Section 6: Researcher development (skills training)

Researcher development at Oxford

The University is committed to ensuring that students have opportunities to develop and refine a range of skills as an integral part of a research degree programme, whether these are:

  • subject-specific skills (including any skills required for inter-disciplinary aspects of a topic);
  • general research training skills;
  • personal and professional skills.

Students’ skills training needs should be assessed formally on at least three occasions during the student’s programme:  in the initial general review in the first term (see Section 4.4.3), in preparation for transfer of status (where the transfer of status form has been amended accordingly) and at confirmation of status. It is, however, an integral part of the supervisor’s role to continue to monitor and advise the student on his or her skills training needs to draw these to the attention of the research student, and advise on how these might to be addressed.

Responsible boards must ensure that students have access to skills training. This entails regular review of the provision made for their students at department/ faculty, divisional and University level to ensure it comprehends the needs of students and expectations of the University. This will reflect the discipline, subject and context of the research. Students and their supervisors should review regularly (both informally during supervisory meetings and formally at the three points identified above) the skills that may be of benefit to the student in relation to: subject-specific needs, analytical and research skills, and personal and professional skills. (Where necessary, support for language and academic writing skills should also be considered.) It is sometimes found helpful to link such reviews to the 'Researcher Development Statement' (an evolution of the Research Councils’ Joint Skills Statement). Supervisors should alert the relevant Graduate Studies Committee/ Director of Graduate Studies to the existence of training needs not yet catered for by the faculty/ department or the University.