Each supervisor works differently, so it’s important to learn how to work with yours. Some like to oversee every step of your PhD and have lots of contact time, whilst others will give you almost complete freedom to do as you please. Set expectations and establish a clear working relationship from the beginning - talk to them about how often you would like to meet, what support you need, how you will submit work and receive feedback.
Make the most of your supervision meetings - for example, by submitting a piece of work in advance for feedback or going in with an agenda of points you want to discuss. I wish I had been reassured that you shouldn't feel like you are burdening your supervisor(s) - it's their job to support you through the process.
- Beth, Year 3
Make sure you know where all the information is on the various university website pages (mainly SkillsForge and the VLE, but there are other resources). Get into the habit of checking the graduate researcher training opportunities that you can pick from according to your needs. Do this early and you can pace your training rather than becoming overwhelmed in one term!
- Sharon, Year 4
Make time to read your Department’s PhD Handbook and Progression policies early on, and refer back to the policy for every TAP and Progression to make sure that you are meeting the programme requirements. Make it easy for them to progress you by showing that you’re meeting the marking criteria!
- Sarah, Year 3
If you think you would like to teach at some point, make sure you are informed about the training and teaching opportunities early in your PhD career. Start building contacts at other institutions where you might find opportunities to teach one-off seminars related to your research. This will be very valuable for your CV as research-influenced teaching is seen as key.
- Sharon, Year 4
I was encouraged to keep a document detailing the evolution of my project, outlining key decisions and changes. This has helped me keep on top of the ways in which my project has changed and why, so that I can fully justify every decision that I’ve made at every step. Don’t assume you’ll remember why you did something - make sure you write it down!
- Jen, Year 3