RSVP is an invitation to the sector to get involved in reviewing, enhancing and shaping doctoral supervision practice for the next generation.

To change and enhance supervisory culture we want to work with providers of doctoral education (universities, HEIs), industry, funders and researchers to share ideas and experiences of research supervision.

We want to better understand what works and what effective supervision practice looks and feels like.  Our aim is to widen and diversify the pool of confident, trained supervisors able to support an inclusive culture and the next generation of researchers. 

Visit the RSVP web page

Our Pillars

Each of the ‘pillars’ will produce outputs that will be used to develop relevant frameworks, policies and materials to ensure effective approaches are embedded in institutions and produce sustainable, long-term culture change.

To get a better understanding of the current supervision CPD provision we will:

  • Collect and create baseline data about the volume, scale, and configuration of doctoral supervision in the UK.
  • Identify what constitutes poor, good and excellent supervision practice in different institutional contexts and disciplines and the factors that affect this.
  • Explore the value of team supervision and make clear the expectations of new, experienced, tertiary and ‘hidden’ supervisors. 
  • We will also identify what can be learnt from industry about how to effectively support the careers, skills and CPD of highly talented individuals.
  • We will publish what we learn and share it with the sector to enable greater understanding.

Practice: working with the consortium and practitioner partners RSVP will:

  • Design and test approaches to onboarding for new supervisors.
  • Design and pilot professional development interventions such as mentoring and communities of practice to support new and experienced supervisors.
  • Reach out and draw upon the expertise of highly experienced supervisors to develop the next generation of researchers and support culture change.
  • Deliver workshops and in-house training for partners.
  • Provide regular communication and updates and opportunities for PGRs to get involved.
  • All of these interventions will be evaluated and communicated to enable the sector to develop and refine existing practices.

Culture and Policy Change: to effect change we will work with Deans and Directors of Doctoral Schools, funders and industry based supervisors to: 

  • Publish a review of current supervisory CPD interventions for supervisors with international comparisons.
  • Develop self assessment tools for providers to benchmark their supervision support.
  • Run the UK Research Supervision Survey in 2024 and 2027 to support benchmarking.
  • Revise the ‘UKCGE Good Supervisory Framework’ making clear the expectations and roles of supervisors (main and co-supervisors) and tertiary supervisors (those outside HEIs). 
  • Co-develop guidelines for funders on how to foster and sustain a positive culture for research supervision.

Research culture

RSVP is funded by Research England and supported by all seven UKRI research councils, Wellcome Trust and the Crick Institute. The project is cited as a key element of the UKRI’s New Deal for Postgraduate Research. The New Deal recognises that doctoral education needs to attract a greater diversity of people who will enjoy positive research cultures and go on to flexible, dynamic careers. It calls for a review of the student-supervisor relationship, of models of PG research (part time, remote etc) and ways of improving equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI). 

RSVP will address these aims by systematically reviewing scholarship to better understand supervision; exploring, with HEIs, industry and funders how supervisory teams operate; developing practice - in the form of onboarding, continuing professional development (CPD) and mentoring - and supporting the development of policy and processes required to create an environment and culture to support world class supervision. 

Resources and support for institutions and individual supervisors


RSVP will develop and make freely available resources to support the professional development of research supervision.

Intelligence and data

We will catalogue existing practice to support research supervision and share learning.

Pilot work

Working with a selected number of organisations RSVP will develop, pilot and evaluate professional development interventions including mentoring, workshops, communities of practice and supervision observations.

Sharing practice and professional recognition

We aim to accelerate and broaden the professionalisation of doctoral supervision and ensure that supervision is recognised as a vital part of research culture. Through the project we will opportunities for supervisors who wish to reflect on their practice, share experiences informally and provided guided support for those who wish to get their practice recognised. The UK Council for Graduate Education Research Supervision Recognition Programme.

Our funding partners

Directed by Dr Karen Clegg, of the University of York, and Professor Doug Cleaver, of Sheffield Hallam University, the project consortium also includes the University of Nottingham, King's College London, Coventry University and the UK Council for Graduate Education

Industry partners who will help to shape the delivery of professional development include Unilever, GSK the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

How to get involved

More than ten universities will be recruited to pilot and evaluate professional development interventions including supervisor programmes, mentoring, communities of practice and bespoke institutional support. Watch this space for more information.