of the student, unless the secondary supervisor has particularly relevant subject knowledge but is still developing their experience of supervision, ensuring that at least the minimum of meeting reports from 12 regular meetings are recorded in Co-Tutor.

2.2 Secondary Supervisor

The secondary supervisor will normally provide additional academic expertise for the research degree programme and an alternative point of contact where the principal supervisor might be temporarily unavailable. Ideally, they should be willing to step in as principal supervisor should the original principal supervisor cease to be available for some reason but it is recognised that this will not always possible or appropriate. The relative academic input within the supervisory team may vary as the programme of study develops. Where the principal and secondary supervisor are not in the same School the student will be registered in the School of the principal supervisor.

2.3 Criteria for Appointment of Supervisors

Supervisors will be appointed on the basis that their research expertise and experience is appropriate to the research to be undertaken.

Supervisors will only be appointed when there is reasonable expectation that they will be available to supervise the student for the normal duration of the student’s degree.

Supervisors will normally be full-time members of the academic staff of the University or of equivalent standing and the Primary Supervisor must normally meet this criterion. The Director of Doctoral Programmes may appoint other suitably experienced and qualified staff including research staff and staff on part-time contracts but such individuals must be of doctoral standing and sufficiently available to provide satisfactory support to the student.

Where a member of staff is retiring or retired they may, with the agreement of the Dean of the School or nominee, continue with the supervision of their current students if appropriate arrangements can be made.

Where a research supervisor leaves the University, there should be a discussion with the student, supervisor(s) and Director of Doctoral Programmes as to the options available to the student which may include re-locating with the supervisor; appointing a replacement supervisor for the current programme or amending the research programme and the supervisory team; appointing a supervisor from another University or appointing the previous supervisor as an External supervisor. There should, however, always be two supervisors from Loughborough University. Joint supervision should be available to the student throughout their programme. Wherever possible the arrangements should be made with the full involvement and agreement of the student, however, it is recognised that it will not always be feasible to provide the revised supervisory arrangement preferred by the student.

2.4 Role of the Supervisors

Research Supervisors have the following responsibilities, which will normally be provided by the supervisory team jointly although as noted above it is the Principal Supervisor’s responsibility to manage the delivery of the programme including these responsibilities:

 Download the Doctoral Researcher Induction Checklist

 Download the Supervisory Partnership Expectations form

  • At the commencement of the research, to agree with the research student how the research programme will be conducted including expectations of attendance and delivery of work, the relative roles of the supervisors, a written timetable for the conduct of the research and the completion of written work.  This timetable may be reviewed and amended as the research progresses. Any adjustments which are appropriate due to a disability or long term health issue should be discussed, implemented and kept under review in consultation with the Counselling and Disability Service (CDS).
  • The supervisors should provide an induction into the School’s expectations of the research and complete a written record of this induction to be made available at the 6-month review meeting.
  • To ascertain if the student has any particular research or transferable skills training needs or if there are particular training programmes that the student is required to attend. The bulk of research training takes place within the research process, through discussion between student and Supervisor, and through referral to appropriate reading. However, Supervisors should determine at the outset if students have any additional requirements, and keep these under review throughout. Supervisors should promote engagement with the transferable skills training offered by the Doctoral College. The normal expectation is that the student will undertake 10 days per annum professional development training and a summary of the training undertaken is required as part of the progress review process.
  • To establish and maintain regular contact with the student by whatever means is most suitable given the student’s location and mode of study, including any period during which the student is working away from the University. Permission to work away from the University is subject to approval by the Principal supervisor and must be recorded in writing in Co-Tutor. The minimum number of formal contacts between full-time research students and research degree Supervisor(s) will normally be 12 per annum and these should normally be face to face meetings. Part-time research students, and students working away from the University, should have formal contact with their Supervisor at a frequency equivalent to the above related to their mode of study; however, this contact may be maintained in part via video conferencing or email where necessary.
  • The 12 formal supervisory contact meetings and their outcomes must be recorded in Co-Tutor for the purpose of monitoring student attendance and performance and to ensure records are accessible should the supervisors not be available.  It is the Principal supervisor's responsibility to ensure that these essential written records are maintained but both supervisors are encouraged to maintain reports of supervisory activities in Co-Tutor.
  • To provide satisfactory guidance, support and feedback to the student on the progress of his/her research.
  • To give advice and instruction on research methods appropriate to the student’s field of study.
  • To encourage the student to keep himself/herself informed of all relevant developments within his/her subject.
  • To report, usually jointly, on the student’s progress to the Progression Board. With a clear recommendation as to progression in accordance with Paragraph 6.4 of Regulation XXVI.
  • To monitor the progress of the student within the guidelines of Regulations and University and School practice.
  • To ensure that the student is aware of the need to conduct his/her research according to ethical principles, to provide advice on this matter and ensure the student is aware of and engages with relevant School and University procedures.
  • To encourage and support students to publish and present their work where appropriate, and the public dissemination of the research.
  • To make it clear to students that they are expected to participate in the planning of work to be done, encourage them to question advice that is given to them and to reach independent decisions on what work needs to be done. In the last resort, a Supervisor should defer to a student's decision wherever possible.
  • To agree arrangements for regular contact with their students if their tuition fee paying registration ends before the award of their degree and they have therefore entered a period of extension to complete their thesis. The aim is to support the student to successful completion in good time. Where a student is sponsored by the University as a Tier 4 visa holder, the student should be working on their thesis full-time during any extension period and meetings must continue to take place and be recorded on the same basis as during tuition fee paying registration.
  • To provide advice on the preparation of the student’s thesis and to encourage him/her to write up and submit the thesis with necessary documentation before leaving the University.
  • To identify and recommend the appointment of the student’s research degree Examiners.
  • To maintain contact with a research degree student in the event of referral of their thesis or where corrections are required should the student feel the need for advice and assistance. As noted above, Tier 4 visa holders should be working on the revisions to their thesis full-time and meetings must continue to take place and be recorded on the same basis as during tuition fee paying registration.

2.5 Director of Doctoral Programmes

The Dean of School shall nominate as Director of Doctoral Programmes, and where necessary Deputy Directors of Doctoral Programmes, whose role shall be:

2.5.1    Recruitment and overseeing the admissions process

  • Working proactively with the Dean, the ADR and others to support the recruitment of new PGR students across all disciplines and sub-disciplines in the School/Dept so as to build a thriving PGR community;
  • Receiving and reviewing applications for research degrees, and, in consultation with colleagues, confirming decisions on those applications;
  • Assisting in the dissemination of information concerning relevant PGR funding opportunities;
  • Ensuring that School PGR publicity materials, including relevant web pages, are up to date;
  • Raising the profile of PGR related matters across the School and encouraging colleagues to seek funding to support future students.

2.5.2 Overseeing PGR induction and training

  • Ensuring that all new Postgraduate Research Students are properly inducted and integrated into the research community of the School/Department either through a formal School induction event at the start of the academic year, or for those PGR students who join later in the year, through individual induction programmes at an appropriate time;
  • Identifying, in conjunction with supervisors, the learning needs of new students and helping them to decide on appropriate training courses; encouraging students to review their own changing learning needs during the course of their programme, and to participate in appropriate training sessions;
  • In conjunction with taught Programme Directors, to co-ordinate issues relating to Post Graduate Teaching Assistants, including their additional skills training and progress in relation to teaching duties. (Note this may not apply in all Schools.)

2.5.3 PGR progress monitoring

  • Ensuring that all PGR students are receiving appropriate supervision, that supervisors are employing best practice and to monitor supervisory loads;
  • To liaise with the Dean to ensure appropriate supervision arrangements are made whenever a supervisor leaves;
  • To be the point of contact for students where there are difficulties with supervision and to escalate these to the Dean or ADR in the first instance where necessary;
  • Overseeing progress reviews for all research degree students, including appointment of independent Reviewers, and ensuring that there is a robust progress monitoring and review system through a Progression Board;
  • Dealing with any issues (academic or personal) in conjunction with the Dean, ADR, or Supervisors arising from Progress Meetings that cannot be satisfactorily be dealt with by the progress reviewers, taking advice from professional services as necessary, and ensuring that appropriate records of progress meetings are kept;
  • Overseeing annual reports from PGR students and their supervisors on progress;
  • In conjunction with supervisors to encourage and/or arrange opportunities for postgraduate research students to make presentations of their research internally, and to seek publication opportunities, conference presentation opportunities, or practical work exhibition/production opportunities as appropriate;
  • In conjunction with supervisors to ensure that students working away from Loughborough are kept in touch with the School and its research culture;
  • To support PGR support staff in the School in ensuring attendance monitoring records are kept up to date and that the School PGR Handbook is up to date;
  • To report to the ADR on issues relating to the management and oversight of research degree programmes;
  • To represent PGR programmes at meetings of Progression Boards or School Committees;
  • To participate in Academic Misconduct or Student appeal hearings if required;
  • To contribute to the School Quadrennial Review process.

2.5.4  Other

  • Providing an initial point of contact where a student has a complaint and to resolve that complaint wherever possible informally as part of the University’s complaints procedure;
  • Providing guidance on the University Regulations or seeking further advice where appropriate;
  • With the ADR maintaining an overview of the allocation and distribution of studentships and dealing with issues arising in connection with PGR studentships in conjunction with the Doctoral College Office;
  • Preparing and delivering reports on PGR issues to relevant School and Doctoral College meetings;
  • Attending relevant School and University committee meetings concerned with PGR issues and raising any specific issues that require attention.

2.5.5 Role of the Independent Reviewer

An Independent Reviewer should be identified at the earliest opportunity by a student’s supervisors and nominated to the Director of Doctoral Programmes for approval.

The Independent Reviewer should have sufficient expertise in the field of the student’s research programme to be able to make an informed judgement on their progress.

The Independent Reviewer shall review output produced by the student in accordance with the paragraphs 5 and 6 of Regulation XXVI. He/she will produce reports for consideration by the Progression Board which include a recommendation on the student’s progression in accordance with paragraph 6.4 of Regulation XXVI.

The same member of staff should normally act as the independent reviewer throughout the research degree programme if appropriate.

The independent reviewer may not normally act as the internal Examiner for the thesis submission unless there are exceptional circumstances and permission has been given by the Doctoral College Office.

2.6 The Role of the Dean of School

The Dean of the School will appoint a Director of Doctoral Programmes for the School and one or more Deputies depending on the size of the School

The allocation of supervisors and School facilities to students will be undertaken on an operational basis by the Director of Doctoral Programmes and where necessary Associate Dean (Research). Supervisors will typically be responsible for the allocation of specific research facilities. However, the Dean remains accountable overall for the adequate provision of resources and support to research students registered in the School.