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This section includes important and essential information for completing your graduate supervision reports via the Graduate Supervision System (GSS), a Project Initation Plan for you to use, and also provides information on yours and your supervisor's responsibilities.

Project Initiation Plan

The MPLS Division has created a non mandatory project initiation plan, which departments, students and supervisors may use and modify for their own purpose.  The plan can be used as a useful tool to help assist you with working through with your supervisor(s) in establishing the scope and direction of your project.

Supervision reports and the Graduate Supervision System (GSS)

The Graduate Supervision System (GSS) allows students and their supervisors to report on the student’s progress in their research project, and to reflect on your development as an independent researcher.  Supervisors are required to write formal reports on your academic progress at the end of each term. All graduate students within MPLS are now required to submit a reflective report on their progress each term via GSS. You will be sent an e-mail to logon at the beginning of week 6 of each term to submit a self-assessment report (GSS is open for students from Monday of week 6 to Friday of week 7 (closing at 4pm) of each term). You will be prompted to list completed training / identify any other training needs and provide a comprehensive overview of your progress. You can also set a flag if you have any concerns with your academic progress. This will be highlighted to your Supervisor, Director of Graduate Studies, and College Adviser. Once your report is submitted your supervisor then completes a report on your progress, which will be available for you to view. If you do not submit a report either for two subsequent terms, or for two terms out of three (on a rolling basis) this will trigger you being invited to a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss your progress.

For the term before your Transfer milestone is due a specific form ‘Preparing for Transfer of Status has been created for the supervisions/meetings to support you in reflecting on your level of preparedness for this assessment. This form should be uploaded to GSS, as your termly report, via the ‘upload facility’.  A copy of the form will also go to your transfer assessors. All other reports can be provided using the “free text”, sections (noting that some have a word limit).  A similar form 'Preparing for Confirmation of DPhil Status' has also been created for you to submit and upload to GSS the term before your Confirmation milestone is due. A copy of the form will also go to your confirmation assessors. All other reports can be provided using the “free text”, sections (noting that some have a word limit).

Important Note: If you are only uploading a file, you must ensure that you add a note to the text field to indicate that you have done this, otherwise the system will not register that you have submitted a termly report.

Further details regarding use and access to the system will be communicated to students and supervisors by email.

Information and guidance on what to include in your reports can be found in the MPLS policy and notes of guidance for GSS. You must not use the supervision report form to raise any formal complaints about the supervision which you are receiving, you should raise these with the Director of Graduate Studies for your department.

Yours and your supervisor's responsibilities

The responsibilities of supervisors are set out in full in the University’s Policy on Research Degrees.

Your supervisor(s) will be your main source of information and advice throughout the course of your research. Their responsibilities include giving you early advice about the nature of research and the standard expected, and about planning the framework of your research programme; arranging financial support for the research; advising you about literature sources, and attendance at lectures and classes; arranging any instruction needed in research techniques; meeting with you regularly to discuss your work and skills training needs; directing your efforts as necessary; and giving you informal assessments of your progress.

Some students will have a single member of staff as their supervisor, and some may have joint supervision, especially when a project involves drawing upon expertise in more than one area. In all cases, individual supervisors are required to identify at least one colleague to be available for limited consultation by the supervisee during the first year.

The responsibilities of graduate research students are also set out in full in the University’s Policy on Research Degrees.

The University expects all students to accept their obligation to act as a responsible member of the University’s academic community, and to take ultimate responsibility for their research programme (including subject‑specific, research, personal and professional skills training,) and for developing an appropriate working relationship with their supervisor(s). The main elements of your research programme should normally be reviewed with your supervisor(s) during your first term, although in some subjects this review may take place in the second term. The discussion will include establishing regular meetings with your supervisor(s), agreeing aims and objectives for the first year, and reviewing the facilities available to you, such as laboratory provision (bench space); library provision; access to appropriate computer facilities, including e-mail and the internet; access to telephone, word-processing and fax facilities; departmental common room facilities. In order to get the most benefit from your supervision, you should follow a few basic guidelines.

  • Discuss with your supervisor(s) the type of guidance and comment that you would find most helpful.
  • Agree on a regular schedule of meetings.
  • Do not hesitate to take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties, however elementary they may seem.
  • Try to maintain progress in accordance with an agreed plan of work, and if this is not possible, discuss the reasons with your supervisor as soon as possible.
  • Keep systematic records of all that has been attempted and accomplished.
  • Hand in written work (including thesis drafts) sufficiently ahead of time to allow your supervisor time to review your work.
  • Above all, be open and frank; with good communication, you are likely to make good progress.

Further information can be found in the MPLS Brief Guide to the roles of research students and supervisors and the Code of Practice on the Supervision of Graduate Research Students.

Oxford Learning Institute Research Supervision Website

The Learning Institute website has some useful information for supervisors, DGSs, and students providing information such as expectations of students and supervisors, the relationship with your supervisor, beginning your research and making progress through the structured pathway to the DPhil degree, and explanations of Oxford’s policies and practice.

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